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Whirlpool Expedition - A Christmas Story
Timestamp Free: 2019.03.22 - 06:15:23
Ranges: North America Ranges / Rocky Mountains / Canadian Rockies / Continental Ranges / Park Ranges
  (7 days)
Participants: Tom Tiedje; Bill Grainger; Robin Tivy;
Difficulty: 2: Easy ski on river ice, with occasional climb around waterfalls. Good in low snow.
Christmas ski trip to retrace the fur trade route over Athabasca Pass, flanked by legendary 17,000 foot Mt Brown and Hooker, once believed to be highest in the Canadian Rockies.
Autumns in Vancouver are always depressing, particularily for newcomers from eastern Canada. I used to refer to Vancouver as a grey, rainy "swamp" filled with no-name bumps. I had spent the previous year in Calgary where I had constant access to the glorious Canadian Rockies, and I missed them so! The thing that got me through that depressing fall was to escape by reading Esther Fraser's book "The Canadian Rockies" - Early Travels and Explorations.

One particular story was of David Thompson's search for a northern pass to the Columbia river via the Whirlpool river and Athabasca pass. This was an area I had never been anywhere near. Thompson had first crossed this pass in the dead of winter in 1810 - 1811 on foot, going up the Whirlpool, over the pass and down to the Columbia. Here they had wintered until spring when they built a boat and went down the Columbia to its mouth in Oregon. [photo]FraserMap.jpg[caption]Map of Fraser River Headwaters Traverse[/photo].

So the idea took root that I should escape the bankrupt values of the society in which I found myself and visit the same pass, in the same season, and surrounded by the same 12 foot snows. When I got there I could climb the ledgendary 17,000 foot peaks Mt Brown and Hooker which straddled the pass. A trip of epic proportions! We'll go in the dead of winter just like Thompson and have a look for ourselves. Instead of snowshoes, we'll use skis. But it will be the same snow, the same mountains and the same trees - totally unaltered since Thompson's time! Best of all, we would be absent for the entire consumer Christmas season and make our own Christmas in the mountains. [photo]UpWhirlpool.jpg[caption]Heading up the Whirlpool[/photo]
  So it came to pass that I organized my first winter ski expedition....

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