Traversing the Dogtooth – Golden BC
There’s a point at the beginning of every trip when the feeling starts to sink in; the confines and hassles of everyday life slip away and you enter the mind state of adventure. With a last minute decision I hit the road bound for Golden, BC. The only thing I knew was that we were going riding that weekend, beyond that there wasn’t a concrete plan, it seems the best trips are the spontaneous ones.
Weather conditions were checked over a morning coffee, and finding sun appeared to be a gamble everywhere. In the end we decided to stay local and unloaded at Gorman with a grey sky above the valley, but as we rode deeper into the zone things started to look up with the sun punching through the cloud cover. After carving up some low exposure zones in the trees and searching the valleys for fresh snow we found ourselves staring down into Cirque. The valley was untouched and dropping in lead to the best riding of the day; sidehilling tech lines through the trees and unreal powder descents with no one else in the zone.
The area also stemmed the idea of a zone-to-zone traverse in a spot that may not have been done before. All we had to do was drop into another valley, but being the only people there with an unclear idea of the safest route and the weather beginning to sock in, the right thing to do was turn around. During the ride back the idea and how to pull it off was already running through my mind. Back in town we looked at routes on Google earth and discussed exposure in the area. It seemed our idea was meant for a day later in the season, with more ideal conditions and a bigger crew.
Not completely letting go of the traverse idea, the next day we decided to go back into Gorman to cut into a different place. We were the first ones to break trail and had to play the waiting game with the flat light. As soon as a sunny pocket hit we took runs at the hill to make the first crest, and then round two to break the ridge. The ridge had windblown drifts on it, which happened to be exactly where the best line to traverse was. A sidehill/climb gone wrong on the low side could be a season ender, so the shovels came out making the climb up the ridge doable. Just as the prepping was finished the sun broke through the cloud, that was our window and we pinned it to the top.
Other than some old tracks coming from the other side, the entire zone had deep, untouched powder. There are three major drainages in the valley; the center one is the safest from avalanche exposure. After bashing through the trees and carving up technical lines we found it and headed out to the trail. If you know where to look there’s enough tech tree riding in there for more than a full day.
We stopped on the trail and took a break. Alpine meadows loomed in the distance, the sun glinting off the snow capped hills of another zone. Tempting. It was a fork in the road and I had a long drive home, either hit the trail back to the Gorman parking lot or take up the mountain’s offer. The decision was obvious; I got home around 3 in the morning feeling more awake than ever. –BW