evoTrip Whitecap: Ladies Living it Up in the BC Backcountry
The massive snowfall and endless terrain of Whitecap offer the perfect backdrop for an all-women’s backcountry adventure. Tory Hayssen accompanied us on evoTrip Whitecap as a Giro Ambassador. By trade, she is a PR manager at Denny Ink. But from the recreation stand point, she is a ripping skier and phenomenal coffee drinker… so, naturally, a hut trip to the PNW was a great fit.
They say “there is no such thing as a dumb question.” This could not be more true, but admittedly, there are some questions that are better than others. Welcome to evoTrip Whitecap – mixing a helicopter bump and endless ski touring from 1,860 vertical meters (for those uninitiated Americans, that is 6,102 feet) with thirteen phenomenal ladies of varied ski touring abilities and three kick butt female guides. The combination results in a trip filled with thought-provoking, often laughable, and opportunity-ridden inquiries with answers that stick to your bones.
On arrival day, we landed at the lodge dressed in ski clothes and ready to rip. We marveled over the goodies and gear provided to us by Giro, Smartwool, Arc’teryx, BCA, and Dynafit. But there were some things to take care of before we put our skins on for a half day of touring in the terrain just up from the lodge. Where is the restroom? was one of the first questions that surfaced. Trying to hydrate in anticipation for three full days of all day ski touring meant lots of pent up fluids. For those that have not been to Whitecap Alpine Lodge, or any other Canadian ski lodge, the set-up is like a mini village. A beautifully built log cabin hosts the kitchen, common space, dining room, and guide sleeping quarters, complete with two kegs and an endless supply of snacks. A series of yurts house the guests. What I like to call a ‘spa house’ offers a well-rounded cleansing experience with a hot shower and sauna. Yes, a sauna. NOTHING compares to a sauna after a long day of skiing. Liquid and solid waste each have their own outhouse, with particulars like TP deposit in the paper bag and wood chips as a composting aid. A place for everything and everything in its place.
After those ‘things’ were taken care, we went over some avalanche safety. Aside from a group of 70% beginner ski tourers, rescue review was imperative because familiarity with our equipment was especially lucrative given our distance from hospitals and help. We only had each other in event of a rescue. Even as a more experience ski tourer, brushing up on skills and practicing beacon searches was a refreshing reminder of what can happen out there and the importance of PRACTICE. Number one take away for me here? Always remember! While in a rescue scenario, always have your beacon on search or your partners will pick you up instead of the victim! Mock scenarios complete, we yoyoed some laps from the lodge. Turning in for the cuisine de crème from Becca, our cook, and a great warm, night sleep on our mattressed yurt bunk beds.
On our first full day, we woke up to seven cm of fresh snow and a slightly overcast sky. Beautifully carved tree shots with fun features and great fall line awaited as we split into groups based on pace uphill and experience level. While light was flat, available tree skiing was plentiful, allowing for a full day of powder skiing without crossing our tracks or old tracks.
Winner of best question for day two starts with some tough to admit honesty. We ALL take a tumble or two while in ski touring mode regardless of skill level. Unattached heels with sticky skins equals a cumbersome scenario. But, the real challenge comes while resurrecting yourself after your fall. HOW ON EARTH do I get up in all this powder snow!? exclaimed a seasoned ski split boarder rhetorically. Our guide Carla actually had some insight. If you make an X with your poles, lay them on or parallel with the snow and use that extra surface area as leverage so you don’t sink into the snow.
The sauna was cooking and kegs were tapped when we returned to the hut and we mellowed in their company.
Day three greeted us with sunny skies, unveiling the peaks and endless terrain hidden by cloud cover the two days prior. The more advanced group, traversed up and out for some couloir hunting and face lines while group two skied natural half pipe gullies north west of the lodge.
The first couloir we skied was called the Hangover Shoot, a powdery couloir surrounded by towering granite walls pasted with snow. Why aren’t we worried about these slopes sliding? was asked as we peered into the 50 degree powdery abyss. Our guides responded addressing their familiarity with the weather patterns, terrain, and snow fall in this area, and that, as far as avalanche danger goes, we are most concerned with drastic weather events. Conversation pursued on reading snow conditions, sluff management, and plans for the day.
Day three the entry level group skied some couloirs!
Allie Harris, a new splitboarder from Logan, Utah, asked, “How do I put this thing on my pack?” And reminiscing about the experience pronounced, “It was a little unsettling hiking around on all of that loose rock, but I was SO excited because I’ve never been on terrain that steep with powder that epic. And I whooped all the way down. And I not a whooper. Dope. So Dope.”
Closing night, we sadly bid farewell to new friends and new terrain over a final sauna, a game of salad bowl, and a couple beers.