31 January 2013

Keith's Hut, BC - New Year's Adventure

Much to my family's chagrin, I didn't go home to Montana for Christmas this year (sorry Mom!). In fact, I didn't go anywhere. For the first time ever I stayed in Seattle. On Christmas Day I enjoyed a super soggy run, took in a movie, and ate a fantastic Christmas meal complete with the singing of 12 Days of Christmas (with matching plates, to tell you which part to sing, of course).

To make up for my slackery at Christmas, I went on a 4-day ski-in trip up to Keith's Hut in British Columbia over New Years! North of Pemberton, which is 40 minutes north of Whistler, Keith's Hut is one of many first-come-first-served self-service huts in Canada.

Three of us drove up together on December 29th to meet five other friends who had arrived the previous day. We were greeted by an overflowing parking lot and overcast skies.

Our destination is in the distant right mountains


After the requisite hour-packing-at-the-car, we were ready for our two hour skin to the hut. To say my PiggyBackPack was heavy would be an understatement. I *may* have brought more than I needed...but this being my first backcountry hut trip, I just wasn't so sure I'd only need one pair of long johns. I should have listened to those that are wiser than me. I essentially brought an extra bag of clothes. Definitely could have used that space for something more wine-like. Next time.

Yes. It looks ridiculous. Yes. It was heavy.

The approach was mostly easy skinning (as easy as it can be with 40lbs on your back). We encountered a log bridge crossing right at the start, which I understand gets to be really dicey as more snow piles up. As the snow gets deeper it gets thinner at the top, causing it to only be one ski wide towards the end of the season. The crossing had ropes at two heights to hold onto as the bridge height increases. With my lopsided bag, I was very happy to have an easy crossing.

Alice showing off her "log" skills
We climbed for a while before leveling out in a flat glade where we got our first glimpse of Mt. Mattier, which was projecting an impressive cloud shadow.

Taking in the view
Peak of Mt. Mattier closeup, projecting a mountain shadow into the clouds

Just as we were getting tuckered out, we came to a steep section that led to the cabin - a very welcome sight! We dumped our bags, but a bit too hastily, and I'm sorry to say that we lost an entire 5th of Knob Creek to the Mountain Gods. It was a huge sacrifice (especially after carrying it for 2+ hours) and we had a moment of silence for the spilled Whiskey. Believe me when I tell you it was a heartbreaking loss.

Keith's Hut
We unloaded gear and quickly realized that the hut was FULL! Packed, in fact. We had no choice but to pitch our tent and spend the first night outside.

It was 7 degrees.

Yes, 7° Fahrenheit.

For those of you who use Celcius, that's below freezing. A lot below freezing.

I woke up in the middle of the night and was so cold that my eyeballs felt like they were going to freeze. Needless to say, the first thing I did in the morning was secure a space in the Hut when people left!

Oh, and I made lots of time to enjoy the amazing view!

Mt. Mattier hiding left, Joffre Peak at right

I've got lots and lots and lots of pictures of our two full days of skiing, as well as a fun hut game for all of you to play in the future when you forget the cards in the car, but those will have to wait till the next update. Now, for your viewing pleasure, is my very favourite rainbow picture I've ever taken. And those of you who know me know that's saying something, because I've taken a LOT of these =)


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