The house we currently live in sits on the northernmost slope of the Bonnington Range. As the crow flies, we are only 12km away from Copper Hut. This proximity, affordable huts and a reputation of being an excellent introductory ski traverse made the Bonningtons the obvious destination for our first extended touring trip.
HUCKLEBERRY HUT – Jan 25-26, 2017
The night before our expedition we went to bed at 4am after preparing all our gear, making a list, and checking it twice. This made for a late (13:30) start from the Porto Rico parking lot the following day. Within two hours, we had our first equipment failure in the form of a broken climbing skin attachment. By 17:30, we’d successfully but painfully hauled all our gear and 6 days worth of food up to Huckleberry Hut. It is small but well organized and perfect for two. We stayed two nights and spent the next day discovering Cabin Peak.
HUCKLEBERRY TO COPPER TRAVERSE – Jan 27, 2017
We got going at 6:30 under calm grey skies and had our first break a few hours later as we reached the col between Cabin Peak and Dominion Mountain. We traversed Dominion’s North East slope, crossing large avalanche paths with recent snowmobile tracks in them and no signs of instability.
Due to increasing fog, it seemed wise to avoid the steep ridge between Empire and Colony peaks by traversing the West facing slope below. However, we did not descend low enough before traversing and ended up on a steep open slope in whiteout conditions having to navigate by GPS and compass. Thankfully, the snow was stable, but this was a pretty frightening situation, and with time running out, turning around was an equally uncertain option.
Eventually, we regained the ridge on the North side of Colony Peak and emerged over the clouds on top of Territory Peak at sundown. There, we found a skintrack and followed it all the way to the hut along wider ridges. We arrived by head lamp at 18:30. Drained and relieved to have made it.
COPPER HUT – Jan 28-29, 2017
Copper Hut and the terrain around it was the highlight of our trip. We saw no one during our three nights stay and enjoyed multiple descents in perfect snow. We skied on all aspects of the basin surrounding the cabin and into the headwaters of Hall Creek. Surface conditions were excellent throughout. We’ll have to come back a few times to take full advantage of the possibilities this area has to offer.
COPPER HUT TO PORTO RICO PARKING LOT – Jan 30, 2017
Compared to our approach three days earlier, we navigated our way back unequivocally thanks to clearer skies and a lower traverse route through the West slope linking Colony and Empire Peaks.
We left the Bonningtons feeling content. The snow quality, stability, easily hut accessed terrain, manageable weather and everything in between rendered our first ski traverse a rewarding experience.