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Chris Coulter Reports on the Freshfields Glacier Camp
Posted on January 21, 2016

Full moon rising above glacier camp and splitboard HQ in the Freshfields.

We’ve been telling the story of the Freshfields, a hushed zone of touring perfection in the Canadian Rockies, all week on the Live Your Adventure blog. From the webisodes to the splitboard mountaineering specifics, we’ve received a good dose of what our splitboard team experienced in the remote range. But we wanted to know more about camp life on the glacier, so we asked guide Chris Coulter to provide us with his inside perspective. This is his take on what it was like to spend a mindblowing week in the Freshfields. —LYA Editor

Comfortable accommodations at glacier base camp.

Words by Chris Coulter, Images by Bruno Long

Life on the glacier is relaxed yet busy. On the 28th of April, at 7:45 in the evening, we shuttled into the Freshfields Glacier in a Bell 407 helicopter, just as a storm was hitting. The Eddie Bauer Freshfields Expedition was heli-assisted, so we had everything we needed and probably a few things we did not. The team—Wyatt Caldwell, Trevor Gavura, and Scott Newsome, as well as the production crew of Francois Desrosiers and Bruno Long— was quite comfortable in the snowy mountains. And that fact is a good thing because this storm feels serious.

How we got here is a longer story.

The first load went out with the crew of six. The weather was looking questionable, but the pilot felt good about the visibility on the glacier being clear enough for dropping two loads off there. It’s a 30-minute ferry into the zone with beautiful mountains during the whole flight. As we arrived at the zone, the light was pretty flat but we did one recon lap to get a general lay of the land. It took the pilot a few attempts to stick the landing for our campsite because of the wind and flat light.

 

The second load with the gear landed on the first try. Scott sent the 407 home and the team quickly got to work setting up camp, as we had a storm on the way. First we set up the Pantheon tent as a team. It required the whole crew because the wind was blowing a steady 10 and gusting to 25 mph. Then everyone got to work on their personal tents. Wyatt and I shared a Katabatic tent. We made a rookie mistake while setting it up, letting the wind get hold of the tent. It ended up breaking one of the main poles for the tent. We did not have the repair tube for the pole, so we used a tent stake and some Gorilla Tape and made a repair that worked great. That first night we were cutting blocks and shoveling snow, building walls to protect the tents from the wind until 2 a.m. It was a fun evening.

Worth the wait. Newsome and Coulter get some great turns off of Waitabit Peak.

On the 29th, we woke up to 30+ cm of fresh snow, which was nice. We had a mellow morning making coffee and oatmeal before the shoveling duties became our focus. The meal plan was to look out for yourself for breakfast and lunch; we took turns making amazing dinners for each other. We had ethnic dishes for dinner—Indian, Thai, Mexican, ribs, pasta. These wonderful meals helped us keep up with the calories we were burning shoveling and hiking. Shoveling duties included making blocks to create wind walls for the tents. Trevor’s blocks looked like they were coming out of a factory. His tent set-up was looking really pro, and it was obvious that he had been snow camping a few times before. There is a lifetime of learning to be had out there. Snow camping is all about being comfortable in an uncomfortable situation.

 

We had pretty consistent wind and snow from the 29th of April through the 1st of May. Windows were opening on the evening of the 1st, so Trevor, Scott and Bruno took a glacier walk to get an idea of the touring on the local glacier. That night at dinner, stoke for the next day was at an all-time high. We had been sitting in the storm for three days now, so we were really hopeful that May 2 would be sunny. The next morning it was still broken weather, but good enough to get out for a walk on the glacier. We had our oats and coffee, then started touring the glacier. The fog rolled in and out. We walked around looking at some of the closer but exceptionally ascetic lines to ride. It was really tempting to get on some of the lines. But because the weather was in and out, we figured we had best wait a day for legit light, which would also give the fresh snow a day to settle. It was difficult to sleep that night with the fresh lines waiting for us to ride on our minds.

The big blue day on May 3 was amazing. We’d had a chance to lay our eyes on lots of terrain the day before. Now that our day had finally arrived, we were so excited about shredding some of the lines. It was a crisp, perfect day. We started the day on some southeast and east lines, which had pretty good snow on them. We put together a tour that gave us four great runs on different aspects. One of the midday runs was next to some beautiful ice features and had some amazing snow on it. It was a northwest aspect. We finished the day on some west-northwest runs that were very close to camp. It really felt like the stars aligned on the 3rd of of May for us. We had beautiful skies, calm winds and one all-time crew. It was definitely an eye-opening place to visit. Looking forward to more adventures with these guys and more time living the camp life.

Coulter letting off some steam after a few too many days in the Pantheon.

Check out the video recap of the Freshfields trip at blog.eddiebauer.com/fresh

Author: - Thursday, January 21st, 2016
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