Hogs Heaven

Hogs Heaven Adventure

Good Friends, Blue Skies, Deep Powder and The Element of Risk.

A back­coun­try tour is nev­er a bor­ing adven­ture. This day was one of those days that many a back­coun­try enthu­si­ast would nev­er want to encounter.

Marmot Backside
Mar­mot Back­side
Peak inbound of Marmot Basin
Peak inbound of Mar­mot Basin
Regular patrol inbound of Marmot Basin
Reg­u­lar patrol inbound of Mar­mot Basin
Get to the peak before heading to the backside
Get to the peak before head­ing to the back­side

It start­ed with a gor­geous inver­sion day. The val­ley was blan­ket­ed with cloud while the skies above were blue beyond belief. The tem­per­a­ture was per­fect — cool enough not to cook but warm enough not to require heavy cloth­ing. Brad, Richard and Eddie, (that would be me), set out to shred “Hogs Heav­en” — (H. H.) which is locat­ed on Indi­an Ridge. It can be seen from the top of the Par­adise Chair on Mar­mot Basin.

Tour into Whistlers Creek
Tour into Whistlers Creek
Nice turns from Marmot Basin
Nice turns from Mar­mot Basin

We decid­ed to access Whistler Creek from the Knob Peak instead of head­ing up the creek via the park­ing lots at Mar­mot. We were lucky as the Mar­mot Ski Patrol were doing avalanche work and opened the “Peak”, allow­ing us to ski the back side. The hike up the “Peak” was steamy as the sun was beat­ing down. Once on the top we checked our “bea­cons” before descend­ing into Whistler Creek. Final­ly the pay-off begins: deep, soft pow­der and soli­tude as we explored the vir­gin run in POW. From the hol­low we peered back at the pris­tine tracks in the snow. From here we slipped on our skins and head­ed up the “H. H.” Break­ing trail, Brad led us up in no time.

Scoping the line
Scop­ing the line
The accent to Hogs Heaven
The accent to Hogs Heav­en

After soak­ing up the view and “inhal­ing” lunch we climbed near­er to “Heav­en”. With clouds rolling in we decid­ed to abort the sum­mit and descend imme­di­ate­ly. Our ini­tial path took us, for­tu­nate­ly, to the left or west of a steep pitch where, in our excite­ment and enthu­si­asm, we man­aged a mid-slope col­li­sion. When the laugh­ter and snow had sub­sided Brad and Richard resumed the assault. With­in sec­onds I heard a resound­ing “WHOOMPH”!!! After a quick glance at the “roll” above, which we had avoid­ed, I fol­lowed. Sud­den­ly real­i­ty set in — “AVALANCHE, AVALANCHE!!!” I screamed.

Section in red was where the avalanche occured
Sec­tion in red was where the avalanche occured

The only thought that raced through my mind was to out­dis­tance this THING. I tensed my stance and tucked down the hill as the top of the moun­tain came in hot pur­suit. Focus­ing on the fall line and pushed by pan­ic my speed elim­i­nat­ed all pos­si­bil­i­ty of turn­ing. Time seemed paral­ysed as I soon crashed into the bush­es far below. From a dis­tance I heard, “Are You Alright? Are You Alright?” Brad was yelling that I had cleared the path of the avalanche. I peeked back and saw my tracks emerge from the wash a few metres behind me. With a sigh of relief I head­ed off to join the oth­ers.

Record of avalanche

After debrief­ing and record­ing the event we returned to Mar­mot Basin to view the avalanche from the top of the Par­adise Chair. After appro­pri­ate “Toast­ing” a class TWO slide, we thanked our lucky stars for the har­row­ing expe­ri­ence.

Access: From third park­ing lot of Mar­mot Basin (Whistlers Creek Access) or over the peak from the Knob Chair

From Jasper: Approx­i­mate­ly 25 min­utes dri­ve

Park­ing: Yes

Trail­head: park­ing lot

Dis­tance: 6 Kilo­me­ters, approx. 3 — 4 hours

Ele­va­tion Gain: approx. 600m

Activ­i­ties: Back Coun­try Ski­ing