So a little over a week ago I was sitting in a Hammock on a nice beach in Nicaragua getting ready to fly back to Canada the next day, deciding I wanted to get right back into skiing I started messaging friends to see what they we're up to for when I got back. My friend Marcus was in the middle of doing the Banff To Banff traverse, starting in Banff he had traversed to Sunshine, then from Sunshine to castle junction then Castle Junction to Lake Louise. For the Final Leg of the Journey he was planning on heading from Lake Louise to Banff. This sounded fun so I decided to come along.
Showing up In Louise two days and many plane flights and car rides later I quickly threw together an overnight camping set-up and all my ski gear. The plan was to leave the Ski hill at 3pm after he got off work and then just make it as far as we could to our first campsite, the goal was Baker Lake, just past deception pass.
Jumping on the Gondola with 4 people all with giant backpacks was quite hilarious and we barely even fit. Then a quick ski down to temple lodge where we skinned up and hit the well traveled xc trail towards skoki lodge. 3 hours later and just before dark we reached Baker Lake and set up camp in a thicket of trees. That night was definitely the coldest and was quite the change to go from 30degrees Celsius to -20 Celsius in just a couple days.
The Next day we got on the trail around 9 am and started trekking towards Pulsatila Pass, A fairly short day by the numbers but with one of our partners on only his third ski tour of the season and lots of breaks it took us almost a full day to get to the otherside of the pass. The scenery was amazing and we had great sunny weather that was incredibly warm especially in contrast to the cold nights. The climb to the pass was a bit of a bushwack as we did not find the summer trail and we definitely could have found a nicer route but we made it all the same. A quick descent over about 10 different snow conditions none of which were any good we got ourselves to our camp for night 2.
Day three started at 9 again with our goal to reach Larry's camp, 15km from our starting point and on a very slight downhill grade. Again slow and steady pace continued as we made it there around 5:30 giving us lots of daylight to find a nice campsite right near a water source and providing good shelter. The first two nights I had just used my bivi sack as a ground sheet with my thermarest and sleeping bag on top, sleeping under the stars was beautiful and avoided any condensation issues. This night some snow was forecast though so I decided to set-up in my bivy, which unfortunately is basically a garbage bag. One tip I did receive(the next morning) was too keep a couple warm water bottles in your sleeping bag to help force the moisture out, though I think I also just need a better much more breathable bivi. Waking up in shivers was probably the worst part of the trip followed shortly by putting on frozen socks that i needed to keep in my down booties for 5 minutes until I could get them to fit properly.
We hit the Trail early on this morning has we had almost 30km of travel ahead of us as well as having to gain elevation to cross Mystic Pass. This day we cut out any group breaks and moved much more steady, I much prefer this style as I can get into a much better rhythm and just crush vert/distance. We Summited Mystic Pass at noon and began a fun descent through a winding canyon like drainage. Unfortunately our friend Todd fell and cut his head open on his ski tip deep enough to require 5 stitches at the hospital that evening. We stopped and applied some steri strips and some bandages and continued heading down. Then at the bottom a few transitions from skinning to skiing and covering a few kms we reached the Forty Mile Creek Trail. From there we had a long hall of roughly 18km of skiing to Norquay parking lot. I opted to go skinless for the first 10km whereas my buddy Marcus with his fancy gliding thin mohair skins made several transitions along the way. I kept pace with him until after 9km the trail steepened and i wasted a fair bit of time duckfeeting up where I should have just started skinning. We waited for a few minutes and Todd showed up but our friend JD was nowhere to be seen. After about 45minutes we decided that Marcus and Todd would continue on and get to the hospital for Todd's head wound and I would wait up for JD. around 20-30minutes later JD came in and was having issues with his knee, nothing seemed blown or torn but he was having trouble supporting weight. A quick break and we hit the trail again for the final 8kms to Norquay. Jd managed to keep up a good pace the whole way and finally at 9pm we hit the car, a full 13 hours after we started our day. In the parking lot his white corolla was barely visible and at first we thought It had been towed over the last few days and were seriously pissed. Luckily it was just an illusion and a minute later taillights of freedom reflected back at us.
Definitely a good character building trip and got to see some super rad terrain that has some good skiing potential and a few really money looking rock climbing areas as well. Most zones were very thin even on the lee side of the peaks seeming like quite the dry area. Anyways Here are some Pictures of the mission
-if caught in a slide, dig down as far as you can go and you'll eventually hit china...it's the only hope of survival - Gator