Way Back There
Tom Walker | On 19, Apr 2016
Colin Wallace photo
It was one of those days when you knew it was epic way back there.
The last storm cycle was a week ago and all of the easily accessible zones were already paved by sledders. Orion and I knew we had to go deeper into the mountains to get the goods.
At the gas station we each filled spare 20s and topped off our tanks to be sure we wouldn’t run out after the day’s roost and total of 90km of cat road. Rolling up to the parking lot, the sun began to crack through the clearing clouds. I haven’t felt this much stoke in a while, the moment felt so surreal.
Unfortunately the usual road in was way too icy and gnarly for the truck and enclosed trailer, so we were forced to park in the valley bottom, sacrificing our ski carbides on the rough road in. The switchbacks were bulletproof ice and some sections were even bare from too much sun exposure. Once we hit the defined snowline, we opened our throttles and roosted the next 35 km of buff cat road towards our distant destination.
At the road end, the single track led us into the dense forest valley. The first zone was tracked right out from the previous day’s crew so we straight lined farther into the mountain valley. It seemed the last crew in here must have run low on fuel when the snow was deeper during the last storm cycle since they had only just scratched the surface.
Ahead was a steep ascent to higher elevation. At the bottom, we checked out possible lines to climb. To the far left there was a decent window. Orion took the lead and punched up the face. The route was up a gully through dense trees, so there was really only one way up. After banging around in Orion’s trench and fighting the climb, we both ascended into a wide-open alpine meadow with no sled tracks in sight. Game on!
In the distance I could see a huge storm rolling into the alpine. Our visibility window was short so we made the most of it. Our throttles were “taped” for the next 30 minutes and the zone was soon paved. We took a break, dumped our 20s in and headed back into the trees just as the storm surrounded us. The rest of the day was spent picking technical lines through the trees and exploring this sick zone to the edge.
It was time to leave on a high note and head back south to the truck. There’s always someone who gets pow hungry on the ride out and of course, Orion had to get one more deep carve which ended up into a trench carve! Both exhausted, we rolled his sled out of the chest-deep trench and both swore to stick to the trail from then on!