Monthly Archives: February 2008

Flaming Couch catches air!

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About to take off.

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Showing excellent form in the air.

The old fold-out couch had done it’s time in the patrol shack atop Red, and had to go. Fortuitously Jordy and had decided to finish our day with a couple of runs on Red, so were able to witness and help out as the couch was disposed of in classic Red Mountain style. Skis were attached to the base, it was dragged into place, doused with gas and set alight, then to the accompaniment of cheers from the small crowd, was let fly down the first pitch of Back-trail, catching serious air-time off the Steil-hang, before disintegrating into a well dispersed trail of smoking debris. Thanks to Meg for the pics.

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Roger’s Pass – Bonney Glacier

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Lunch break atop the Bonney Glacier

Although I’ve still got loads of great unused pics, this is probably the last post from my recent Roger’s Pass trip. For the final day of the trip we packed up early and skied out of the Wheeler hut, drove down the Trans Canada a short distance, and skinned up Loop Brook. Our objective was the north facing slopes of the Bonney Glacier. After hearing our nightly fire-side stories in the Wheeler, a couple of skiers from a larger UofA group were keen to try something a bit more adventurous than their experience would have otherwise allowed, so joined us for the day. Conditions remained perfect, warm in the sun, but the snow remained cold and dry, we had a a skin track to follow to the top, and untracked expanses on the way down.

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Andrew – cruising on the Bonney.

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Andrew – threading a line through the lower pillows.

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The end of a great trip – Lisa, Brace, Kirk and Andrew freshening up in Loop Brook.

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Roger’s Pass – Lily Glacier

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Andrew – Checking out the line from Dome Saddle.

Another classic run at Rogers Pass – dropping into the steep wind-roll from the Dome Saddle (accessed from the Asulkan side) onto the Lily Glacier, skiing West facing slopes lit up by the afternoon sun, on easy open terrain and a series of huge rolls, breaking right for a steep North facing pitch into the valley.

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Andrew – skiing on the Lily Glacier.

The ski-out down Loop Brook is shorter and steeper, far more fun and less effort than the long flat push out from the Asulkan. Altogether a fine 4500′ descent.

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Ben (Bin) – checking out my tracks, before giving it a try himself (2001).

Which reminds me – In 2001, while winter camping in the day-use shelter just off the highway, I was touring up Loop-Brook and noticed a likely gap jump adjacent to the skinning track. It’s not that technical, but clears a precipitous canyon, and I thought it might make a wild photo. I don’t think we actually got the action shot, just this one of my track, but it makes me laugh every time I ski by.

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Red Mountain – Conditions Update

It’s been well over a week since I skied the lifts at Red, and anecdotes of hard chattering snow and huge bumps had me less than enthusiastic. But yesterday I woke to a reported 12cm of new snow and clear skies on the web-cam, so I waxed my skis and checked it out. The new snow was a little on the heavy side, but all the better for covering and padding, and on smooth sections and areas where the old snow hadn’t been sun affected and frozen (Northern aspects), the skiing was great. Not quite a full-speed charging powder day, but easily 80%. The Monday turn-out was tiny, with no lift-lines, and the visibility was perfect until about mid-day, when the fog rolled in. The forecast for the next week looks promisingly snowy.

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Our Backyard

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Cam – Dropping in to the Double Hour Glass 

After a week of incredible skiing at Roger’s Pass, we figured Kirk from Vermont needed to try out our local touring, so yesterday we skied Old Glory. A short intense blizzard was just finishing dropping 5cm of heavy powder atop mostly refrozen snow, making for balling-up (bring your skin wax) and then extra firm skinning (my new B&D ski crampons came in handy) and pea-soup visability, but we climbed into sunshine at the summit. The double-hour-glass was firm-ish but very carvable (although a bit rocky through the lower pinch), while the Hanna chutes provided smooth turns on consolidated powder. The ski-out was corn snow, getting sticky at the bottom. Altogether a fun day with lots of variety.
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Cold Kootenays to finish the day – Stew, Andrew, Kirk, & Cam.

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Revelstoke Mountain Resort

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Alison on Kill the Banker. 

Before heading to Roger’s Pass I got a chance to ski at the new Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Unfortunately my visit corresponded with both Alberta’s Family Day and President’s Day in the US, so the lifts and the especially the parking were overwhelmed, but it was a sunny day with 20cm of new snow, the ticket was cheap (just $44 with my Red Pass) and I had a local friend to show me around, so we had a fun day. I’ve skied many mountains that don’t measure up to the skiing I enjoy on a regular basis at Red, so I was prepared to be underwhelmed by the hype, but I was impressed. The bottom half of the Resort is always going to be marginal skiing, so the huge vertical will really only come into play once or twice a day (just like skiing at Whistler), but the the upper mountain is both more extensive and provides better quality skiing (bowls, cliffs, and gladed trees) than I had anticipated. The facilities are first-class (what a contrast to Red!), the views incredible, the snowfall adequate (though they’ve positioned the resort on perhaps the least snowy mountain in the region), and when the proposed new lifts are in place and all the terrain is accessible, it’ll be hard to beat. Revelstoke itself is woefully unprepared for the changes taking place, still a red-neck town without the services to meet the needs of the resort driven influx (despite the crowds of forlorn caffeine  junkies wandering about on Sunday morning, all the coffee shops and breakfast joints in downtown were closed) , but with the speed that condos are selling and housing prices are rising, it won’t be long before Revelstoke is transformed into another resort town for elites.

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Roger’s Pass – Asulkan Glacier

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Plenty of Fresh Lines.

The 4000′ North-East facing lines on the Asulkan Glacier off the Dome Saddle and Sapphire Col always seem to always deliver exceptional skiing. With steep rolls, exposed ice, and more than a few drops to add excitement, and enough terrain to always find fresh lines, you could easily spend an entire trip just lapping the same skinning track. Although after grinding up that monster 4 times in 5 days (including twice in one day) I was beginning to imagine myself bound in some Sysiphean predicament (perhaps I am?).

Here’s some video of Andrew enjoying the powder below Sapphire Col.

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Kirk Kardashian – Dropping in from Sapphire Col (A long way from Vermont).

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Kirk – On the third pitch.

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Our Late Afternoon tracks off the top of the Dome Glacier (there’s nothing quite like that edge of the world feeling as you drop over a huge convex roll) .

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Roger’s Pass – Forever Young Couloir.

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The Forever Young Couloir

I’m back from 5 days of skiing in stable easy-skiing powder, cloudless skies, and light winds at Roger’s Pass. Andrew, Kirk and I made the most of the perfect conditions by putting in big days and ticking off lots of classic lines. Rather than try to summarize any further, I’m going to cover the trip with multiple posts.

When touring up the Asulkan drainage towards the Mouse-trap, the Forever Young Couloir has always caught my eye. It’s a classic “drain-pipe” European style couloir, dropping from below the North-East Ridge of Youngs’s Peak. Tucked between towering rock ramparts, it provides a sustained 1500′ descent at perhaps 45 degrees (I didn’t measure, but it felt pretty steep). We had thought to ski it on our first day, but after breaking trail to the summit of Young’s Peak, couldn’t resist a powder run down the Seven Steps of Paradise. Instead, the next morning we toured up over the Illecillewatt Glacier, with mind-blowing views in every direction, then dropped in.

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Andrew – Looking to the Dawson Range and the Deville Glacier.

The snow on the descent was consolidated powder, which sluffed down a center runnel, but made for confidence inspiring hop turns on the steep sides of the chute. Peaking with adrenaline, we ripped sunny powder turns another 1000′ down the valley to the Mousetrap, ready to climb again.

Check out this video of Andrew skiing at about one third of the way down (just past the top pinch).

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Old Glory

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Avalanche on 50s Ski Move Peak 

After a couple of low visibility days and snow-cat issues at Wildhorse, and the continuing problems with the lifts at Red,  yesterday both Jordy and I were stoked to be walking free on a sunny day in the Rossland Range. This recent slide on a South-East aspect of 50s Ski Movie Peak showed that caution is still required when things warm up, but after a cold night everything seemed pretty solid (10cm of wind slab broke off on some steep roll-overs).

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Jordy Hall dropping into the Nose Route on Old Glory.

With strong Northerly winds and mild temperatures the day before, trail breaking to the summit of Old Glory was easy in variable snow conditions. The double hour-glass route looked more scoured, so we skied the nose route  on the East Face .

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Jordy on the steep dog-leg of the Nose route. 

The rime build-up and the snow-ghosts made for a beautiful back-drop, but the firm and variable snow conditions demanded strong technique.

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Jordy on the South-East Glades off Hanna Peak. 

The traditional  descent route of the North chutes off Hanna Peak looked wind-blasted, so we tried out the more protected South-East glades off Hanna Peak. We found easy skiing firm powder and open glades for perhaps 800′ of vertical, then traversed hard left back into Hanna creek. The traverse through tightly spaced small trees on steep ground was a grovel, but the rolling gentle and continuous descent down the creek bed to the highway was an unexpected pleasure. I’m now off to Revelstoke and Rogers Pass for a week, and won’t be posting till I’m back.

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Obscure Moments in Ski-Bumming #1

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Campbell Spooner – Extreme GT-ing. 

It was November of 1992, and I was working on the run-down 6 bedroom house I’d just purchased for $27,000, washing dishes in the bath, trying to make it habitable for winter. Although there was plenty of snow the  ski-hill wasn’t open yet, so we were riding our GT Sno-racers around town, looking for thrills. I don’t recall why riding our GTs down the Powderfields seemed like a good idea (it’s possible our minds weren’t entirely clear), but a small group of us ended up post-holing up Long Squaw, GTs in tow. The hike to the top of Granite took a lot longer than anticipated, and as the photo above shows, it was dusk as we began our descent. In early season conditions down the center of Powderfields we had absolutely no control, occasionally managing a short section of strait-lining, before tumbling to rest in a snowy crater. Things got even more ridiculous in the dark, through the cliff bands, without headlamps. Soaked and exhausted but otherwise unharmed we stumbled home later that evening, completing perhaps the first and only such descent.

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