With such a large group we ended up staying at two separate hostels and had two very different experiences for the weekend.
Ramparts Hostel By Margo
Hilda yo-yo trip, turned more of a road trip – January 2014 This definitely was a different kind of adventure!
7 of us were staying at Ramparts with the plan to meet up with the main group plus tour leaders at Hilda on Saturday morning. Great plan, except that Mother Nature had different ideas.
We woke up to at least 12” of fresh snow and still snowing heavily. No problem, we pile into our cars and start ploughing thru. About halfway, we were stopped by a truck coming the other way, informing us they had not been able to make it past the big bend.
Ok, no problem, we are good sports and make the best of the situation. As everybody’s avalanche gear was at Hilda (maybe something the club should think about when splitting up groups), our only option was skiing on the flats along the river by the hostel: 6 intrepid skiers on AT gear, skiing on perfectly flat terrain ☺
At least I know my AT gear handles the flats pretty good!
Came back to the hostel for lunch, only to find notices under our windshields:
HIGHWAY CLOSED. DO NOT MOVE YOUR VEHICLE UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
What else could we do than go out for another ski. After about 1 hr, a park warden catches up with us and gives us 2 choices: Either go right back to the hostel, pack up and we would be escorted out to the locked gates at the Crossing, or stay until the road would reopen in 2 or 3 days.
We choose the escort out, as Ramparts is very nice but not quite a resort where you would love to get snowed in for a few days. When I am writing this I have no idea yet what the Hilda group ended up doing.
John & Linda, Dion, Janet, George & Margo (Nigel decided to put chains on and plough through anyway – hope he made it)
Hilda Hostel By Steve
We arrived at the Hilda Hostel around mid day on Friday and proceeded to; haul all our food, gear and water into the cabin; get the shutters open and warm the place up.
After a quick bite to eat we headed up the valley and skinned up to Hilda Ridge to check on the snow conditions. With the high avalanche hazard and wind hammered snow there were not a lot of skiing options so we headed down a gentle slope and got into some tight trees where we found some good snow and sharpened our reflexes for the days to come. Back at the cabin we had a nice bbq dinner and a few beverages before going to bed for the evening.
Walking out of the bunk house early Saturday morning I was still half asleep when the cold tingling sensation in my hut booties woke me up. I looked down to find myself standing in 40cm of light fluffy snow with more fluffy goodness falling from the sky, this was going to be a good day!
We had a leisurely breakfast and shoveled snow while waiting for the Ramparts crew to arrive. We waited for an extra hour while the snow piled up but still no sign of them. Assuming that they were delayed getting up the road we decided to head out and put a skin track up behind the cabin and get a few laps in before lunch.
The already high avalanche conditions went higher with the new snow load so we navigated cautiously across Parkers Ridge looking for some low hazard, skiable terrain. On our way up for our second lap we were caught by Nigel from the Ramparts crew and my heart lifted as I thought they had finally made it up the road. Nigel quickly filled us in on the details of trucks and tire chains and let us know that it was unlikely that anyone else would make it up the road unless they plowed it. MORE POWDER FOR US!!!
Some of us headed down to the cabin for lunch while others headed up the valley looking for some sheltered runs. We had a quick lunch and set up a radio in the cabin before heading out again so that the Ramparts crew could contact us if they did eventually make it up the road.
The snow in the valley bottom was deep and unconsolidated which made trail breaking difficult at times as we plodded our way towards the moraine hoping to join up with the other skiers who had not come in for lunch. Suddenly an unfamiliar voice came over our radio asking if there was anybody out there? It was the Park Warden who had found our radio in the cabin and was calling to let us know that they were closing the highway and that we could leave now or possibly be snowed in for 2 or 3 days. Over the radios we did a we did a quick inventory and confirmed that Nigel had a sleeping bag and that we had enough food, beer and scotch to get us through a few more days, we decided to stay. None of us seemed too conceded about missing work on Monday?
We skied hard all afternoon and made our way back to the cabin as the sun was setting. Saturday evenings meal was another bbq and everyone ate well before going to bed for a well deserved sleep.
More snow fell overnight, we packed none essential gear and we made a call to Parks Canada over the satellite phone to see what their plan was for the day. Parks planned to start avalanche control asap but were not confident that they would have the highway open before 2:00 PM. We went skiing.
All day as we tip-toed through some secret stashes you could hear naturally triggered avalanches coming down in the valleys around us and sound of explosions as Parks blasted away at avalanche slopes endangering the highway. Early afternoon we called Parks again on the satellite phone and found out that we were going to be escorted out of the park at 4:00 PM and that there would be no option to stay.
We headed back to the cabin and started hauling gear to the road and digging out the vehicles. With our first load out we ran into a Park Ranger skiing in, they were early and in a hurry. We went into overdrive with everyone moving gear, digging cars, loading cars and closing up the cabin.
The escorted drive out was slow and controlled as we passed dozens of blasting craters and avalanches along the road edge. Once at the park boundary they opened the gate and let us out.
It would have been nice to spend one more night at the cabin as I think everyone was enjoying the snow!
“I can’t believe you got us stuck in a hostel, we almost got snowed in! What kind of
tour leader r u. Powder skiing and no way to get out? Really?“