Darwin Canyon

May 4-6, 1996

There's something about the last day of a ski-backpack trip. The packs are lighter, our technique is better, and the route is mostly downhill. We'd done the work, zig-zagging up to 12900' Lamarck Col and all, and now it was time for fun: a fine 3500' ski-descent down to North Lake. We lunched at the calm side of the pass, while looking down upon our first bowl. Put away them skins. Shorten them poles. Tighten them pack-straps (threshhold of pain).

And push off! A traverse out onto the slope. Hmmm, kinda crusty, I think I'll traverse farther. OK, here goes... Drop down. Hello fall-line! Now take me around... um, UH-OH... Crunch! Get up, try again... oh no... Crumple! Yes, I do believe I'll be traversing and kickturning now.

500' down in the next bowl, only John was able to cut some teles, and even he was being cautious about it. We struggled to cope with our disappointment, and became philosophical: "Yup, sometimes it's good, and sometimes it sucks."

Now at 12000', Mark and Ward were trying to telemark. I tried one... Doh! A bit softer, but back to traversing for me. I think it was around 11500' that I dropped down and it happened... Yes! A smooth tele-turn, which deserved another, and another. We finally had good snow.

Thus, seven telemark-deprived funhogs began to hoot and holler and tele-hooch with very big grins! We carved turn after turn down the slope, occasionally pausing to admire our tracks. "But is it art?"

At 10600', the sort-of trail cuts left out of the drainage that we were following. No way! We wanna do turns! So, I checked the map to insure that following the drainage instead of the trail would get us back (yup, following the drainage takes you directly to North Lake), and I ripped some more teles.

And we kept on rippin. The slopes were getting shorter, and the trees more dense (requiring increasingly honed precision), but we stayed on our skis to within yelling distance of North Lake. We scrambled underneath some barbed wire, and hiked the rest of the way to the cars.

-Bob Akka, 5/7/96

Photos and route on Darwin Canyon Tour main page