Mountain life can be limited when you don’t have a car. It influences when and where you go play, you definitely can’t chase powder the same way. With some fancy footwork and a few hitches you might make your ‘spontaneous’ destination on time for the first line, whether skiing down or climbing up. Selective on gear, as you have to carry it all, you get to know bus and train schedules by heart and at the end of the day hope you don’t miss that vital transport link to get back home.
The flipside of this ‘1st world problem’ is the adventure and people along the way. I am based in the Alps but come home to Vancouver for my dose of green trees, ocean blue, and white powder. My parents have two cars but I still end up without one and so I was driven (literally) to look for alternatives. I found Hitchwhistler.com a platform for carpooling on common routes such Vancouver – Cypress –Squamish - Whistler.
My first online hitch was December 2011 with a Coquitlam guy named Morgan. There was a call out for Mount Baker, Washington - powder day planned! Imagine trying this day trip on public transport. Admittedly I had to enlist my father for an early morning ride. At my mature age he thought the days of dropping me to go play with boys (25-year olds) were in the past, but he looks at the truck (a Dodge with a metal welding deck) and reasons I am okay.
After the obligatory Dunkin Donuts we get to the border. Rather than the usual ‘security’ question “what will you be doing in the US”, ironically it was “how do you know each other?”- Morgan nicely says he just met me hitchhiking (wrong answer)! Who would have thought two sketchy boarders look more responsible than me but apparently ‘Self-Employed’ raises flags. The guard tires of hassling me and waves us through to an awesome 50cm powder day. Unfortunately Morgan aggravated an injury and spent the afternoon waiting for us (to last lift) but without complaint. It’s all about a shared passion, and a good ride.
Two years later (now Feb.2014) and a bad start for BC’s Coast Mountains I get a message from Morgan: ‘how does it look in Chamonix’?, “it’s good, come now”, he did!
A fresh snowfall at your home mountain already brings debate on where to ski and in which order. Chasing powder on an international scale is more challenging, without a car even harder. Often by the time you hear about it it’s too late. However I am confident Morgan arrived at a good time.
In attempt to show him ‘big mountains’ we go for the weekly Chamonix- Verbier day-return bus. The highest point of the ski area has a view over the Matterhorn, Combins and the Mont-Blanc ranges. Verbier stages the final leg of the Freeride World Tour so should have something for him to do. Even better my friend Veronika Manhal is based there. A Pemberton girl with experience working at Extremely Canadian, and she is a great host.
While the report says 24km/hr winds we exit the gondola to find it gusting horizontally through the station, total white-out and the top closed. We joke that only the Canadians are on the mountain. We head to Bruson, Verbier’s smaller neighbour in the trees. It is dumping and we get the tour of the local secret stashes. Morgan thinks it looks like Mount Seymour but I reassure him there is a whole other mountain stacked on top. After a whole day of fresh tracks and a Swiss Rösti lunch, he concludes “it’s all about who you ride with”.
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