Backcountry skiing at the local mountains behind Vancouver has all the qualities of a maritime location; somewhat dodgy. Hope is eternal though, and several times during winter the storm cycles come trundling down from the gulf of Alaska and itsí game on. This is the coast though, and the snow quality is at best temporal; dawn patrols are the order of the day with the added win of mid-week skiing and still making it into that 10 am meeting.We asked Julian Stoddart, one of the keener practitioners of Vancouver dawn patrols to contribute a post about this somewhat obscure obsession. When Julian isnít dawn patrolling he can be found visiting customers as principle of Howe Sound Sales, a manufacturersí representative of leading outdoor brands.
Visit Julianísí blog where he explores his passion for skiing locally, forays to the Central Coast of BC or more ambitious trips to Asia. www.howesoundsales.blogspot.com
When my alarm starts chiming at 6:00am I can hear the fat raindrops and the occasional car hissing through puddles on the street outside my window. The lucid stoke Iíd felt as weíd drummed up this plan the night before has fled the scene almost completely and for the umpteenth time Iím seriously tempted to bail. Iím expected to be there, however, so drag myself out of bed quietly, close the door to my bedroom and turn on the espresso machine.
Pack on back, skis/poles in one hand, toasted bagel balanced on full Doppio in the other, I clomp down the hall towards the elevator with ski boots on already. Iím not necessarily sure one should drive in their TLT 5ís, but Iíve done it often and find it pretty easy.
Our local version of a border guard is moving the pylons off the road, as per the strictly enforced rules, when I drive by at 7am sharp. Twelve minutes later I park and sit finishing coffee and bagel, watching friends crawl from their respective vehicles to don boots before I join them in sticking skins to skis.
Together we start out, both fatigued and encouraged by the lack of up-track; it only takes a few minutes of breaking trail to wake us up fully. We all know these trees well, having made this trip several times already this storm cycle: a little steep, then quite steep, then a bit more flat, and then steep again at the very end. Around 8:00am weíre standing on top, invigorated by the fresh air, wind and wet snow hitting our faces. Skins off, jacket/gloves/toque/goggles on - there are several ways down from here, all of which should be really good today.
Back at the cars, now in full daylight and in full agreement that this was a good idea.
ďThat was great guys - I can probably do tomorrow morning again if any of you are interestedĒ.
And like that, Iím committed, which should be just enough to stave off the doubt Iíll surely feel when my alarm sounds tomorrow morning.