Monday, December 15, 2008

Last Tuesday's massive cold rain storm convinced us that ski season had begun. Finally, there must be snow in the mountains. Bright and early Saturday morning, we headed up to Brew hut for some early season skiing.

Coastal mountains groaning under the heavy snow load

The snowpack looked a little thin, but luckily that meant Hey Steve! was able to make it 7 kilometers up the logging road. But perhaps I shouldn't have pushed Steve so hard. After all, there was a lot more snow on the road than when we headed up through the trees.

Obstacle free uptracks

Despite occasional stumps on the trail, fights with blueberry bushes and devil's club, spirits remained high as we got closer to Brew hut.

It started to get a little cold as we neared the col where Brew hut is located. The new hut is much easier to find than the legendarily buried Brew 1, but there was still some concern as neither Anne nor I had ever been to Brew before. The winds were very high near the col, and the temperature was plummeting rapidly. If I had read the alpine forecast, I wouldn't have been surprised by the daytime lows of -20, but I hadn't.

Brew hut was a glorious sight to behold. We tumbled through the door and delighted in the wind-free warmth of the hut. A thermometer left on the table of the toasty hut read -12. I couldn't believe it. It seemed so warm in there. But a second thermometer confirmed the reading. Yikes! After a prolonged battle, we finally got the woodstove chimney to draw, the smoke cleared, and we enjoyed some fireside warmth.

We enjoyed the company of fabulous crew of 9 New Wave VOC members. It was terrific to see the VOC traditions of relentless enthusiasm, home-made gear, nudity, and living off cheese, continuing strong.

After the coldest night I've ever spent indoors, the dawn presented a glorious sunny day of wind-scoured slopes waiting to be skied. Luckily on our retreat we found a small but delightful pocket of wind-deposited snow. Glorious powder skiing in early December during the driest fall season in memory. The turns were so good we went back for another run. Anne even went back for a third.

Happy tracks!

Some fancy skiing through incompletely filled-in boulder fields, stumps, roots, and shrubs, followed by a little hiking with the skis on the back, found us safely back at the car. I even christened the new skis with a long but fortunately shallow scratch. A brilliant frost-bite free time was had by all.

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