Ski Touring, mountaineering, climbing, coffee and living in the Coast Range of British Columbia.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Galleon

Had a pleasant time recently with friends Julian and Chris, driving northward from our respective S Coast towns, drinking copious amounts of coffee, slinging hip hop sets on the ipad and generally trying to find good times en route to Smithers, BC for the annual Everest Challenge. The event was a huge success and comes highly recommended by these coastal coffee drinking travelers and vagabonds. While a rather large and looming undertaking if done solo, the 8848 meters in 24hrs is quite pleasant if done as a team, in our case this year, a team of between 5 and 7 that got together and disbanded quicker then the Fugees. Between laps we laughed it up, drank a few beers, danced to some sweet reggae and generally had a great time while our friend Chris went deep inside the pain cave for his solo voyage up and down the hill for a total of 19 laps...

Our strategy of course has a double prong, partying and jockeying for position near the snacks all night was fun and left a memorable impression on us and all, but we also wanted to save a little gas for some skiing in the area, where winter is still alive above about 1500 m..Our first day we manged a mid day departure and a short tour up the S summit of Hudson Bay Mtn just above Smithers. We cracked a beer in the sunshine after reaching the top and marveled at our cool surroundings...later, we hooted and hollered our way down, jumping sastrugi and enjoying the brief winter simulation en route to the days end.


On our second day, we were up for a longer day, namely a peak called The Galleon in the Babine Range - A classic tour in the Smithers area and highly recommended if you are into a nice tour to a beautiful valley and peak.
The NW face of the Galleon holds many really nice couloirs...

Some of the terrain leading up..

Nearing the summit.

Pretty damn happy




The descent was mostly stellar with some preserved wind pressed powder interspersed with skiable crusts. All in all, quite nice and probably some of the best skiing this year (!).

Thanks Julian and Chris for a great trip, skiing and company.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Spearhead with the rascalz

Had a memorable day of fancy walking along the crest of the Spearhead with some friends, new and old. Nothing crazy to report, just unlimited visibility, great stability and some great travel and of course some rubber'necking of the great Spearhead lines, all looking fairly rugged under present conditions. We elected to do the 'classic' version of the traverse, starting from Blackcomb, going around Lago and sneaking through the notch on the Overlord glacier and finally, out via Whistler. Worth noting, Singing Pass is reported to be a no-go so we went up and over flute and skied out via the Burnt Stew trail by headlamp and on perfect groomers for most of the long descent, legs burning! In a word, superb.


Felix, Julian, Scotty, Chris Courtenay and yours truly.

With this group we were poised for a great day out in the high alpine.

Dropping down onto the Trorey Glacier.





Lone wolf in the white room.

Felix and the windlip

About to do the last big climb up around Fitz.


Climb to Fitz


Overlord downclimb



Good times going down Whirlwind.
Thanks to the boys for a great day out!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Squeeze the Day - Duffey.

I have a new line of thinking this year as we try and get out skiing during the 'atmospheric river events' and pineapple expresses here on the coast. That line of thinking is: Fit as much as possible into every day out. No matter how hard I stare at the weather models, gittery from espresso shots, I can't predict the outcome of these storms so I have just started to squeeze as much skiing as the body will allow into each outing because 'you neva know what ya gunna git"! (F Gump)...

Had a couple of great days recently with friends, leaving and returning to the house in the dark, smiling and stoked. If this is the mantra for 2015 so be it.

We headed to a familiar zone the other day and spent some time on the N, NE aspects lapping the alpine above 1700m. Nice 200-350 m shots in well settled snow.

Brad assembling.

Some nice windpress on the access ridge this day.

Scoping out the options of entry into the main zone.

Brad.

Todd. If anyone says split-boarders are slow in the transitions, they haven't ridden with Todd!

Brad pushing snow leftwards.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

some favourite shots from last season...

As some may 'cough' recall, last year was not exceptional in terms of snow coverage here on the coast. By mid season I had accepted that we weren't going to do any 'ski-extreme' so just settled in a nice groove of skiing powder with friends and waiting until the spring melt freeze cycle to push the boat out even a little. It just wasn't the year to do any traverses or peaks, unless you like to ski with a puckered a-hole and be looking behind you every turn, expecting the icy white wall of death. Did manage a few great days amongst the normal missions and despite the conditions, still managed to accrue the normal amount of days in a season on skis. As always the specific days blur together somewhat and whats left in my mind are the deeper seeded memories of my friends laughing, experiencing joy and sometimes digging deep.
First day out on the back of Ottoman (burnt trees on JB's map), Cayoosh Zone. Marc Andre was in town and we gambled on this spot acting as a fetch for the cooled air and micro climate of Cayoosh Peak. It payed off and we schrapled a beauty 800m run to the valley bottom. So exciting when that pays off.

Spent a couple nights with the Baldwins up at Elfin on another hunch, that despite recent high freezing levels, no snow on part of the approach  and very cold Wx at the moment, maybe preserved powder would be lurking up high on Columnar and the Gargoyles. It payed off and without a soul in site, we had our own private zone, skiing boot top pow on N aspects until we couldn't move. At night, we could enjoy the lightness after a great days skiing, sharing meals and perfecting our Jenga game.

Pauls Ridge Sunset. This is the 'back forty', I come up here at least twice a week. The run up to alpine is great for putting on the base for the season and maintaining throughout. This season we were able to hit the S aspects a bit during a cold snap and ski the excellent steep old growth cedars and firs, so good. Most of my missions are espresso fueled 4 to 9am speed sessions where I can get a couple of laps in before a full day of work. The only reason I can still get 50+ days of touring in and hold a full time and extremely busy job.

Ryan skiing the steep lines at Paul's on one very memorable powder day. So nice to have this zone right above the house.

One weekend we wanted to get out of the local mountains and despite there being no new snow for weeks, headed to the Coq to ski peaks. We ended up having three great days skiing from summits and enjoying the company of friends.

Blue River, BC - Went here for a week of powder skiing with friends, snowed over a meter and we got some excellent storm turns and enjoyed some incredible meals.

Around Jan, I tore a major hip flexor muscle and was out of commish for a few weeks. Despite the lack of snow, the days were primarily bluebird and stability was improving slowly. All I could think about was being up in the mountains, light as a feather and moving quickly over passes, ridges and down glaciers. Finally I go the go-ahead to go skiing and with the caveat "I may not do so well", Scotty and Ryan, being the good friends they are, decided to join on a great day in the spearheads that involved skiing the Shudder Glacier to its end, up and over Wedge Pass and down Blackcomb at night. The above photo is dusk on the bench that scoots you around Phalanx. Probably another 3 hours to the car. Ryan had this huge extra sandwich that we split just before this, it got us home man.
These are some of the most psyched skiers on the coast. Out every day possible and just enjoying the experience and mountains. Relaxing after a very chill day up to Mt. Vantage. Just so good to be out.

From the Summit of Vantage we could see Mt. Duke and its SUPER dreamy NE Bowl. With stability on the mend, we made a pact to check it out the next day.


Coming up from a different drainage fro the day before, we approached Duke with an open mind, some cool ridge work and some broilerplate snow brought us to the summit and a fantastic vista, not a breath of wind. We looked out over the surrounding peaks and just soaked it all up. Great windpress down the N aspect really surprised us especially as it hadn't snowed in weeks. Last season taught me to seek our certain aspects in drought conditions for their ability to 'refresh' from saltation and wind from nearby terrain..

Lasy day out. A mission over the Garibaldi Neve in a day. My second time I've done it this way. Such a great classic tour. Splitter weather and trail breaking the whole way.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Chilcotin perrenial

Just back from a great trip into the Chilcotins, this time we flew into Lorna Lake, went up and over Elbow Pass, down the Paradise Creek, up PC camped on the other side at around 2000m. Went up Little Graveyard Pass, down and N up to Tyoux Pass, back down to PC then down to a camp at around 1600m on Tyax Creek. Last day was up to Spruce Lake and up to Windy Pass and of course, we had to finish on the world class descent of Lick Creek. We carried everything we needed for 3 days of riding on our backs and camped, went were we wanted to. 
3 days of food in the Patagonia Ascentionist 25, rode great and was the perfect pack for this mission.

Our departure was 1 hr late as the winds had reversed directions this day, causing the pilot to taxi down lakes and then return for take off, doubling the efforts.


We are off!

The pilot said it was his second week here...Jamie shows concern.

The beaver got tossed around a bit but it showed why it is simply one of the best single prop bush planes in the world and we arrived safely.


Crossing creeks is a Chilcotin mainstay.

Elbow Pass.




Down into Paradise Valley


Some bushcraft.

Camp number 1, it went down to-5 this night, we were all barely warm enough. Fire helped a lot.


We left camp around 930 and spent some time drying out and warming up. As it was still summer, it didn't take long at all to warm up.



Little Graveyard Pass.

Out for a rip bud.


Graveyard Valley sign, a very important place for local 1st nations.

Getting up into Tyoux Creek and the only flat tire of the trip.

Water break.

So glad we ventured up this rarely visited valley...no trail but just amazing.

This descent was my favorite of the trip, pasted against this red rock it felt very cool.

4 creek crossings on Tyax creek, all easy ones.

The horse packers leave these great camps all over, well set with benches, tarp poles and tent pads.



Jamie's 'coffee please' expression.



Up to Windy Pass.



The amazing rip down Lick Creek!

As usual, its the people that make the trip, thanks Martin, Robbie, Jamie and Scott for a wicked awesome time!