Hewitt Peak, the friend-breaker, as I explained to Ryan last weekend. A long, brutal bushwhack to a south facing gulley on a peak that doesn’t have a lot of name cred and then all the way back out. Sure to break a friendship. So it was another solo trip for me.
I woke up at 2am and got out the door. On my way up the Beaverfoot, I somehow got lost and did an extra 20k doing a big loop on the east and west sides of the Kootenay river, crossing both S and N bridges. I didn’t even know that the N bridge was passable before today… I’ve been up this way a few times, during the Foster attempts as well as a couple others; just in my auto-pilot early morning mode I just made a few too many assumptions and ended up back where I came from. After that, I went ahead and paid attention and went the right way.
I was disappointed to find the last leg of logging road was no longer accessible, but I accounted for that in my planning so the extra 30 minutes was no big deal. I was not looking forward to the reason I had deemed it a friend breaker: the bushwhack up the valley after the road ended. At the end of the road though, there was a mysterious trail which hadn’t shown up on any up my research. I was intrigued, and followed. It turned out to be a horse trail, likely from the Beaverfoot Lodge folks. Thanks!! It took me out through all the narrow treed part of the valley and ended at the meadows, where it was super easy to find all kinds of good routes through the small shrubs. I was expecting to get lost in the woods a fair bit, and two guys lost in the woods gives two opinions on which way to go. One guy or the other is going to feel their opinion isn’t valued at every decision point, and there are a lot of those when you’re bumbling around in the woods in pitch black. Or there is a long democratic conversation at each decision point, and before you know it it’s light and you’re still hours from alpine.
I got to alpine in good time just before sunrise. Then the usual; walk till the rock ends and then boot till you can’t go up anymore. I couldn’t find a summit register at the cairn, but as usual I didn’t bring a pen so it makes no difference. Views were just amazing. I feel like I got a good view of every north and east aspect I’ve ever thought of skiing in the Purcells, plus some Selkirks and Rockies to sweeten it even more.
The skiing was good at the top, a couple inches of new snow had stuck around and made for some velvety, un-suncupped corn. It was very much a last hurrah of summer skiing for 2014. With the sneaky pow on Collier I had no chance to say goodbye. I had some binding issues, where the lateral release decided it would like to be non-existent and I ended up with a free heel after a few turns. Brilliant. The snow down lower was pretty rocky and not so nice for skiing. I skied most of it anyways and allowed the skis to remove themselves from my feet. Good thing you can lock the toe!
In the end, the great horse trail makes it unworthy of the friendship breaker moniker. I’m sure I’ll find something to attach it to sooner or later…