A cabin in the woods is the quintessential picture of BC backcountry, and in the winter season, this means untracked lines, solitude and magic – there is no other way to describe it. BC has a particular flair for the remote, deep, wilderness experience that other places in the world would love to replicate. Lars Andrews knows, as he grew up in exactly this kind of experience.
Whitecap Alpine is “the place that chose me.” Owner/operator and trained IFMGA mountain guide, Lars refers to this storied cabin as the family cottage. As a 5 year old, he recalls the system of getting the family up to the lodge as “rolling out the helicopter from the barn in Pemberton, gassing it up with jerry cans and flying in. My dad cut down skins from his old ones and modified bindings to fit our small boots so we could walk uphill, but because my older sister was a better skier than I was, I hated it. I just wanted to build jumps.”
Eventually he became his sister’s equal and his skiing took off. Exploration was something his parents fed to him, through the cabin’s cultivation of history. It’s filled with “nostalgic collections of rocks and knickknacks that each tell their own story of why they are there and why they are meaningful to the place. Like the old harmonica my dad found on a ridge, likely from an old prospector looking for gold. Or the telegraph line that once ran through the valley, and the crazy collection of junk that was going to be used as a rope tow and ski lift for the lodge.”
The area is a skier’s dream come true. “We have large steep alpine, amazing bowls, glades and some spectacular tree skiing reminiscent of trees in the interior. Because of the coastal influence on the snowpack, it allows us to advantage more aggressive terrain. The snow sticks well and moves toward stability more quickly than many areas.”
He forms a personal relationship with the snow pack each season, until it becomes a character he can read. “Giving the snowpack human qualities helps me understand the opportunity and limitations that exist when working in it. It can be simple and stable, easy to read and understand, or it can be mysterious and difficult, where you never really know what kind of reaction it will have.” This kind of knowledge is what local BC skiing is all about. “I can challenge each individual’s perception of what is possible and what their potential is within these mountains. I love seeing the reward of accomplishment shine on their faces.”
Situated on the eastern edge of the Coast Range, Whitecap’s snowpack is colder and drier than the actual coast, which means the quality of the snow is amazing. Combined with intimate knowledge of the terrain and daily observations of changes, Lars is able to find something to ski throughout the season. “You have to be calculated with your approach or the conditions can be sensitive and hard to work with, but even ‘High Maintenance’ or just plain saucy snowpacks can be fun to play with, on their good days.”
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