In 2022, I convinced my partners Paul Greenwood, Tom Peiffer, and Justen Bruns to join me on an expedition to the Indian Himalaya. We found an unclimbed and unskied peak deep in the mountains near Meru. Months of logistics planning, packing, and worrying culminated in our visas being approved by the consulate just two days before our departure. We arrived in Gangotri along with the first groups of seasonal workers for the year. The town at the end of the road shuts down every season normally but it had been closed for two due to COVID. This meant we had very little beta or conditions knowledge when we arrived.
We started the three-day trek towards our basecamp site looking with concern up at the dry mountains. Arriving at basecamp, we found a dry rock glacier. Our porters told us how they expected thigh deep snow at that point. Instead we were picking flowers and rock hunting in the meadows off the glacier.
We moved our camp upwards until an impassable (to us) icefall blocked the route and we finally got a view of the peak we hoped to climb using our drone. It was bare ice and rock and we knew we wouldn't be skiing it. We travelled so far and spent more than a month away from our families to not even reach the base of our peak. We returned to Delhi somewhat dejected but safe and importantly, still friends. It was one of the more serious heatwaves that part of India had endured in recent history and while in transit home, with air temperatures over 120 deg F, our ski boots melted in the trunk of the bus.
In 2023, we wanted a guarantee of snow. Luckily I live on the South Coast of British Columbia and we get plenty every year. Again Paul joined myself and expedition veterans Mark Smiley and Marcus Waring. We flew into the Waddington Range, a few hours north of Whistler with 10 days of food and a lot of stoke to ski big lines.
Our drop-off into the range coincided with a period of good weather but we know it wouldn't last long as the Coast is fickle in springtime. Our first day was occupied with mostly setting up camp and a quick tour to get oriented but day two we needed to make the most of it and skied an 1800 meter couloir off Serra II just above camp.
With another weather system bearing down on us, we dug in and hoped to ride out the storm playing farkle and reading. Multiple systems blew through and in the end we had six days tent-bound and 4 days where we could venture out on skis. One night, I woke up and thought it had stopped snowing - in reality our big dome tent had just become buried in over a meter of snowfall and we were fully insulated from the storm.
Paul and I couldn't help but joke that our two expeditions had taken us from one extreme of no snow to the other of being buried in it! This is the game of expedition skiing though. You have to go without expectations and ready to adapt to whatever the mountains throw at you.
Want more information about basecamp expeditions in British Columbia? Reach out to Eric via his instagram: @skiericcarter
Eric carried his Superwolf Carbon touring skis around India for a month to get 500 meters of skiing (at almost 6000m of elevation). Luckily his Supernova Carbon skis got a bit more use in the Waddington Range skiing two (probable) first descents of Asperity (above) and Serra II.