May 31, 2010

Skiing Skyladder, Mt. Andromeda

An aerial view of Mt. Andromeda shot by Jon Waslsh. Skyladder is the rightmost line. Jon Walsh photo.
Had a great day on Skyladder yesterday with big man Eammon Walsh. If your first reaction is -hey waitta minute, I thought Eammon didn't stoop to climbing piddly alpine objectives with the intention of sliding down them , - you would not be alone. But Spring can do strange things to a man's mind and after day tripping Mt Columbia last week, it seems that Rockies Skiing just might have a new Sherriff.

After a rainy and auspicious start to the day, the skies cleared around Saskatchewan River Crossing. While the Bow Valley was festering in snow and rain, we were tanning ourselves on the Icefields Parkway.

Eammon approaching the route.

The MOG does not fear holes in the snow.

Climbing the lower half of the route.

Hey Eammon, could you strike a pose?

A rare shot of me breaking trail. Eammon Walsh Photo.

The serious summit pose.

Heading down.

Still heading down.

Eammon looking back at his handiwork.

The Brewster Monster Truck Show.

Eammon was so hungry that he tried to eat one of the Monster Trucks.

May 16, 2010

Ski Mountaineering at Icefall Lodge

At the beginning of May, I spent a week working the Advanced Ski Mountaineering Course at Icefall Lodge. Snug conditions early in the week quickly turned heads-up after a passing storm dropped 70 cms in the alpine. Of course, this also made for some fine turns.

The convoy approaches the heli pickup after 2 hours on a logging road just west of Golden, BC.

I spent the next week extricating rocks and dirt from my teeth after this pick-up.

Day 1. Ryan Stuart on a writing assignment for Backcountry Magazine.

Day 2. Crevasse rescue.

Day 8. Still trying to get out of the damn crevasse.

Trying to figure out where we are and where we be might going. Personally, I prefer Tarot cards and a Glass Ball.

Heading out to La Clytte after the big dump. Snow amounts increased dramatically with elevation.

Showing off some skin.

Heading up to Crampon Col and the new Lyell Hut. If we'd had a Glass Ball, perhaps we would have chosen another route...

Breaking trail below Crampon Col.

Ryan S topping out.

Traversing over to the top of the Col.

And Boom! Check out what happens when you combine a steep NE aspect, 50 cms of storm snow, a buried crust and an ambitious (one word for it) ski cut. I was not surprised that the slope slid, but I was surprised at the size. Before cutting it, I did a few stability tests that yielded moderate to hard results. I had a well positioned spotter with a radio and gave the group detailed instructions on how to ski the slope after me. I remained on the surface throughout the slide and fought hard to stay that way. You can see my ski tracks about two-thirds of the way down on the lookers left (where I came to a stop.) Below this was a large crevasse that swallowed much of the debris. This shot was taken by another party a few days later. Chris Argue Photo.

The crevasse that swallowed some of the debris. Chris Argue Photo.

Our group decided to bail on the Lyell Hut after the slide and focus on objectives closer to home. Ryan S approaching the summit of Mt. Kimmel the following day.

Elora and Carla getting juiced on the summit of Mt. Kimmel.

Carla on the lower slopes of Mt. Kimmel.

Chillen at the hut after some good Spring turns.

Approaching the Groove Tube on La Clytte.

La Clytte and The Groove Tube.

Making the tranny from skins to the boot pack.

Getting high in the Groove Tube.

Top of the GT with the mighty Icefall Peak in the background.

RC Cola shreddin on his way to the Shark's Gate.

Ryan S tele-doggin down from the Shark's Gate.

Back at the lodge after a fine Spring day.

The ski and hike out from the Lodge. Many days of Alaskan bush whacking prepared me well for this challenge.

I can't tell if RC Cola was stoked or bummed that the hike out was almost over.

May 13, 2010

Mt. Stanley North Face

Nik R and Josh B below Nemesis on the way out.

Had another fun adventure in the Rockies today with Josh B and Nik R. Left Camore at 2:30 am and cruised over to the North Face of Mt. Stanley. This was a face I have wanted to ski for many years. A few Winters back, I missed my chance when I bailed on Chief Ali in favor of staying out late to see some crap band at the Canmore Hotel. He had perfect conditions that day. When I went to try it 24 hours later, conditions had changed and I got skunked. Lesson learned.

Luckily, things were different this time round. Perfect travel conditions put us on the summit at just past 9 am. Temps were warm but not disconcerting. We lingered on top for a few minutes and took in the views. The 360 degree panorama reminded me that I am a lucky bastard to live in this place. I called my brother to wish him a happy birthday and Briggs suggested that I also call our friend Aaron (local Parks Rescue Warden) to have him put some body bags on standby.

Looking back at the Stanley Headwall in the foreground. The North Face route is the highest snow face up and left of the rocks. If you look close, you can probably see our tracks.

Cruising along the Stanley Glacier.

Booting up the face.

Nik's photoshop wizardry. Nik Rapaiche photo.

Just below the top.

Hey get that thing outta my face! Calling my brother Tony to wish him a happy 31st. Happy birthday Bro! It was past 11 am where he lives and he was still in bed with a massive hangover. He sounded terrible.

The Dirty Man.

The Dirty Man goes down.

Nik's perspective. Nik Rapaiche photo.

The turns were decent.

Back on the Stanley Glacier, Nik demonstrates an advanced maneuver.

More decent turns on the lower glacier.

Man, enough with all this pow already.

All good things must come to an end.

Nik put this together from the video on his Ipod Mini. Hysterics.