March 25, 2015

Skiing the Boom Lake Kindergarten Couloir

Gery U getting intimate with the cornice lips.

Every now and again, it is comforting 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 even Cassie the dog 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 times 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!