Friday, April 10, 2015

Fairy Meadows Hut Trip

I have been back from our trip to the legendary Fairy Meadows hut near Golden BC for almost 2 weeks, but haven't taken the time to do a post about it yet because...I dunno, I've been bizzyboy or something with work and some high quality socializing. But it was a great trip worth writing a bit about and sharing a few pics.

Ash and I had both been to Fairy Meadows long ago on separate trips; they were both earlier in the season and were challenging: she had lean snow conditions  - meaning the crevasses yawned open ominously - and the trip I went on had bitterly cold temps with the warmest readings all week around zero degrees F, so travel options were a bit limited.  So despite saying that we were going to take a hiatus from a ski trip this year, when the mighty Elliot Barcikowski invited us on a late season week (which is the hardest time to get) at Fairy Meadows the prospect of having warmer temps, a more-robust and hopefully stable snowpack made us ponder the concept for about 2 minutes before we jumped on it.  And we are glad we did!

BC had a strong start to the season, with the ruschblock or whatever they were calling the interminable high pressure ridge that plagued the Western US forcing all the good snow to our north for Dec, Jan, and much of February, so the 'pack was phat up there.  However, in late Feb and early March they got hit by the warmth and variability that we had, and the stability suffered, and the week before we went there was the ominous news that a super-experienced and well-loved guide was killed in a freakish avalanche (here's the link to a comprehensive story about it) not far away the week before we went.  But as always, off we go, telling ourselves that we'll be safe.....

Fairy Meadows requires a pretty long flight in, and our flight day had a fair bit of snow, fog, rain (in town) and wind, as we waited for a possible break in the weather a heli-ski crew took off to head to their lodge only to return to base.  Much ski porn was watched, much scrabble played, etc. and we were pretty certain that we would be flying the next morning, but suddenly things lit up, some of our crew was whisked into the copter and off they went. As it turns out, the crew that was in the hut had conveniently turned off their radios and were out skiing, in the sauna, and making dinner when the heli came in, so apparently they got into a bit of a flurry to exit the hut in a hurry.

It was a bit touch and go due to the late hour, but the last of our crew, food, and gear arrived just before dark and we quickly settled in.

After a solid session of eye-opening rescue practice in the morn we headed up into the hills above the hut where I found a good 38 degree, hundred-vertical foot test slope and  -on belay - jumped out on it to see what would happen.  One stomp got this great shooting crack:

and the second got a nice 18' crown to break and race down the hill.

A bit of an ominous start to the trip, but as it turned out, that was the only avy activity we had all week.

Beyond that, it was essentially BC hut trip standard fare:  wake up, feast on breakfast, have the usual "who's going where" cluster, everyone leaves, march about and ski some great lines, come back and drink, eat, play games (except for Elliot!) hit the rack, and repeat the next day.  Here are a slew of pics:
big flat glaciers, with Mt Sir Sandford looming in the distance

Marching to the Gendarmes

Our fearful leader heading up into Heaven

where he become positively Angelic
then hucked his carc....

and was proud to finally be a ski-breaker!
Speaking of hucking, Christian decided that this OMA (Old Man Air) wasn't enough, and decided to go big.  Here's the sequence:
Rockin on down, getting ready to fly

so excited he's flapping his wings in anticipation....

then becomes a veritable jet! 

The shot of the trip.  

The cratering-in on the dead flat surface. I thought I had just witnessed a paralysis!  

But Ullr the snow god smiled on the fair Christian, and with a bit of a sore back and neck he was railing the next day!

I decided to shoot the tube....

And our weather improved again so we could go up high....
and feel pretty small.....

it wasn't super steep skiing....

but was pretty sublime.
little person, big mountains

snacking, something we do well
Ash in her element
Near the top of Sentinel Peak, which looms above the hut
Gay Flat Powder Canadian style

Wind sculpted old ski tracks...
including pole plants....
Sarah and Christian on top of the world
And Mark well below that, getting our drinking water.  
Team Voile, stoked about our most-excellent V6's, which were perfect for the variable conditions we had
scruffy folks, phun times
with a special visit by the local clown!
No trip is complete without the gratuitous hut kicker fest, so I invoked some long lost gags from the bag:

And while we waited for the heli to whisk us back to cilivization, Austin (who had never toured before, yet slayed it!) took advantage of the deep-snowpack trench to gap huck....

and thus we were done.  Fairy Meadows isn't the most skiable hut we've been to, but the infamous craggy terrain is pretty ridonculous.

Then back to the humdrum Wasatch...

Our fellow hutmates  -from the Northwest - turned out to be stellar photographers, and for mo bettah scenic shots of the area here are a couple of links to their sites to get a better sense of the terrain and see pics of people you don't know.

Thanks again to Elliot for having the foresight - and luck - to get the hut late season (and in a challenging Wasatch season!), organizing the trip, putting together a great crew, and inviting us!

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