Touching base with the Snow Man of Pemberton
When I call Lex Ross at 3:20 on a Friday afternoon, he’s outside shovelling snow.
“I heard you might know something about snowfall in this area,” I say.
“Well, I’m the one who did it for half a century.”
Nowadays, accumulated snow fall in the area is measured automatically at a weather station at Tenquille Lake, but for 50 years, Lex Ross did it by hand. “I had the job in 1953. When they first put the station in, they were looking for someone young to go up there every month and take a measurement.”
Ross would skin up the steep trail that rises up from across the Hurley FSR bridge, 8 times a year, to measure the depth of snow at the 5200 ft elevation mark, where the historic Tenquille Lake cabin stands. This type of data is monitored all over the province by the Ministry of Environment for flood risk.
Ross still keeps an eye on the data. “This isn’t one of the biggest winters we’ve seen. It’s not too much above average,” he says. “We’re probably looking at it being there well into July,” he says. “Normally, July 1 is the end of winter up there and the wildflowers come out.”
Ross, who put in the original Tenquille Lake trail and the trail to Poole Creek, would collect his measurements at the 5200 feet mark, where the Tenquille Lake cabin sits by the lake. A new cabin is planned for construction in the summer – a community initiative that will help revitalise recreation in the area, and Ross is excited about the project.
“I had one close call with an avalanche,” Ross says of his fifty years of backcountry travel, “and that taught me not to travel at the end of a storm. We were up there to take measurements and it snowed about 40 inches overnight. On our way down in the afternoon, by Wolverine Creek, I’d stopped, I think because I wanted to take a photo of my partner all covered in snow, and we heard a noise that sounded like a jet plane taking off, all the tops of the trees were breaking off above us. A slide downhill from us created 200mph wind gusts where we were. After that I knew better than to travel at the end of a heavy storm.”
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