On Friday March 15th, three other ladies and I drove from Kelowna to Vancouver with excitement to begin our journey into Brew Hut, a backcountry hut built by VOC near Squamish. I was nervous because it was going to be my first time back country ski touring, although I had taken my AST 1 a few weeks earlier. After exploring Vancouver city and having a restful night, early Saturday morning we drove to the trailhead. There were 13 of us from VOCO and VOC touring into the hut and there were already 6 friends that had gone up the day before. As we began, I tried not to be an obvious newb putting my skins on and getting set up. I felt awkward for the first few strides, attempting to get the hang of the technique by observing others. It didn’t make it much easier that the first 9 kilometers were an icy, rutted, uneven logging road that seemed to give everyone blisters. Just as I was beginning to question why I had chosen to hike 14 kms with a heavy backpack (with boots I had never tested before), for the first time ski touring, we reached the real skin track. At this point it seemed like a good time to refuel with lunch. My energy picked up after, and the trail got a lot more interesting, with beautiful views through the trees and then into the alpine.
Although I was tired, I felt like I was getting the hang of the technique, which gave me new energy for the last 4-5 kms. At last, we reached the hut to see it was perched on a ridge with views of mountains that went on until you couldn’t see any further. We took our boots off with a sigh of relief and had a celebratory fireball shot. The rest of the evening was spent sitting outside with snacks, drinks and good company. A few friends built a snow cave, while others ventured a bit more around the area, until the whole group came together for dinner. VOCO and VOC members got to know one another one the first ever joint trip between the two clubs. We shared a few card games, riddles, beers, and a lot of laughs.
Sunday morning, most of the group skied Mount Brew. I already felt quite accomplished and knew we still had to ski out again, so instead some friends and I enjoyed a relaxed breakfast, enjoying the sun while we waited for the others to return. For the ski out, we chose to skin uphill a bit first to get a few turns and enough speed to carry us out of the meadow section. I thought skiing uphill was the difficult part, but it turns out going downhill with a heavy backpack throwing off your balance is no easy task either.
Nevertheless, the sun was shining and the first 4-5 kms went by fast, although I was dreading going down the bumpy logging road. To our delight, we discovered the road had been groomed by the nearby cat-skiing company. Therefore the last 9kms were fresh corduroy which made the ski out finish in a speedy 2 and half hours.
I have no frame of reference since it was my first time backcountry skiing, but conditions seemed to be alright. Overall the weather cooperated really nicely, and we got out just in time since the snowpack was beginning to be sun-cooked and sloppy. I didn’t go on this trip with intentions of skiing lots of fresh pow, instead I went for the unique experience. It exceeded all my expectations; everyone was extremely supportive and enthusiastic, which is ideal when you’re the inexpert jerry of the group. The hut itself was in a beautiful location with endless opportunities and lots of space to explore. This trip was a very positive first experience with The Varsity Outdoors Club, and also with ski touring. It was one of the highlights of my year and I gained a lot of new knowledge and friends. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone who likes hanging out with awesome people and having major type 2 fun!
Written by Amy Morton