An ambitious alpine multisport.
Our expedition starts well before sunup, as do most spring-skiing endeavors. It’s going to be a scorcher of a day, so we’re a bit wary about the snow quality, but snow is not all we’re after. Attached to our packs, along with skis and boards, are fly rods. Fishing and skiing are not often thought of in conjunction. After all, each activity peaks on opposite ends of the calendar year. But that’s exactly what we’ve set out to do. With enough snow in the couloirs and an unfrozen alpine lake home to hungry cutthroats, we’ve got ourselves an optimal multisport opportunity.
As we climb, we ascend through changing biomes and, in some ways, changing seasons. Flat, summer forest gradually grows into vertical walls, with spring runoff plunging down the canyon. There is more heads-down hiking than chatter amongst the group, until we hit snow, the final traces of winter. It may be dirty and rotten, but it is snow nonetheless. Our spirits are lifted as we glance up high to the bowls and chutes and observe a worthwhile run. The rest of the hike is filled with mental mapping and route-planning. Then we reach the lake.
Dropping our packs and wiping our brows, we take a break, mesmerized by the basin’s beauty. The glassy water is interrupted by frequent rises from fish that are obviously hungry. No time to waste—there are large cutthroat not 10 feet from the bank. I rig up and cast in their direction, but they swim past, paying my nymph no attention. However, a little wiggle to the rig seems to do the trick. After a few missed strikes, I land a decent cutthroat, thank it for the thrill, and release it back to its underwater world. Onto the next objective.
We bootpack up the bowl. The climb is a mix of scrambling across boulder fields and traversing snowy faces, a creek rumbling beneath our feet the entire time. At the top, we transition and start to make our way down. The snow quality is far from great, but after all the hard work it took to get here, it feels no less than perfect. We follow the white ribbon down through a gully nearly all the way back to the lake.
Our day is unorthodox, but without going too crazy, we were able to find a little bit of everything. And now we know, with some good planning, modified expectations, compromise, and some luck, a great multisport is just a cast and carve away.