5.07.2007

An Excerize in Pragmatic Living on the Bugs to Rogers

I recently completed my first significant ski traverse with some great friends. Daryl Ross, Mike Stuart, Sean Isaac and I flew into the CMH Bugaboo Lodge on April 21 and traversed the Purcell and southern Selkirk mountain ranges to finish in Rogers Pass on April 26.

Photo: Mike Stuart skiing on the Vowell Glacier with the Howser Spires in the background.

We set out to do the trip in 5 to 6 days. The traverse has been done in around 3 or4 days before by a strong team of skiers and mountaineers from Golden. The average time to complete the traverse was somewhere between 10 and 15 days. Having done big trips before I was quite familiar with the idea of going hard, day after day, with short nights and a pragmatic approach to managing terrain. You go when ever you can, human and mountain conditions pending. I loved the idea of getting through the challenging terrain as fast as possible with a team of great friends with relatively diverse backgrounds.

Daryl was the self professed 'wild card'. I have known Daryl for a long time. He is an ex-National team teli ski racer, has an 'off the couch' physique like Lance Armstrong, and his best asset, and ex-tree planter of 6 or more years. The catch; Daryl had never winter camped before! Skiing across the Vowell glacier mid way through the first day was a pretty humerous/humbling time to find out that one of your team members was using the Bugs to Rogers pass traverse to learn how to winter camp. Good thing the group had a good sense of humour.

Sean, Mike and I are really all pretty much in the same boat. We are all climbers at heart but with the idea of becoming ski guides one day we are all pretending to be skiers for a couple seasons. Admittedly we may in fact all be becoming skiers at heart but please don’t tell out sponsors (or in Mike’s case, his wife Kris). As the saying goes the most dangerous situation you can put yourself in is out in the mountains with a bunch of “guides” as everyone thinks the other guy/guide is the one doing the thinking and then of course there is the small ‘guide ego factor’. In the big picture, if Daryl only knew what he may have been getting himself into his humour may not have been so accepting.

Day 1, 15 hours of skiing, 1240 m down, 2300m up, 5 hours sleep.
Day 2, 14.5 hours of skiing, 2630 m down, 1924 m up, 5 hours sleep.
Day 3, 10.5 hours of skiing, 2030m down, 2100m up, 6 hours sleep.
Day 4, 16 hours skiing, 1670m down, 2440m down, 4.5 hours sleep.
Day 5, 14 hours skiing, Sean flys out mid day, 2500m down, 1400m up, 5 hours sleep.
Day 6, 18 hours skiing, 2580m down, 2270 m up. To the car at 12 midnight.

We had 4 days of great weather with clear skies, good overnight freezing, and generally fast travel. Day 4 and 6 were done in mostly ‘white out’ weather and these days took their toll. The travel was slow these days as it was often over glaciers which required extra care in order to avoid skiing into crevasses.

Sean was unfortunately unable to complete the traverse and was evacuated with the help of a helicopter on the 5th day at the McMurdo Hut. No doubt the long days endured combined with short nights and challenging terrain take a toll on mind and body. Thankfully Sean lasted the 5 days required to allow this trip to be used as one of his “long ski tours” in his application for the ACMG ski guide program.

I can honestly say that this was one of the best trips of my life. I have never covered so much terrain in one trip and have a new appreciation for the big ski tours that are commonly being done. What is even more amazing is to think of doing these tours back in the i970’s with old gear, no beta from previous teams, and no communication available without Sat phones or radio contact with the many ski lodges that operate throughout the terrain. No helicopter evacuations back then!

I will definitely do more of this. Thanks boys!

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Also, thanks to Marc Piche and Gery Untersinger of the CMH Bugaboos and Bobbie Burns lodges. Marc assisted in arranging flights for us into the Bugaboo lodge and Gery aided us in placing a cache at the head of Malachite creek.

2 Comments:

Blogger Butch said...

that sounds brutal. why would sleeping 4 hours a night be cool?

6:48 PM  
Blogger Stheflight sau said...

Friends with relatively diverse backgrounds.
Flights to Sao Paulo

12:38 AM  

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