Written by James Hillier
October 29th 2012
Graham Haywood: The Wolf Pack is the best. Wolf Pack is a shred hungry group of progords who slave away at desks all week, in order to afford snowmobiling on the weekends; If you’re not at a desk all week, you’re likely not a hungry wolf. Wolfpack has last years oil stained gear bought used or on pro-form, scratched lense goggles, holey gloves, duct taped boots, and hiss-ting sleds. Some exceptions may apply. Wolf Pack members enjoy late starts, full moons, ever present bluebird pow days, sled thread and daily gnar slayage. If you’re not hucking 40 footers to your face on Sunday and writing reports on Monday, you probably don’t get wolf pack.
Succintly so did Graham Haywood describe the self-styled Wolf Pack in a recent interview A rag tag gang of powder hungry working class joes who work day jobs to fuel their weekend dreams. But what led us to the depths of the backcountry? It was an interesting evolution.
The push towards snowmobiling in the backcountry was always desired but eventually came as a necessity. Originally, the members of the Wolf Pack met in Whistler where we were united by our common love of skiing and snowboarding. Riding the gordon infested public resort drove us deeper and deeper on the mountain in the pursuit of powder. It came to a point where we would not even ski in-bounds any more. Day after day, we would only be skiing out-of-bounds slopes... and permanently closed areas. Its where the best snow is, hands down.
Eventually our antics would catch up with us. It was January 2nd 2009 and there had recently been avalanche fatalities in Whistler. Still, we were pow hungry and made the decision to forsake the avy prone slopes of Whistler and instead ride Grouse mountain in Vancouver. The snow had consolidated down south and the avalanche risk was lower. We entered Thrasher Creek, a zone we had explored on foot during the summer and which we had previously skied before.
Prepared with zone knowledge and proper avalanche equipment, we entered the out of bounds area. The snow and terrain was phenomenal. There were no avalanches and I remember throwing huge high fives with howls of pleasure at the bottom. Overjoyed at the thrill of the run, we gathered our gear to hike out and do another lap. During the hike back into the resort, a helicopter began to circle and yelled "We will saaaaave yoooouuu!!!!" I knew it was bad news.
Once we arrived back in bounds, we were quickly accosted by ski patrol and escorted to the bottom where management and the RCMP were waiting. Despite our planning and avalanche gear, we were given lifetime bans for skiing out of bounds. An odd outcome given that skiing out of bounds is a well known and common practice all across Canada. Thousands of people do it everyday in Whistler, Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, Seymour and just about every other self-respecting intelligent ski resort. Grouse is not one.
It was a controversional issue and before you know it, I was doing interviews on CBC The National and Graham Haywood was on the cover of the Globe and Mail. He would even be featured in Maclean's magazine in a contest for "Twit of the Year."
That spring, we said fuck the resort and got into snowmobiles.
Still poor and struggling university students without sleds to call our own, our kind and generous professional snowboarder friend Marc-Andre Tarte said he would lend us the crappy one of his two snowmobiles. Myself and Haroo gratefully accepted. We were also very gracious that his other good snowmobile was easily hot-wired. We took both out to Seagrams and so began our snowmobile addiction.