Thursday, March 12, 2015

Miracle ski week

Just when I thought I was reluctantly hanging up the skis for the winter I got frantic emails from a friend in Washington that he had a friend who was looking to fill a slot at a week long backcountry hut.  What better situation in a poor snow year to be an unemployed skier to be depressed about the lack of snow to have a little money in the bank to head higher in elevation with a helicopter assist?The folks organizing the trip knew about it for two years and I learned I was going two days before climbing into the helicopter.  My 50th birthday present that Mark gave me as a "gift certificate" was going to be reality and I hadn't even planned it.

I ended up being instant friends with the group of 13, who have been coming semi-annually to the Blanket Glacier Chalet for almost 10 years.  They were a ruckus bunch with lots of musical talent and singing at night and more food that was deliciously and lovingly cooked than the best 4 star restaurant. Although my legs got toned by climbing 3,000 vertical or so a day, I don't think I lost any weight from the daily workouts.

The snow was the most surprising to me as everyday we had terrific snow conditions.  We got lucky early in the week to pick up 5 cm and with a good blustery evening, snow got filled in really good in some really sweet spots.  We had a very supportive crust underneath pow pow almost every day except for the routes we took to the top of a couple mountains where more challenging conditions lay - breakable crust, packed powder and sastrugi that made things really fun for the lighter skis.  There was very low avalanche hazard since it hadn't snowed really for weeks and weeks and it got kinda cold and stayed cold so everything was pretty solid.  The only avalanche activity I saw was a couple of crowns on steep terrain and wet snow avalanches in steep solar terrain lower in elevation.   I brought along my Salomon Lumens and was so happy with my set up.  I really didn't feel at a disadvantage hiking and they were super fun to ski in the ever-changing conditions. 

Me and my Lumens

I am one of the privileged.  To be able to spend a week up high at the Blanket Glacier Chalet was pretty special.  Even more so when it was completely unexpected.

Thanks to everyone who helped to make it happen.  

By the way I took two 7 minute helicopter rides to and back at 46 gallons/hour with 5 passengers on board to the Blanket Glacier Chalet. (For ease of math - I made the flights a total of 15 minutes) So these two flights used 11.5 gallons (43.5 liters) of fuel, divided by 5 passengers on board = 2.3 (8.7 liters) gallons for each passenger there and back). I produced with my helicopter ride 20.01 kg worth of carbon dioxide (C02). I appreciated getting up to the Blanket Glacier Chalet quickly and efficiently with a helicopter. It would have taken me a long long time to hike up - ha ha.

A quote that really wraps up how I thought it all came about is from Emily Harrington, a really successful professional climber that I admire because she works with Protect Our Winters and lots of other cool organizations while doing her thing:

"Luck is a really odd thing, and it presents itself in the most random of ways.  I believe everyone has the opportunity to get lucky in life, but it takes action.  In other words, you have to recognize the moment to seize your luck, and not miss out on it."

1 comment:

  1. Happy belated 50th beautiful Ciel!!! You are indeed a deserving and blessed woman, thank you for sharing, much grace, love and light, Jean Lloyd