We went to Callaghan Country with Philippe. It was a 2 days hike on skins, and some quick loops at the top once we setup camp.
Three avalanche problems, pretty normal considering how late we are in the season. The snow is melting during the day and freezing at night
Standard stuff: tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, fondue set, scotch, 16 rolls of toilet paper. About 20kg:
Day 1 - up the valley
Here we go, on our way to our camping spot, about 600m of elevation, ~14km.
Trees are clearing up:
Some old tracks on the trail, and a pair of tracks from a couple of women we crossed at the top on their way back. We are the only two humans in the entire valley
Arrived at our camp, we start making it into our own, Philippe is digging our kitchen/living room/observatory/boudoir.
Little break before we carry on, while waiting for the snow to melt and boil on the stove to brew some coffee. We finished setting up camp, and the way up was harder than expected (14km and 600m elevation is a looong way to go on skins with a heavy backpack).
Back at it, we keep it simple and safe for the afternoon in the lower trees, going to Bark face:
Moon is out, and close to the sun:
Huge cornices on the north face, some already fell some size-1 wet-loose avies. Mantel is unstable alright.
On the way up Bark face we find a nice couple of safe, mellow lines under Journeyman, that we keep as backup in case our plan for tomorrow doesn’t pan out. Our climbing tracks visible under:
Then back down, finally some actual skiing! (Not pictured here, we got too excited to take pictures during)
Rivers piercing the snow, gives a good idea of the amount of snow left. A real pain since we need to find the bridges to cross.
Back at camp under the sun:
Sun going down on Solitude, the view could be worse
Fondue for dinner. If that ain’t camping with style I don’t know what it!
Followed by a beautiful, clear night sky, far away from light pollution and with all the stars out.
End of day 1:
Another beautiful day! We both had a fantastic night, no wind, no noise, slept through and woken up by the birds. We are completely rested.
Trying to dry up our skins and skis, completely drenched by the wet snow of day 1
Going to the end of the valley over our own tracks from day 1. The entire place is still for us alone!
Solitude glacier, where we’re headed, seems so small and close from there!
Playing it safe by going up in the trees alongside the terrain
The wet slabs on the other side are a good reminder that everything is just to go.
Some natural wet-loose on north faces.
Going up Solitude (well at least, the bottom of the sector). We already pretty much know we won’t risk going much higher than the tree line.
Terrain is not too shabby on the way up, although we have to cross a creek on its remaining snow bridges, pretty scary.
Looking over our domain.
The entire place is ours, we’re the only two souls around.
We won’t go higher, the snowpack is pretty stable but might degrade when we need to go down, and some of the terrain features are too sketchy for the conditions ; plus visibility is worsening and it’s impossible to distinguish the terrain anymore.
We start on our way down with some fantastic spring skiing conditions, the top layer started melting on top of a hard base layer into corn snow.
Lower down the base layer also started melting and the ski is not as good
We accomplished our duty and closed Solitude for the season.
Then up the Journeyman’s tree lines we saw the day before, we end up riding in the reverse direction than we initially wanted.
Some more nice cornices on the way up, we zig zag to avoid staying under them too long.
Views on bark face
Arriving at the top of the treeline, there’s a small plateau. We’re 1/3 to the top of Journeyman, the alpine is so tempting!
But that’s for another time. Time for more runs down, snow is fantastic again, we’re on a north face and the snow is good all the way down
Another view of the valley, Solitude glacier in the back
Time to break off camp
Enjoying the view one last time with a coffee and some scarce sun, before a long and hard way down. Everything is so quiet, there’s not a noise.
A long, depressive descent, full of flats and ups (there’s 150m of elevation on the “way down”, spread out the entirety of the path). Spending our time transitioning in and out of skins. It took us more than 4h, and was exhausting. I ended up with the left foot numb from the pinky to the middle of the foot. Pretty good summary of how it felt at the bottom.
It was a great trip, made all the more fantastic by being entirely by ourselves at the top. Beautiful scenery and good skiing. The way down was a pretty expensive price to pay, but it was well worth it!
Little buddy tells us goodbye next to the road on the way back to Hwy 99.