Caspar Creek: Winter Camping at -30 Degrees

Finally, the sun! (view from the tent)

Last weekend we headed out on an Intro to Backcountry Skiing trip with the VOC. I volunteered to help “lead” the trip.┬áThe approach to Caspar Creek is mostly along surprisingly flat logging roads. Looking forward I could see a seemingly never ending ant line of backcountry skiers. There is something overwhelmingly satisfying in this sight, although I’m not sure what it is exactly.

Big group

Olga was having some trouble with her boots, a common occurrence on beginner friendly trips. Richard valiantly offered to sacrifice his feet – apparently he had skied up here once with boots that were three sizes too small. In this case it turned out that they had the same size boots and liners, so this wasn’t necessary, and he just modified her boots a bit.

Here everyone looks serious and somber as Richard performs what was termed "boot surgery"

When we arrived to camp, some of us went skiing, and there was some gloriously dry powder to be had, but we didn’t have much time to ski it before dark. After dinner, when we were in bed already, I kept on hearing beeps – some beginners were practicing their transceiver searches.

Breakfast was a chilly affair, since the sun hadn’t reached our camp yet. Mariana woke up feeling nauseous, and lay down in the snow. It was determined that she was suffering from first symptoms of hypothermia. Breanne got her some extra sleeping bags and mats and I boiled water for hot water bottles and a hot drink. After a few hours she was as good as new. Several days later I heard that she and Jordan had some mild frostbite – they lost feeling in small areas at the tips of their toes. It will probably come back, but it might take some time.

Mariana's cool Mexican wrestling mask. Never heard of Mexican wrestling? That's ok, neither have I.

This was a freezing trip, quite literally. The temperature was -26 (celsius) at 10am and probably a few degrees colder at night. Anything and everything froze, including boots, Noriko’s wine, propane stoves and more. Several people (including me) ended up carrying a block of ice back down to the cars, since their bottles had frozen.

A very chilly breakfast

It was a beautiful day. Some people went skiing, and I was going to go too. When I put my feet in my boots I realized that they were completely frozen. I tried to help Maya get her feet into her boots, but they just wouldn’t fit. Since my feet were already numb, this didn’t seem like a good combination. I spent an hour or so rubbing my feet back to life and thawing our boot liners. Once the sun came out, it warmed up quickly.

Frozen Maya

I decided that my booties are way less warm than my ski boots. Next time I go on such a cold camping trip (gulp!) I plan to ditch the booties and keep the liners in my sleeping bag. Poor Jeff had leather boots. Smartly he put them in his sleeping bag overnight, but they still froze – it must have been a cold night for him!
We got to the cars just before nightfall, and the temperature was dropping quickly. Maya’s door wouldn’t stay closed, so she had to hold it closed for the first half an hour or so. When we got to Squamish, I discovered I had left my mittens on the roof when tying the skis to the roof. Amazingly they had stayed there, despite not being tied on or anything. I’m a lucky bastard.

More photos

This entry was posted in Backcountry Skiing, British Columbia (and nearby), Duffey Lake Road, Trip Reports, Varsity Outdoor Club (VOC). Bookmark the permalink.

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