Backcountry Skiing in the Monashees (British Columbia)


Li, Linda

Dates of Trip: 

December 3, 2018 to December 7, 2018


May 2018, my sister and I recently resumed our weekly family dinners in Somerville. She had just come back from her first season living out in Revelstoke, British Columbia (BC), a gem of a ski town tucked away in no man’s land, 8 hours from Seattle and 2 hours from Banff. She said “I only have one goal for next ski season. I want to do this hut trip.” Her boyfriend had come back from a week-long, remote backcountry ski trip at Blanket Glacier in the Monashee Mountains of BC bearing tales of a wood-fired sauna, amazing spreads of food, and the simplicity of life off the grid with no cares in world except for the experience itself and the skiing. Major FOMO was triggered. She was committed to the idea, and I was intrigued. It was May, but we knew what we’d be doing come early December…

Never Show Weakness

Never Show Weakness was the name of the camp we signed up for. While the names of the various weeks the guiding company runs from the backcountry hut are rather arbitrary, Never Show Weakness drew a particular crowd. NSW is about skiing with the pros; professional skiers are invited to join the trip and hang with the crew. For my sister and I, this didn’t hold any particular significance, but we realized that this was not an ordinary crowd of backcountry / hut skiers. As we peered into the coffee shop where we met the group, we excitedly noted one other girl. We soon learned that she was there to drop off her boyfriend. Unsurprising, we were the only two women on a trip branded around adrenaline and hard-charging ski days with the pros (headlamps required).

Fresh Lines and Good Times

It is hard of summarize what this trip was like for me, but a few things of interest for the MITOC community:

  1. On this trip, we did not ski anyone’s sloppy seconds. It was fresh lines for everyone everyday, but in contrast to helicopter and cat trips, you work for it. I knew I had signed up for some hard work that required a level of fitness that I may or may not have had, but ~1,700m of vertical continuously for 4 days was no joke. I returned from the trip with a new sense of what could be accomplished physically within a day and a new confidence in how far I could push myself. Skinning gave me an appreciation of where I was, nestled deep in the mountains of the Monashees, and engaged me with a group of interesting individuals that soon became a cohesive ski family who laughed together, cheered each other on, and in some cases, continue to ski together because of the trip.
  2. Women and minorities who rip are not impossible to find but I am so proud of my sister for representing us on this trip and in the skiing world in general. While I must admit, I did show some weakness, I’m not actually sure she did. I am proud that we came as sisters, not accompanying a boyfriend or partner, and that we were able to experience this adventure together.

Thanks to MITOC and the Sean Collier grant, I was able to experience this trip with my sister and jump further into the world of backcountry skiing. I know the world of skiing that I have entered is a world of privilege. I was reminded of this when the helicopter came to load and the coordinator asked “Has anyone not been in a helicopter before?” I was the only one to raise my hand. Lucky for me, this meant I got the front seat and like an eager kid, I seized the opportunity.