April 08, 2015

Robson Gmoser and The Gutenteit Couloir

The late, great Robson Gmoser skiing a run called Fearless in the Bugaboos circa 2012. We had just finished bombing the entrance slopes and decided that our work would not be complete without a sampling. Robson made a short video clip that day of our heli-bombing escapade and used a Butthole Surfers tune for the soundtrack. Like many things with Robson, it was serious shits and giggles. Like the time he brought me a thermos full of Bailey's at work, or flying around with various objects on high, open glaciers, or watching him recite The Wreck of the Julie Plante to a crowd of drunken professionals - there was no shortage to the hi-jinks. During the seasons that I got to work with Robson, I can't remember how many times I watched him diffuse stressful situations with a goofy joke and a laugh. You left the world too soon brother! But you left it a better place. The Bugaboos will not be the same without you.

Not long after Robson's passing, a few of us found ourselves driving down the Icefields Parkway, looking for something to ski. The news and circumstances of Robson's death was front and center in all our minds. Afterall, if something like that could happen to Robson, it could just as well happen to us. We drove north of Bow Lake to have a look at the Peyto's Pipe line on Caldron Peak, but decided to back track to something that caught our attention on one of the great ski peaks of the Canadian Rockies - Bow Peak. 

Up into the white, searching for the access to the Gut (pronounced: goot) and Tight! Gery U photo.

Even if this couloir didn't continue higher up, it would still be a great piece of terrain on it's own with some of the finest quartzite walls imaginable. The entrance is just north of the classic Grand Daddy Couloir and the God Father feature, but a ways south of the F.O.D.

Bender coming out of the initial couloir and seeing that the line continues. Gery U Photo.

"A Gut Tight Fit. Afterall, that's what it's all about!" Herr Gutenteit. Gery U Photo.

As usual, nothing but laughs for Buba - even when he is getting clobbered by spindrift.

Isn't it just great how the exposure disappears when you're in the clouds. 

This picture doesn't do it justice, but the wallowing in this feature was some of the best I've seen. Gery U Photo.

The trenching shall continue until morale improves.

Atleast good wallowing often means good skiing!

A wintry feel to the day.

Turning in the middle section.

Gery about to enter the Gutentight.

Bender skiing the fan that is the trademark of all lines on Bow Peak. It's hard to say if someone has been up this feature before, but for us, the line will always be The Gutentight Couloir after our friend Robson.

January 2012 in Chalice Meadows with some of the Bugaboo crew (right  to left): Kobi, Helen, Lilla , Ella, Robson, Andrew. 

March 25, 2015

Skiing the Boom Lake Kindergarten Couloir

Gery U getting intimate with the cornice lips.

Every now and again, it's nice to go skiing in the Rockies without too much mortal concern. It is always possible to go on a nice tour, but the snow conditions this year have not been conducive to low angle touring. So, after two weeks of work and a healthy amount of fear for the lines we really wanted to ski, Gery, Ben and I decided on the mellow line above Boom Lake. 

When we first saw the line, the snow conditions looked even worse than we imagined. Avalanche debris was everywhere and the ski quality looked atrocious even by this years standards. I felt bad because I picked the objective and I tried to justify the decision with the go-to line that makes crappy skiing okay, "Well, we didn't come here for the snow. We get enough good snow at work!" But as we entered the line, we discovered that the debris was soft and there was lots more smooth snow then expected. Wow, one can only imagine how good this thing would be after a fresh dump! The line felt quite mellow compared with other Rockies outings and Cassie the dog even made it up to the last pitch. 

Of course, it couldn't be all mellow and Gery insisted on climbing the vertical snow around the cornice to reach the col. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't duplicate the Austrian's heroics and I had to haul on a piece of cordalette to make the top. The Kindergarten Couloir with the grade 9 finish.

First glimpse of the face. The couloir is just out of sight to the looker's left.

Nothing but good time for Gery.

Gery U Photo.

It was only mildly humiliating to have a 4 year old girl dog break trail for me.

Ben and Gery trying to go right around the cornice.

Cassie kept asking me if I wanted her to break more trail for me.

Climbing the extremely vertical snow on the left side of the cornice lips.

Bender said that this bit was tougher than anything on The Game. Gery U Photo.

If we didn't have Cassie's cordalette leash, I wouldn't have made it up this section. Gery U Photo.

Looking over at the North Face of Mt Whymper and the X Couloir.


Cassie's leash was also handy on the way down. It stayed fixed so feel free to haul on it next time you're there! Gery U Photo.

Surprisingly good skiing.

Gery U Photo.

Cassie's form was highly superior to ours. Gery U Photo.

Gery U Photo.

Gery and Bender drinking pop in the early afternoon. Nothing like spring skiing!

March 03, 2015

Skiing the X Couloir on Mt. Whymper

Starting the 2nd pitch of skiing over the cliff. Gery U Photo.

Last week, Gery U, Josh L and myself found ourselves in the Bow Valley during a rare mid-winter spell of good stability. Gery sent me a photo of the X-Couloir on Mt Whymper (that he took from Mt. Bell last season) and we decided to give it a go. A few years earlier, Steve H and I skied the obvious face in the middle of the picture on Mt Whymper (below) and passed under the entrance to the X-Couloir. I remembered that the line looked pretty mellow to begin with so I didn't think the day would be too taxing. Of course, going out with Gery and Josh, I should have known better. 

The line is easily accessed via the Chicadee Valley and is a pretty quick hit. We met at operation headquarters - aka The Bagel Co - at 7 am where Gery graciously offered to drive us in his hot new Audi that he swears belongs to his wife. Before we knew it, we were teleported to the trail head and scratching our way up valley. Ski crampons would have been nice for the approach but, since none of us actually own the appropriate crampons for the skis we were using, we didn't have the option.

At times like this, I wish I could take a mini, paid sabbatical, and ski as many lines as possible that are on the Rockies dream list. But looking at the forecast, it seems there won't be any fresh snow for the next few months so we should be able to pick up where we left off on the next time off. 

Gery's photo from Mt. Bell last season. The X-Couloir is the obvious X in the center right of the photo. Gery U Photo.

The real Powder Highway. Highway 93 South in soft, early morning light. 

And the magic green brick. You'd better have a really good excuse not to go ski something in the Rockies with this forecast. And no, the nordic center doesn't count.

Going up the initial part of the couloir. I was dogging it and really appreciated having two trail breaking oxen to take the bulk of the work. Gery U Photo.

Gery figuring out the route so that we didn't have to.

These were like Barney cornices - very friendly but still a little freaky.

Creeping along under the Barney cornice. Gery U Photo.

Gery U stoked out of his effin mind!

Going in to the initial slope. About 30 seconds after this photo was taken, Gery's sluff put out a sizable cloud that obscured the route and woke me out of my slumber.

Turning above the choke and the 30 meter cliff. We were psyched to be able to keep our skis on our feet for the entire descent. Gery U Photo.

Enjoying the less committing run out.

Heading home.


Josh L put together a cool, short video from the day. Thanks Josh!

February 19, 2015

Return to Rogers Pass And All That Rockies Crushing!

Guy A and his pompom skiing the only fresh snow in all of Rogers Pass.

Ever since moving to the Rockies, it's been harder and harder to make the trip west to Rogers Pass. Afterall, Highway 93 South is as good as anyhting and it's less than an hour from Canmore. But, and it's a big butt, the Rockies snowpack is so fickle that you usually have to wait until spring to get any reliable turns. So, with a few days of ski guiding lined up from the Asulkan Cabin, Guy A and I decided to get in some Selkirks shnoodling before work.

In truth, it was tough leaving the Rockies at a time when hazard level at all elevations was rated LOW and Biglines was was spraying mad rhetoric about all the crushing /crushfesting taking place. Props to all the guys who got out and skiied the cool lines, but does everything in print have to be a wild, big guns blazing, crushing crushfest? I mean, isn't it just regualar, everyday, normal sticks on snow skiing? And if everything is a crushfest, what do we call it when something like Robson N. Face gets skiied? The ultimate crushing crushfest crushorama in the history of crushing crushfest crushoramas? I guess what it really boils down to is the language-game. 

The super-secret stash.

Checking out the Cedars!

Another super-secret stash.

Good conditions before the warming.

The boys touring in some heavy duty gear.

Everyday conditions at Rogers Pass.

You can check out a cool account of skiing the Monarch here.