Southern Chilcotin Ski Trip - Eldorado Basin - April 2012

Southern Chilcotin Ski Trip - Eldorado Basin - April 2012

Four of us headed up past Whistler in Jordon's Prius. We traveled the Duffy Lake Rd in the dark and stopped for the night at Lillouet. The next morning we headed west along Carpenter Lake, turning off toward Tyaughton Lake about 15km before Gold Bridge. We stopped off at Tyax Lodge, home of TLH HeliSkiing, to pick up a cabin key, then parked the car at the south end of lake.

Skis and packs on, we started our way skinning up the Chilcotin High Trail. A mish-mash of fresh logging confused us a bit at the start, but a quick cut through a log slash, and we were on track. The trail headed west for a short way, before quickly climbing 800m along side a creek. Just before we gained the east-west ridge above Taylor meadows, we left the High Trail at a Heli pick-up point, and traversed west through trees into the alpine. A short climb over a ridge, and we were able to drop down into the Eldorado Basin to our home for the next few days, the Eldorado Cabin.

The Eldorado Cabin is a true luxury for backcountry dirt bags. It's equipped with a gas stove and oven, gas lighting, a huge pot belly, sleeping mats, and a fully equipped kitchen. It's even got a wood fired sauna a few yards away. All we had to bring in was our sleeping bags, clothes and food. We fired up the sauna while we made dinner, then kicked back, throwing a bit of water on the hot rocks whenever the sweat threatened to dry.

The next morning we woke to blue bird skies, and more powder than even a serious hound could sink its teeth into. None of us had skied in the region before, so we set out SW of the cabin to explore. We climbed up a to a pass, then headed up to some kind of a tower to check out the view. Not sure what that thing was , could have been a telecom tower, or a weather station, but it looked like we'd just landed in our weird-ass green pointy spaceship on powder land, and we were coming out to play. After convincing Sandy that it wasn't wise to drop off a cornice onto a 60 degree slope as our first run, we settled on a cruiser back the way we'd come. We'd dug an avi pit earlier, and things seemed pretty stable on those fluffy north faces, but better to play it at least a little safe.

From there we put up a new skin track up to a steeper little saddle. Sandy dropped a 20 foot cliff on the way down, the rest of us took the more sane line down. We then headed for the top of some unnamed 2220m peak. The skin up was along a section of beautiful exposed ridge line that made us feel a lot more hard core than it probably looked. Once again, Sandy opted for a steep line from the summit, while the rest of us skied a face off the shoulder. The snow was effortless, and Leigha hooted her way the whole way down. We made our way back to the cabin in time for cocktail hour, cranked up the sauna, and settled in for another evening of good food, great company and incredibly witty banter.

Our second day of exploring we headed up towards Camel Pass. A bit of woomfing on a west facing slope on the way us had us scurrying back onto the ridges, but we decided it was probably just a very thin freeze crust settling, and everything stayed in place. From Camel Pass we dropped down halfway to Taylor Meadows before climbing back up an open shoulder of Taylor Peak to gain the summit. The northern face of Taylor rolled over below us, and we couldn't see if it simply steepened, or dropped off a cornice or to cliffs, so we skied a little down the north ridge before dropping onto the face. Looking back up it was clearly convex, but completely skiable. The face turned into a powder filled gully, so we stayed above this and skied the glades down to Taylor Creek. From here we had plans to ski all sorts of lines, but the ski back up Taylor Creek to the pass was a little longer than we'd imagined. Taylor Cabin and the old Eldorado Mine head must have been well buried, because we saw no sign of them as we skied past. We dropped back down into Eldorado Basin on a thick breakable and not very friendly crust, and were all feeling well worked by the time we reached the cabin.

The final day we skinned backup up the tracks we'd laid the day before, then traversed below Taylor Ridge back down to the Chilcotin High trail. Riders had brought a pack of horsed up the trail the day before making the ski down a little more interesting. Can't say I've ever had to snow plow through horse S*@! before. The spring weather had melted out the lower section of the trail, so we shipped our skis and boot packed the final way to the car.

Photos and maps for the trip can be found here.

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