Monthly Archives: December 2013

Back on the Horse

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Perfect Glades (pic by Elise)

When I finished up last winter Wildhorse  had plans to relocate, and I figured my cat-skiing days were done.  But through a complicated turn of events we’re back in Ymir, and I’m stoked to be guiding a couple of days a week.  I just had our first couple of groups for the season, and whatever trepidation I had about conditions was unwarranted. We skied a selection of the classic lines in boot deep easy skiing powder that exceeded everyone’s expectations, including my own.

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Snow?

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Elise – Kootenay Pass

With not a single significant snowfall since December 3rd, it’s been a lean month for powder hounds in my neck of the woods. Fortunately there’s been just enough coverage to keep the most dedicated of skiers amused, but I’m ready for winter to start. Anytime.

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Untracked Glade on Red.

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Fire in the sky over Rossland

 

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Opening Day on Grey.

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First Ride on the New Chair.

Red’s new Grey Mountain chairlift opened today with a minimum of fanfare. It wasn’t busy, but like many others we were pretty curious and spent the morning exploring the new ski lines. Between the low early season snow-pack, the mountains of logs and slash leftover from a sloppy logging operation, and the fields of barely covered boulders, the skiing is marginal if not scary in places. However the snow on the south aspect was soft, boot-deep, and consistent, and if you found yourself a relatively clean line it made for playful powder skiing. We dropped off the wind affected backside and followed the new ski-out trail (“Unknown Legend” is a pretentious mouthful) all the way back around to the lift, which like everything else it’s a bit of an obstacle course, but provides a preview of the incredible amount of skiing that could be opened up if the “crack-trees” are ever spaced and cleared. Regardless, with just a bit more more snow there’s a ton of new terrain there for us to enjoy.

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Looking Back to Granite.

 

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Elise – stoked to have survived that rock garden.

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Kootenay Pass – Trip Report.

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Jordy – Cornice Ridge.

First tour at Kootenay Pass for the winter. Did a slight variation of on the usual Cornice – Buzz’s – Wolf Ridge circuit on a cool, clear, and relatively calm day. Found better than expected snow coverage,  easy traveling, stable snow, no tracks, and smooth shallow turns just about everywhere.

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Looking South from Buzz’s.

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Looking back on Wolf Ridge.

 

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Late in the day.

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Opening Day 2013

I love opening day. Regardless of the conditions or the amount of pre-season touring I’ve done, the first opportunity to charge down all my favorite runs always gets me stoked. Coverage is still a bit thin, but full credit to Red Mountain, while only a limited amount of terrain was designated open, the rest was clearly designated as backcountry conditions, ski at your own risk. The snow had degenerated from previous weeks, heavy and wrenching in places, and topped by a variable crust in others, but still fun if challenging skiing and we checked out the usual lines. The steeper and tighter areas are varying degrees of ridiculous, while the moderate open areas have surprisingly consistent coverage, and would make for pretty good skiing if Red had a functioning summer grooming program. With no significant snow in the forecast, it’s going to be a slow start to the season, but at least we’re skiing.

First Chair 2013.

First Chair 2013.

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Changes

I’ve been getting DPS skis onto the feet of quite a few local skiers over the past few years. It’s been allot of fun, operating a low-key retail outlet from my house, and selling skis that I use and can honestly endorse. But the brand is growing, and to expand sales beyond the limited circle of people I’m connected to would  require a conventional storefront, which I’m happy to leave to one of the established players.

Instead I’m now focusing my restless energies on establishing a backcountry ski cabin. I have a particular vision that I’ve long dreamed of creating, and for the past few years I’ve been systematically exploring the region for a suitable location. Finding high quality ski terrain isn’t too difficult in the Kootenays, but finding an area that doesn’t conflict with the multitude of existing commercial, cultural, and environmental interests and issues was much more challenging.

After ruling out many possibilities, I eventually settled on  what I hope will be an available area in the Southern Valhallas, and recently submitted a formal application for  a commercial recreation tenure. Now the government is conducting a comprehensive review and referral process, and within a few months I’ll find out if my dream can progress to more practical matters.

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100m from the proposed cabin.

 

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Cold and Dry.

Jordy - Slides.

Jordy – Slides.

Waking up to unseasonable -15 degree temperatures these past few mornings, but still managed to get out each day for short tour on the ski hill. I’ve been skiing conservatively and sticking to the most open lines, but considering the limited snow-pack am pleasantly surprised to have avoided any impacts! The lifts were turning today, the t-bar slope has been track packed, and ski patrol out and about, so I presume there’ll be some sort of opening on the 15th. More snow would certainly help.

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