Tania and Martina Halik have completed their epic ski tour from Squamish, B.C., to Skagway, Alaska. The total journey was over 2300 km through BC’s Coast Range over the largest temperate-latitude icecaps in the world – in the middle of winter and “spring.” It took the mother daughter team six months to complete.
Tania and Martina spent almost a week in Bella Coola during the first week of March resting and refueling during what was the first one third of their trek.
The team charmed the local audience of a few dozen lucky folk who got the chance to hear their adventure tale firsthand at a potluck dinner before they hit the Capoose Summer Trail for the the second leg of their trip which was north to Terrace, B.C.
Martina, 30, and her mother, 61 year-old Tania, are a pretty unique combo. Working in the ski and avalanche industry has given the women the skills needed to attempt the trip, but outside of a couple five-day ski traverses this was their first traverse of such magnitude.
The Squamish to Bella Coola brought challenges most of us would shrink from in horror: heavy packs and an even heavier sled to drag, freezing cold ski boots every morning that took 40 minutes to put on, stoves that won’t work for four hours so you can’t cook anything, food drops that were lost resulting in extreme hunger, extreme fatigue and cold, avalanche terrain, isolation, and physical exertion to the breaking point every day.
Upon leaving Bella Coola their trip to Terrace sounded like a repeat of the latter. Martina said in her blog that “the prize “Epic Trophy” goes to what we now ominously refer to as “The Curse of Mean (Dean) River.”
It comprised of a harrowing tale of river crossings, lost gear, unclipping ropes, freezing cold conditions, near hypothermia and pouring rain. It culminates with the two ladies burning the map of the river once they had finally made it across.
When they finally made it to Terrace they described it as “civilized paradise” complete with toilets!
But, they had to push on. The last third of their trip was surprisingly tame-sounding (when you’re judging it Martina and Tania standards, of course).
They toured through the abandoned town of Kitsault, enjoyed the scenery, and saw plenty of bears emerging from hibernation. Due to this fact, they chose to stick to the alpine travel!
“Upon leaving Kitsault I was expecting more hardship and struggle. More epics. And certainly, more crap weather. We were in no way prepared for what actually happened; Fun!” wrote Martina on her blog. “Those of you expecting more tales of struggle and woe while surviving in the wild, I’m sorry to disappoint – we are just as surprised and confused as you are. Absolutely nothing went wrong! Our gear didn’t break, the weather was perfectly gorgeous, the bears didn’t attack, and we actually found some decent skiing occasionally! Baffling.”
As epic as the journey was, Martina still remains humble about the accomplishment.
“One of the greatest parts of this journey has been the wonderful people we have met along the way. Often complete strangers going out of their way to help us: Alice with her prayers for our safety and tour of Kitsault. Tom driving us all the way from Terrace to the Nass Valley. Andy at Summit Helicopters giving us a wicked deal and saving us an epic bushwhack. Rob and his staff at Red Mountain treating us like royalty and giving us a free heli shuttle from the snowline down to Stewart the next day,” she writes. “The list of people that have contributed to our expedition seems to be miles long by now and still growing every day – we are so grateful and appreciative to everyone that has helped us on our way. A huge thank you to the generous people who contributed personal donations through website as well!”
Those interested in reading more about their journey can check out their website www.coastmountainepic.ca or find them on Facebook.