This is it! Backcountry skiing and new hippie friends dreams come true for me in my first days in the Kootenays.
Hucking a frozen waterfall with a little help from my friends…
New weapons: G3 Empire + Fritischi Vipec
Philipp and Kim hiking up at dawn.
Arrival at the Lost Ledge cabin.
Magic Kootenays at sunset.
The Lost Ledge cabin at night.
Let’s have some water.
Care for a Sauna?
Our tracks from the day before.
With Nora and Philipp, who not only share their cabin in Rattelack with me but also extended their invite to the Lost Ledge cabin to me and whom I owe these fantastic skiing days in the Kootenays.
A few days earlier:
After nine hours of continuous driving from Vancouver to the Kootenays…
… I lost track.
After almost six months, my first full day of work at North Valley Huts, my workaway “employer”.
There are certain places you get to, and you just know it. This is what you really have been looking for all along. And now that you are here, you just want to be part of it. Badly. So it happened to me when I arrived in Retallack, BC after a 12-hour nonstop-drive from Vancouver. But not so fast:
Vilma and I decided it was for the best for both of us for her to fly home. The symptoms of Dengue fever had become unambiguous in the meanwhile and although it had passed already, Dengue commands a recovery period of at least ten days up to many weeks. It was not an easy decision at all.
The next morning, I packed up, got in the car and started to drive out towards Retallack, a place in the heart of the Kootenay Mountains. A very nice couple of young South-Tyroleans, Philipp and Nora, whom we had met at the hostel in Vancouver, were already there and I had contacted both them as well as their landlord Cindy, who runs „North Valley Huts“ and offers board and lodging for a few hours of work every day. The job was defined as „help prepare cabins for ski touring guests“ and was directed at dedicated skiers. No doubt, absolutely ideal for me.
A day’s drive for Canadians. With all that snow and sliding off the road, 12 hours nonstop for me…
The drive was supposed to last 7 hours and a half and included a lot of mountain passes and one ferry crossing. I left Vancouver in heavy rain that lasted until I reached the mountains. I started driving up, up and even more up towards Kelowna. As I passed the highest point, snowfall started. Canadians drive extremely fast on snowpack in their 4×4 Ford F-trucks. I was hesitant, but when it turned 7pm and I still had an hour to drive, I increased my speed. On an uphill slope, the car started to skid despite the 4×4. A few dreadful seconds later, the car was in the roadside ditch, firmly stuck in snow, wheels turning but without moving the car not even an inch. The adrenaline subsided, a road service car passed by and called a towing service for me. I continued the drive at half the speed. Retallack is not a town, it is actually more of a mountain pass that once was home to a town, a century ago, when miners lived here. To date, there is no running water, no electricity and no network coverage and no buildings at than a few cabins and one lodge. No shops, no gas station, no traffic lights. I actually passed by it the first time I drove in. There was nothing you could see from the street. Just pine trees, and one wooden sign with a red eagle head. The writing „Retallack“ below the eagle’s head was covered in snow. I arrived just before my hosts would have given up on me and would have gone to bed.
The next morning, we joined Tom and Kim for a three-day backcountry skiing trip at their club cabin. The pictures above are from these wonderful days deep into the remote backcountry of the Kootenay mountains.