March 28, 2010

Second Coming of Winter

So much for the end of Winter. One day after climbing shirts off at Bataan, I started a 24 day stint of ice and ski work. So far, this work has been characterized by a lot of buried surface hoar, the occasional face-shot, a brutal head cold, disconcertingly warm temps at Haffner, a great group of students on a Yamuska 6 day Ski Mountaineering Course, and my building desire to put the sticks away and head south. It's been a long Winter with a ton of good work and learning, but I reckon a little warm sun and rock stone would do a brother pretty good right now.

Anyway, hope you enjoy these photos from the Wapta.

Whiteoutish navigation on the Wapta.

Almost looks like Baffin except that the walls are about 4000 feet shorter.

Cruising around on the Crowfoot Glacier.

Lesson #1 in ski mountaineering: The sun will always come out after the decision has been made to turn around.

It might be flat but at least it's often whited-out.

Half the group poses after the last climb of the trip up Little Crowfoot.

March 17, 2010

Memo: The End of Winter

In case you missed the memo, it was 15 degrees at Bataan yesterday. This of course means that everyone in the Bow Valley can stop worrying about conditions on the Wapta and put the sticks away. After all, you can't get avalanched when you're pulling on overhanging limestone.

March 14, 2010

Heli Skiing in the Selkirks and Purcells

The beginning of the storm.

Yesterday was the first day since February 17th that I didn't put on ski boots. And to be honest, it was a bit of a bummer since we just had the biggest dump of the year. Oh well, my timing has never been the best.

Just got back to Canmore after three weeks heli-skiing in the Purcells and Selkirks. Conditions were not the greatest but it was still awesome to be skiing and flying around in the hills. As the saying goes: there is no bad skiing, only bad skiers! In spite of the conditions, I probably skied more vertical since mid February than I have in the past few years combined. But I guess that's not saying much when you go from puttering around in the woods on tele sticks to lapping 1400 meter runs in a 212.

Unlike the weather and snow which can be unpredictable and sparse, conditions at the lodge were perfect for consuming massive amounts of alcohol and calories. Modesty aside, I did pretty well on the eating front and received much praise in this regard. I'd like to thank the chef and the baker for their hard work. Without you, I would not be the overweight sloth that I am.

Morning view from the lodge.

Lindsay A. below Lobster Claw.

The Selkirks.

Carl T contemplating snow (or a lack thereof) in the Selkirks.

Last run of the day.

Matt D staring rotor wash in the face. It wasn't long ago that we shared a room together during the ACMG Assistant Ski Exam. Here is a man who has seen me at my worst.

Another day in the Selkirks.

Celebrating the birth of another surface hoar layer during the evening guide's meeting.


Heading out in the am on a mini bombing run. During my first sortie, I made the mistake of saying "Oh fuck" in to the headset after screwing up something relatively minor in the back of the helicopter. The pilot was not terribly impressed. Needless to say, these are not words that anybody wants to hear from the bombadier.

There's nothing quite like flying around with 25 pounds of explosives crammed between your legs.

Skiing Silver Bullet in the Selkirks. Note the skis. I took endless crap for using the Pontoons which were often referred to as clown skis or training wheels. Bruce Howatt photo.

Carl T on snow safety during the big storm. I left the day after this photo was taken. Bruce Howatt Photo.

A cool piece of flying.