A night in the Rockies

I opened my eyes to a red sky over the peaks of the Rocky Mountains.

It took a few moments to remember where I was – I wasn’t in Kelowna anymore.

Canmore is dwarfed by jutting rocks towering kilometres over the town, raised by tectonic forces millions of years ago.

With a splash of Baileys in our coffee, we packed the cars and headed to the trailhead. The Trailhead Cafe. Then, finally, the trailhead.

The 11-kilometre tour to the Elizabeth Parker Hut took four hours, but we were treated to incredible views the whole way.

Frozen lakes, snow-covered creeks straight out of a Christmas card, steep crags towering above our heads, enticing but impossible couloirs.

The 16 of us made it to the hut in in varying times, exhausted, but triumphant in our success.

Drinks were had, fireworks were shot, fires were danced around as the snow fell hard throughout the night.

Waking up surprisingly fresh, I wolfed down some shitty oatmeal, before stepping into my skis and heading into the hills.

We toured through some steep trees, scoping out lines for the way down, and made it to a flat clearing, Schaffer Lake.

On the other side of the small frozen lake was Mount Schaffer, a 2700 metre peak with beautiful powdery lines staring right at us.

With our goal now in sight, we launched up the hill, traversing back and forth up the side of the mountain.

A pit showed over a metre of snow on top of the boulder-ridden slope, with a good bit of new stuff from the night before, and the stability looked decent.

Time to ski.

Hangin with Mount Schaffer from Nich Johansen on Vimeo.

And ski we did, launching one-by-one down the slope, carving long, wide-open Hollywood turns into the fresh canvas.

Whooping and hollering, high fives and big smiles.

Unsatisfied with just the one run, we hustled back up and dropped in for the second time, pushing a little harder now that we were on friendly terms with the slope.

With time against us, and our legs bitching and moaning, we headed back, getting some playful turns in the trees before finding our little cabin in the woods.

A quick clean and a victorious bourbon and we embarked on the long trek back to the car.

A night in the mountains makes for a good reset.

Short but sweet.


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