Mt. Rohr: Beginner Friendly Mission

As we made our way north to the Duffey Lake Road, news of the cars that had broken down filtered through various cellphones. Ryan’s car’s battery was dead. They got Craig to drive over to Piotr’s place, so that they could pull out Piotr’s jeep’s battery and install it in Ryan’s jeep. However, the battery was too high, so the hood had to be strapped down to keep it closed. In the process of driving over, Craig discovered a major problem with his mother’s car, so he had to stay in the city. In the meantime Marius drove over to pick up a few passengers, in case they wouldn’t manage to leave the city. All this car faff delayed Ryan’s group by about two and a half hours.

Maya, Phil and Vicky

Phil earned lots of good karma on this trip. On the way up the Duffey Lake Road, there was snow on the road, and only the uphill lane had been plowed. A vehicle was driving down the road, in the wrong lane. Then the inevitable happened – a car came up the road, they swerved back on to the downhill snowy lane, and ended up in the ditch. Luckily, they didn’t seem injured, but it was obvious that they needed a tow truck to get their car out. However, this was out in the boondocks, where there is no cell reception. Phil drove back down the road and made a few phone calls until he managed to get through to a tow truck company in Pemberton.

Our glorious camp

Finally we all arrived to the trailhead, and were ready to head out. Within a very short while the group of 20 or so was fragmented into a faster group and various slower ones. We had a few beginners, who had only been out skiing once or twice, but luckily there were enough experienced people to help them out. The way up to Mt. Rohr is pretty easy, but I had memories from two years ago of a steep section through the trees. We managed to find a much better route, with me in the front breaking trail the whole way, and Marius as co-pilot, checking the course with his GPS. We crossed a steeper open slope which would haunt us on the way down, but tried to stick to the trees for safety. We passed Rohr Lake, but decided to continue on towards the Upper Lake. Luckily Phil had brought along three radios, so we could communicate between the head and tail of the group, instead of the usual fumbling and waiting around. We found a protected campsite behind a wind lip, and then went skiing, while half the group was still in the trees making their way up slowly, with Phil and Katherine carrying some of the beginners’ gear.

Stunning views on the way up to Mt. Rohr

We skied a few fun runs above camp, and then were happy to see that the rest of the group had arrived. We had a huge snow kitchen, and various delicacies were passed around, including a cheesecake, homemade biscotti (chocolate walnut) and a large bunch of fresh grapes. Matt P. and Mathieu arrived just before dark, after blazing up the trail (a highway by then) in about two hours. We stayed up, chatting, and waiting for the moon to rise. Luckily the sky had cleared, and we could already see the full moon’s glow behind Mt. Rohr. We tried to estimate when the supermoon would rise over the ridge, so dubbed since it was the moon’s perigee, when it is closest to earth (and hence the brightest and largest). Finally it rose dramatically, to the sound of oohs and ahhs from the crowd. Apparently it was not actually that much bigger than usual – perhaps we should pay more attention to the moon rise… The sky was clear and beautiful and I stayed up for a while, enjoying it by myself.

Snaking up

The next day dawned with blue skies and barely any clouds. Most of the group headed up to Mt. Rohr, a long string of VOC’ers following a snake of a skin track. The views of Cayoosh, Marriot and later Matier and Joffre were mesmerizing.

The jaw dropping Joffrey Group

Finally we were on the last section of ridge, where we suddenly faced the full force of the wind which had textured the snow and sculpted it, like dunes in the desert.

The windblown ridge

On the summit there was no wind, so we lingered for a while, taking many summit shots. After digging a quick pit, we skied a phenomenal run directly down from the peak. At one stage we had the option of continuing the run, or skiing back down to camp. The ones in the front chose the former, and the others followed, some of which arrived down surprised to find that we hadn’t skied down to camp. It was one of the best runs that we had had this year – blue skies, sun, fast and forgiving snow, what more can you ask for? We skinned back up and had another great run down to camp. We packed up in the sun, and headed back down to the forest.

The run down from the summit was excellent

Then we reached that steep slope in the trees that we had crossed on the way up, just to find that one of Thor’s Diamir Fritschi bindings had broken. It was “fixed” by employing a number of Voile straps, which have become the usual fixers for broken bindings and skis in the VOC.

Excellent skiing

Many of us had been thinking how good the skiing down this run would be, but by then it had warmed up quite a bit, and the snow was heavy. A pit showed the slope to be unstable, so we skied down one by one which took probably about two hours. We watched the beginners from the top and bottom of the run, as they painstakingly and repeatedly cut the slope from one side to the other, tried to turn around but failed and fell. Once the beginners were down, the rest followed quickly, and we started moving as a group again, making much faster progress. At the top of that run I had asked if anyone cared to guess when we would arrive back to the cars. Someone said 5:30, I guessed 7:30, and out of sheer luck, the last person arrived down precisely at that time. Phil arrived to the cars with three sleeping bags and various other gear tied to his pack, after patiently trailing behind the beginners.

The beginners took forever to get down this slope...

We had the traditional late dinner at the Shady Tree Pub in Squamish, where we mused about Piotr bringing four sleeping bags on the trip, three of which he had lent out. He had thereby managed to get three different girls into his sleeping bags that weekend, none of them being in the sleeping bag at the same time as him. We arrived back home after midnight. Some of us were probably feeling a bit broken, but everyone had a good time, and that’s what counts.

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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