Friday, 7:30 pm. I was solemnly resigned to the fact that I would not be able to find a ride to the Mt Brew Trail head and when my phone went off and Amanda cheerfully told me that she had found me a ride up! Next thing I knew, it was 6:30 am and I was loading my gear into the back of Dylan’s car, with great levels of stoke and probably far too little trepidation for the weekend of new experiences that lay ahead. After drive along the sea to sky, and a brief coffee break in Squamish, Dylan, Claire and I arrived at the trail head.
Having never telemarked before and with extremely limited experience in the back country, the next nine hours of my life proved to be, well, an adventure to say the least. After Dylan gave a brief demo on how to use skins the group began up the trail. The first 500 metres or so was spotty for snow but the snow pack drastically improved after that. The group gradually drifted apart but managed to reform after the front runners took a wrong turn, meeting us for lunch at the top of the logging road. At this point telemarking had proven to be far more difficult than I had imagined but I was starting to get the hang of it, receiving much needed advice from the more experienced people on the trip.
We stopped for lunch and started up again. I was continuously floating between groups and trying (unsuccessfully) to keep up with the main pack. By the time we got to the forest I was getting more comfortable and was further determined to get to Brew. The steep grades and tight trees proved to be challenging at parts but (almost) everyone made it up in the end, albeit slowly at stretches, without too much trouble. Amanda and Sarah were nowhere to be seen, but we knew they were in the back. For further detail on their escapades, see part two of this report.
The hours after getting out of the forest proved to be some of the most physically demanding of my life. If it wasn’t for the help (and extra voilé straps) of Elliott, the final stretch could have been much more difficult than it already was. The sun was getting low, the snow thick, and visibility was slowly diminishing. In the last kilometer, with the hut lights visible through the newly formed blizzard, I encountered great technical difficulty with my skins. The voilé strap Elliott had lent me had sheared off and one of my skins kept sliding off of my ski. This resulted in Boris helping me ski, hike, crawl, and overall exhaustingly faff my way up the final stretch. I don’t think I have ever seen a more beautiful sight than Brew Hut that night.
Far too exhausted to set up my tent, I entered the kerfuffle that was the inside of Brew hut. The warmth of the crowded hut was definitely welcome after the ascent. As I slowly regained my sanity I realized there was a huge issue. Amanda and Sarah were still nowhere to be found. There was some decision-making and organization. Then, Cora established contact with the assistance of the ever superior network of Koodo. The girls had gotten turned around at the top of the forest and were still hours away from the hut. At this point, darkness had fallen and the blizzard was getting worse. A rescue team consisting of Tom, Ian, Elliott, Emily, and Arran was created and they headed down the mountain to aid our fellow skiers. I sent my tent down with them in case they needed to camp out.
The potluck went ahead as planned but without the haggis. Dylan tuned the hut guitar, and the atmosphere in the cabin became more cheerful. Dylan and I took turns playing music, he living up to his title of Bard of the VOC, and I attempting (with varying degrees of success) a rendition of Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. Eventually things quieted down. The exhausted 20 or so people in the hut eventually drifted off to sleep, exhausted from the day. I curled up on a bench by the fire, and dozed until the rescue team returned. They had found the girls and everyone was ok. Elliott and Emily had camped with them while Tom, Arran and Ian made the trek back up (how a group of humans can have so much energy is still beyond me).
The descent went smoother than the upward trek. Having spent my childhood skiing downhill, I felt at ease. There was so much snow that bailing was fine. Those who had difficulty getting down were saved by Tom and Ian who double packed through the hardest stretches (seriously, HOW CAN THEY HAVE THIS MUCH ENERGY?). We passed the “rescue camp” along the way, taken aback at how far down they were. I reclaimed my tent, and Dylan, Tom, Claire, Ian, Tim, and I made our way to the parking lot. We got slightly lost along the way, which resulted in eating it off of a minor cliff in order to get back on track. Overall it was an incredible weekend and I think I might be hooked—once I can walk normally again, that is.
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