November 04, 2011


Lillooet Icefield 2011

As scary as it is to admit, a huge part of every individual’s existence is left up to luck. All the preparation and skill in the world can’t make up for a horrible streak of unfortunate circumstances. And although those are usually the situations that are dwelled upon for years or lifetimes, depending on severity, occasionally things can swing the other way. Sometimes you’re just lucky.

Weather in the British Columbian Coast Range is always a gamble and it is one that we’ve lost on our last couple, lengthy missions to the icefields. There have been sporadic moments of sunshine interspersed, but when you’re spending three-quarters of the month of May living in the mountains, you’d generally expect a lot more. I think it would be fair to say, if we didn’t have bad luck, we’d have no luck at all.

So, deciding against all logic, this recent venture was compressed into two weeks and moved up in the calendar year to April. Given all natural inclinations and meteorological knowledge of the region, the weather should probably be even more of a nightmare. Despite this the general consensus seemed to be, could it get any worse?

We flew out of Pemberton with Tyax Air on a stunning, windless day, exactly on schedule. We skied perfect snow for enough bluebird, sunny days in a row that we had to use one up just to rest some weary legs. A couple of storms rattled through later on in the trip, nothing of any serious nature, and then we were picked up, again on schedule, and delivered back to the valley where spring and seventeen degrees of heat awaited our arrival. Could it get any better?

 

There is absolutely no reason why we should have received all this good fortune. I surmise the Lillooet Icefield is one of the dryer available but we could have been on any patch of snow in the Pacific Range for those fourteen days and had the exact same conditions. After what was one of the snowiest winters in recent Western Canadian memory, we corralled some good old-fashioned, dumb-luck and stumbled upon the only prolonged stretch of sunshine that occurred. It’s a good thing too, as I’m running out of different ways to write about sitting in a tent for weeks at a time.

With nothing more than luck determining our outcome, the Ha’Iltzuk Icefield has been set for the Spring of 2012. The largest icefield outside of the Alaskan Panhandle, it plays host to Silverthrone Mountain, known as “Home of the Snows”. Could it get any worse? Maybe, but then again, maybe not.

Thanks to the largest crew so far: Violet, Thummy, Katie, Willard, Shwynk, Dusty and Dr. Jonny Workgloves. Following the current trend, we should have sixteen for the next trip. Let’s hope not.

Check out Dusty’s shred skills in a mini-film by Willard.