Backcountry paradise in the Canadian Rockies
Our camp at around noon on the day we flew in to the Oasis Lake area in the Selkirks.
By Stan Wagon (All photos by Stan Wagon unless otherwise noted.)
After 23 years of skiing in British Columbia, either visiting a nice lodge (with many comforts) or doing a ski traverse (camping, and traveling with heavy packs), we tried something new this year — a week-long base camp at a single location. We chose Oasis Lake in the Selkirks southwest of Golden, a spot we had passed through on a traverse on 2004. To our group of six Coloradans we added a guide, Pierre Hungr, who last year led us on a hut-to-hut trip near the Lyell Icefield.
We used a Bell 212 helicopter flown by Alpine Helicopters in Golden. It is a powerful and spacious machine, but it cannot fly in low visibility, and we were delayed a day going in (and the same going out). Speaking of delays, the drive up was a bit of an adventure as I-25 was closed at the Wyoming border and we had to make a complicated detour via Highway 14 through Cameron Pass in whiteout conditions, and then use a route through Idaho. This added eight hours to what is already a long 1.5-day drive.
A view of the Wrong icefall from near the camp, with the descent route at looker’s right. This picture proves that there was more snow here this year than in April 2004, where more rocks were showing.
The Bell 212, fully loaded and ready to go after a one-day delay. It was quite cold in Golden on this morning, and much colder up at our camp when we arrived. (photo by Ben McShan).
Approaching Oasis Pass on our first afternoon under fair skies.
Pierre arranged the use of a wonderful cook tent, and our camp had open water, so the location worked out quite well as our home for a week. Weather was generally good, though winds were constant causing high avalanche hazards. But the good visibility allowed for a couple of long days on glaciers and around peaks that were spectacular. Read the full trip report at http://stanwagon.com/wagon/canskiing/OasisLake.html.
Details of previous trips: http://stanwagon.com/wagon/canskiing/canski.html.
Our group: Stan Wagon, Kim Clark, Elke Dratch, Bill Egbert, Katie Larson, Ben McShan.
Guide: Pierre Hungr, Vancouver, Spectrumguiding.com.
The Chinese Wall and Scylla Mountain (true Scylla summit is actually out of frame to the left). The pass at the right rear (South Scylla Pass) is one we went over two days later as we looped around Scylla Mountain.
Lots of fun in the cold powder (photo by Ben McShan).
A magnificent composition on the climb up the West Wrong Glacier (photo by Ben McShan).
At the very end of our first run Kim triggered a small slab avalanche on this steep slope, but rode it out to the side without falling (photo by Ben McShan).
As we rested after the first part of the climb out of the Stygian pool, this class 2 slab released across from our position. Note how it stepped down two levels. (Photo by Ben McShan),
Stan and Elke on a belayed pitch needed to reach the Goodrich-Hanover col (photo by Ben McShan).
The smooth descent on the East Wrong Glacier from the Goodrich-Hanover col.
The steep descent to camp beside the Wrong icefall. A couple days later we would go up this. Surprise: Skiing up is much harder than skiing down. (Photo by Pierre Hungr).
After much instruction, I am finally able to get my feet in the correct position on a difficult kick-turn (photo by Ben McShan).
The Wrong Icefall from near camp (photo by Ben McShan)
Filed under: recreation, skiing and riding, Travel Tagged: | backcountry skiing, Canadian Rockies, Oasis Lake, Selkirks, skiing, Stan Wagon