Devils Range Trip Report,
by Chris Rowat
Feb 18 – 22, 2010
On February 18, Mike Moor, Bruce Gardave, Randy Richmond and myself embarked on a unique Kootenay adventure. Our destination was the Devils Range, a small but dramatic series of rock spires deep in heart of Valhalla Provincial Park.
Unseasonal springlike weather was in the air as we hopped into our canoes and made a quick 8 km paddle up Slocan Lake to the beach at Evans Creek. This had been a mild February, so with no snow at lower elevations, we strapped our skis and boots onto our backpacks and started hiking into the mountains. We trudged through brush and blowdown for a few hours to get to snowline. Once on firm snow we continued on skis up the Evans Creek valley for another 5 hours. We had heard there was a small summer cabin on the shores of Evans Lake at 5000′, and this was our destination. We had no idea if the cabin would be buried, collapsed, or a palace, so we brought a tent just in case. We thought we might reach the cabin before dark, but the February days were still short and we ran out of daylight, setting up our tent at 5:30 pm. The next morning we skied the remaining 2 km to Evans Lake, where to our delight we found the small rustic cabin with room for 4.
Tired, sore, and happy to finally be rid of our heavy packs, we chopped a hole in the lake for water and lounged in the sun for a bit. The next 2.5 days were spent exploring the north slopes of the Devils Range. We were very lucky to have blue skies, good snow, reasonable stability, and 3500′ runs from ridgetop to lake. Heaven. Long had I dreamed of getting here — two years ago Randy and I tried, but I got sick after day one, and we had to turn around. Most of our days were spent on the shady north-facing slopes. The sun was elusive. It was only when we reached the ridgetops that we would escape the cold shade and enjoy the warm sun. Like snakes on a rock, we would lounge for a long time in the sun, soaking up the warmth.
Each day started with a traverse of Evans Lake. At almost 5 km long, it took us over an hour each day to walk to the other end of the lake, where we would start to ski up. The hike up would then take 3 hours or more. After flaking out in sun at the top, it might be 2pm. Then it was time to ski down. This is what we had come for. This was the best skiing of the year, made all the sweeter by the memory of the work it took to earn these turns. Our hoots and hollars of joy echoed accross the valley as we leapfrogged down the slopes, stopping and watching each other and looking for avalanches. Fortunately the avalaches had no interest in us.
On the last day we woke early, and with our blisters well taped, we put our heads down and made the 10 km slog back down to Slocan Lake. Seven hours later we collapsed at the beach. Mike received the Boy-Scout award for previously stashing a 6-pack in the lake.