The boys started off their trip at 8:30 in the manner in which most begin; a quick packing session at the Field House followed by a somewhat sleepy bus ride. By the time we had arrived at Manning Park, it was almost 12:30, and the dull, grey setting we were used to in Vancouver had turned into a snowy, winter wonderland. We unloaded the bus and trudged towards the cabin in which we would spend our first night. We were then taught our first field lesson in the art of avalanche companion rescues. We were trained to use the capabilities of a transceiver to track down a buried victim, then use the probe to locate said victim, and the shovel to dig the victim out from under the cover of snow. We practiced for several hours and began testing soon after.
Some of the boys decided to put off practicing, and concentrate their efforts on the building of a crude snow fort. By 17:30, darkness had fallen on our the site, and after a brief meeting, food groups began to cook their dinners, taking the occasional break to dry their clothes in front of the toasty fire we built in the hut. After a hearty meal and a long, tiring day, we had our evening meeting and got ready for bed. Although it had been a long day, excitement still loomed in the air and many found it hard to fall asleep. Eventually, one by one, we began to drift off and recharge for the big day we had planned ahead.
At 7:30 we arose and had breakfast cooking in no time at all. Every group had prepared a meal to warm themselves from the inside out, and it provided a good start to our day. Immediately after breakfast, we were briefed as a group on how to build snow shelters called quinzhees. We were shown examples of what to do, and an example of what not to do (which just so happened to be the snow shelter some of the boys had so diligently worked on the night before). Building began, and the air was filled with the crunch of snow and labour-driven groans. The work was hard, wet and somewhat tedious. After a solid 2 hours of work, most groups had a decent sized pile of snow and decided it was time for a lunch break.
Before long, we were back at it, with the occasional break from the group to do more avalanche rescue testing. After about four hours of work, the wet and cramped task of hollowing out the shelter began. This task was risky and stressful, as students had to not only hollow out the shelter in a wet, cramped space but also be sure not to hollow out too close to the wall, which would result in structural failure. After another hour of back-breaking work, one member of each food group was delegated to begin dinner, while the others put the finishing touches on their quinzhees. That night, we ate heartily, feeling as though we had earned each mouthful of food we shovelled into our mouths. After a short meeting due to how late it was, we went to bed and unlike the night before, fell asleep immediately.
The next morning we packed up our gear and, after breakfast, were told to bring our shovels and avalanche gear to our morning meeting. To our disbelief, the teachers told us that we had to dismantle our quinzhees, as part of our Leave No Trace ethic. Half the group would work on returning their quinzhees to rubble, while the other half would participate in an avalanche group rescue scenario, and then we would switch. This took up most of our morning, and it was noon by the time we finished. We then packed our stuff onto the bus and prepared ourselves for the long bus ride home, which, like most post trip rides, was filled with a mix of singing, sleeping, and snacking. By the time we got home it was 18:00 and after a short cleanup, with boots soaked and bodies exhausted, none of us could not wait to sleep in our own beds and get a warm, dry, good night’s rest.