March 08, 2004

escape from black mountain

at around this time last year, i went on a snowshowing trip with an intrepid handful of webct employees. dave, geordy, jesse and i packed some food, a shovel and some homebrew beer (jesse == teh best) and proceeded to hike out to the elfin lakes in garibaldi. we dug a snowcave, slept in it and came back the next day, all without dying.

given the spectacular success of that trip, it was inevitable that a reprise would be forthcoming. though it's kinda odd that i was the sole returning member of the original expedition, what with no longer working at webct and all, i joined erin, justin and dan for what i thought would be a far less monumental trip out to black mountain. or as i prefer to call it, the black mountain... of DOOM!

the trip in was pleasant enough: a bit chilly, some light snow, plenty of visibility. it only took us two-and-a-half hours to reach our intended camp, which was good time compared to the four-plus hour slog that team webct endured last year. upon arrival, we immediately set to the task of building our accomodations; dan and justin dug out "the kitchen", erin started to pat down the tent area and i got to work hollowing out a snowbank for the sleeping cave.

up until the digging part, everything was going according to plan. what happened last year was: four people took shifts digging out the cave, and i changed into warm/dry clothes after the digging was completed. this time, with really only dan and i digging the cave, i became really wet and really cold while digging, so much so that i had to change into my backup fleece gear before the cave could accomodate two. so now, wearing just fleece, i couldn't dig because i'd just get soaked again, and the cave could only fit one person. asi stood there, not digging, it dawned on me that i'm still getting progressively colder and that things were not liable to get any warmer anytime soon.

the situation called for some immediate decision-making; do we stay and risk losing the urbanski to hypothermia, or do hike back and risk getting lost in some combination of darkness and blizzard? after some brief deliberation, erin and i opted for the latter. we packed up, figured out how the borrowed headlamps worked and sadly bade dan and justin good-bye.

we made the hike back in what must have been record time. it was barely dark, and barely snowing when we reached the cypress ski lodge. at this point we were wet, tired and hungry, which is the perfect combination of attributes one needs to enjoy the best poutine ever. after demolishing said poutine, we emerged from the lodge to find the mountain ensconsed in an absolutely ridiculous combination of darkness and blizzard. huh. some comments expressing happiness at not being out there and moderate concern for dan's and justin's welfare were expressed, and then we got the hell out of there.

i like to think that justin and dan had as good a sleep as i did that night, but it's kinda unlikely.

some further remarks:

the "jesse lyman award for heaviest pack relative to body mass" went to erin. at probable fault was the two-week supply of trailmix... but damn, it was good trailmix.

dan and justin got the "snow carpenters of the year" award for their awesome work on the snow kitchen. benches, a roof, even cubbyholes. nice works, guys.

and for me, the "david wilson award for most inappropriate footwear", as i had left my good boots at home because the new insoles i bought especially for this trip resulted in pain after as little as two minutes of regular walking. next time i'll be prepared, really.

Posted by michal at March 8, 2004 04:27 PM

Wow, I miss Vancouver. My extreme adventures this winter have been limited to braving the overly salted sidewalks between school and home.

Posted by: evan at March 15, 2004 04:17 PM
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