The Purcellkirks - Spring Adventures
The heli and split boarding industry is an incredible place to work. Its fast-paced atmosphere is short lived and before you know it you're back in shorts and sandals. Regardless of forecasts each and every year seems to follow the same tantric metronome of chaos that envelopes our season. When November comes around we are so over biking, kayaking and rain that we can not wait to get up to the hills and start shredding. Weeks of early season riding, backcountry bushwhacking, a multitude of core shots and a whole bunch of turkey later the season is in full swing. We're crushing pow laps, bringing all sorts of folks backcountry splitboarding, heliboarding and doing our best to keep up with the demands of a regular season. It is in the midst of this anarchy and short stormy dull days that we begin to dream of our spring trips. The light at the end of the tunnel and the promise of sunny blue-bird skies, settled snow packs, and big lines.
For us, the organization of these spring adventures seems to ramp up as we see the end of February fade away. Our possy, a mix of locals, foreigners and East coast transports have solidified themselves in a number of premier ski locations making ends meet in a plethora of ways. On this particular occasion one of the many amazing other halves in this group of misfits shared a premade trip google sheet with us. Every single thing you could think of outlined and accounted for. This resulted in many minds blown and the most efficient organization of a trip we have ever had. With tasks, food and gear lists entrust unto the boys, all that was left is to decide on was the location.
The epic depiction of the base camp movement that is portrayed in feature-length films helps the mere mortal set their sights high, and so the dreaming begins. The draw of high alpine mega campsites, fireworks and an amphitheatre of steep lines begins to set the tone for our proposed locations. The monarch and Freshfields icefields were our top choices. With the locations pencilled in, the last part of the puzzle is figuring out which heli to use and how much the trip is going to cost the crew. This is one of the hardest parts of these trips. Figuring out which company is closest to your desired location, whether you can afford it, and hoping they will be able to fly when you want to. With all of this down in the "cloud" by the middle of March, we were set for a prodigious trip into the Freshfields. Which would close out many of our seasons and signify the end of a stressful exam year for some.
Having once all lived together, we have since dispersed to follow our passions in a number of far-flung locations. These long-distance relationships have, and I presume, will continue to make organizing our trips a bit of a challenge. With a fierce low front whipping right towards us, promising 100mm of precipitation over the course of our stay, our sturdy plans began to falter. None of us had any interest in sitting in a 2-meter dome tent for two weeks. Despite how awesome it may sound, we wanted to shred. A frantic session of beta collection, google earthing and map scouring ensued. Based in Golden BC, Alpine Helicopters was to be our girated taxi service. Being "spring" we would struggle to fly with any heli-ski operations as they tend to close their doors in early April. We had to make something out of Golden work. After much deliberation, we decided on the Silent Pass area. Camping on an alpine lake, with access to treeline pow shredding and awesome glaciated terrain if the weather were to ease up. With a break in the weather, we saddled up and flew into our location, the 12-minute flight whisked us from a damp and bone-chilling Golden back into full winter. Spring had evidently taken a break.
Nestled below David, Cony and Twin Towers peak we began exploring the drainage we had chosen for our last week of boarding for the season. With mixed weather, our days were packed with variability. Camping at 2000m gave us choices. The treeline riding that lead down into the area surrounding McMurdo cabin was incredible during the pulses of snow that kept us hunkered down and out of sight of the alpine. Meanwhile on the few clear days that we had the easy access into the alpine let us bag the peaks in our immediate vicinity while also providing 1000m plus incredible steep alpine glaciated runs right back to camp. It was a fat snow year and this zone was no different. We had over 4 meters of snow up in the alpine and spring crept up to 2000m as soon as the storms let up. It was a bizarre contrast between deep winter and typical spring riding.
We hear so many riders talking about immersing oneself in the sport. This is a pivotal part of our sport. It may not be the same for everyone. For us setting up a home in the mountains is about as immersed as you can get. Relying on the on the appeasement of mother nature to let you explore the goods she has to offer is about as good as it can get. Returning home with the crew to chill out in your homemade kitchen, reno potential unlimited, fire pit wherever you want and chillaxing under the stars cannot be beat. At the end of the day, despite the weather dealing us a pretty tough hand we still managed to pull off a trip into the mountains, with a great crew, many tents, boards and good times. We put too much weight into keeping up with the media pros that sometimes we lose sight of what we are doing it all for. We managed to put together a trip that we will never forget, forever strengthening those friendships torn apart by life and career decisions. The bottom line is, it is and always will be about going out and shredding with your buds.