Tag Archives: backcountry skiing

Backcountry skiing: Al’s Habrich Ridge trail from Sea to Sky Gondola, Squamish

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It’s mid-winter, and yesterday morning bright and early my buddy Mig and I met in the carpark at the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish. It was sunny and cold and snowy! Yeah! Here in Southern BC, we’re having our snowiest winter for a few years. Mig and I planned to skin up then ski down one of the trails at the top of the gondola for our first trip together of this snowy, lovely winter.

We jumped in the gondola eager as beavers and rode up. Jings the carriage swayed and swung on its way to the top. The morning breeze was pretty fearsome!

Over coffee in the excellent lodge at the top of the gondola, I suggested we do Al’s Habrich Ridge Trail. It has jaw-dropping views down to the Squamish valley and across to the Tantalus Range, and also across to the majestic Mount Garibaldi.

 

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The top of the gondola

 

And so, we skinned up the first section of groomed trail, which led us nicely to powder. Deep powder! There were a couple of skiers ahead of us and we followed their tracks up the undulating ridge, winding between the snow-laden trees. The trail was steep with tight turns and just lovely. Lovely for now!

 

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Mig on the trail

 

We soon got our views.

 

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Looking down to the Squamish valley, the Tantalus Range is peeking in

 

 

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Mig on the plateau

 

 

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A snowy lollipop

 

At the plateau, which was our turning point, we peeled off our skins and prepared for the descent. I was a little anxious. It was going to be a tad difficult skiing down through the powder and trees: double black diamond in my book! Lots of early-season hazards like tree wells too! “You go first, Mig,” I said. Mig’s a better skier than me.

“No, you go first,” said Mig.

“No, you go.”

“No, you go.”

“Oh, ok,” I said and set off. It was soon obvious that skiing down our up-trail was way too hard for us. It was narrow, it was tight, it was steep in places, and it wound in and out of the trees with their scary, scary tree wells. We were surrounded by deep powder, drop-offs and undulating terrain.

Picking our way down, we both cursed and swore a lot. I chose to try to ski the ready-made track in some places and untracked powder in others. At one place, going too close to a tree, I suddenly disappeared up to my armpits in snow. I was in a tree well. At least I had gone in skis first and not head first! I was well and truly stuck but after a lot of wriggling about and a few expletives, I managed to unclip my boots from my skis and unstick myself from my predicament. Then after a lot pulling and digging, I got my skis out from the deep depths of the snowy hole – a good workout!

Ha, ha, we were off again and finally we popped out onto the groomed trail.

“I love corduroy, ” said Mig, and she was off.

What a great day!

 

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