Last season I invested in some alpine touring bindings, did the AST 1 (Avalanche safety training) course and managed to swap a couple of surfboards for an ABS avalanche back pack (valued at around $1000 it was definitely a bargain). The hope was to eventually explore some of the back country here in Fernie however unfortunately due to the poor snow conditions, I never felt super keen to venture out of the resort.
This year however, Marcus and I committed to getting some experience out of bounds resulting in myself buying some skins for my skis and he a Jones solution splitboard with some new bindings and skins. A day after forking out the cash money, we teamed up with a Kiwi couple and our French patroller mate Thomas and ventured into fish bowl, up ridge 2000.
Conditions were great that day with the skies clearing to blue and plenty of fresh snow from the previous days dumps. A guy got trapped in an avalanche the day before (he was able to get himself out) so we were extra cautious with route selection. The skinning path was well-marked from previous people and after a small traverse we started the ascent much to the amusement of our friends.
Skinning for the first time was challenging, with a steep and hilarious learning curve, however after some practise we got into a good rhythm and made it almost to the peak where the rest of our group had motored ahead to. Pleased with our efforts (much to the surprise of our group) we waited for the others to ski down to us and then as a group made our way back to the bottom. We all kept in eye contact with each skier going one by one to a safe spot before descending several times in the same fashion all the way down.
Spent but ecstatic with the first tour in the back country, we made our way back into the ski resort boundary with nothing bruised or battered (except our egos maybe). Even in one day I learnt a lot to do with practicalities of touring from skinning technique to clothing selection and most importantly safe route selection and terrain awareness.
In hindsight venturing into fish bowl was probably quite a stretch for a persons first taste of touring and our next one will be a lot mellower, hopefully into Mongolia bowl in the next week or so. With the snow continuing to fall it’ll be a nice way to mix things up when the snow gets skied out on the hill 🙂