Valhalla Mountain Touring
Osprey Athlete Evan Stevens is a fully certified IFMGA Mountain Guide, examiner and instructor for the AMGA, a member of the AMGA Board of Directors, and owner and lead guide of Valhalla Mountain Touring, a backcountry ski lodge in the Selkirks of British Columbia. Somehow he managed to do all of this whilst only escaping from the suburbs of New York City just over 10 years ago. When not on his skis, he can be found climbing hard rock in his summer home of Squamish, BC, or trying to fire off alpine rock free ascents through out the world. Highlights include numerous first descents in the Valhalla Range of BC, traditional rock ascents of up to 5.13, first free ascents in BC such as IV 5.12 Man of Steel in the Adamants, IV 5.12 R Lost in Space on Mt. Gimli, and speed ascents of big walls in Greenland. Besides that he is usually being humbled by his super human wife Jasmin, and trying to keep up to his dog Benny on the skin track.
I know it’s no longer winter, and the ski boots have officially been traded in for rock and bike shoes. In the spirit of not always looking ahead and living for the next moment, the rainy spring weather on the coast of British Columbia has given me a few days of wetness to reflect on an awesome winter.
Rather than wax on semi-poetically about the ski season and how great it was, I want to just try a different format, and go for a ‘best of’ if you will. So, no fluff, just straight to business, small blurbs and some pics and clips. Enjoy, and I hope your winter was as great as mine!
January 10, 2014, Grizzly Shoulder Tree skiing at Valhalla Mountain Touring. This day was everything I was missing last year on the couch with a blown up ACL. It had been snowing tons, the temps were cold, and after a month on the boards I was finally getting enough confidence in the knee rebuild to start really having some fun and opening it up. There is nothing like the pure joy of flying through the cold smoke with your favorite people in the word!
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Osprey Athlete Jasmin Caton owns and operates Valhalla Mountain Touring along with her husband, fellow Osprey Athlete Evan Stevens. Jasmin grew up in Hills B.C. and has been hooked on skiing ever since. She devotes most of her time to her passion for outdoor recreation, primarily rock climbing, alpine climbing and backcountry skiing. Some of her most memorable outdoor adventures are guiding her parents up Bugaboo Spire, hiking the Valhalla Range in 3 days with her sister, and topping out on War and Poetry, a 30 pitch route in Greenland in a raging storm. Jasmin is an ACMG assistant rock guide and works for Squamish Rock Guides during the summer.
As a ski guide and ski touring lodge owner, winter always passes in a blur. A day of sitting on my butt in front of the computer is the exception not the rule, and time seems to slow during these days as I get caught up on my inside jobs. I revel in this time — I can almost hear my leg muscles say “ahhhhhhhh” as they sink into the couch and my normally ski-boot clad feet say “thank goodness” as my toes spread into the furry depths of my slippers. It’s nice to have a bit of time for hang-boarding, yoga, and feels great to achieve that feeling of caught-upness that comes when I tackle my to-do list.
But as I look outside, at the winter sun reflecting off the snow I know that I won’t make it a whole day. Afterall, my dog needs his walk so I’ll use him as an excuse and get out for a run or two. Hopefully I’ll finish this little post first! (more…)
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Oh, the withdrawal. Staring out the window with a distant look. Wandering through the office with hunched shoulders. The utter lack of focus. For several years, I have joined a close (and ever widening) group of friends to spend one week in Canada ski touring at a number of the fantastic huts in the mountains of Southeastern British Columbia. Powder Creek, Kokanee Glacier Lodge, Fairy Meadows and this year, Valhalla Mountain Touring.
I’ve been back for a couple weeks, but the rhythm of VMT is still with me. Our guide and the owner of VMT is Evan Stevens. Along with his wife Jasmin, they have established one of the best powder skiing locations you will find anywhere on the planet. Top it off with incredible food prepared by Annie Strucel, a fellow “tellyer” and the experience is stellar. In fact, I’m pretty sure that VMT is heaven on earth.
The ‘average’ winter continues here in British Columbia. The snowpack is about 2.5 meters deep at the lodge at Valhalla Mountain Touring, and upwards of 4 meters deep in the alpine. And storm after storm keeps dropping ridiculously deep Kootenay cold smoke. The snowpack is a bit touchy these days, with the persistent weak layers of surface hoar, sun crusts and facets now down about a meter deep and keeping us from hitting the big open scary slopes, but a ton of fun is being had in our endless safe ski terrain. Safe doesn’t mean boring when you find new runs that weave their way through 100-year-old trees and pillows!
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