Blue sky and blue ice on the Sask Toe


Sask Toe Feb 9 & 10

Joining our group of 8 were 7 vets and one rookie, me Phil and that is why I am writing the trip report. The 7 vets were trip leaders Debby & Jeff, Sandy & Steve, Barb, Pat and Neil.

The group first met at Sandy & Steve’s house Feb 5th to go over plans for the trip. The first half hour was spent discussing the iitenary for the trip and dispensing safety advice for the rookie which was appreciated. The remaining hour of our meeting was to discuss what I quickly learned was the most important topic, dinner for Saturday night and who was going to bring what. On the recommendation of co-trip leader Debby, the theme was Italian which was quite a challenge having gluten free, lactose intolerant and vegetarian diets requirements of our group. There were no diet concerns when we were discussing what wine to bring for the meal. Funny that.

Friday: We arrived at the Rampart Creek Hostel around 8:30 pm. Met up with the excellent camp host, Keith from Ottawa, who got us set up with our bunks. After getting unpacked, we all reconvened at the hostel kitchen to share a few stories and have some laughs with our group and the other hostel guests. The majority of the other guests were ice climbers. There was a group of four guys from France that had been at the hostel for about week spending their time ice climbing around the area. Lights were out around 11 pm.
Saturday: Most us were up by 7 am. By 9:30, we were at the Sask Toe trail head and ready to go. Nice morning, about 7 or 8 below, little if any wind, partially cloudy skies. I look up and Steve is way off in the distance, checking out how to cross the river. I am still fiddling with my skis. Off we go, all travelling at a steady pace. A few wipeouts along the way, nothing serious.

Very nice scenery with lots of frozen waterfalls to look at. Arrive at the Toe around noon. Spend the next 20 minutes or so exploring the ice, taking pictures etc. Amazing! Sat down, had some lunch which didn’t last long as the wind whipped up. We packed up and headed back down the trail. About half hour into our trip, back to the vehicles we see a few guys heading our way, we pull off to the side to let them past, then a few more guys pass us and a few more after that. 35 guys later, we finally get back on the trail. It turns out a couple of the guides were taking the army guys up the Saskatchewan Glacier for some survival training. A lot of the army guys were lugging what looked to be close to 80lb packs. Some were even towing a sled. Wow! One of the guides knew Neil’s son who is guide as well. In the middle of nowhere, all of a sudden 35 guys appear from nowhere and somebody from our group knows somebody from that group. Surreal. Thanks to the army guys, the trail back was pretty well defined. Back in the trees heading downhill and Steve does a face plant into the deep snow. It took Steve about 20 minutes to get himself up right, hilarious. Wish I took a picture. Back at the vehicles around 3:30. A tiring but very satisfying day of skiing.

Get back to the Hostel, tidy ourselves up, gather in the kitchen and commence with our 4 course meal. 3 or 4 Appetizers from Sandy/Steve, Butternut squash soup from Barb, Meat sauce with two types of spaghetti noodles from Deb/Jeff, roasted vegetables from Neil, Caesar salad and garlic toast from me, finished off with brownies along with jello with fruit and ice cream from Pat. All this eating while sampling all the red and white wine from Italy except for the red wine from California from Deb/Jeff who suggested the Italian theme in the first place. And we were doing all our fine dining while the other hostel guests were cooking their own supper. The Camp host joined us with our meal, that guy eats a lot, especially dessert. He even packed up leftovers for next two days. Lots of interaction between all the guests. Lots of fun! Most of us were in our bunks before 9 pm, a few made to just after nine. Lights were out by 10.
Sunday: Up and at it by 7:00 am.. Packed up and ready to go by 8:15 am. Perfectly Clear skies, no wind, 16 below with anticipation of the day getting warmer, great morning. From Rampart Creek Hostel headed north along Hwy 93 for ~ 5 kms from Rampart Creek Hostel, parked at a pull out. Hooked up our skis and off we go down a trail, cross a walking bridge full of snow and onto a old forestry trail road that followed a small creek. We had to break trail through a foot deep snow, it was rather tiring. The sun came over the mountains and we were basking in sunshine the rest of the day. Lucky us!

We plowed ahead for a few hours, took a break for lunch, turned around and headed back the way we came. At about 1 ½ hours or so later arrived back at our vehicles. Temperature was now 3 below in bright sunshine. Can’t beat that while being in the mountains in winter. Packed up our gear, hugs all around and headed home to arrive before 5 pm.

I wish to thank everybody in our group for an awesome weekend. Special thanks to trip leaders Debby and Jeff and those who drove.