Monthly Archives: March 2010

Waiting for Weather.

Stewart – Redemption Ridge (Kicking Horse)

After a weekend of fun skiing and celebrating Elise’s birthday in Golden, I’m back in Rossland waiting for weather and avalanche conditions to improve. Our group is packed and ready to head off on our 9 day Gold Range ski traverse, but need a weather window and improving stability to get started. With back to back storms forecast for the forseeable future, we’re just waiting and hoping for a major change.

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Filed under Backcountry, Eclectica

Gathering Photo Contest

Selkirk Sunset

The Gathering is an attempt by Red Mountain Resort to associate Red’s brand with a bunch of connected and influential ski media types. I find these self congratulatory hype-fests can be a bit over the top for my taste, but I did enjoy a couple of the slide shows last year, and will check some out again this year if I’m not off ski touring.  I’ve entered the pic above in an associated  photo contest, and if I get enough on-line votes will be judged by some “names” at the event, in the running to win some swag. If you want to vote (it does require creating an account), check here.

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Filed under Eclectica, Red Mountain

Still finding Powder

Zac and Steve – Lightning Strike

The Spring skiing has been tons of fun at Red lately, but I’m always keen to sniff out any powder that can be found.  Today I joined up with Kiwis Zac and Steve for wander at Kootenay Pass. It wasn’t especially deep (there was 10cm a couple of days ago), and the late season sunshine had compromised most aspects, but we managed to find some soft lines. No signs of instability. Here’s a short video Steve shot of me skiing.

Steve dropping in.

Zac (on a board) seems to have a gift for throwing big fans.

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Spring Powder and Politics

Ridge Walking

It feels like Spring is upon us at lower elevations, but on higher north facing slopes there’s still soft smooth stay-on-top powder skiing to be had. I’m not going to bust out the mountain bike just yet.



I’ve been drafting an opinion piece on the recent avalanche incident in Revelstoke for a few days now, but through writing realized that I couldn’t join the easy chorus of condemnation of stereotyped redneck sledders.  We have  some significant cultural differences, and are often competing for access to limited back-country terrain, but I must acknowledge that sledders and skiers share a passion for recreating in the mountains, are both motivated by engaging with challenge and risk, and definitely don’t need to be over-regulated by ignorant bureaucrats. As seems to happen after every major avalanche incident, there were a few days of absurd over-reaction, including calls for avalanche victims to pay for their own rescue (the value to society of popularizing active outdoor activities far outweighs occasional rescue expenses), and to close the back-country to recreation during periods of posted high avalanche hazard (that the CAA could decide when I was allowed to ski would drive me to madness). Since then here have at least been a few prominent rebuttals, notably Justin Trudeau who said  “I think our right to go play outside in the wilderness is something that should not be the business of government” and that “there should be absolutely no limiting access to the back country for Canadians”.  While a bit simplistic (sledders access to the mountains should be limited in some places for very sensible reasons), I appreciate the sentiments.

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Kootenay Pass Update

Checking out the Views

With Springtime upon us in the valleys it seems many skiers have transitioned to biking, climbing and golfing, or perhaps the absurd snowmobiler avalanche drama near Revelstoke has  people spooked, but whatever the reason, despite powder and sunshine the back-country was empty this weekend. What a pleasure not having to work to find untracked mountains to play on.


It’s still pretty reactive on steep and open slopes (lots of naturals), so we kept to the trees, and enjoyed a great day of effortless powder skiing.


The gravel shed has seen better days.


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Winter’s Back

Jordy – Light fluff on Thursday at Kootenay Pass.

With 45cm of new snow in the past week, it’s back to skiing powder in the Kootenays.

I can’t get enough of this sort of terrain – Kootenay Pass.


It was storming all day yesterday, freshies from start to finish. No need to hike.


This morning the sun came out and I scored my favorite powder spines in perfect condition.

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Leisure Suit Gear Review

Discussing our pre-race strategy.
According to Wikipedia, the Leisure suit achieved it’s short lived fashion zenith in the mid 70s, but as a connoisseur of kitsch I always keep one in my wardrobe for special occasions. While my brown Levis Pantela suit  has seen plenty of action at parties, with its’ durable stretch polyester open weave fabric and comfortable loose cut, I figured I needed to explore it’s potential as a competitive skiing outfit.
There wasn’t much fluff to be found, but under warm sunny skies it was a fun and social  Coldsmoke  Powderfest at Whitewater this past weekend. Lured by the possibilty of some impressive prizes and a bit of curiosity I signed up for the King of Coldsmoke competition, in which the results from the Randonee Rally, the Backcountry Booter, and the Banked Slalom are tallied to crown a champion. Coming into the competition I knew I wasn’t going to dominate in any one event, but I figured I was pretty versatile, so could be in with a chance.
The bag-pipes playing while in the start gate were a nice touch.
It was my first Randonee Race, and I enjoyed the format, providing for  a good variety of challenging ski-touring adjacent to Whitewater resort. My brother and I paced the long course at the upper end of of our regular ski-touring pace, and came in at 2hrs and 35mins, about 25 minutes off the (lycra clad) podium. If I was to race again I’d try to source some lighter gear and  practice to get a lot faster at the transitions. I thought I had my skis-on skin removal technique dialed, but it all fell apart under the pressure of competition. The Leisure suit proved well suited to Randonee racing, providing excellent ventilation, allowing unrestricted movement, and ensuring extra cheers (and motivation) from the small crowd.
Given-er on the Bootpack.
The Backyard Booter was a combination bootpacking/free-skiiing/slopestyle event held on the Powderkeg cliffs. It was great that the patrol had previously closed the venue, so we got to ski in a remnant section of untracked powder. Coming just after the Randonee Race the bootpacking sprint to the top was a lung buster, and I struggled to place 4th. Attempting to ski to the judging criteria I skied a fast and fluid line with a moderate drop through the main cliff band, but the judges (and the crowd) were obviously more stoked with the big hucking flippers. With a light fleece mid layer added for warmth, the Leisure suit performed flawlessly.
On the Sunday morning I completed the Poker ski-tour at a relatively relaxed pace. I got nothing in my poker hand, but I skied the event alongside Jeff and Dustin who both won Scarpa ski boots and ArcTeryx backpacks for their three aces.
The final event was the banked slalom, held on a firm (for a powder junkie like me) fast and fun course. I was stoked to complete two clean runs, and placed in the middle of the field. I was most impresssed that Whitewater outside operations manager Kirk Jensen was able to lead by example, cleaning up for the second year running. In slightly colder conditions and for less active use, the leisure suit was a bit chilly.
In my leisure suit I was prepared for all situations.
Due to a misplaced results sheet the final placings weren’t able to be calculated at the end of the weekend (apparently we’ll be notified by e-mail), but the reigning champ, Scott  Jeffery of Nelson, was a clear standout, placing a very impressive third in each of the events. It turns out that my strongest event (with my long reach) was the swag catching on the deck, and I scored a sweet carbon probe, some nice ski socks, and a hat.
I was pleased with all my results, pretty much performing as well as I was able, and I’ll likely be back next year, with revised tactics, and the maybe even the Leisure suit.


Filed under Backcountry, Gear, Whitewater

Gold Range Traverse on Google maps

At Gid’s suggestion I’ve plotted the approximate route of our planned Gold Range traverse on Google maps.


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Crevasse Rescue Training

Jordy – Throwing the body into the crevasse.

After almost turning around within the first 100m due to the horrendous crust in the clearcut, we persisted,  and as planned practiced our crevasse rescue scenarios off the north face of Mt Elgood.  We don’t spend much time on glaciated terrain through the winter, so it’s a good idea to refresh before heading out on our annual spring ski traverse. This year we’re going to ski through the Gold Range from Mt Odin to Mt Macpherson. The ski descent off Elgood was much better than expected, the heavy powder ideal for skiing the steeps, and the crust  manageable.


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From the Vault

I put together a short photo presentation for the recent Rossland Backcountry Film Festival, showing a selection from the past 5 years. It got me thinking of the trove of older pictures I have from the previous 20 years or so of doing this sort of thing, which because they’re all slides or prints, never get looked at or shown. I’ve had a few scanned into digital format, but one of these days I’ll get around to converting all my favorites. This pic is of Cindy Carrol (now Hall) from the Goat Range traverse that six of us pioneered back in 1999. In the background you can see the imposing summit of Mt Cooper (which I’ve since skied) and the magnificent ski terrain around the headwaters of McKian creek (still waiting for a return).

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