Backcountry Skiing Must Haves

March 28, 2011 · Print This Article

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A trustworthy map is essential when exploring B.C.’s snowy wonderlands, especially now that spring touring season is here.

Advance research, particularly if you’ve got backcountry adventure in mind, is just as critical.

In 1983, John Baldwin published his influential primer Exploring the Coast Mountains on Skis.

Given that the 2009 edition weighs a kilo, it’s unlikely to find one in a rucksack.

Baldwin’s partner, mountaineer Linda Bily, quipped: “You could take the book with you, but then it would offset all that featherweight gear.”

Bily, a long-time telemark skier, now alternates with lighter alpine touring equipment.

“Every ounce counts when you’re ski touring. That’s what kept me from changing gear until now.”

(In 2005, Bily and a fellow skier saved the lives of two North Shore Rescue members pinned down by hurricane-force winds on Mount Logan, Canada’s tallest peak.)

“As well, safety concerns—the need for releasable bindings—is driving me to AT [alpine touring], but I still like feeling different on my teles.”

With less weight in mind, Baldwin’s three new offerings—topographic backcountry-route maps for the Duffey Lake corridor north of Pemberton, ski and hiking trails off Highway 5 around the Coquihalla Summit, and the Shames Mountain ski area near Terrace in northwestern B.C.—more than fill the bill.

“After I did my Whistler backcountry map 10 years ago, I always thought that Duffey Lake would be perfect.

A lot has changed about mapmaking since then.

Now you can download government topographic maps from National Resources Canada free of charge.

The catch is you still have to pay about $30 to print one.

My maps are a composite of as many as four overlaps from various topo maps.

They’re printed on a synthetic material called YUPO. I

t’s so waterproof, you can hold it over your head in the rain for protection if you need to.”

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