22 April, 2014

Albert Icefields Trip: A Week In The Deep Freeze

Earlier this year my friends, Justin, Gavin and I had planned a week of ski touring up on the Albert Icefields, below Selkirk Lodge for February.  We had set the dates aside in September but little did we know the dates we had chosen was going to be one of the coldest weeks of the winter, with temperatures dipping below -30 degrees C each night.  But stubborn as we were, the skiing and terrain was going to be fun, so we committed to cold nights and cold days.

(Video:  Justin Ormiston)
We were flown in, with the gracious permission of Grania who runs the lodge, with Selkirk Tangiers helicopters.  After quick flight in and we were in the expansive area of the Albert Icefields for the week.  Big glaciers, amazing consistent fall-line ski runs, and steep terrain.
(Photo Above:  Home for the duration of the deep freeze.  Credit:  Justin Ormiston)
We had brought one tent for sleeping, and a small floor-less cook tent, which we excavated a nice seat and trench out of for the week.  Tons of great food for dinners, fuel, and of course a few bottles of high end Scotch.
(Photo Above:  Alex Wigley and Gavin Enns on the skin track up on the way to "Unholy."  Credit: Justin Ormiston)
Our goals for the week were only to ski tour great loops, not yo-yo terrain, and ski some fantastic dry snow.  We were able to get up on to some of the glaciers, which were impressively large, and ski some of the most classic descents the area had to offer.
(Photo:  Still obscenely cold, Alex Wigley about to drop into Campion Bowl. Credit:  Justin Ormiston)
The cold though was a touch tricky.  Of the three sleeping mats I had brought, two had holes I discovered the first night (and were the large luxurious and warm Exped Mats, that a friend had punctured while performing a rescue with), and it seemed that every morning getting out of the sleeping bag was a big effort.  The cook tent, was truly amazing though, as the two XGK stoves warmed it up significantly and made the process of making food bare able until the sun hit us.
(Photo Above:  Justin Ormiston on the Unholy Col.)
(Photo Above:  Gavin shredding another line below the Unholy Col.  Credit:  Justin Ormiston)
It was a great week, but we ended up running away as it so cold, and all of us were becoming very concerned with frost bite.  I would recommend Selkirk Lodge to anyone who wants to head out for a week of ski touring in big country.  The lodge looked great from our cold tents, and the sauna was a tease, knowing it was just up the hill.  We had a great week, and was a great break from guiding to go skiing with some friends.

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