December 30, 2008
Natalie Renner at Roger's Pass
Enjoying a mellow rest day in Golden, BC after a few epic cold-smoke sessions at Roger's Pass. Holeee hell... It was deep! I forgot what it was like to ski bottomless powder with face shots on every turn.
On Dec 28th, a huge group of us met at the Visitor Center with 35 cm's of white gold lying on the ground. In a frantic dash, we headed towards the Teddy Bear Trees. As often happens in large, unwieldy groups, no one really knew what was going on and before too long, we were struggling to put in a thigh to neck deep up-track. Feck this I thought! Today is for skiing, not for breaking trail. So in a rash moment of spastic rebellion, I admitted defeat and declared, "I'm going over to Grizzly Shoulder! Who's coming with?" Natalie Renner joined me and in a terribly anti-social move (apologies to all), we skinned over to the Grrizzly Shoulder Super Highway.
Once out of the initial kafuffle, Nat and I questioned the ethics of leaving our friends. One hour later, as we were choking on steep, untracked face shots, we completely forgot about our friends. In hindsight, I would say that this mental flexibility supports the age old adage that, "There are no friends on a powder day!"
Double the power!
Mr. Chris Brazeau ready to go after 10 shots of espresso
Brazeau debunking the myth that men can't multi-task
Notice the rabid foam around the mouth
Somewhere inside this cloud is Natalie Renner
December 26, 2008
Hanukkah Harry and Santa Claus joined forces yesterday for an awesome gift! Ian, Kristina, Selena and I rallied to Roger's Pass for what we thought would be mediocre skiing at best. But what we found was one of the best runs of the year!
When the alarm went off in Canmore at 5:30 am, I was within a nanometer of going back to sleep. But for some reason that I can't really explain, I decided to stick with the plan and drive the two hours to Golden. With caffeine racing through my veins and The Descendents blasting through the speakers, I arrived at Kristina's place in G-town thoroughly amped. After more coffee, we transferred all our gear in to Kristina's van and rallied to the Bostock parking lot.
Hey Buddy, pass the Grand Marnier!
HA! Take that!
A color version of the Rorschach Test
Ian taking a rest day from the serious business of climbing
A rare sighting of Welsted on sticks
December 24, 2008
"You wanna hear a joke?" Ian asked me as I was tying in today.
"Sure, " I replied
"You wanna know why my last name is Welsted?"
"Cause it's not polite to tell people you're well hung."
Pat D. "You want a piece of this?"
The walk out
December 22, 2008
In many ways, this trip started in 2003 when I took my first guiding exams and decided that I wanted to become an IFMGA Guide. Between October 2008 and April 2009, I will be taking a series of six ski and avalanche courses that carry a hefty price tag and will consume many months of training. But I am looking forward to the learning and the challenge and the tons of vertical that comes with a long winter!
Josh Lavigne kindly suggesting a better place for my camera
So back to Novemver 28th when myself and twenty-three other candidates met up for one week of mechanized cat-ski training. The early season conditions weren't the greatest, but the course wasn't about face-shots and big lines. Speaking for myself, it was about meeting a core group of like-minded people, and learning from a talented and experienced group of examiners.
Of course, the venue was a plush back country lodge so it didn't matter if there was snow or not. The food was excellent, the bar was stocked and the company wasn't bad for a bunch of guide types :) Props goes out to the lone snowboarder in the course who showed us all how to get it done in the crusty conditions! And of course, an honorable mention to the three intrepid free-heelers!
Early morning snow obs
You want us to go down that?
I thought this was mechanized skiing! No body said anything about walking!
Jasmin tolerated me as I took her photo over and over and over
"Do I know where we are...? Hell, I don't even know which one of us is me!"
The course ended on Dec 4th and I had to start the Avy Course in Whislter on the 6th. That left the 5th for something fun! Erica Roles and Dave Healey were on the same page so we met up at the Rogers Pass Visitor Center and rallied two laps on Video Peak. Conditions were epic and it more than made up for the previous week's powder drought!
I said goodbye to my two friend's after skiing that evening and started the eight hour drive toward Whistler. After driving through a storm well in to the night, I pulled over on the Coquihalla and passed out in the back of the truck.
Sleeping in the back of my truck is something I've done a lot of over the past nine years. What can I say? I guess I enjoy the ability to do it as much as the doing. I like knowing that I can get a good night's sleep no matter where I am. And scary as it might be, I sleep better in that small, dark and quiet space than almost anywhere else. Once a dirtbag, always a little bit of a dirtbag.
The next day, on my way to Whistler, I stopped off in Squamish BC for a little interlingua with none other than my good friend and lyrical master, Paul Mcsorely. We grubbed on some simple mexican food and nursed a few cervezas, and stared out on the cold and grey water of Howe Sound. It was good to be back on the Coast after so many months in the dry Rockies!
A couple of hours later, I got in the truck and finished the drive to Whistler. The avy course was set to start that afternoon and would continue for the next three and a half days. It was a great course for me because it worked on many of the skills that I am less practiced at. So even if there wasn't a ton of snow, I felt that I learned a lot and improved my skill-set. Plus, because my buddy's house in Whistler was also home to a frikken cat (of which I am horribly allergic), I got to spend another four nights in the back of the truck.
When the course ended, I drove north up the Duffy Lake Road, through another storm, and spent the night just west of Revelstoke under gently falling snow and the faint glow of a street lamp. At this point, anyone familiar with the Trans Canada should have a good idea of what happened the next day... Skiing at Roger's Pass of course! It was December 10th, almost two weeks since I'd left home, and it was blower!!! I bumped in to some friendly Revelstoke locals and we pumped a couple of laps up and down Grizzly Shoulder. That evening, I finished the three hour drive back to Canmore and was happy to sleep in a bed.
Roger's Pass on any given day
Skiing at Roger's Pass (Ryan Creary Photo http://www.ryancreary.com/)
December 20, 2008
But speaking honestly for a moment, there is something worse than all the physical repercussions of the deep freeze. That, of course, is the mental burden oft associated with having the time to sit and reflect on life. For some, this might not be such a bad thing. Perhaps it is even enjoyable. But for me, as I sit cocooned in my house, glued to Facebook for twenty-six hours a day, and watch the world outside sink deeper in to the next ice-age, I cannot help but think back to where I was last year at this time.
Just over 1 year ago on Ama Dablam, Nepal
On the walk to Namche Bazaar, Nepal
In six weeks, I never saw Paul untie his own rope
We even did some climbing