Phelix Hut: Spring Skiing and the Illusion of Summer

It was hot and humid and we needed lots of fluids

Last weekend we headed to the Phelix Hut. There is something nice about going back to a place that you’ve been to before, especially when there is so much to explore around it. Since the drive to the trail head is pretty long, and the way up is quite long as well I always prefer to go to Phelix for more than just a weekend. So we decided to stay till Monday, but to go down early enough so I could still make it to my Spanish class in Vancouver at 6:30pm.

The first thing we noticed after we started skinning up was that it was unusually warm, and especially humid. We all made several stops to reorganize our clothing, take off layers and to open zippers. Every now and then the sun came out from behind the clouds, but it also rained for a bit. We stopped for lunch before going into the forest. The forest was very icy, which wasn’t a big surprise as it hadn’t snowed for quite some time before. Mirella was having trouble with the skin up as she was sliding every now and then. Luckily Tim carried her a pair of snowshoes and she switched to her familiar snowshoes and was a happier camper. I was happy when we reached the lake, and it didn’t feel as long as previous times. We were at the hut by 4:00pm. Most of the people that arrived before us were already on the slopes and soon enough Tim, Gili and Frances were ready to head out for a quick run on Return of the King, while Mirella and I preferred to take it easy in the hut.

Crossing Long Lake, almost at the hut

The hut was very crowded that evening, with about 30 or so people from various groups. Luckily it was warm enough and someone dug a nice snow kitchen outside, and the VOC group cooked and had dinner outside. It was much nicer than being in the stuffy hut with all the people. Natalie had a great idea of having a dessert potluck, and there were some really nice treats like Breanne’s cinnamon buns, Rich’s apple muffins, Frances’ apple crumble and I brought a chocolate Babka which was a big success.

It was nice and warm, so we cooked and ate outside

Some people preferred to sleep outside under the stars until it started snowing lightly and they moved back into the hut at around 3am. I found two spots for Gili and I in the “Honeymoon Suite”. It was so moist in the hut that it dripped a bit from the ceiling on our -21c sleeping bags, over kill in this weather and with so many people… I recently discovered that one of the most important things to bring on hut trips are ear plugs. It really improves the quality of the sleep. Apparently there was a bad snorer in the hut that night, and even worse, a guy that kept on screaming at him to stop snoring… Several people complained that they barely slept a wink. I missed all of that due to my ear plugs.

Day trip to the Aragorn Glacier

In the morning we cooked and ate outside again. Then we split to a few different groups. Most of us headed to the Aragorn Glacier at different times, and another group went on a relaxed trip to the Frodo-Peregrine col. Most of the people also had to head down that day, but a few of us could enjoy the luxury of staying another night, and not rush it that day. There were also two dogs that came, both of them were completely black, a nice contrast to the snow. One dog was named Hudson and he was really easy going. The other was was Kootenay, Natalie and Jeff’s dog who came from Revelstoke. She was a bit hyper. It was funny to see these dogs with no additional clothing dashing in circles in the snow. They were probably laughing at us humans with all our gear, clothing and skis.

There were two dogs in the group, Hudson and Kootenay

 

Up on the Aragorn Glacier we had a nice lunch break. It socked in while we were skinning up, so we waited for a break in the clouds and once it happened we skied a nice run. Gili and Dave were keen to go up for another run. Tom, Sam’s dad, decided to go back to the hut, and Sam soon joined him since he didn’t want him to go back alone. Breanne and I waited till the guys skied down and thought that maybe we’d go up again. But the visibility decreased again and while Gili and Dave were skiing the light became completely flat and I was happy I decided to wait below.

Gili after his spectacular fall

As we were waiting for Gili to ski down we saw him hitting a huge cornice chunk. It looked like he was a bit disoriented and it took him some time to put his skis back on. When he came down he still had some snow all over him and he said his ribs hurt. Luckily it wasn’t anything worse than that. Since the weather did not improve we decided to head down to the hut. Dave and Breanne went ahead while Gili and I took it easy and had a nice snack break before the crusty slope from hell. It’s amazing how the snow can be so different just because of the angel of the slope. I survival skied most of it, managing to get a turn in every now and then.

When we entered the hut everyone that came for two days had already headed down and only Sam, Tom, Breanne and Dave were in. It felt so quiet and relaxed with only six people after the craziness of the previous night. The group was busy playing a card game called “Yaniv”, funnily enough an Israeli card game that Israelis overseas play a lot. We played it ten years ago while we were traveling in South America, but Dave recently returned from Sri Lanka where he learned the game.

Dinner potluck on the second night in the hut

For dinner Tom had a really nice idea to have a dinner potluck, so we got to enjoy a variety of backcountry dishes, from the infamous “sidekick”, to ravioli with smoked salmon, and mashed potatoes with cheese. After dinner it turned out that Tom, Sam’s dad, is not only a really nice guy, but also an excellent guitar player. But we also found out some differences between the “younger generation” who didn’t know many old songs and the “older generation”. Gili and I know many old songs, but we can’t really sing that well… We still managed to cover many songs from the song book, mostly thanks to Tom…

Beautiful morning

Sam and Dave woke up early to get a few runs before heading down, the rest of us preferred to sleep in. We woke up to bluebird skies. By the time we finished breakfast and getting ready the guys got back from their run. The ski down was interesting to say the least. The forest was extremely icy and it took me a while to get down with a few falls every now and then. The logging road was starting to look like spring skiing with rocks popping out every now and then. There was one section with many rocks and it looked like a slope above was slowly sliding on to the logging road.

Spring in February

Soon enough we were back in the car ready to head back. The drive back felt like summer, it was sunny and pretty and usually in winter we don’t finish trips so early and get to drive the beautiful Sea-to-Sky when there is still light. In Pemberton I treated myself to an ice cream. Even if it was just an illusion of summer, we are all allowed to dream sometimes….

More photos

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

One Response to Phelix Hut: Spring Skiing and the Illusion of Summer

  1. Ben Sandzer-Bell says:

    Yeah, yelling at someone snoring always works! NOT!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *