Participants: Lucas Braun, Aino Keinaenen, Allen Zhao, Elias Bowman, Alain Zhiyanov, Marion Vandewynckele-Bossut, Helene Mund, Justyna Piotrowska, Tristan Russel, Nora Lindberg
It was a beautiful morning on Saturday when we set off down the Sea to Sky to Gin Peak. But it was not without its faff. Aino, our intrepid leader, had elected to be at the Whistler Olympic Park parking lot at 8:00am to beat the Whistler traffic and most of the wet-loose avalanche problem. A combination of factors made this difficult. First: the parking lot opened at 8:30am. Second: one of our cars left an hour after the other. It was a hellish morning, especially for me, as I had taken part in eventful St. Patrick’s Day festivities the night before and got less than two hours of sleep. I distinctly remember waking up at 3:00am, (without the aid of my alarm, which was set for 4:30am), shambling out in ski boots at 5:00am to Elias’ car, and suffering the winding Sea-to-Sky highway in the middle seat; the Guinness still heavy in my blood. But after a hardy sandwich from a Squamish gas station, I was able to rally. In Squamish, Allen texted us saying they had just crossed the bridge, which surprised us, to say the least.
When we got to Whistler Olympic Park, we were surprised to see the gate was closed. This gave us some time to wait for the other half of our party though, so things worked out. We waited by the car, listening to Elias serenade us with a spirited cover of “Heart Of Gold” on his harmonica. 20-30 minutes later, Aino arrived, and the gates were opened in seemingly perfect timing.
We began our skin up in earnest just before 9:00am. It was icy and hard snow, and strategic line choice was required to avoid backsliding. About 100 m up, Allen’s arches started hurting. We were powerless to offer anything other than words of encouragement, but the absolute unit was able to push on.
Eventually, we reached some chutes that had surprisingly good snow. We traversed to the North of them and spilled out onto beautiful Hanging Lake. We broke into a quick lunch, and I experienced more dissociation brought about by my lack of sleep. The sun was fully in the sky at this point, and we eyed the imposing Gin peak with stoke in our hearts.
After our lunch, Tristan set off up the Western bank of the lake, with me behind him. He set a rapid pace, and I felt the sweat dripping off of my hair into my eyes. The sun turned the snow into a searing white, and my lack of goggles/sunglasses became quite noticeable. On the Western flank of Gin, Tristan, Elias, and I saw a duo ski down really enticing chutes. They were just out of the sun’s reach at the time, nice and powdery, and had a decent runout. We looped up some mellow slopes that wrapped around to the south and found ourselves on the summit with some amiable snowshoers, who took our victorious photos.
At this point, we were all exhausted, overheated, and having the time of our lives. An entire panorama spread out before us, with the Garibaldi, Tantalus, and Callaghan ranges ringing us in. We could see all the way down to Skypilot Mountain, which I found to be cool, as Skypilot had been my first real ski tour this season (a trip report is coming soon).
We transitioned and split the group from there, with Elias, Tristan, and I seeking out the chutes, and the others choosing the mellower skin track for their descent. I had made the mistake of putting on my shell for the descent, not realizing we’d be traversing a flat if not slightly uphill ridge to get to our line. I was sweating like a hog when we finally reached the top of the chutes, and we waited for the rest of our party to congregate at the bottom to film our descent. The chutes were euphoric. Tristan sent it first, then me, then Elias. The snow was a bit heavy but made for great turns. Naturally, we resolved to do another lap. This is when things became a bit hairy.
First: a note on my skis. I have a nice pair of Sir Francis Bacon’s from Line. They came into my possession when I was 15 or 16 when my dad bought them for me. He made sure to tell me that “These were the last pair of skis he’d ever buy me.” They have treated me well. This is why I was filled with horror when in the first two turns of our second lap, I caught an edge and lost one of them. I watched in horror as it raced down the slope towards a cliff band and braced myself for its tragic embrace of the abyss. But at the last second, my ski turned and landed in the only tree well between it and oblivion. I breathed a sigh of relief, butt-scooched down the slope to the tree well, and clipped into my ride home.
Two turns in after that I caught another edge and tomahawked down the slope. This time we switched places, with the ski staying in place on a flat shelf, and me flying down below it. Luckily Elias came in clutch and brought the ski down to me. The rest of the way down was quite uneventful. We reunited with the others, who were doing some short mellow laps down by the lake and began our descent of the skin track. My feet were in agony by the time we reached the cars, and I borrowed Elias’ Crocs to relieve them.
We capped off the day with a beautiful sunset picnic at Porteau Cove, and Elias’ rousing Abba CD he found at a dollar store, which played weird dance remixes of the best Swedish band of all time.
-Waking up at 3:00am after partying until 1:00am is a bad time
-Eating food is always a good idea. Definitely pack more for next time.
-Check to see when a parking lot opens before driving up to it super early
-Don’t catch edges. If you do, have a contingency plan for losing a ski.
-Bring other shoes for the car rides so I’m not stuck in ski boots the whole day.
-Have electrolytes on hand for days when you’re sweating a lot. Several of us, myself included, suffered massive leg cramps on the drive home.
very nice trip report! Meanwhile, every single participant on the steps to the neve trip to Rainbow Lake was suffering from several kilos of snow glopping on their skins…