G3's multi-talented Jr Engineer / super-ripper Bayden Hamilton just sent us this report from a ski trip that was only a few weeks ago. Suddenly we miss winter, a lot! Here's his story...
Spring time calls for missions. And this season I have been thinking about the northern end of the BC Coastal Range a lot. I had hoped to do a drop and set up a camp somewhere in the Waddington area, maybe Nirvana Pass or the Homathko Icefield. Due to my lack of knowledge of the area and not quite enough keen buddies to come along, my girlfriend Zanny and I decided to just drive north and see where we end up. No planning involved, not incredibly high expectations, just the goal to see something new, ski some new lines and gain some knowledge.
It was April 24th and summer had hit. On the way through the Duffy we grabbed a few sloppy turns off of Steep Peak and crashed on the lake for an early morning departure to Williams Lake. With the intent on skiing somewhere in the Caribous, we stopped at Red Shreds bike shop in downtown Williams Lake and spoke with Mark. He is the local guru and all round rad dude with lots of knowledge of the area. Without planned heli drops or a sled strapped to the roof of my old Honda Accord, it was looking like Clayton Creek in Bella Coola was our best option. We got in contact with Alex who runs Glacier Creek Outfitting from his house just outside of Hagensborg (10 km East of Bella Coola). He had a canoe at Red Shreds that needed delivering so we strapped our skis inside it and threw it on the roof of my car.
When we arrived in Bella Coola Alex was nice enough to let us set up a tent on his covered porch as we were in the midst of a typical, coastal, torrential downpour. His house was perched under Defiance Peak and its glacial blue ice was clearly visible from his kitchen. Pretty sweet.
Skiing Defiance was an option but with 40-50 cm of fresh snow in the alpine and a bit of a mouse trap entrance onto the glacier, Clayton Creek was a better choice. Early the next morning we lugged my old Honda up the forestry service road towards Clayton Creek until we hit snow. That was where I wished I could drive the sled off her roof and take us to the top... It was a full days skinning up the logging road to reach the alpine, where we set-up a nice hovel of a camp. Clear skies the next morning gave us views down South Benedict Arm, and to the Southeast was the Monarch Range. Above our camp was what the locals call the Finger Shoots. It is a headwall with six chutes from the ridge top and we managed to check off four of them. Considering the time of year, the skiing was super. I got cold powder snow in my face on every run, even overhead at one point. On day 3 we headed out, skiing down the logging road and back to my old trusty Honda, complete with its exhaust which had almost fallen off on the drive up.
Zanny heading up the ridge toward the Finger Shoots
Views down South Benedict Arm
About to get white-roomed
Cold smoke in the sun in late April
De-skinning at the end of the day
Before we left Bella Coola we had the chance to check out the Tallheo Cannery on the other side of the arm from the government wharf. It operated as a cannery until 1948, then a net loft until the late 70s. It has since become a guesthouse and historical site that is well worth the quick boat ride. The owner was the future brother in law of Alex, so we went over for a night and helped him get ready for summer tourist season and he let us camp out on the grounds. It was a great way to finish off our stay in Bella Coola
Both Zanny and I were both very stoked on our spring mission. We met some amazing people, saw some new and inspiring ski terrain and skied some springtime pow. I definitely have a better idea of what to plan for next year and I can’t wait to get back.
Tallheo Cannery with a beauty old beached vessel