Yesterday's early season trip to Healy Pass covered over 18 km and close to a 900 m elevation gain. This enormous undertaking also happened to be Becky's first day in the backcountry. Adam, Brandon, and I were happy to guide, and surprisingly, Becky didn't complain at all.
We got off to a bit of a late start, but were determined to find some turns for Becky's big first day out. Setting off for Healy Pass on the recommendation of a friend, we snagged parking in Sunshine Village's back lot and set off. Snow falling, with temperatures hovering just below zero, the 8km slog into the pass went by quickly. 2.5 hrs later we had lunched, and were about to emerge from the trees into the alpine. The skin track was well used, and we were 1 of 4 groups in the area. Once off the hiking trail and into the pass, we turned left and headed towards the E/NE facing slopes.
Hiking up the valley.
We watched as another party shredded powder from top to bottom, and our pace quickened as we neared the final ascent. Speaking to the other group, we all agreed that the snow was very stable in the area, so we began to entertain the idea of skiing some more aggressive slopes. Coverage ranged from 30-70 cm of fresh, champagne powder. From the existing skin track, we climbed higher up skier's right towards a large chute. Here we assessed the snow one last time before we dropped into knee-to-waist deep powder. The group was rewarded with the best turns of the year so far. Not bad for Becky's first day!
We skied through the chutes.
We pushed back up for another lap, this time hurrying a bit more, as we had a long 8 km trek down ahead of us. The second lap, we veered further skiers left for some more aggressive chutes. The conditions were optimal and it seemed like a great time to take advantage of a stable snowpack. Letting Becky lead, the second run was just as good as the first! Following some fist bumps, we started the long trek back down. We were able to ski the first few kms but skin-skied the remainder over flat, gradually down-sloping terrain back to the Sunshine Village ski out.
Always remember headlamps!
We finished up just before darkness set and enjoyed beers and snacks under the glow of the parking lot lights. The gang debriefed a little about the decisions made over the day and how high the bar was set for future tours. This was also the first day I tried out the new Whiski Poles, and I was not disappointed! I had zero issues with the adjustable touring poles and we got to finish the day by filling the pole with rye and warming ourselves up with some shots of R&R!
Checking out snow depth with the new Whiski Poles!