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November 21, 2011 at 1:05 pm #1161
We are blessed with an early season arctic high this weekend, following on a few days of cold rain and snow in town. 7 skiers and one snowshoer met at 7.30 in Park Royal. With a dry morning and good visibility, a temperature of minus 2 or so in Vancouver, it has to be good. Leslie and Anne provide excellent vehicles for the perilous ascent of the access road to the park from Squamish. Just beyond the park entrance we meet the warden, who is making sure everyone has tire chains. One casualty on the way was a car hung up on its frame on the side of the road, having lost one of it’s tire chains and tried to avoid another vehicle, only to slide and end up as a stranded beetle, forcing a major hassle for the unfortunate skiers. Leslie and Anne expertly avoid said sideways stranded car my a mere couple of inches, also avoiding the yawning ravine on the other side of the road.
There is a large number of cars already at the trailhead…. everyone has headed up here for the early season snow. It does not disappoint. As we gain elevation the snow gets deeper, and by the time we reach red heather meadows hut there is about 3 feet. Not a lot, but doable, given we avoid those spikey little tops of small spruce trees indicating soft holy areas. The snow quality is fantastic. Champaigne interior bc type powder with only about 6 inches of ski penetration. We enjoy a break at the hut, with a warm stove, in the cheery company of many other sklers, so many that we hope it isn’t all thrashed up when we get to the top of the hill.
After break we pant up to the “high point”, where the trail turns east, and we head north, and then west, to where we often go down. Agh… the small trees there are not yet covered, though some of greater skill and nerve have negotiated this. We settle on the straight down route, thrashed a bit, but still enough to get in some good turns and a few face plants for some. We return to the crest, down again, and then turn left near the trail sign a little farther down. This leads to some beautiful meadows, relatively gentle slopes mostly, of untracked powder….There are chants of “Allah Akbar” – Pauls chant de Jour, and “yee ha” form the ex Albertan, as we plunge down the whiteness. Finally we reach where we cant go down any more, and we lunch beneath some spruces under a weak winter sun, and views of Mt Garibaldi and the Tantalus Range capped by beautiful lenticular cloud formation portending bad weather on the way, but not for some hours yet.
On with the skins again for the return trip up the hill, as there is no time for any more yo-yo runs with the short winter daylight. Besides, I’m bagged anyhow. as planned, we reach the hut again at 3.00 PM. There are so many others there, we think it might be like Highway 1 at friday rush hour…. Not quite, but on the downhill thigh screamin packed powder luge run I’m passed by some who could have given a sign. Back at the parking lot, we’re glad of no serious collisions with either trees or other humans and a perfect early winter day.
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