Intro to Backcountry Skiing Workshop - Jan 7/8 2023

Intro to backcountry skiing

Trip Leaders: Josh Slatkoff, Martin Hofmann, Keith Battersby and Nadja Steiner

The “trip” started on Tuesday 3 Jan 2023, with a zoom presentation. The presentation covered a refreshed on backcountry travel, some tips and resources on how to plan backcountry travel, a few common ski touring places on the island, and finally an overview of our upcoming weekend trip.

The practical portion of the trip started on Sunday 7 Jan, when the group met outside the Vancouver Island Mountain Center. After a quick debrief and beacon check, the 15 participants, split into 2 groups and started our ascent up the far north west end of the Boomerang Ridge. Our goal was the ridge skiers right of the Boomerang chair. The recent snowfall allowed us to learn how to set an up-track. Not too long into the ascent, Dan also learned the importance of having baskets on ski poles. Several suggestions were brought forth on how to remedy his unfortunate situation, including duck tape, 4-pack ring tops (is that what they are called?), and a very good tip to turn the ski pole upside down. We also got an ‘on-mounatin yoga lesson’ on how to do a kick turn. This was easier for some of us than others. We reached the ridge around just past need, so we stoped for a late lunch. The snow kept falling, and was getting wetter and wetter as the day went on. We all got fresh tracks on the downhill, although apparently the split boarders didn’t recognize the spot we were regrouping at, and went further down the hill. Thankfully someone had cell service, and we were about to regroup a bit further down the mountain. We skied down to the final trail that brought us back to the parking lot, where the faster people got the tip to unlock their heals. Those of us who were a bit slower, missed this tip, and the final trail out seemed to take forever.

Day 2 we met at Raven Lodge, with the objective of Mt Elma. The wet heavy snow made conditions less the optimal. We had a few people drop out after the previous days adventures. A few of us commented that the tour into Mt Elma was noticeable more difficult than the tour up skiers right of the hawk chair. Some of us (me perhaps) struggled with the sliding concept of skinning. we reached the Brooks Elma saddle around noon. By this point, most of us were saturated, and the “snow” was melting on impact. we split into 2 groups, one would continue up Mt Elma, the other turned back for Raven Lodge. On the ski back, we learned the benefit to having others near by to help dig us out/pull us up when we fall. Eventually we all arrived safely back at parking lot, in through need of drying out!

Well done to all the participants!! AT skiing is challenging and can be even more so on Vancouver Island with our wet and icy snow conditions. So you all had a small taste of that!