Our first snowshoe trip of 2009 took us to the same place as the last of 2008 :-) But so what? More snow had fallen, and despite the dim prospects of any views we met up with Andrew and set off for the summit. Parking was a challenge as the place was crawling with people and we ended up on the main road where our first choice spot was stolen by someone who drove nose in as I was about to reverse…. (I maintain that skiers behave like addicts, always in desperate need of the next fix of snow…)
So off we went, up the first steep bit and then into the gentle rambley-ness of the trail among the trees. Andrew had not been up Hollyburn in winter before so it was chance for him to see the mountain in a new light. Literally. We reached the steep part and began our plod upwards. The orange-tipped marker poles were not in place so we just followed the well-worn tracks of previous hikers. We played a slow game of leapfrog with another group, and encouraged another group to keep going saying it was only another 20 minutes to the top (which is true if you’re in good condition, which we were not, and they were even less so).
Then the final really steep grunt to the summit, where the heel lifts on our snowshoes really come into their own. We reached the summit, joining a handful of others already up there, mostly backcountry skiers. We dropped off one side of the summit (into an area which is a small pondlet in summer) and had our lunch, where we were promptly joined by a small squadron of whisky jacks.
After lunch we explored the summit area a little. I managed to fall over in the deep, soft snow and found myself unable to get up as every time I put down my hands to push myself up, they simply disappeared into the snow. I had to roll around like a marooned turtle to compact the snow enough to be able to push myself to my feet.. Of course, Andrew kindly stopped to take a picture… We wandered to the edge of the summit plateau and looked down through the mist onto steeper, undoubtedly avalanche-prone slopes. But that was the extent of our views for the day, so we waddled back to our lunch spot for our packs. We gawped at the brief appearance of the sun before beginning our descent.
Now for the fun part. It’s no exaggeration to say that it took us longer to get back to the car than it had taken to get up. The reason was the excellent sliding conditions, especially on the steep fast run just off the summit. By now, the number of snowshoers and skiers had declined to a scattered handful so we more-or-less had the slopes to ourselves, which we took full advantage of. Woohoo! Down we went, then up again, and down, then up again and back down, before moving on to the next slide… and the next slide… and the next one…
We eventually reached the trees again, where Andrew switched from sliding to an acrobatic mix of dive-bombing and belly-flopping into the snow. Most entertaining :-) More belly-flopping, some more sliding and then we reached the steep slopes at the end of the trail. Here, there were three or four well-developed slides and we simply had to try out all of them. Repeat until dark…
The very definition of Fun :-)
Distance: 5 km
Elevation gain: 400 m