Monday, March 28, 2011

The Bonningtons

166 - Kick ass
168 - Oh awesome
170 - Cool

As I stepped onto the scale over the winter I was amazed at how my scrawny frame was overcoming its limitations and finally packing on the muscle. It was only when the scales hit 172 that I wondered how I could be gaining so much strength, given that I wasn't really being very active. Wait a minute. Could my dad's quip be coming true: "your thirties are when a narrow waistline and a broad outlook change places."

So I put down the Cheetos and I went on a crash diet, and when James called me up to go for a 4 day ski tour in the Bonningtons, I leapt on the opportunity. I had never been on a winter traverse longer than 2 days, and I wasn't feeling all that fit given the low number of ski days this year, but I figured I really needed to go outside. Besides, it seemed well within my capabilities. Forty five kilometers with 3 huts along the way meant a mere 10km a day. Tour for a couple of hours with the full pack, toss it in the hut, and then go do some lightweight laps.

The team was full of very fit dudes. James, whose legendary fitness needs no introduction. Luke, who came along in Revelstoke for a 17km, 1750 vertical meter tour as his rest day after 26 days in a row of skiing, and Andrew, of similar fitness levels and an appetite to taunt Michael Phelps.

The hard men decided this short tour was a giggle and required many luxuries including cans of beer, whisky in bottles, guitars, and fresh vegetables. I went with my ultralight backpack with dehydrated food and left behind the hut booties to save space. Abandoning the booties was my one regret for this trip.

The huts were rather challenging to find, usually buried deep in the snow, surrounded by trees, and in rather indistinct locations. But with the help of an altimeter, previous parties' skin tracks, and the occasional shameful GPS use, we found them quite quickly.

The touring itself often followed great ridge lines. The wind blasted trees on the ridges made beautiful snow sculptures.

I found the travel more challenging than I was expecting. As usual in the mountains, it's all about the vertical distance, not the horizontal. Day 2 had us following a ridge, which was far more beautiful and less effort than descending and ascending valleys, but still saw about 1500m of elevation. Luckily, by then I had given up attempting to keep pace with the elite athletes, and plodded steadily along in the back at my own pokey pace, resulting in a lot less exhaustion and suffering than day 1. As a huge treat, the final descent towards the cabin had unbelievable snow conditions for some exceptional turns in perfect powder. Like floating? falling? flying? gliding? Not sure why powder skiing is so magical.

Sometimes while grinding up steep mountains certain songs get stuck in your head. Or more often, just a snippet of a song. This time, it was "working your biceps".

More ridge walking, skiing, drinking, singing, bootpacking up a knife-edge ridge in a whiteout with howling winds, and a long sweet descent back to the car rounded off a great trip. Showering after 4 days of sweating was pretty damn sweet.

Thanks to James for lugging around a camera. All these photos are his.

1 comment:

Nature Nerd said...

Never, ever leave the hut booties at home for a hut trip. You'll always regret that one. Nice summary of what it's like to follow in the wake of fit Revelstokians.