Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Whitecap Alpine, BC

The biggest thing that I have learned in backcountry skiing is patience. Patience with my partners, patience with the weather, patience with my ski gear and patience with the snow conditions.
My trip to Whitecap Alpine, in British Colombia was a case of practicing this mantra.
Whitecap Alpine is run by the Andrews family. A person could write a nice blog post on the Andrews family itself. A great mix of art, music and intellect. The head guide at the Mcgillivary Lodge is Lars Andrews, the prodigal son literally raised on great heaping spoonfuls of Mcgillivary Pass powder, he left to guide other areas but returned realizing that the best ski terrain he had guided in was in his own backyard. Lars is himself quite musical, he is always singing and dancing and has one ear glued to his Ipod while he scopes possible lines and scouts what slopes will have the perfect snow. Although strong as an ox and faster than anybody else on the skin track he exudes patience. He has a zen about him that perhaps can only come from a person who is perfectly in his element, not just as a ski guide but as a person who is skiing through his childhood playgroud. On one long skin track out of a beautiful hanging valley, Lars pinned it non-stop to the lip of a long exposed rim ridge that separated us from the home run to the lodge. As he was cruising along Lars told me stories of his dads skiing in the valley in the 1970’s and about his mother playing her French Horn in the meadow during the summer. As we skied I had images of a young Lars, late for dinner, kicking ass up the skin track as he hears his mom blowing her horn impatiently in the valley.
To me this defines the area, it was beyond a doubt one of the most aesthetic and artistic places I have ever skied.
Many skiers get off on danger, many go for speed and others just plain love the longest ride they can put together. Me, I am an aesthete, I like to ski beautiful lines, creative places and I like to ski faces of mountains that are unique and crenellated with spots to etch your signature tracks. Finding these spots however takes a huge amount of knowledge, patience and sweat. Perhaps it is because of Lars and his familial background or because of the place itself but in any case Whitecap Alpine provided one of the most beautiful ski experiences I have had in my life.

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