Author: Nate Trachte, FOW
Backcountry paradise. Kootenay Range, BC. Photo: @sanjuanderers
This is the life - early morning stoking of the wood stove, eating oatmeal, sipping coffee, and skiing powder. The simple pleasure of it all is all-consuming. In between heavy breaths, we reflected upon how lucky we were as we made our way up the skin track, frothing for another lap.
For the last three days, six of my friends and I had been packed like sardines into a hut in the Kootenay range of British Columbia. Before the trip, I had thoughtfully laid out all of my goals for the trip: ski powder, hoot and holler, laugh, sip whiskey, live slow.
In spite of what social media would lead us to believe, there is nothing simple about accessing simple moments like these. Organizing a multi-night backcountry trip for seven people involves many important elements to address: shelter, food, communication, navigation, terrain, snowpack conditions… the list goes on. Even for us modern adventurer types with the luxury of high tech gear to help us address all the complexities of backcountry travel, there’s a lot to consider.
And at the end of the day, the most fundamental element to get dialed for a successful mission isn’t technological at all - it’s the human relationships. Each of us needed to learn the terrain with a studious eye and respect for the mountains. We had to work well as a team and make responsible decisions. Having a crew you can count on is critical, and by the end of the trip, I was reminded exactly why I had chosen to go into the backcountry with this crew.
The squad atop Kootenay Pass. Captured with a waterlogged disposable camera that had seen better days. Kootenay Range, BC. FOW: Nate Trachte // Photo: @sanjuanderers
I’ve known most of these vagabonds since our college days. Back then we were spending more time playing in the mountains of Southwest Colorado than we were in class. This cast of characters is just as quick to throw on mismatching costumes to spice up a trip to the dive bar as they are to pause and have an honest and transparent snow safety check in mid-ascent.
This crew is special in their ability to be fun and flexible, while knowing when it’s time to get serious. When the balance of fun and safety can be a difficult line to walk, my backcountry partners always deliver - through trust, careful preparation, experience, and honesty.
My new skis and I formed a quick understanding with one another. Like with my ski partners, I soon learned to trust and appreciate all that the Intention 110 had to offer. Kootenay Range, BC. Photo: @sanjuanderers
We have finally gained the ridgeline. It’s only three in the afternoon, but the winter sun is on its way to the horizon, and the already gray sky has grown noticeably darker. Chewing on a frozen chocolate bar, I take a moment to reflect before we drop for our final turns of the day. Skiing is never easy, and not always of the best quality, but damn it feels good.
Kootenay Range, BC. FOW: Nate Trachte // Photo: @sanjuanderers
I’ll forever be grateful for the places skis have taken me. They provide the euphoric rush of linking bottomless powder turns, and the liberating feeling of playing in wild spaces with friends. Nothing better than being in the backcountry with a bunch of dirtbags stoked out of their minds to be stuck in a snowglobe, and coming out to a truck waiting on top of the pass with ice cold beers in the bed.
-Nate Trachte, FOW