I spent last weekend touring out of the cozy Jumbo Pass cabin in the Purcell Mountain Range. The cabin is perched at 2350m, and is surrounded by some of the most epic ski-terrain in B.C.’s southern interior, with 11,000ft peaks and glaciers in all direction the place is a rare gem. One feels tiny, exposed and insignificant amongst the hugeness of this place, where people rarely venture all the way to the sacred headwaters. It is a long ways from anywhere, the grizzly bear and mountain caribou reign supreme here. Without the conveniences of fossil-fuels and modern technology we wouldn’t last long in a place as extreme as this.
Some friends of mine have been arranging this as an annual ski trip every remembrance day weekend and this the fourth year I have endured the long journey to this remote and controversial place. I say controversial because a wealthy European real-estate tycoon has been attempting to develop the remote and sensitive Jumbo drainage into a massive ski-resort, one that would eventually span 4 glaciers and the headwaters of several major water-sheds in the area. Despite the local populations objections to the project our governmental authorities have given the go-ahead to the developers to exploit this delicate area for profit. But despite being ignored, the people have spoken, and people are still vehemently opposed to this destructive and unneeded resort of frivolousness.
Nine of us converged from as far as Edmonton and as near as Golden to meet in Invermere the morning of the 8th to prepare for the 55km drive up the logging road. The trailhead had about 5cm of snow on it but I managed to skin up the trail for a hundred or so meters until we reached the rocky section, where we had to put the skis on the packs and hike up in our ski/board boots. At about 1900m or so the coverage was good enough to skin again, and the late october rain crust made for easy skinning to the hut where we arrived to 100cm of snow on the ground. The wind and rain had had their way with the snowpack on most aspects, but we were able to find some soft snow in the trees on the west side of the pass and on some north facing terrain features. The sun even blessed us with some of its glorious rays of bliss and the clouds retreated for a few hours to our utter delight to reveal the fullness and magnitude of our surroundings: big snowy peaks, oceanic glaciers and vast expanses of icefield, a rare treat as Jumbo rarely exposes herself to strangers.
It was a great pleasure being back on snow, as we yo-yoed around the pass lapping the best snow we could find it was obvious that everybody was ecstatic to be sliding on snow again. We had a great time skiing mellow trees and a few steep but short shots in the mini-chutes. Some fun photo-ops were had, I fell on my head after improperly airing a drop, got humbled a bit. Then after an epic toboganning session which ended in a legendary bail and a group member getting a mild concussion we slept like rocks and awoke to fresh snow and some sunshine for a final run before skiing out.
We unfortunaltely weren’t able to shred everything we wanted to as the crusts were not making for great skiing on S-E aspects, but all in all it was a great trip. Getting lots of laps with soft snow and great coverage is a rarity in early November but thankfully Jumbo delivers! The saying is true: It does snow in Jumbo…
See you soon Jumbo Pass.