sproatt_lake

Whistler Backcountry Early Season Trip Report

In Blog, Portfolio, Snow, Writing by Steve0 Comments

Growing up near the mountains, I have learned two basic tenets to follow for when to go, and when not to go.  It relies on:
a) trusting my intuition.
b) completely disregarding the pessimistic naysayers who are almost always just guessing.
Yesterday solidified both such tenets.  After a five day+ apocalyptic rainstorm that soaked the valley, I just knew down in my gut that, had this storm been in the middle of winter, the #hype machine would be on maximum overdrive.  But seeing as the storm straddled the end of September and start of October, the peanut gallery was full of criticism.
“You’ll get like 10 instant core shots.”
“Don’t kid yourself, there’s not that much snow up there.”
“Have fun trudging through all the schmoo.  Seriously, don’t waste your time.”
walking up
In spite of the naysayers, the author puts one foot in front of the next…
Seeing as the grumbles came from casual observers and not from anyone who had actually gone, I knew I couldn’t (and shouldn’t) take their word for it.  Plus, the sun was shining, and aside from picking mushrooms or vaporizing the day away, the options for activities in October can be limited.  So I called upon my social media circle of awesome people to find a willing group of friends with an equal level of jonesing for pow.
Not that I had an expectation of pow – but seeing how much snow fell in sucession, my hopes leaned more toward a positive day in the snow than one of disappointment.  Which, if you think about it, is a good life mantra – avoiding situations out of fear of letdown does not a legend make.
We set out for an 8AM departure, which in this town is ambitious.  After PR’ing a few D’s and gathering lunch supplies, we hit the highway before letting a logging road to take us to the snowline.  Without divulging our exact whereabouts, I’ll say that it was a quick 40 minute jaunt from the gas station to the snowline, on our feet in trekking mode just after 10AM.
With my borrowed snowshoes and a $25 (with bindings!) board from the re-use-it centre, we made the trek toward the alpine. Within about 20 minutes any sign of summer (or even fall, for that matter) had completely disappeared.  The sun beamed through the forest, causing some serious melt-bombs dropping from the trees.  All the better to build the base with, my dear.
But to our fortune the freezing level teetered close to the snowline all day, and without too much more climbing, the snow clung snugly to the trees.  Yes, it was October 3rd, and I had seen less snow in February some years.  The base underneath us was solid enough for us to easily climb all but the steepest of pitches.
sproatt_lake

If you know, you know (it helps if you go).

We soon found a decent line to shred, and I faced the internal dilemma between conservatively testing the snow quality and letting everything go as I would in the middle of winter.  I opted for the less responsible option and made my first run of the season count.  As I carved through each turn without making a sound or touching anything but soft snow, my thoughts shifted between moments of ecstasy and the classic playground ditty of three very satisfying words:  “Neener, neener neener,”  the voices in my head seemed to shout at the faceless minions below, pining for the chairlifts to finally open someday in the future.
October 3rd? For realzzz?
steve_pillows

Popping early season dongers on the Coast!

We shredded a few different zones before heading back to the truck – all with plenty of sunlight to spare.  The entire day my board stayed scratch-free, floating on top of a base that was well-packed with ample fluff on top. If the weather stays cold we could be in for quite the season…. considering I’m discussing pow only 2 weeks after summer’s end, I might have made the understatement of the century.
But a solid lesson was learned on this day – and that is to let any negative criticism go in one ear and out the other.  People will automatically default to the path of least resistance, which of course is staying at home and watching Duck Dynasty, pontificating on conditions which cannot be understood until your feet are actually on top of the snow.  In other words, “you don’t know until you go.”