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

Monday, April 14, 2014

Shudder Glacier and Mt. Duke

It has been some time since I posted, due to being firmly in recovery from a torn sartorius muscle. The results of an attempt at a delicate and yet somehow burly route at the climbing gym in Canmore. It sounded like a zipper when it tore and was quite audible throughout the gym, I thought myself lucky for only having a class 2 tear of this muscle that I had never even considered before..After hobbling around for a few weeks and religiously gardening, working, domestic blissing and physio'ing, I got the green light to go skiing. "Go for an hour or so and see how it feels' was the parting advice from my PT on Tuesday. I could hardly sleep.

 Shudder Glacier to Wedge Creek

 On Wednesday morning, Scotty and Ryan were kind enough to accompany 'the gimp' (me) on a little ski mission in the Spearheads, with no real set intentions we made quick time past Decker, Trorey and Tremor, arriving at a small unnamed summit with the rolling Shudder glacier below. It looked good all the way to the valley and the overnight freeze was great, making lower elevation travel just fine. We looked at each other, knowing that dropping to the bottom meant a 5 hour return trip to Blackcomb and the end to the proposed 'little day'...
The 'spine' bringing you over to Trorey.

Classic Spearhead bootpack, beyond this lies the niftiest parts of the range!

Nearing the small unnamed peak above Shudder Glacier, seen below.

Ryan and Scott.

We pulled the climbing skins and 'let the skis run', with the coverage lacking this year we brought harnesses and a small rope and used it for a few hundred meters as we poked around through an icefall. The snow surface was uniform and that made for consistency in the skiing, albeit a bit 'wind pressed' in sections but good.. It was great to finally ski the described longest run in the Spearheads, be in the company of good friends and feel the remoteness this area exudes.
After reaching lower wedge creek, you turn left for about 7or maybe 8 km, staying around the 1400-1700m level until you reach Phalanx peak and a nifty little bench that is one of the only things I have seen that is a good argument for divine creation. Later, around 8pm we skied perfect corn groomers by headlamp to a car beer and great mexican at Mexican Corner in Whistler

After a day of rest Ryan and I joined our friends Linda and John for a classic ascent of Vantage Peak, a jester in a court of kings, surrounded by the high country that is Joffre, Matier and Howard. Quite the ambiance for such an accessible peak. We enjoyed a very mellow pace this day, talking the whole way up and just enjoying good company in the 'pine'.
Linda, John and Ryan approach the summit of Vantage.

Great skiing down Vantages NE flanks.

All is well that ends well!

Mt. Duke
On our Vantage day it was hard not to look over and see this great ski descent on Mt. Duke, connected by a short ridge to Vantage although accessed from a different valley, that of Van Horlick. I do love aesthetic ski peaks, that in which you climb up, hopefully mostly on skis, gain a summit then get to ski a different aspect, creating a bit of a 'circuit', Mt. Duke is just that!
Great terrain all the way to Duke/Vantage col. There was about 7km of logging road to reach this spot..not super photogenic.

On the shoulder of Duke. Was nice to have the ski crampons.

Some 'non skis on' climbing, sometimes you can apparently ski right to the top of Duke, not so for us. We had fun negotiating the little steps.

Some great lines on Mt. Howard.

After reaching the summit, you get a view of the Mt. Duke descent, 550m to the lake at the bottom, sheltered and N facing.
Todd drops in for first tracks, we found lightly windpressed powder over a hard crust.

Ryan spraying the snow to the right, later he sprayed it left.

Mt. Duke from the Duffey lake road. Go do it!

What a great few days with friends and words fall short in describing the joy in being back on skis during these long and beauty spring days.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

the blue river treatment

N Blue River Lodge and Yurt.
Just back from an amazing week with friends in the snowy world of North Blue River Lodge. Just pure good times skiing powder, enjoying great meals and the company of friends both new and old in the quiet mountains. We were able to get up high on day one, skiing some nice alpine terrain during the drought conditions at the time, linking up to a nice ridge, down a N facing couloir which connected to the valley bottom, 1200m later. A couple of us snuck out for a pre-dinner snack afterwords in the form of an excellent boot top run in the steep trees, back just in time for the apres and appetizer course. The next few days blur together between great skiing, lots of laughs and close to a meter of storm snow. Just great.
John prepares for another day of skiing.

Ryan enjoying some nice snow.

Linda having a good time on her Wailer 99's!

Chris grew a beard one day.

The odd cedar is dotted amongst spruce, fir and other friendly giants.

Graham Underhill enjoying another day of powder skiing.


Ryan having just a great time and sporting a super attitude as usual.

Vicki, a new ski friend.

Ry - guy


Todd entering the white room for a conference call.

The trail breaking was deep at times.

Ryan got a collect call from Ullr here, he accepted the charges.


John surveying yet another great gladed run.


It just kept snowing and snowing and...snowing. Magic stillness and winter joy.

Todd embracing the mystery.

Every day there was at least a three course dinner, skier prepared and skier enjoyed!


Hut life is the best life!

Graham and Dimitri

Mark had a problem and couldn't get up.

Thanks to North Blue River Lodge and especially the people, who always make these trips so memorable: Steve, Linda, Vicki, John, Ryan, Chris, Ellie, Todd, Dimitri, Richard, Graham and Mark.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Whistler Reacharound

Friend Ross Berg and I did a handy little link up in the Spearhead Zone which we gave the working title of 'the whistler reacharound', the other working title was 'two Ross' don't make a right', the tour went up to Spearhead col, down to guides notch, down Cham chute 3, over to vista zone, down vista chute, over and up decker, down the chisel couloir, back up Decker and down 9th hole. Good times! RB put together a sweet web edit here!

The Whistler Reach Around

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Low Tide Skiing

During the low tide we are still heading out skiing and enjoying ourselves. After all, there is snow on the mountains and travel is fast and efficient, perfect for climbing and skiing peaks and enjoying the beautiful sunshine and the company of friends in the mountains. Such a trip was had recently based out of the nicely appointed Coquihala Lakes Lodge where Mark, a great guy and owner of the facility welcomes ski tourers with open arms and smiles as in his words; 'they don't spray whiskey on the walls, wreck rooms or throw bones off the deck', indeed we did none of those things but we did have a great time nonetheless. But seriously, check out the lodge, its a great base for ski touring and you can ski more if you don't have to drive to Van/Squamish after..
Looking towards snowy summits, Coquihala range.

John, happy camper and coast range intimate.

Wonderful terrain and great travel.

Chris and Ryan, stoked to be out.
Nearing the summit, we actually had a great fun run down from here, jumping off little windlips and whipping down the soft windpressed lee side of the ridge proper.

The omnipresent trucks on the Coquihalla

Headlamp finish.

Gaining Mt. Thar in corn conditions.

T-Shirt lunch, pretty nice.

Some 'edge deep' turns down the N Side of Yak/Thar col.
Thanks to linda, Ellie, John, Chris and Ryan for a great trip!