Life from a different angle 

Steep skier Trevor Hunt solos down Atwell Peak's front face with its 55-degree slopes

click to flip through (3) PHOTO BY TREVOR HUNT - tracks of your skis Trevor Hunt's ski tracks down the face of Atwell Peak from Dec. 30 can be seen in the middle of this photo.
  • Photo by Trevor Hunt
  • tracks of your skis Trevor Hunt's ski tracks down the face of Atwell Peak from Dec. 30 can be seen in the middle of this photo.

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Then there is Atwell Peak, with its sharp-pointed apex. It has become Hunt's particular project.

Rising 2,655-metres above the Sea to Sky Highway, Atwell is one of three peaks of Mount Garibaldi, located between Whistler and Squamish in Garibaldi Provincial Park. Though not the highest peak in the Garibaldi Massif, it is certainly the most visually dramatic.

Hunt has skied lines from the top of Atwell "five or six" times since 2003. Solo. On each attempt he has tackled different routes. The most recent attempt was on Dec. 30, 2012.

"It's such a steep mountain that even in the world of steep skiing it's unique to be able to get onto stuff that steep," Hunt said.

When asked to be more specific, he said he skis at "up to a 60-degree angle, definitely over 55-degree."

He added: "There's a bunch of ski lines on it, but as far as the west face of it, it was skied twice in the early 90s... There's only two other groups that have skied it, other than myself."

As well as in December, Hunt skied Atwell three times in 2011 in order to find new routes, new ski lines, first ascents and descents.

"It's fun. The last line I did, the snow was so good, and, yet, sometimes it gets a bit scary," he said.

But it is the climbing he finds the hardest, Atwell being part of a scrappy dormant volcano, which makes winter climbing actually easier than summer climbing. He needs to take two ice axes, and wear crampons on the way up, and acknowledges the kinship between climbing and steep skiing.

"You climb what you ski and as you climb you check the ice and the rock and make sure it's all skiable," he said.

Hunt describes himself as a much better skier than climber, having first put on skis at the age of three. Getting to the top of Atwell has taken as long as 24 hours, these days he will snowmobile to the top of Brohm Ridge, adjacent to the mountain, to cut the time down to eight hours.

"It was a little bit scary climbing it because I was above a bunch of cliffs the whole time, but on the way down I got very comfortable on my skis," he said. "The snow was perfect and stable, so I got to play around on some very steep terrain and have full confidence that it was skiable and nothing was going to slide on me."

Hunt had hoped to go to Pakistan this year, a country he has long ties with, in order to steep ski there, but that is currently on hold. Instead, he will wait for his next opportunity in his beloved Coast Mountains.

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