Tuesday, December 21, 2010

On Personal Responsibility

Over the weekend there was a KMC ski trip to the top of Mount Dundee in the Nelson Range. At this point, you should not panic if you know nothing about Mount Dundee as, at 1919 metres, it is hardly a mountain of great note or repute. Mount Dundee lies on the height of land between Oscar and Ymir (Wildhorse) Creeks and is, in fact, almost completely tree covered. I say almost, as there are some views of Mounts Baldy and Wurttemberg from the top. An old mine lies on the west slopes and provides some interesting wandering among old mine tunnels and grave sites if you happen to be in the area. But, as a ski trip, Mount Dundee is not one that most people will overly enjoy as, depending on what route you take, it involves a long slog up a logging road that is frequently rutted and icy from the passage of snow-mobiles.

I have, in fact, to my own consternation, skied to the summit of Mount Dundee twice. The first time, I skied up via an old mining road on the west side, spending exactly 1 hour and 50 minutes on roads (the main-line and an old mining road) and the remaining 1 hour and 25 minutes skiing through light timber and open glades. I skied off the south side enjoying some pleasant glade skiing for the first 120 metres before the timber got tighter to the mainline - which was groomed - and out to my starting point in 50 minutes.

The second time I skied up Mount Dundee the road was plowed to 1640 metres and we skied to the summit via a cutblock, lightly treed slopes and glades on the south side in about 40 minutes. The ski down was almost fun, the whole adventure consuming under one hour of travel time.

All that aside, as a ski destination, the truth is that Mount Dundee is unlikely to appeal to most people. While there are a few people who either enjoy or at least happily tolerate long logging road slogs, my read of the majority of skiers is that they prefer trips that involve less valley slogging, more time in the alpine and more opportunities to make turns. So, I'm always surprised at how many people turn out for what may become (this is the second year in a row the trip has run) the annual Mount Dundee ski tour.

The people I've heard from who've done the tour seem to have returned sore footed and somewhat disgruntled, apparently surprised that they spent the greater part of the day skiing up and down a logging road. Now, two things come to mind. The first, of course, is that perhaps the trip coordinator should make it clear that this trip involves at least three to four hours of logging road skiing, and the second is that perhaps the onus should be on participants to think a little bit about what they are getting involved in. Even a cursory glance at 82F/06 (you'll find Mount Dundee at GR892605, NAD83) should give even the dimmest skier some idea of what the trip will involve.

Which in the end, brings me round to personal responsibility. All the information required to work out exactly what sort of day you'll have skiing up Mount Dundee is readily available - paper maps and on-line maps, Google Earth, and Bivouac.com, there is even a trip report of last years ski trip to Mount Dundee in the January/February issue of the newsletter. So, whose fault is it that you returned foot sore and weary - your own. 

 Taken from the top of Mount Dundee, looking NE, the big peak is Mount Baldy

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