I was honoured to be included in a great ski trip into the Swift Creek hut
near Valemount with le Ski Posse, a group of strong skiers from here. Here are our
photos and video from a 4 day trip.
After a long drive from Calgary with a stuffed truck full of man, we arrived to Valemount for a
luxurious stay at the local Super 8. The next morning we work to clear skies and a heli bump up to
the hut. Here's our Astar for the trip into the hut at Yellowhead helicopters in Valemount.
Steve and Iain in the backseat on the way in.
Video of the helicopter lifting off from the hangar
A look inside the kitchen hut with Louis by the stove. Note the propane stove and oven along with propane
lights for cooking and hanging out. Also note spices, basic cooking and eating utensils meaning you really
only need to show up with food to make the trip awesome. These are two smaller huts put together to make
the eating and cooking space comfy.
Steve showing us his guns, and the eating area. The wood stove is just in front of him.
For further posterity here, I'd likely throw in an extra roll of paper towel, but otherwise we
had everything we needed for a self-guided, self-catered ski party.
The boys getting set for our first outing of the trip. Note Diver in the ridiculously bright yellow
Freeride pants. That's Iain in the middle, and Big Steve on the right. Rowley, Louis, and I complete
the ski team. Missing from le Ski Posse though are Tristan and Simon who swear they're coming next time.
Doing some beacon practice before heading out for a tour.
Steve is pretty happy here after playing in the snow.
Louis and Diver assess the snowpack here. We had a couple of layers of concern at 30cm and at 60cm
but overall, the snow quality was excellent for what we wanted to ski. We got a big storm the first
night that dropped 40 cm and shifted that though, so we wound up playing it pretty conservatively and
stayed close to home.
Some pillow lines that caught our team's attention near the hut.
Louis enjoying some soft snow
Diver dropping the first big pillow drops of the weekend
Steve doing a double pillow drop without the landing
Data showed us at ~4.9km travel and ~644m elevation gain. Of note is that the new Fenix 6X Pro I was playing with
got significantly less GPS 'craziness' and consistently lower distance numbers, which makes sense if the GPS isn't
all over the place.
Day 2 sent us over to the 'Acceptable' area to see how acceptable it really is with a big dump of snow
on top of some layers. Here, Diver figured out that skiing down with skins on is hard.
Louis having a look at the terrain to the south of the Acceptable run.
We skinned up the rib to the south of Acceptable and gained the top of it. We are right at the top
of the treeline here and decided to stop there since visibility wasn't amazing here.
The bottom of the guy of 'Acceptable' as it drops into a boulder field. We then skied into Martin's
Run, a really cool narrow shot through the lower trees that you'd NEVER find if it wasn't marked on the map
to go explore.
As we climbed back from Martin's Run, we wanted to go check out what looked like a neat area. It turned
out to be both spicier in terrain (drops, cliffs, and pillows) along with losing visibility as the storm
came in. Louis and Iain are assessing the snow pack here, which gave confidence but it was still deemed
appropriate to be cautious here.
As we made our way through the challenging terrain (drops, cliffs, and pillows), we decided that
'Unacceptable Willows' merited bailing and we escaped through the trees. You can see some of the
cliff bands we negotiated to exit this area.
Looking back at the area we named 'Gummy Bear Airlock'.
Steve definitely found that he sweated out more than a little getting through the trees.
Day 3 dawned pretty clear and we decided to take a bit of a peak into the alpine. While the snow quality
drastically reduced as we got higher, there weren't nearly as many natural slides as we would have thought
on this day.
Here's Ian before we go for a ride in the trees. We elected to do lunch at the hut since we were in the area
and then went for a look above the hut. While the snow was excellent in this area, we were still concerned about
some wind layers and slabs and so decided to drop back into the pillow lines instead.
Rowley with a nice look at the minimal sun we saw on this trip.
Steve with the biggest launch sequence around.
Rowley throwing his skins on for another day of fun.
Steve with the sleeping hut above him and the eating hut to his right.
We decided to take a look further up into the alpine towards the 'Social Studies' run, which is just
over the ridge to the looker's left. We decided to take a lap here and stay in the lower angle.
A different look up the valley towards the pass. This is the way up to the Dave Henry hut, which
apparently takes about ~6 hours to ski to.
A look at what's been named 'Kramer Couloir'. In different conditions I think it could be really fun to ski.
Although Steve here thinks he'd poop on the way down.
Too bad the light got flat on this little pitch we skied. Nothing epic, but a neat area.
Video of Iain dropping his biggest line ever
Video of Rowley hucking a pillow
Diver was a good man here and helped out Steve by flattening down the launch of this monster jump.
Um, yup, that's a big drop! 20 feet easily here and probably more.
Slightly earlier Steve dropping a HUGE airplane drop
Steve dropping a HUGE airplane drop
Diver dropping a double pillow line
Louis doing a mean pillow line with a cool hip swivel at the end
This was some of the first clear skies we got on our travel day out. I'd love to go explore that side of the
valley at some point, but it wasn't to be on this trip.
Rowley with his shovel at the sleeping hut.
Louis waiting with me up at the heli pad waiting for our transfer home. You can see the eating hut and
the sleeping hut although the sauna hut isn't visible here.
A cool shot of the mountains inside my glasses. Thanks to Louis for a cool shot.
Louis holding down skis as the helicopter takes off.
Helicopter exit from Swift Creek Hut
Rowley and Iain at the helicopter. We used the Bell 204 Long Ranger on the way out as the Astar got
used for a SAR activity. I'm always very happy to get out of the helicopter and be on solid ground
after a ski trip and this one was no different. Thanks to the boys for keeping us all safe on this
trip and thanks to Ross and Liz for being great to work with. We'll be back sometime soon.
A few selected photos from the team
The meal I made for Le Ski Posse - Natalia's maple salmon with quinoa and green beans. It was a hit and we had nothing left.