The official title for this trip was “intro to complete and utter abject misery”, but Kyle and I just shortened it to “Phil’s stupid trip”. The plan was to take the newly acquired, 40 lb dome tent somewhere into the backcountry and use it as a base camp for the weekend. As we all know, Phil loves to suffer, so we were prepared for the worst. It didn’t help that the forecast was calling for -17 on Saturday night. However, in the days leading up to the trip, a Christmas miracle occurred. Phil decided that we would ski to Egypt Lake (where there is a conveniently located hut), just in case we couldn’t set it up. How to break the news to Phil that we would rather sleep in the hut than a bottomless dome tent? Well unfortunately for Kyle, got sick right before the trip. The silver lining was that this gave us the perfect excuse to book the hut. Maybe this wasn’t going to be a completely miserable weekend after all!
We met in the Sunshine parking lot at the crack of 8:30 after a rental gear mix up. Parking lot faff ensued but we were underway without too many issues. Kevin took the first shift dragging the tent. It wasn’t so bad initially as the trail was well established (and I wasn’t pulling the tent).
|Phil helps Kevin get started with the drag bag|
It was a 12km ski in and everyone took turns dragging the tent. I took the hardest leg of tent dragging (ok maybe not, but it felt pretty rough). When we reached Healy Pass, Kyle carried the duffle bag on his chest like a backpack for the ski down to Pharaoh Creek, which looked super awkward. We arrived at the Egypt Lake camping area just after 3:30, with about an hour of daylight remaining on one of the shortest days of the year.
|View from Healy Pass|
|Lots of fresh snow at Healy Pass|
|Kyle is happy to be at the top of the pass|
We got right to work assembling the dome. None of us had ever seen this thing out of the bag before but Phil had read the instructions and had a bit of an idea of how to get it up. We were able to set it up on our first attempt despite a few minutes of panic when everything looked like it was going horribly wrong.
|Dome tent set up chaos|
By the time the dome tent was set up, it was almost dark. We got to work building seats and started cooking dinner. It was significantly warmer in the tent than outside and the stereo sound system provided by Phil created a great ambiance for the evening.
|Phil and his awesome lounge chair|
|Dave tries to burn the dome tent to the ground (no tents were harmed on this trip)|
Hours flew by as we chatted and drank mulled wine, but eventually everyone made their way to bed. Only Kevin and Phil actually stayed in the dome all night, the rest of us migrated to the warm hut with its wood stove which was conveniently located 20 metres from the tent.
|Dome tent with Sphinx in the background|
|Keeping warm in the dome|
The alarm went off far to early and we sat around quietly eating our breakfast trying to decide whether we actually wanted to go out for a ski. Kyle pulled the plug and got back into bed, but the rest of us slowly got ready and left for a line we had been scoping out on the Sphinx the day before. Not long after we left, Lisa realized she had taken Kyle’s skis by accident. Dave and Lisa doubled back for her skis while Phil and I continued on, bushwhacking in the darkness. We arrived at the base of the line around 8 am and it was still pitch black. Luckily the sky was starting to brighten as we broke trail up the wide fan below the couloir we had set our sights on.
|Phil contemplates why its still so dark at 8am|
Despite an avalanche rating of low on all slopes, we were very cautious with the early season snowpack and the obvious layer 40 cm down. We took it slow on the way up to assess the snowpack and keep everyone safe. We didn’t notice any cracking or noises and hadn’t seen any natural activity in the area, so were happy to keep going up towards the couloir.
|Phil takes a nap to recover from the mulled wine while waiting for our one at a time skin up the slope|
Phil lead the charge with a waist deep bootpack up the couloir. About half way up, the snow wasn’t looking as stable and he decided to ski from there. The rest of us got ready to ski from the top of the fan as the bootpack just looked miserable. Phil got first tracks as a reward for breaking trail and it was bomber! The snow was amazing, deep and stable and I had such a fun first run of the season!
|Lisa is all smiles after our awesome run|
|More smiles and evidence of our powder farming|
After skiing it was time to head back to the hut to get ready to leave. What had taken us over an hour of bushwhacking in the dark only took about 20 mins with a broken trail and daylight to guide the way. There was a bit of ice that Lisa and Dave had crossed in the dark that looked very thin in the light of day, but we all made it across without breaking through.
|The ice looked thicker in the dark!|
Taking down the dome was a breeze but the real misery of the trip had only just begun. Towing the duffle back up the the pass was much more challenging than on the way in because the trail was far less established and there were way more twists and turns around trees. Once we got to the pass, it was a mostly downhill trail to the car park. We took turns carrying the tent, which made the luge track experience much more interesting, and the shuffle along the flats absolutely terrible. By the end of the ski out, I was so ready to be done with the whole dome tent experience. Overall, I would call the dome trial a success, but don’t relish the thought of dragging it around on long trips!
|Hut hog makes his second appearance this year|
|On our way home|
|Nasty weather at the top of the pass|