Return to Happyland

This is Happyland.

Sixteen months ago the Mountain Animals spent a week here skiing fabulously deep snow.  When we skied these pillows last year someone started calling the zone “pillow fight” but I like “Happyland,” the name the TGR crew came up with earlier this winter, too.

Despite being light and fluffy, the snow in Interior BC sticks to near-vertical surfaces.  If this rack were here in Utah the topsheets would be bare.

But, this isnt Utah and so the snow defies gravity and makes the cliffbands look like they’re made from Stay Puft products.

Remember that feeling when you were ten and as you reach the last step on the top of the high-dive you notice how far above the pool you are?  And how suddenly the decision to climb up the ladder in the first place seems like it was a bad one?

The lines are technical and with so many horizon lines it’s hard to be sure you’re standing on top of what you’d been eyeing from below.   Convincing yourself you weren’t going to be swallowed by a deep snow moat or accidentally launch fifty feet to flat were mental hangups for all of us.

Then, after  a few minutes of wrestling with those “on top of the high-dive”  thoughts  there comes a time when you stop thinking and do it.

And it is glorious.

The skiing on our first day at the hut was marginal.  It hadn’t snowed for a week and long spring days had baked the surface.  But that night clouds rolled in and on Day 2 it dumped all day then all night.

Eat your heart out, Jordan Manley

Tag-teaming trees

The lady-friend gettin’ hers

Mini-golf sequence

…with a satified look-back out the bottom

Unfortunately, stability during and after the storm was marginal above treeline.  We could hear avalanches more often than we could see them and I just happened to be taking a photo of the fresh crown lines when this one came down.  When the clouds lifted we could see that this avalanche began at the top of the same couloir that the Deeper guys rode during their week here.

During forays onto the glaciers we kept our angles low, which isn’t hard to do around this hut.  In fact, low angle glacier skipping is what the hut’s known for.

Dramatic light in a valley a few miles from the hut

First tracks OB.  Swift. Noisy. Deep.

Then time for the daily dose

R.Strong down the stairs…

…And out onto the apron,  looking highly disappointed.

Seth dropped in for a beer…

…A beer that we’d smuggled from MT to BC on the drive north.  Never have I felt less likely to be searched than crossing the border in a BMW with three cute, athletic women.

Afternoon cocktails led to sunset meadowskipping above the hut

And whipped cream for breakfast is the new homeopathic for hangovers

We explored areas  further from the hut, but sadly blue sky had baked the left half of the gully.

And put in some good ol’ steep zig zags to counteract all the flat-heel uphilling we’d been doing.

Which got us to some north-facing goods, still un-manked by sun.

Though the spring sun was quick to crustify the snow, the views didn’t suck.

We pushed high onto the glaciers, hoping for a window of good light

And saw lots of spindrift avalanches on the way

And wrapped up the trip with another lap on Happyland

After which I signed one, skinned up and sent

And dedicated a page to the place in the chalet guest book

Mountain Animals