This past Spring, four backcountry skiers travelled the Waddington Divide Traverse, from Bluff Lake (about 250km south-east of Bella Coola) to the Pacific Ocean at Bute Inlet. Here are photos from their adventure.
On April 26, 2017, four British Columbian backcountry skiers stood on the edge of the Chilcotin Plateau at Bluff Lake and looked at the white expanse before them. They contemplated the next month’s worth of travel to the tops of mountains, past crevasses, through couloirs, and into the trees to their exit point on the shores of Bute Inlet. The group included Nelson pilot and photographer Douglas Noblet, ski guide Sam Mckoy from Pemberton, aspiring ski guide Alex Duchesne of Revelstoke and assistant ski guide Kathy Meyer who lives in Golden. Needless to say they are all competent ski mountaineers, which is a good thing considering they were about to embark on one of the most extreme traverses in the province.
The Waddington Divide is a rugged traverse that involves all aspects of ski mountaineering and the focal point is is Mount Waddington, the highest peak in British Columbia.
The traverse took the team of four 29 days to travel from the Chilcotin Plateau in the White Saddle Range to the seaplane rendezvous spot at Bute Inlet. En route they enjoyed a number of high points, literally. They summited many peaks including the northwest peak of Waddington. They also experienced a few lows such as when Alex fell in a steep couloir and broke a ski. (Luckily that’s all he broke.) He ended up MacGyvering a solution at the Plummer Hut (the only hut on the trip) using a 1×4 piece of lumber, roofing tar, wood screws, and various tools located at the hut. Amazingly his Frankenski lasted to the end of the trip.
Sam also had a close call on the traverse, losing a ski in a crevasse just as he realized he was standing on a snow bridge completely unroped. His ski was eventually retrieved about 40 metres down. There also was deep pow, isothermic snow, cold fronts, big glaciers, and spectacular views as evidenced by the following photographs taken by Douglas Noblet. For more examples of his work, log on to wildairphoto.com.