Words Kayleen VanderRee | Photos Abby Cooper
It started as a dream to combine sailing and snowboarding. I spent hours researching sailing/skiing expeditions in Norway but could never justify spending the money to fly across the world.
British Columbia’s geography is so similar, so shouldn’t it be possible here in our own backyard?
Maybe I was overconfident, or perhaps just naive. Regardless, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head and quickly this multi-sport concept consumed me. I found 4 other women to join me; all snowboarders and all equal amounts of crazy as me.
We weren’t best friends and most I hadn’t even met before. But, that changed quickly after being cooped up for seven days together on a 35’ sailboat. We all brought different skills to the expedition, but ultimately, it was our love for snow that shaped our commonalities.
Abby Cooper brought her expertise as snow nerd and photographer. Gillian Andrewshenko brought her ability to speak the truth. Caley Vanular graced us with her calm demeanor. Kate Ediger brought her big heart. And then there was me...who somehow convinced four others to trust me to guide them up the winding fjords of British Columbia’s intricate coastline.
The NW wind pushed us south from Campbell River across the Georgia Strait. We reached Princess Louisa Inlet, passing orcas, dolphins and porpoises along the way. We hit slack tide at Malibu rapids at noon.
Collapsing on the dock we looked up at the surrounding snow-covered peaks that reached into the sky as if born by the ocean’s depths. With our gear strewn around us we packed our bags and switched gears to mountain mode. A deep growler let loose somewhere above us and we knew it was the mountains warning us of what they’re capable of.
The skills that my crew lacked onboard the boat were made up for by their enthusiasm to learn and for their wealth of knowledge in the mountains; it was my turn to step back as captain and let the others lead. Abby charged forward and we followed. It didn’t take long to realize the hardest part of this uphill climb wasn’t the climb itself - but route finding through the downed trees and the ironically low snow line.
As we postholed past the partially frozen waterfall that marked our one third distance, we knew that we had to make a decision based on how long it was taking us.
The mountains may have won this time around, but as I waved goodbye to my crew as they wheeled their snowboards and 60lb backpacks down the dock, I knew this wasn’t the last attempt.
By Kayleen VanderRee