Sunday, March 7, 2010
So, anyhow, I spent last week in a hut in the Canadian Rockies, backcountry skiing. This was a trip that I have spent the last 12 years building the skills needed to be a part of, and now that I have done it, I am faced with that age old question, was it worth it? Was it worth the years that I have spent running, riding, hiking and skiing to build the strength and conditioning needed for a week climbing in the mountains? Was it worth the pain, frustration, time and money spent to develop the skiing skills to ski in the backcountry? Was it worth the time that I have spent in courses, reading books, spending powder days training instead of having fun skiing, so that I could learn the avalanche safety and snow skills needed, the 1st aid skills needed to make me a valuable team member, the mountain skills needed for even being in the backcountry, and the leadership skills needed anytime that you place yourself in a situation as remote and unpredictable as the winter backcountry? Was it worth the mental anguish that I always put my crazy self through, constantly questioning my motives, my skills, my conditioning, the time spent, the money spent, etc., etc., etc.?
Oh Hell Yeah! It was an amazing week. We had beautiful weather, great snow, amazing food, and good company. We fell into a routine, nay, almost a ballet, by the second day. At 6a.m. every morning, John would hop out of bed and head down for the cook hut to start breakfast. Aaron, who had been waiting for half an hour for someone to get up, would head down and fire up the stove. At 6:15, Eric's alarm would sound. At 6:30, Eric would get up and go start the coffee. Then, knowing that the cook hut was warm, breakfast was cooking, and the coffee was ready, I would crawl out of bed, put on my base layer for the day, and head down. Paul would follow shortly.
After breakfast was eaten and the dishes and chores were done, we would start getting ready for skiing. Lunches had to be packed, blisters covered, gear that had been hanging over the stove to dry had to be repacked, and, the worst part, boots had to be donned. By 9 o'clock, we were hiking. The hikes were long and beautiful. We had sunshine the first few days, so we were able to go above treeline. Once the weather changed, we stayed closer to home and skied the trees. Not a bad way to spend a week, and definitely worth the cost, not only in terms of the money, but in the effort it takes to be able to enjoy the backcountry.