Coast Mountains Sunset British Columbia 50324
Yesterday I finished editing and uploading all the new images from my recent trip to Marriott Basin and the Wendy Thompson Hut in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia. You can check out the portfolio here or see the entire edit at my stock website. As mentioned in earlier posts I was honored to be accompanied by Vancouver Photographer Adam Gibbs. I don’t know if Adam somehow brought along a good measure of luck but we enjoyed several outstanding displays of light during our stay which helped complement the dramatic backdrop of snow cloaked Coast Range.
Marriott Basin has been on my must visit winter list for a number of years now and has been routinely bumped due to various circumstances such as poor snow and weather conditions. When forecasts showed an extended period of stable weather following a series of snow storms I knew it was time to go and I rushed to reserve some spots in the hut. While I routinely use skis to access many winter backcountry locations I’m definitely not the most graceful or competent skier, especially when carrying a multi-day pack loaded down with camera gear! Fortunately there were several parties exiting the hut the day before we arrived and had a clear well packed trail to follow.
Wendy Thompson Hut Marriott Basin British Columbia 50424
After arriving at the hut settling in and quenching our thirst with some hot drinks it was time to scout out possible locations nearby that would afford good compositions for the evening and mornings. When we started out earlier in the day the sun was shining in a blue sky with a few wisps of high altitude clouds. However by the time we arrived at the hut the clouds had moved in turning the sky a solid grey despite forecasts to the contrary. Fortunately within a few minutes of checking out possible locations the sun broke briefly through the clouds to illuminate the peaks and we knew that it was time to get to work. I quickly managed to find a knoll close by that afforded an unobstructed view of the basin and peaks with some good foreground material to work with. After setting up the first few photos it became apparent that the clouds were beginning to dissipate to create all the elements for an epic sunset and alpenglow. I quickly got into the zone and worked hard at composing as many different images as possible. Considering all the cloudless smoke hazed locations I experienced last August and September this was payback time in a big way!
Coast Mountains alpenglow British Columbia 50321
Marriot Basin ski touring 50337
The next day Adam and I went on a short ski tour to explore the upper basins above the hut. Although the sky was mostly clear I managed to isolate several interesting images of sastrugi (wind blown snow patterns) along shadow edges. Later in the the day we were treated to another great display of light. The clouds on this evening appeared stacked in layers as the setting sun illuminated them. This time I worked mainly with short to medium telephoto compositions to close in on the clouds behind the ridges so as not to duplicate the wide angle photos from the first evening. The final morning Adam alerted me at daybreak of another epic display of light. Looking out from the hut the horizon was painted blood red. Rushing to get my gear together (I’m not a morning person) I scrambled to ski to the nearest location to compose some images and managed to shake the fog from my brain before the light quickly faded.
Upper Marriott Basin Coast Range British Columbia 50353
Upper Marriott Basin Coast Range British Columbia 50356
Later that day upon returning to our vehicles we hoped the temperatures had stayed cold enough in the valleys to check out some interesting areas along the Birkenhead River. Fortunately the low angle of the sun in winter kept our subjects in a frosty shade. There were several great locations along the Birkenhead and Lillooet Rivers that had photogenic patterns of ice with the trees still covered in a thick layer of frost. This was was the cherry on top of a great trip and we unexpectedly came away with another group of great images.
Birkenhead River British Columbia 50513
Birkenhead River British Columbia 50494
If you go, the hut and surrounding alpine terrain, where most of the best images are to be found, is a little less than 5 miles in with around 1600″ elevation to gain. The trailhead to the hut is at Cayoosh Pass about an hour northeast of Whistler. You must contact the ACC of Whistler to reserve a place for a nominal fee. In winter skis snowshoes or split-boards are your best options, skinny cross country skis are definitely not recommended.