Slack Country Powder Skiing
Out the back of Kicking Horse Ski Resort with Great Canadian Heliski Mountain Guide- Dave Rutherford.
Ever wondered why a guy who gets paid to heliski would want to strap on a pair of skins and walk up hills for fun? Well, meet Dave Rutherford. A Canadian BC powder country local who started his career as a Banff liftie, and progressed to become a Level 4 Canadian Mountain Guide, and ‘2IC’ at Great Canadian Heli skiing. Ask him this question, and he might tell you that he appreciates the fortitude from ‘earning your turns’. That’s easy for him to say……
However, the locals use a revised term ‘slack country’ referring to back country skiing from the top of a lifted resort. Dave decided to show me some of his philosophy first hand, by taking me to the local ski hill- Kicking Horse Ski Resort. He’s going to be running optional back country ski day tours for Total Heliski clients in 2011, so I figured I better see what it’s all about. To those in the know, ‘The Horse’ has been labelled the ‘Jackson Hole’ of Canada owing to it’s steep lines right off the chair and is experiencing growth right now (i.e. Property may not be a bad buy given they just got approval of their Master Plan)
After shooting 360 degrees with my new Flick Cam video camera, Dave led me down a mountain spur to ski knee deep perfect Canadian powder. This then led into some of the finest tree skiing around.
30, 40, 50 turns later, we took stock and traversed into the woods to have lunch and revel in the turns as well as the serenity.
We then put on the skins and started the slow, steady zig-zag up the hill. As we traversed through the Canadian pine forest, I could smell the pine scent oozing from the needles as my nose passed by the trees, bizarrely reminding me of a familiar brand room deodorant.
For those of you who haven’t done it, after skinning up a mountain, you enter a kind of meditative state where like any effort of endurance, it’s better to look down at your skis and concentrate on the task at hand, rather than look around because progress is surely harder to realise. After what seemed like hours, we reached the top, shot over the saddle, and back into the relative civilisation of the resort. Practically last on the mountain, we flew down to the bottom, shooting straight for the pub. Another day in the mountains, another amazing experience, and yes, another ice cold Kokanee glacier fresh beer awaiting my consumption.