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.

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