Tuesday, February 26, 2008

SWEEEEET Prince George!

After a day full of "real" faceshots at Marmot Basin:

we went to an avalanche awareness day in Jasper where they were serving some amazingly good FREE food!!! It was a pretty cool evening with couple of different speakers that were trying to improve our knowledge or to inspire us doing more crazy things.

We drove to Prince George where we had our only third day without skiing since we started on January 5th. We clean our clothes, ourself, bought some food and got a snowchasers.blogspot.com sticker for the car! And talking to some local guys, we were able to gather some informations that lead us to Sugarbowl-Grizzly Den Provincial Park (http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/sugar.html).

This is a British Columbia provincial park located about 100km East of Prince George. The park has 3 cabins that are maintained with donations. There use to be a road that leads toward the interior that was plowed but they didn't this year. This changed the approach to the first cabin (8 Miles Cabin) from 2km to 13km. The elevation gain to this cabin is about 500m. The 8 Miles Cabin is a fairly nice place that lodge about 20 persons, but doesn't has much good skiing around it.

The real skiing is located around Grizzly Den cabin (a really cool A-frame that accommodates about 10 persons, has firewood and a propane stove) . This cabin is 3km from the 8 miles cabin and another 500m elevation. From there, there is some good terrain to have short laps on it (150-200m). Since the last week was really warm and sunny, we hoped that the North and North-East facing stuff would still be good. Well, it was not baked..... but it was windblown...

We had a couple of laps on pretty much hard-crust-windblown snow. This wasn't very good but we had a great view of the surrounding mountain and we were happy to discover new terrain in Northern BC.

The following day we checked a north facing clear cut near the 8 miles cabin. That was the best snow of the last few days, but it was pretty flat (only 15-20 deg) and not so interesting. We built a kicker and Babiche has been able to get the best out of it!

Here's a picture of him taking off!

And another one of the crazy frog landing!!

We packed our stuff and headed to the ski out. It wasn't as bad as the way in. But the 13km still sucked. The ski out keep on going up-and-down forever...

We would say that the terrain we found doesn't really deserve the hike in if you really want to get some good turns in. If you want to spend some time waiting for a storm to come, have a party with friends or have a few mellow laps well then it might worth the effort!

We are now heading toward Powder King, (2h30 North of Prince George) to check the backcountry before they open the resort that is only open Thursday to Sunday.

And we will leave you with a quote from Will Gadd (a famous athlete that was in Jasper):

"Nobody ever died wishing they had spent more time being a desk"!

Pray for snow!!!!

Friday, February 22, 2008

North, we want COLD and SNOW!

What can we do? Sunshine and above freezing temperature from Alaska down to California!!!!

Initially it wasn't that bad... Roger's Pass has plenty of amazing terrain which is fun to discover on a clear day. We went to Avalanche Crest again and we had to open the skin track! We did the worst job ever: making it really steep, having a guy falling in every switchback and then going the wrong way! In the end most of the run was good and going the wrong way up gave us some warm light on the way down.

On the next day we were looking for some North-East aspect for more - not that fresh anymore - powder! So we started in Loop Brook parking lot, skin up Lilly Col and ski down in Asulkan valley! The views were AMAZING, the sun was WARM and the sky was DEEP BLUE. So nice that we had a two hours break at the top... eating and posing! :-) Unfortunately the snow wasn't that deep and also crusty on some western aspects!

Since about mid-January we were waiting a big storm to ski at Kicking Horse. Of course we missed a bunch... being in Nelson, Kootenay Pass, Utah, Red or Roger's Pass. We wanted to drive up north pretty soon, so we decided to check it out anyway!

Kicking Horse is full of steep chutes and couloirs which is great! There is also plenty of slackcountry right outside the resort. A resort for strong and knowledgeable skier for sure! Unfortunately without a recent storm the terrain was a little bit intimidating and the snow in the backcountry not that great. So we stick to the moguls and the few groomers... skiing switch, training at beacon searching and having fun.

Kicking horse is also one of these resorts where you need to use about 3 different lifts to access some runs. So if one of your favourite run is one of those... you end up spending a lot of time on the chairlift! Some more chairlifts wouldn't hurt !!

I also trained to ski with only one ski after my binding ripped off again. I am now quite good at it, but there is something wrong with that ski and it is going back to the factory (thanks to Karhu customer service)!

With the warm weather we guessed that our best bet is to go up north... More driving, but the road between Banff and Jasper is one of the most beautiful in the world specially under full moon!

We woke up in Jasper... and we will be skiing around before heading to Prince George, Mackenzie, Smithers and Terrace! We would greatly appreciate any advices about the backcountry skiing here as we don't have any clues!

We have to leave... free food at the Astoria Hotel sponsored by the Canadian Avalanche Center! :-)


Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Original Five back together!

Two years ago, after being done with school, five of us left Quebec for a winter of skiing in British Columbia. Some of us now have real job and some of us are back to school... but still, we were able to meet for a week of skiing! So here are the Original Five back together: Babiche, JS, Amélie, Nick and Evans (from left to right)!

JS, Nick and Amélie drove from Vancouver (after flying from Quebec) overnight to meet us at Kootenay Pass. They woke us up at 7am with a big WAZZUUUPPP, their traditional enthusiasm and a pack of beer... perfect to start our day of heavy work: carrying 4 days of food and booze to Ripple ridge cabin! Of course we got a few laps of good skiing on the first day after the short climb to the cabin (200m, about 45min)...

The one great thing with having friends is that we somewhat deviate from our traditional meal (bread and peanut butter for breakfast, granola bars for lunch and spaghetti for diner) and got some GOOD food... JS is particularly creative and brought some homemade chili, eggs and bacon, nanaimo bars and more!!!! I did my part cooking (Don't forget kids: Always wear your kneepads while cooking!) some french toasts with REAL maple syrup (thanks Dad!)... the sugar rush was hard to overcome but it was totally worth it! :-)

More good skiing on that second day... good snow and good lines even under "aille, aille, aille" (high, high, high) avalanche conditions!

Coming back to the hut we were surprised with a group of 13 persons... I guess that is what you can expect when the cabin use the "first come first serve basis" reservations system! Three of them left cause we were too much, but we were still about 15 in the cabin... being fully winterized (it wasn't that cold) we cooked and chilled out on the porch before going to bed in the cabin that usually fit about 6-8 persons.

Next morning we had "McMuffins" for breakfast... sorry, we had to publish that picture! :-) Wait until you see it on the side of a highway !!!

A short day of skiing, we checked the weather forecast in Nelson and left for Roger's Pass: a must see for our friends! Roger was happy to welcome us back as you can see on the following picture...

And not only with smiley face but also with great snow, pillows, trees and steep lines!

We skied Grizzly Shoulder, Puff Daddy, Teddy Bear trees and some other lines... if you need more info on these the best way is just to show up in Roger's Pass with your gear; the Information Centre has helpful staff, guidebooks and aerial pictures!

Interestingly, during our stay at Roger's Pass we meet the Snow Puncher's: the army crew that bomb the pass to keep it safes from avalanches. We shared a few beers, they show us their equipment and a few video of their training!

Today, we drove down to Revelstoke to have a last beer and burgers with the boys (Nic and JS) that have to drive back to their day-to-day live and leave us to our powder-after-powder live.

Good luck on monday morning guys!!!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Trying to escape the snow...

... But the snow is chasing us!

We had a last day in Utah before leaving to British Columbia to meet friends and continue our journey. The backcountry was awesome but it seems that the big storm cycle is over...

After spending 4-5 hours in Salt Lake City trying to fix one of my ski (thanks to the guys at Black Diamond for the awesome customer service!) we finally left for the 14 hours drive. Leaving Utah was hard since we had such a blast, but we were reinsure by the storms we hit on our way... Driving all night, arriving at the border around 6am, sleeping for 2 hours waiting for the duty free opening, buying 60 oz of Jim Beam, crossing the border and then getting ready to ski Red Mountain.

About Red, only one word:
Once we got there, we had the warmest welcome from a resort. The were really happy and glad that we put Red on our journey. Well, after skiing that mountain with 20cm overnight it was really OUR pleasure!! They have everything but one thing: crowd!! Steep, trees, cliff of every size a real skier's dream. The mountain really deserves its title of having the best tree skiing around.... and the tight trees preserve the powder for the dryer days. A small and friendly resort that is really at it best on a powder day.

There's not much groomed runs so the groomed-lovers won't be overwhelmed by this resort. We enjoyed the slow chairlift on the first day since we were pretty tired from the drive, but after a good night of rest, we wished it was faster! And for those who cares; Trail's laundromat sucks!!!

We wish we took more (and better) pictures but being busy skiing powder, staying awake and the flat light kept the camera in the bag...