By Kim Havell
"Any of you guys know what time it is?" I inquired casually to the group.
"Best time of your life,” Chris Rubens replied.
I would no longer have any idea of time or day on our ten day backcountry ski-touring adventure in the Selkirks last week. My watch battery died on day one. I didn't bring a spare. No one would ever tell me what time it was—other than "the best time of my life.”
After my deepest powder run of the year, choking on over the head waves of snow, on day six, I continued on down the rabbit hole—"best feeling in the world," I exclaimed as I arrived down to the group on the bench.
"That's what she said," replied Elyse Saugstad.
The wit factor was in full force and you would need to watch your step, and your words, with our crew.
Everyone was bringing their A game.
It took two heli loads to get our gear and ourselves to Sentry Lodge. Our meeting point was Golden, British Columbia, and from there we carpooled up to Golden Alpine Holiday's staging point for the heli-access to their hut systems. Nestled high in the Esplanade range of the Selkirks, the Sentry Lodge greets you from a flat bench amidst a cirque of long ridges and endless peaks with mind-blowing ski routes and bountiful terrain mere steps from the door. The Selkirk mountains, located in the interior of the province, contain some of the most exquisite mountain ranges of the world.
Our mission was to film an episode for Salomon Freeski TV and Switchback Entertainment while simultaneously testing Salomon’s new touring binding design. The cast of characters included Greg Franson (owner of BlueBird Guides), Anthony Bonello (B4apres's filmmaker), Bruno Long (photographer), and Salomon team skiers Chris Rubens, Elyse Saugstad and I.
With three days at Sentry Lodge and then another seven days at Fairy Meadow hut, we got a great taste of British Columbia's more remote mountains. Half our days were bluebird in the high alpine and the other half were "claggy" with humidity, low clouds, and deep powder and tree skiing.The balance worked out just right.
These areas are remote enough that there is still much unexplored terrain that remains to be discovered and skied. Not far from Sentry, we found an untouched zone of peaks with a multitude of lines which we quickly realized was only the cloak over a range that goes far deeper into the wilds. We dubbed one new area we filmed in "Sobriety"… long story.
"Hey, if you want me to fix some of your shots later, just let me know. They're probably a bit blurry,” said Anthony to Bruno.
"Yep. If you missed that last segment maybe I should take over the filming for you on the next run,” Bruno replied.
The ribbing continued.
In the Adamants, the skiing is the real deal. You need to be glacier savvy, sluff aware, and fit enough to cover some ground. With a seven minute heli-bump from Sentry Lodge, we based our second phase out of Fairy Meadow Hut, built by esteemed climber Bill Putnam in 1965. With a river water source, outhouse, sauna, and a bunkroom that sleeps twenty, the hut can accommodate large groups of avid backcountry skiers. It is pure and simple luxury in the mountains.
The objectives there make the mind race and the scale is deceptive from afar. At first glance, the peaks seem overwhelmingly powerful and daunting but as we got higher up into their midst, they became much more approachable and friendly. Slowly and surely we climbed and skied lines further and further from the hut and then the storm set in. After five clear days in the high alpine, we were blessed with 50cm of powder and settled into the pure bliss of deep Canadian skiing.
The Freeski TV episode will air next winter… along with other episodes tracing the journeys and passions of skiers exploring and sharing these types of adventures.