Sunday, January 29, 2017

Kingsbury Hut Week Long Trip Report

Coming back from Japan, I stopped in Calgary. Amelie, on her side, kept on flying to Montreal

I was join half an hour after my arrival by Etienne, Nic and Babiche from Quebec with whom we’ve planned a a hut trip.

The plan was fairly simple : rent a car, shop for some supplies for a week of food, drive to Golden, meet JS who was driving from Vancouver, take a short helicopter fly in and spend a week skiing in a backcountry hut.

The planification of that trip started in the fall by finding a cabin suitable for what we wanted to do.

Our critera were cheap, good terrain, non catered, non-guided.
Since most of the huts are reserve around a year in advance, we were pretty late to choose a cabin.

My friend Martin spotted the Kingsbury hut when he did the Bugaboos to Rogers Pass traverse and tought that there could be some good terrain to ski.

This hut is managed by the Columbia Valley Hut Society which manage a few other cabin in the Purcells including the more famous Jumbo Pass hut.

One can access the hut by hiking to it, but it is quite a slog and not really what we wanted to do. As you cannot sled to this hut, you need to fly. To access this hut, we used Alpine Helicopter who can fly you in for around 1750$ return...

After buying the required supply to fuel up 5 guys for 7 days, we left Calgary to drive to Golden.

We meet up with JS in late evening in a cheap AirBnB that we rented and where we repacked all our stuff in small package to try to make it fit in the helicopter.

We woke up the following morning and made our way to the heli-pad.
After getting everything that we wanted to bring along on some carts that got weighted, all of us has to jump on the scale. Conclusion : too heavy for the heli...

We also had a volume problem...
We started going around what we had and started sorting what was absolutely required and what could we left behind.

We eventually got most of the must-have in the heli and we took off just as the sunrise was happening. The view was pretty spectacular at this time of day and as we were going over ridges and crossing a few valleys, we got pretty excited!!
We eventually arrived at the hut where we got all our stuff out of the heli and watch it fly away as it was leaving us for a week at the cabin!

As the day was really nice, we repacked quickly our daypack and left the cabin to enjoy a day out and to start to have a feeling for the snow around. We headed just behind the cabin to check out the terrain and review our beacon searching technique.

The terrain above the cabin is mostly alpine and does not offer some nice long vertical runs. We did some nice short laps and got really excited about the snow that we had.

We got back to the cabin and enjoy some beer straight out of the 30l keg that we managed to bring along!

The following day did not offer as good visibility as the previous day.
After climbing just behind the cabin for a few hundred meters, we skied down in the trees all the way to Bobby Burns creek.

The skiing in the trees was good and we found some nice openings.
We then made our way on the other side of the valley where we had some good laps on the moraine not too high up so that we could have some visibility.

We were all pretty stocked about our first full day of touring and we again enjoyed some beer on the patio and some grilled cheese!

We brought a lot of food to the hut, including a big piece of meat on which we had planned to cook steak. Luckily, as we were looking under the cabin for some firewood, we found a BBQ!

It was a bit hard to get the BBQ hot enough at -15Celcius to properly seize steaks, but the end result was pretty good!!!

We had a little bit better view the following day, so after hiking around a 100m higher than the cabin, we skied down to Bobby Burn creek and traverse on the other side of the valley.

We spotted some runs from the otherside of the valley that could be interesting to hit!
After checking a little bit more the snowpack, we skied down not too, too convince that the stability was that awesome.

Actually, the avy forecast kept on repeating that two bad layers were reacting to the passage of a single skier.

We all found some great lines in some terrain that was not too exposed.

Coming back to the hut, we were all pretty stoked about that terrain that was not too steep or not too expose to lay some turns.

We enjoy some drinks enjoying the view of Mt Battlefied and Mt International as the alpenglow was setting down.

The next morning brought a much lower ceiling.
It was some kind of weird weather since we could sometimes see the sun, but we could also easily loose the visibility...

We went back to the same area on the other side of Bobby Burn creek and skied some similar runs that we did the day before.

One of the really good thing about this hut is that you kind of have a full valley only for yourself to use. So as long as the snow is good, you can enjoy it without having to share it!!!

As usual, we feast on this awesome day with a return snack on the porche of the cabin!

As Babiche was already a bit tired, he left early with the plan to cook the meat we have brought over as a roast-beef in the wood stove!

That was SOOOO good!!!
I don’t know why but it seems that food taste better in remote locations!!!

With a little better visibility, we set out to ski a couloir that was tempting us since we arrived.

Located just behind the cabin, it was probably around 500m long and not too steep.
After bootpacking our way up in tits deep surface hoar snowpack, we eventually got to the top of the run.

We were a little bit concern both from what we saw on the way up and from the exposure that we underestimated. At the top of the run, the snowpack was not much better and after hesitating a bit, we back-tracked and hiked our way down.

Some had a little bit more style than other to hike down!!

We spend the rest of the afternoon reviewing glacier travel and crevasse rescue technique as we were planning to go up on Mt Battlefield.

Since from the maps and satellite images, there were a few small glacier to cross and a few of the guys didn’t have any experience , it was really cool to review some of that technique.

The following morning, we woke up to a beautiful clear blue sky.

The climb up to Mt Sibbald is pretty straight forward. We roped up on the way up despite not seeing any crevass or sign of it on the way up.

As we reached the top with were rewarded with a really nice inversion of the adjacent Duncan river valley.

We had three laps on the upper part of Mt Sibbald after snacking on top.
The snow was really nice, cold and soft.

As we walked back to the hut, the sun slowly made its way down and we enjoyed as long as we could quite an awesome day.

The wind picked up overnight and the ridges got cleared up of the snow overnight. We left the hut to check out how the snow was around our little treed area. The visibility was on and off, but we managed to have some good turn before the visibility and the windcrust worsten.

For our last day at the hut, we skied in the trees just adjacent from the hut.  Leaving East from the hut, we went down in an opening that we scouted from the other side of the valley. Top part was good as the snow was nicely protected, but the lowest part got fairly cliffy. We found our way down all the way to the Bobby Burn creek, but it was kind of hard to link turns in the bottom part.

We made our back not too late to finish cleaning up the hut as the helicopter was planned to pick us up around 4PM.

The helicopter was right on time and we packed all our stuff in as the blade kept spinning above us.

As we took off, we were able to see our tracks below.
We figured we did a pretty good job lapping the terrain surrounding the hut!

With the tracks we have laid around and now that the wind got a lot of the alpine and since that there is not that much options in the trees, there won’t be that many options for the following party to ski on.

It was a really good week all together and we were figuring that we got really lucky with the weather and the quality of the snow that we got!

Living in the hut, not having reception and living the chilled relaxed life of only having to ski was really nice and we all enjoyed it quite a lot.

I don’t we’ll go back there soon since it was so good that we would most likely be disappointed!

I think that with some visibility, it is a really great hut.
If there is not that much visibility, there is not that many really good options.

I would not recommend going to that hut on a really stormy week.
If the weather is not too bad, it is quite a nice place to ski and hangout.

That first hut trip will certainly not be the last!!!
Now off to Rogers!