Seeing as Finn was nearly seven months old, we’d been thinking it was high time he went out for an overnight ski tour. Then the other night we were having dinner with friends, and over cupcakes and charades a plot was hatched. The next day five of us, plus baby, were booked into Elizabeth Parker Hut.
It’s roughly a 12 km ski in, 11.5km of that on a nice wide road. The way in is mostly uphill (although I questioned this later, as the way back seemed to be about half uphill as well). And as you ski along, there are helpful little kilometre marker signs on the trees. So after you’ve hauled a heavily loaded Chariot for at least five kilometres, a little sign appears telling you “1 km”.
We started at around 11am, and although it was snowy to begin with, it had cleared up nicely by lunchtime.
Arriving at the hut about five hours later (we took it slowly, and had a long-ish lunch) we were faced with a choice. There were only two people in the big main hut, so heaps of room for us… or we could open up the little cabin, which was unoccupied, and was only supposed to sleep six. We picked the little cabin.
Finn settled in on the big bunk beds and started playing with our nalgene bottles. And anything else he could get his hands on. Who needs toys when you have random objects?
After dinner and Smores we collapsed into sleeping bags. Finn was in his polar fleece sleeping sack on a blanket between me and Alex, but by the end of the night it had cooled down, and he was inside my sleeping bag. As a result, most of my top half was not inside my sleeping bag, as although he is small, he has a tendency to sprawl. I’m tempted to try the down quilt idea for further camping with baby adventures.
Light filtered into the hut the next morning. Two of our number had already disappeared, hoping to ski out a more interesting way, over a couple of passes and a glacier. The rest of us gradually got up… admired the mountains, ate lots of food, drank tea, went for a ski to check out Lake O’Hara (yep, it’s a lake, and it has some very nice mountains around it).
Then more food was eaten, and we gradually got our things together to start the ski down. Well, I was thinking about it as a ski down. We had all that elevation to lose, and it had been uphill all the way here, right? We waxed our skis once we reached the road, thinking it would be sufficient for climbing the few hills that were between us and the car. And although there was a really sweet downhill between km 9 and 8, the rest of the road back was pretty rolling. Although it did take us only two hours to reach the car, so it couldn’t have been that bad.
Distance: 12km one-way
Elevation gain: 500m
Recommended skis: This could be done on anything from skate skis to heavy touring-for-turns gear. We were on heavy skis, as a few of our party were looking at an interesting route onwards from the hut. And they do make hauling a fully-loaded Chariot uphill a lot easier.
Packing: The Chariot had the Ergo shoved behind the infant sling, along with a blanket. The nappy/diaper changing kit was beside Finn, then our down jackets were stuffed in around his feet and across his legs. Then the back pockets were loaded up with a drink bottle and Finn’s spare clothes (plus the squeaky monkey), and a small backpack was strapped on the back with a few of my things in it (like hut booties!). My sherpa carried my sleeping bag and change of clothes, as well as all of the food.
Nappy/diaper planning: I used disposables for this trip, because hauling all those wet cloth diapers just takes up so much space! (I did the long haul flight to Australia with cloth – just to see if it could be done) I’m interested in trying gDiapers for trips like this in the future – they have inserts you can put into cloth diapers, and then dispose of down a long drop/burn/bury when they’ve been used. And the guys at Ground Truth Trekking use them – and if anyone has thoroughly adventure-tested a product it’s them!
Accommodation options: We stayed in the ACC’s Elizabeth Parker Hut. If you’re feeling rich you could use the fancier option of the Lake O’Hara Lodge (not cheap!), or the cheapskate option is just camping – although you’ll still need to pay $9.80 per person for a wilderness pass.