“There are old guides and there are bold guides, but there are no old bold guides,” Theo Meiners, another legendary guide in Alaska, used to quip.
Most of my readers are track skiers and we don’t have to worry about avalanches. I remember the news in 2003 about the seven backcountry skiers who were killed in the Durrand Glacier avalanche. A book has now been written by Ken Wylie, the assistant guide on that fateful trip, and an article in the National Post gives a preview How a massive avalanche changed backcountry culture and shattered one guide’s life.
One of those killed in the avalanche was Jean-Luc Schwendener, the chef at Mt Engadine Lodge. I had met him in 1999 while staying at the lodge.
Some of my readers do venture out into the backcountry, and I have a “Backcountry Trip reports” page for those who wish to share their experiences. I am always thrilled to read about Chuck’s epic adventures. Alf, Steve, Chip and others usually have a few interesting trips and gorgeous photos to share every winter. I hope everyone continues to play it safe in the backcountry.
Developing backcountry skills begins on the front country trails These skills can best be learned with one many outdoor clubs in the Calgary Banff area. Many have established daytrips which allow for a start on trackset trails learning ski skills, then progressing on a graduated basis to sets (or categories) of successively harder and more demanding back country destinations. Learning about the snowpack and trail conditions on trackset trails is a valuable building block in the progression to back country skiing. Clubs have developed these progression based on decades of experiences where at one time weekend warriors often put themselves at risk by putting themselves and comrades on backcountry trails above their skill level. Above and beyond the safety factor of traveling in groups, you will meet a great bunch of people. I fondly remember my years of ski experiences and après activites while living in Calgary.