I’m often questioned about living in such a remote area…especially year-round. But, marketing for a world-renowned heliski operation definitely comes with a few perks. I may not be in cell range or have the quickest Internet connection, but my friends, there is compensation. Obviously heliskiing the odd day is a bonus…I mean, come-on! But beyond the obvious, I also get to participate in other pretty cool things. This past September is a perfect example.
Early September, I got back from what can only be described as an unforgettable weekend. 11 kids, 4 adults, a backcountry hut, climbing equipment and a forecast full of sunshine. The Level 1 CSGA junior glacier course began last year with all of 7 kids and expanded this year to 11. Ranging from 8-16 years of age, the crowd was diverse but, all-in-all, well-suited. The children arrived Friday night in preparation for an early start Saturday.
Congregating to the remote town of Blue River, the majority of kids had to drive at least 2 hours to get here. Friday was the initial meet and greet with pizza and ensuring everyone had the proper gear.
The next morning we all met for a hot breakfast at the Saddle Mountain Restaurant, loaded the van and then headed to the Monashee mountains. With everything we needed for a couple of days, we hiked along the well-used path, lined with a colourful array of red, yellow and purple wildflowers enroute to the Monashee Hut. Now, when I say Hut, the image of a dingy, old, single-cot hunting cabin may come to mind, however, the Monashee is anything but. Perched above a crystal clear lake, the Hut is more similar to a family cabin than a hunter's retreat. Equipped with a propane stove, eating utensils and dishes and enough bunks to house 11 children and 4 adults, the Hut is not what one might expect – albeit a welcomed haven for a kid's camp.
Settling in, we all claimed our sleeping bunk, unpacked our goods and proceeded to eat lunch. Led through the woods to the perfect climbing spot by guides Tim McLean, Andy Aufschnaiter and Stefan Kreuzer, we started off by learning the basics of anchoring in the woods. Walking us through the steps, we geared up in our harnesses and helmets, tied in and repelled down the rock face.
10 year old Lea put us all to shame being the first to descend…all 60 pounds of her. Working off 2 lines we all took turns practicing our repelling techniques. After a few hours, I brought the youngest group of back for a swim session.
The rest of our group showed up and we all congregated to the kitchen for diner. As the sun set, the full moon loomed above us, mystically illuminating the walls of the surrounding mountains and the shimmering lake. Huddled around the roaring fire, we spent the remainder of the evening roasting marshmallows and telling stories.
Waking up to another glorious sunshine-filled morning, we took to the mountains once more. The older of the bunch embarked on a 2-hour hike with Andy, while Tim and Andy led the rest to the perfect climbing spot. Progressing from the day before, we worked off a larger face and repelled off the perfect overhang.
It was a fantastic weekend and I was sad to leave. I’ve always said you can learn a lot from hanging around with kids…like the perfect way to roast a marshmallow…or how to make the most realistic farting sound with my armpit…let’s just say I was not disappointed. Looking forward to my next Wiegele adventure!