Family day long weekend gave us a chance to get a bit farther away from Calgary than a regular weekend. We signed up with the Breakey's for their annual ACC Nelson ski touring trip a few months ago with dreams of powder, but sadly this season just hasn't delivered. Despite the unseasonably warm temperatures and miserable snow conditions, we were just excited to get away with friends. A few people had bailed off the trip at the last minute so we were able to take two vehicles. Kyle and I drove Casey and Kyle D out to Cranbrook on Friday night and met the other 5 at the hotel. We got up very early for some reason and left just after 7 am. Some people hadn't had breakfast so we all descended on a small cafe in Creston. The lone server seemed very overwhelmed to have 9 of us in there. The breakfast ended up being very leisurely as we were not in a big rush to get out of there. Matt had a two course breakfast, Kyle and I had second breakfast, and nobody really wanted to get moving.
We hadn't seen any snow on the ground the whole drive out. Fortunately as we approached Kootenay Pass we started to get up to the snow line, unfortunately it was a complete white out. The group got their gear organized and we started up the skin track towards the Ripple Ridge Hut and Baldy Crag. It was fast skiing along on the bulletproof crust. We stopped in at the hut to check it out and there was a big group from Calgary that was on their way home already. They asked us where we were going skiing and we just laughed. It was more of a walk around day than a ski day.
|Column test - surprising amount of snow still around!|
|Me and my Valentine enjoying the wonderful view|
|Lunch time after a hard few minutes of touring|
We had a bite to eat and got ready to ski. The terrain is awesome, too bad there was such a brutal crust! I was light enough to stay on top of it (except near the bottom where it wasn't as stiff), but every turn that Kyle and Matt made had them breaking through. It was hard to ski, but my little Volkl Nanuks held up well. Kevin had a crash when his ski caught below the crust and upon standing up, he knew he had done something to his knee. Fortunately, we were not far from the bottom of the slope so he skied out carefully, side slipping most of the way.
|Matt working on his survival skiing and trying to stay above the crust|
|Mechanism of injury - deadly crust|
Our group got onto a logging road that we thought would take us back to the car. Luckily, we were informed by the other group who had just tried that road that it was actually a much longer way back. They skin-skied down to us and we all skied back up to the ridge together before descending back to the parking lot.
|Charlie and Kyle admiring the beautiful lake in the parking lot|
We finished our drive to Nelson and checked in at the Hostel. Kyle and I quickly got changed and ran out the door so that we could make it to Relish (our favourite restaurant in Nelson) before the Valentines rush. Charlie and Christine came along to investigate the awesome food that we had been raving about. After dinner we met up with the guys at the pub and had a few drinks before heading back to the hostel to hang out. There were lots of people from Europe staying at the hostel, mostly from Norway. I felt bad that they traveled so far for such bad conditions while they are having a record year back home.
|Feta and prosciutto wrapped prawns appetizer - Relish is AMAZING|
|Night on the town in Nelson|
The snow might be terrible but at least we got some good views!
The beginning of the trail was just as long as I remember it being. It goes up and up through the trees for a long time which can be discouraging. Once we made it up onto the ridge however, the views were stunning and it made the skiing so much more fun. With the hard-packed conditions, it was easy traveling. I was happy to have my small skis for the long day. Kyle, Kyle D and I made up Team Low Core, skipping some of the optional peaks and continuing slowly along the trail with lots of stops for photos. Team Hard Core ran up every single thing that they could find and finished the trail with more than 7 summits!
|Looking ahead to Mt. Plewman|
|The trail markers were still visible above the snow|
|Following the ridge-lines all the way to Red Mountain (I think I have a summer picture of this same spot!)|
|Kyle D is stoked to be ahead of the Breakey's|
|More ridge skiing to come with Mt. Old Glory in the background|
|Summer trail markings were easy to find|
We made it to Red Resort in good time. I was grateful for the ski out down the groomed trails, it was likely the best snow we could have found anywhere in the area! I hadn't taken my skins off yet, all the downhill was done with skins on that day. We met Kevin at the bottom of the hill (he had taken the day off because his knee was very sore) and he drove us back to where we had dropped off the car, thanks Kevin!
|Our return to civilization - Red Mountain Resort|
Back at the hostel we had a huge pasta dinner and Matt's homemade beer. It was a great way to end the day. A few of us had planned on driving home on Monday (work and school on Tuesday wasn't optional), but since Kevin was hurt and the snow wasn't so good, it ended up being a full van of 6 heading home Monday morning, while the truly hard core (Phil, Christine and Matt) braved another day of crust. We took our time leaving town, stopping at Oso Negro for coffee and muffins and the Patagonia Outlet Store. We also took the long way home, making a detour to the Ainsworth Hot Springs for a soak before taking the Kootenay Ferry across Kootenay Lake. It was a really nice way to break up the drive and enjoy the beautiful weather.
|Waiting for Kootenay Ferry, not much snow|
|It feels like spring in the Kootenays, I am repping my new Patagonia hat|
|Good day to be on the water! We should have gone sailing|