It’s been fun hammering the ski hill, and enjoying a couple of high quality powder days, but it sure felt good to slow down and go for a walk in the local back-country. This is the first significant weather event of the winter that has ended cold, and without leaving us a weird crust to negotiate. The sun was shining but the snow remains unaffected on all but the steepest south aspects. We skied moderate lines, but stability wasn’t wasn’t an issue, and seems to be getting better.
Monthly Archives: January 2015
Our intention is get out of Rossland on a ski touring adventure every week. However until recently snow and stability haven’t been conducive to heading into the bigger mountains. Finally its all come together and yesterday we sledded into Milton Creek to check out conditions. There’s plenty of snow, between 125 and 200 cm in our probing, and clearly more than we were seeing this time last year. The temperature crust was present at all elevations, but had broken down somewhat with the recent colder temps, and with a thick layer of hoar frost on top it skied like boot deep consolidated powder. Stability must have been atrocious during the last warming cycle, as we observed widespread substantial releases on moderate terrain. Fortunately everything seemed pretty stable, and we skied a couple of big open lines.
Despite being busy with a bunch of projects, I was determined to test out my new ski/binding set-up before a big day in the mountains tomorrow. With only a short window to ski, I did 10 quick laps on Red Mountain (the actual mountain), on a very slow day. There were a few racers training on back trail, but otherwise I had the place to myself. The views over the Kootenay Sea from the top were as magnificent as ever.
Colder temperatures and cloud frosting at lower elevations have been improving the snow day by day. In many places the crust has broken down to a soft and skiable consistency. There’s no getting around the jungle sections, but I was still finding totally fresh fields of powder-like snow in Poochies trees. The new fully-rockered skis I’m trying ate that shit up.
Thinking we’d find some decent snow above 1800m, we went for a tour at Kootenay Pass on Friday. The crust made for fast and easy travelling on a long approach, but other than the first few turns off the (2100m) ridge, it was pretty firm everywhere.
The sun was shining, and we got to view lots of recent avalanche activity from a distance.
Between the surprisingly decent crust skiing, candling, open ditch jumping on the ski-out, and tail-gate beer swilling, we had a fun day in pretty marginal conditions.
Shoveling 30cm of new snow off my truck as bombs echoed over the caldera and plow trucks plied the streets, all seemed right in the world. The lifts opened on time, the ropes finally dropped on Granite, and everyone who could swing it (on this first day back to school and work) got their first real powder day of the season at Red.
The top half of the mountain and any of the recently brushed areas were absolutely dreamy, but between the forest regrowth, the random holes, and the windfall, much of the lower mountain remains a challenging obstacle course. Chris from Doglotion recently summed it up as well as anyone:
“Everyone in the Kootenays who have concerns about deforestation will find satisfaction in the amount of alder Red and Whitewater are cultivating. Local herbologists know its benefits like lyphatic drainage, blood purification, and fighting diseases such as Tuberculosis. Come get your exposure to this local and organic substance as it slaps you in the face and scratches your goggles while you pick your way down the mountain. It’s also fun to watch people get their brand new gore-tex outfits shredded by it. It’s like skiing down a hill while ripping up $20 bills as fast as you can”.