Wells Gray March 04 to 09, 2024

Day One

It is the first time we have been to Wells Gray Provincial Park. It is British Columbia near Clearwater. Clearwater is our jumping off point and we catch the heli there. The trip is just short of ½ an hour. The lodge is located on the edge of a huge sub-alpine meadow at around 1,900M. The view from the front window is of Fight Meadows. The cabin was built about 1986, is 2 floors with the sleeping area upstairs, it has a propane stove, heating, fridge and sauna, there are solar panels that provide the lighting and one charging station, and can accommodate up to 10 people.  The heli drops us off, Tay, one of the owners and her daughter, who were there opening up the lodge, get on and poof we are alone in the wilderness.

Fight Meadow cabin

We are the first people to use the lodge this winter so we have to set the uptrack  and navigate to skiable terrain. Our first destination is Fifty Two Ridge. We didn’t know what we were looking for or what to expect. We arrive at the top of the ridge and there are numerous open glades 30 or 40 turns long. The slope is very shallow but the snow is light and fast. The skiing on the first day is a success.

 Day Two

We use the uptrack we put in yesterday extend it a little and make our way to the top of Fifty Two Ridge. The sky is clearing and the vista is truly spectacular. From our vantage point we can clearly see our goal, ‘Battle Mountain’. The south side of the mountain is quite skiable and we find our way down from the ridge across a valley and up Battle Mountain. Before we enter the trees we set a compass reading and uptrack without vision but head up. We find our way to the bottom of a wide open glade and track our way to the top. The trip down tells us the snow is as good as yesterday. Another trip up our set track and the second run is right to the valley bottom. We uptracked and skied our way back to the lodge. Every turn was through fluffy, soft boot top snow.

Our tracks down Battle Mountain

Day Three

Debbie takes the day off. M and I head to an unnamed ridge SE across the meadow. It turns out our objective is a long way. Two hours of trekking and we find some skiable terrain. We are standing on top of the ridge and can see for many miles. There are several very skiable open glades on all sides of the apex. We ski the north facing slopes putting one set of tracks down each. The snow is perfect. What I would call ‘hero snow’. It is impossible to have a bad turn. It is so pliable that every err is easily corrected.

Instead of following the uptrack home we decide to traverse above the cliff face we followed on the way in and find a route down through the rocks. A bit of searching and a skiable route is found. A couple of cautious turns and the terrain opens in front of us. A whoop and we’re headed down. The skiing is fantastic, open trees, great snow and a perfect pitch for skiing. Honestly it was one of the best runs I have had in 55 years of skiing.

Day Four

We are headed to ski up the north face of Fifty Two Ridge. The slopes are a bit steeper than the south face which makes for much better skiing. We choose an area and test it with a run. Again the snow is great and the slope is perfect for Debbie. Set an uptrack and use it for the rest of the day yo yoing that slope and ones adjacent. We made enough runs to trash a good portion of the slopes and headed home for the night.

On the top of Fifty Two Ridge

Day Five

Four days of long touring have taken their toll and we are all bagged. It took a while to get out the door today and our goal is to follow the route we took on the first day and ski the same area in the south facing glades off Fifty Two Ridge. There is some wind effect and the snow in the open areas is quite stiff. We change our objective and since the trees are spread apart we decide to ski in the trees. The trees protected the snow and it is still soft and fluffy. The slope is very shallow but we still have a good time. Heli comes tomorrow.

We’ve had a good few days, wonderful snow and outstanding scenery.

View from the cabin
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