A few weeks ago I started my first 9-5 job. It’s been an adjustment. From what I can tell so far, it’s not necessarily better or worse, but I already have a deeper appreciation for living in a place where the opportunity for adventure is on my doorstep every weekend. The South Coast region of British Columbia offers endless mountain peaks. A weekend, or even just a single day, is enough time to explore a new area (or to go back to a favorite). In late fall and winter, self-propelled exploration happens on skis.
Friday 5 pm rolls around, and I file away the last documents on my desk. I shut down my computer, turn off the lights and lock the office door. I feel a rush through my body. The weekend has arrived, and the mountains are calling.
I meet my adventure partner, companion and photographer – conveniently the same person – Bradford McArthur. We jump in the car and drive north to Pemberton. It’s dark and rainy outside, but inside the car there’s undeniable stoke.
We make our way to a friend’s house. Sebastian De La Rosa cooks us dinner, while his dog, Masha, and I get to know each other. We finish the evening with dog cuddles before falling asleep.
At 5:43 a.m. the alarm goes off. We hit snooze and roll over. The introduction to the 9-5 life has been tiring. We have breakfast, pack up the car and head out.
Our first collective decision making of the day comes quickly. Should we turn left onto the highway or turn right onto the “shortcut” road? We turn right. The roads connect, but it’s definitely not a shortcut. After a second of bickering and “I told you the other one was faster,” we’re smiling again and reminding ourselves of the day ahead.
We pull over and park next to Duffey Lake Road. Breathing in the fresh, crisp air kick starts the system better than any double espresso. We buckle our boots and clip into our skis.
The clouds prevent us from seeing our objective for the day, Chief Pascall, but Sebastian has ski toured this mountain many times before and takes the lead. The snow is light right off the highway, and excitement is bubbling in the group. It’s easy to forget it’s still mid-November, but an open creek quickly reminds us. We put on our best balancing act and make it across a fallen tree.
For the next several hours we skin, skin, eat snacks, skin, skin and drink tea before we reach the summit. We assess stability, put our helmets on and delight in our first blower powder run of the season. It’s incredible. The adrenaline is pumping and suddenly the pain of early season legs are gone. We fly down the slope.
Chief Pascall was a new mountain for Bradford and me, and Sebastian’s knowledge of the area was golden. Instead of losing time finding the way, we got straight to the heart of the trail.
Through a mix of skinning on prime life-reflection flats and cursed survival skiing, we make it back to the car. We thanked Sebastian and Masha for introducing us to Chief Pascall and hugged goodbye. It was a great day, and I’m re-charged for another 9-5 week.
Bradford McArthur is a filmmaker and photographer who specializes in alpine climbing and ski mountaineering. He’s currently traveling the world filming for Lindblad Expeditions & National Geographic. Ebba Hassel is a writer who loves to capture moments and turn them into stories. She advocates for growing the community of women in the outdoors. Together they make a passionate and playful team who explore the mountains every chance they get.