Weekend Warm-Up: Mind Over Mountain

The infamous Bugaboos-to-Rogers ski traverse charges across 137km of alpine wilderness and gains nearly 11,000 vertical metres. Often referred to as Canada’s grandest traverse, the Bugs to Rogers route has drawn a long line of expert ski mountaineers to the Canadian Rockies over the years.

In the spring of 2021, accomplished backcountry skiers Leah Evans, Madeleine Martin-Preney, and Marie-France Roy sought to add their names to that list.

“In local ski culture, it has become somewhat of a rite of passage for people wanting to expand their mountain skills or test themselves to see if they have what it takes to join the ranks of the big-mountain elite,” Evans notes.

Bugaboos. Photo: Martin Schneiter Photography

The Bugaboos. Photo: Martin Schneiter Photography

 

The Bugaboos to Rogers ski traverse in context

Legendary skiers Bill Biggs, Barry Corbet, Bob French, and Sterling Neale pioneered the traverse back in 1958. Their flagship effort across the Purcell and Selkirk Mountains took nine days and remains one of the most fabled ski traverses today.

In April 2021, Adam Campbell, Greg Hill, and Andrew McNab bested a 16-year pace record on the Bugs to Rogers line, skiing it from tip to toe in just over 53 hours. Their blinding pace dethroned the objective’s previous speed record (80 hours, set by Troy Jungen, Douglas Sproul, and Jon Walsh in 2005) by nearly 27 hours.

And then, on May 3, 2022, Kylee Toth, Emma Cook-Clark, and Taylor Sullivan swooped in with an even more expedient time: 44 hours and 37 minutes. The record-holding team’s blistering pace averaged 3.03 km per hour. Given the traverse’s harrowing uphill gain, the group of two women and one man executed a feat that was nothing short of sleepless — if not heroic.

Rogers Pass. Photo: James Haston

Rogers Pass. Photo: James Haston

 

And yet, pursuing a speed record is but one way to ensnare yourself with the Bugaboos to Rogers Pass traverse, and not the only one worth courting. So perhaps I should note here that the three women featured in Mind Over Mountain weren’t pursuing the fastest known time — completion of the course is more than enough adventure for the majority of ski mountaineering’s most prestigious. Why wouldn’t it be?

As with most expeditions above tree-line and below freezing, high risk reaps high rewards. The route is an amalgam of glaciers and steep avalanche terrain. Conditions need to be perfect and skiers must tread lightly to succeed.

'Mind Over Mountain' film Patagonia. Bugaboos to Rogers ski traverse

Photo: Patagonia

 

Team profile: Evans, Martin-Preney, & Roy

Leah Evans

Evans is a professional skier, Association of Canadian Mountain Guide (ACMG)-certified hiking guide, and founder of Girls Do Ski, a freeski camp provider for women. She grew up skiing the British Columbia mountain ranges and makes her home in Revelstoke today.

The Canadian native harnesses nearly three decades of experience on skis and has completed expeditions to Iceland, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Northern B.C., and Turkey.

In addition to founding and directing Girls Do Ski, Evans also founded 12 Under 20, a charitable freeski camp for girls and women under the age of 20.

Madeleine Martin-Preney

Martin-Preney is an ACMG skiing and hiking guide and works alongside Evans at Girls Do Ski. She has spent most of her career teaching avalanche safety and ski touring, often with Outward Bound and Avalanche Canada’s youth education program.

Notably, Martin-Preney became the first woman to traverse the entire Selkirk range from Nelson to the Mica Dam (520km and 43,000 metres of vertical gain). Her expeditions have taken her to the Andes, the European Alps, India, and the Yukon. Marin-Preney also participated in a kayak/ski expedition from the Gulf Islands to the Whitemantle Range.

Marie-France Roy

Roy is a former professional snowboarder and climate activist. After retiring from a decade on the X-Games circuit, Roy turned to ski mountaineering, activism, writing, and filmmaking.

She began skiing at the age of 11 near her hometown of Quebec. Later, she moved to B.C., where she splits her time between Whistler and Vancouver Island.

In 2015, Roy received the Climate Activist Award from Protect Our Winters and TransWorld SNOWboarding magazine. She has gone on to win awards at the Banff Mountain Film Festival and others for her production of The Little Things

Most recently, Roy is credited as the primary driver behind the Westcoast Triple Plank. This is an annual, come-one-come-all boardsport and environmental conservation event on Vancouver Island.

'Mind Over Mountain' film Patagonia. Bugaboos to Rogers ski traverse

Photo: Marie-France Roy for Patagonia

 

Footnotes

Produced by Patagonia and directed by Nick Waggoner, Mind Over Matter follows the tightly knit trio as they test their fortitude on the world-famous line.

So, do the three Candian powderhounds notch their names on the Bugs-to-Rogers manifest? “No idea,” one skier says in the film. “No idea what I was getting myself into.” You’ll have to watch to find out.

Runtime: 40 minutes

Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college. After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing. In 2020, Jilli left her corporate position to pursue an outdoor-oriented life. She now works as a contributor, an editor, and a gear tester for ExplorersWeb and various other outlets within the AllGear network. She is based out of Austin, Texas where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.


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