At the end of February Mike and I went out to the Coquihalla with around 45 other ACC members for a weekend of backcountry skiing. Stephen Hooper organized the event and booked out the entire Coquihalla Lakes lodge for our group. Mike & I shared a cabin with Tony, Margaret, Aaron and Dave. We had a great group and shared some tasty meals, beers and good conversation amongst us. We spent the first evening (Thursday night) cabin-hopping and catching up with friends on the trip.
On Friday we broke into smaller groups and headed out into the hills for some adventures. The ski conditions weren't the best so we opted for more of an exploratory tour day. Our group headed out across Falls Lake and into the basin between Zoa Peak and Thar/Nak. The area was new to us and fun the explore and take in the awesome scenery.
We climbed up almost to the saddle on the West end of Zoa, but the snow was getting solar affected so we ripped hide and got out of there back into the shaded, cooler areas. The ski down from the saddle was quite crusty that day, but in the right conditions it could be a stellar slope to ski. Once we reached the cooler valley we lapped some low-angle slopes with soft, fun snow before calling it a day and heading back to the lodge for well deserved dinner, drinks and visiting.
On Saturday we headed out to Zoa peak for the day. We had hoped to go to Thar but with the crusty snow conditions we decided on skiing a North facing area instead of the South facing Thar bowl. It was a cold (-14c), windy and snowy day but the lower, North facing slopes off the ridge of Zoa were fairly well protected. We found some awesome powder stashes and had an epic day of skiing pow in the trees. By around 3pm we were all beat and headed for the Lodge.
Unfortunately, things didn't go quite as planned and one friend ended up getting separated from the group on the way out. The rest of the group also got off course and by time we got back to the trail head to realize the other friend hadn't made it back to the cars it had been two hours since we had last seen him.
We immediately contacted the RCMP and initiated a full Search and Rescue. After a long, sleepless night worrying about our friend and assisting SAR as best we could he was found safe at 9am the next morning. What a relief! It's been a long time since I've been that happy to see someone! And, other than being being cold and thirsty, he was in good shape. A happy ending to the story!
A big thanks to Stephen Hooper for organizing the trip, to the friends who made the weekend, to all the ACC members who helped out with the rescue at a moments notice and a BIG thank you to SAR for bringing our friend home safely. I've always had huge amounts of respect for the work that SAR does and this event fully solidified that. Thanks specifically to Kent-Harrison SAR, Hope SAR, Chilliwack SAR, Nicola Valley SAR and Coquitlam SAR.
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