Retallack, Nov 22-24

I just returned from a surprisingly good hut trip to a little known cabin in the north end of the Kokanee Range, above the snowy ghost-town of Retallack.

I was joined by Brace and a new friend, James (from Revelstoke), we parked at the highway and skinned up the logging road for 10 grueling kilometers, with heavy packs and some serious trail-breaking to do. It had been snowing heavily for the few days prior and the rain crust was nowhere to be felt. The slog in took most of the day but we made it in time to drop our bags and head up for a lap of pure bottomless powder goodness. Conditions were sweet, settled pow, fast and fluffy, super rad for shredding. We were stoked to be riding some of the best snow of this season so far.

We had relaxing evenings in the cabin, chatting and eating like ravenous animals, the hut was cozy and warm and the moonlight lit the trees outside the window making them look incredibly life-like, standing tall and straight as obelisks, sentient beings watching over our little hovel.

The second day we labored putting in a skin track up to a 2370m peak which sported some enticing looking slide paths of 500m in length, the trail breaking was a battle but we punched it through and reaped the rewards: 2 steep and deep runs over 500 meters each; the perfect day for our early season legs.

Conditions were great, 110-130cm’s on the ground, great coverage over all.  A stable snowpack meant we got after some of the bigger/biggest lines in the zone.

On Saturday we rose to some blue patches in the sky with some intermittent sunshine, so we decided to attempt to ride from the summit of Reco Mountain (2510m). We gained the ridge but the cloud was hanging out around 2300m, so we took a short lap of the ridge and by the time we skinned up again the cloud ceiling had risen and the summit was now unobscured. After digging a pit  and assessing stability we decided to go for it.

The climb went well, a few kickturns up the ridge, then we reached a windblown section in which there was not enough snow to skin. We had to take our skis off and scramble up the steep bare rock. I felt exposed and nervous, as a fall here would have been very unfortunate, but Brace calmly led the way and ushered us on, inspiring confidence and making me remember all of the other times I’d let him talk me into doing things slightly out of my comfort zone that ended up being incredible transcendent experiences. So I climbed on, the last 100m or so was on bare rock, finding good hand-holds and taking steady confident steps helped me feel secure; I try to relax and not rush as much as I can during these situations.

Anyways, we did reach the summit of Reco, it was great. We got a tiny window of a view for about 45 seconds and then the low cloud swung back down enveloping us in a thick milk. We waited and waited until better light percolated through, then dropped down through the cliff bands and into the bowl, where we popped out below the cloud and were rewarded with an all-time run down the east bowl, endless open pow-turns, so satisfying. I let myself fly down the mountain, as fast as I wanted, making big ol’ pow slashes that throw ridiculous amounts of snow up into the air, one feels completely free and unattached to anything in life: completely in the moment.

I was extremely grateful that Brace had convinced us to push on to the top, I was afraid, but the payoff was worth it, after getting through the crux pitch the endorphine buzz was amazing. Overcoming fears and reaping the rewards of great challanges is a worthwhile effort every time. Stoked on the trip, thanks for the company boys!

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Retallack, Nov 22-24

  1. that was sick! was that a private hut or a commercial hut? if so which one? good shit man

    • Hey Riley, it’s a hut built for sledders, they mainly use it in the spring once the cat-skiing operations up there have finished for the season, but it is open to the public. It’s called the Mary Simpson Memorial Cabin I believe. Cheers!

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