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Untracked Line: Whitecap Alpine Adventures, BC

It's steep, it's deep, and Lars Andrews, the owner, encourages his guests to go big.
posted: 08/06/2009
“This is Home Run,” said Lars, Whitecap Alpine touring’s owner and lead guide and the son of Ron Andrews, who owns McGillivray Pass Lodge, our home for the next five days. “Give ’er, but remember there are drops below us. Huck yourself silly.” And he disappeared. Lars arced where other guides wiggled, and shot snow over his shoulders every turn.

Huck yourself silly. You don’t hear that too often at BC-based ski-touring operations, where many run stripper skiing (look but don’t touch) because of stability issues. They focus on skiing high-quality snow at slightly lower angles. But Whitecap, a fly-in/fly-out touring op 31 miles from Pemberton, BC, sits in the Chilcotin, a range deeper than the Coast range. The snow is bottomless and stable like the Coast range, but much drier. So you can look, touch, and fondle. We went on to grope 1,500-foot couloirs with 45-degree entrances, undulating faces hanging above creek bottoms, and choked chutes.

But there at Home Run on day one, we roostered contrails onto any poor bastard skiing behind us. It culminated with the small cliffs Lars warned us about. Dave, a guest from Vancouver, followed me off a 15-foot drop into a plush landing. It wasn’t silly but we’d certainly hucked ourselves. Two hours in, we’d already learned two lessons from Lars:

Follow him down Home Run.

Bring your own chapstick.

(Above: Little man in a big country. Ilja Herb sticks to the light.)

Lars ripped off his skins and collapsed in paroxysms. Through the laughter it wasn’t immediately clear what he was saying, but it had something to do with chapstick and his assistant guide, Greg Hill, making the single worst decision of his life.

If you lead ski tours for a living like 35-year-old Lars Andrews, you’ve accepted a life of chapping in your nether regions. Humans sweat. Sweat irritates. The irritations are irritating. Hence, Lars owns two chapsticks—one for his mouth and one for the terminus of his digestive tract. One day, when Greg needed lip therapy and misplaced his own chapstick, he borrowed some from Lars. Only Greg, and this will be in Italics, borrowed the wrong one.

That was last week. Greg can probably still taste...Lars. But it’s day one with our mixed group and the story, told at the top of a 1,200-foot run loaded with knee-deep BC goodness, didn’t break the ice so much as shovel seracs into hell.

“This is Home Run,” said Lars, Whitecap Alpine touring’s owner and lead guide and the son of Ron Andrews, who owns McGillivray Pass Lodge, our home for the next five days. “Give ’er, but remember there are drops below us. Huck yourself silly.” And he disappeared. Lars arced where other guides wiggled, and shot snow over his shoulders every turn.

Huck yourself silly. You don’t hear that too often at BC-based ski-touring operations, where many run stripper skiing (look but don’t touch) because of stability issues. They focus on skiing high-quality snow at slightly lower angles. But Whitecap, a fly-in/fly-out touring op 31 miles from Pemberton, BC, sits in the Chilcotin, a range deeper than the Coast range. The snow is bottomless and stable like the Coast range, but much drier. So you can look, touch, and fondle. We went on to grope 1,500-foot couloirs with 45-degree entrances, undulating faces hanging above creek bottoms, and choked chutes.

But there at Home Run on day one, we roostered contrails onto any poor bastard skiing behind us. It culminated with the small cliffs Lars warned us about. Dave, a guest from Vancouver, followed me off a 15-foot drop into a plush landing. It wasn’t silly but we’d certainly hucked ourselves. Two hours in, we’d already learned two lessons from Lars:

1. Follow him down Home Run.

2.Bring your own chapstick. 

Lodge: McGillivray Lodge has a cozy dorm in the loft, a giant wood stove, a dedicated gear-drying room, a dry sauna, satellite-provided wireless
internet, and hot showers (to be used sparingly).
Food: Family style. Count on breakfasts like frittata or French toast with fresh fruit. Sammies and fresh-baked snacks for lunch. Soups and warm appetizers after skiing. Hearty dinners that range from pork tenderloin to sesame-glazed ahi, baked-that-day focaccia, and monster salads.
Max elevation: 9,800 feet
Max vertical drop: 4,800 feet
Annual snowfall: 20 feet
Average daily vertical: 5,500 feet
Price: $1,950 per week;  $1,350 per three days
Info: whitecapalpine.ca

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