My hands easily drop to hypothermic temperatures. I trend towards light and fast, wincing at the shoulder pain that comes from carrying heavy loads. “Why a ski traverse then?” you say. Pure and Simple. The journey. The Winter Solitude. Thee adventure. I’d never done a tent based ski traverse before, thus this Jasper classic seemed like the perfect start.
The Thirteen Pass route comprises of the Skyline trail coupled with the Eight pass route fashioning into one extraordinary traverse. Starting just outside of Jasper, this traverse ambles in a S/SE direction for the duration of about 85-90km of pure magnificent fun!
Without fail, admist the fun, challenges did indeed exist: drying out wet items? Skiing with a 60 lb pack? Keeping hydrated without stopping to make water from snow during the day? Overnight tripping brings forth new challenges and problem solving that doesn’t occur in a regular day tour. For instance, I became significantly more aware of my balance and weight distribution descending with a pack that weighed half as much as me. Packing up camp in the morning was a slow and lengthy process compared to backpacking in the summer. Frozen items needed diligence and attention in order to be stuffed properly and packed to fit into my bag. To further complications, my bag was perhaps a bit too small, thus making the packing a bit of an ordeal every morning trying to cram in everything at 4AM.
Setting aside the small battles and lessons learned, the trip was filled with so much beyond words. Travel in the remote wilderness without seeing a soul for 5 days is an un-paralleled experience. It was Mitch, myself, and a few Ptarmigans among the snow and mountain ranges. The stillness was rewarding. The views were incredible. The rhythm of simple routine so natural. Interacting with nature and carrying out our daily routines, allows us to make sense in this world and delve a little deeper into ourselves.
Why do a ski traverse? The reasons are endless.
Full Trip report available at Beta Spewer