Wednesday, March 25, 2009

4 ski days in 6 days, 4751km, 9 states and 2 provinces

When we woked up at Heavenly, it was slightly raining, we figured it would be a good idea to head to Sugarbowl. Since this resort is located quite high, we thought it might be snowing.

It was winter time and we were`t able to see much! In some places, there was a bit more than 6 to 8in of wet Sierra cement deposited on top of some melt-freeze conditions. In some other places, it was just some melt-freeze conditions.

Since that new snow pushed the avy hazard, most of the really good terrain was closed. I really wished I can go back some time since the terrain I saw looked really good.

After a last high-class meal with Babiche (salties with ketchup, butter, hot water with honey, jam) I hitted the road overnight towards Utah to be able to bagged another day of skiing.

During a quick stop at BD store for some warranty issue, I realize that Alta was planning to put a lift on Flagstaff mountain ( That happen to be the place I was just planning to ski that days. It was a nice and warm bluebird day in Utah before taking off to hit the trailhead, I realize I had no more water... but I had some backup. I don't know why we never carry beer in the backcountry. It has as much energy than a granola bar, you can save the weight of your water bottle and I think it is just the best drink for spring skiing!!

After a quick shower at the Cliff Lodge (... sorry, but no time for the hot tub this time!), I took off to leave to go skiing in Colorado.

I've been able to pull off some passes to go skiing Aspen! So here I was skiing one of the most famous resort in NA. I wasn`t expecting much in terms of skiing since there is so many celebrity that hang out around there that I thought it would be mostly some blueish kind of runs.

I was SO wrong!!! Aspen happen to be an incredible skiing ground. There's everything from tight tree skiing to steep open bowl to everything in between... But for me, the coolest thing about Aspen is their open policy about letting skinning up on the runs to access the backcountry. I was amazed that Aspen was more cool about skinning up on their runs than Whitewater...

I spend all day skiing both Ajax and Aspen Highlands. They both have some really good runs. I think my favorite was Highlands with his big bowl. After letting you been towed by the cat, you can access the peak after a short 15-20min hike. From there, you can either ski back down in the resort or keep hiking to access directly the backcountry. Unfortunately, I had left my avy gear in my car, so I dropped back in the resort.

At the end of my day, I realize their was an Avalanche Awareness going on in Aspen that night I figured it would be nice to walk around that town that literally has more art gallery that ski shops... Actually, their is a lot of stuff to do in Aspen until the end of the season. If you want to visit the best place for free coffee/ granola bars/muffins, it really worth checking it out!

Bud Light Big Air Fridays Snowmass March 20, 27
Core Party featuring Rusted Root Downtown Aspen March 20
Fallen Friends Memorial Event Aspen Highlands March 2110th
Annual KickAspen Big Air Aspen Mountain March 21
Crocs Terrain Park Boot Camp Snowmass March 21, 22
Bud Light Hi-Fi Concert Series featuring Sam Bush Snowmass March 22
Bud Light Hi-Fi Concert Series featuring Ratatat Aspen Mountain March 27
Crocs Terrain Park Boot Camp Snowmass March 28, 29
Red Bull Schnee Tag Snowmass March 28
Helly Hansen Battle in the Bowls Aspen Highlands March 29

After the really interesting avalanche awareness, I drove to Copper Mtn. I skied there with Christian, a friend of mine that invited me at is place to check it out. Copper was nice and warm and I had the chance to make my last turns into some nice and slushy moguls facing the south.

After a quick overnight stop to visit one of my cousin in Denver, I started driving East to travel the little bit more than 3000km that separated me from Qc.

Since my car doesn't have a cruise control, I took the time, while driving the Colorado prairies to set one up with my camera tripod. It took me about 2 hours to finally having one set up that worked great.

I then pushed the limit of multitasking in Nebraska by being able to drive, eat, and read one issue of ( and two issues of Offpiste (

After 20 hours of driving and 3 gas-stop (not that interesting considering their marketing...), I crashed near Detroit.

A quick 3 hours nap had put me back on the track to hit the last part of my trip. The equally boring Ontario needed me to read two issues of Powder ( to not fall asleep.

I finally arrived in Montreal to get some beers with some friends. At 4AM, I was quite done...

So here I am home and after one day of work, I cannot take off from my head the lyrics from Led Zeppelin's song that started just as I was entering my hometown, Dream on.

Dream on, dream on, dream on, dream until your dreams come true...

Thanks for reading me again this year and hopefully, I will be back entertaining you again next winter!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Harvesting the corn

Babiche needed a day of rest so we drove down towards Bishop and just spend some time around...

We visited the Galen Rowell gallery in Bishop with some really inspiring photography. Galen was an adventure photographer that spent a really interesting life photographing outdoor shot trough out the world.

For our first couloir, we decided to go not too far from Bishop and checked out McGee.

It is not a steep run nor an impressive mountain. But for Babiche shape, it was just enough...
To be optimist, I would say that the snow was fast and the view was awesome, but in fact, the snow wasn't very nice but the view was still pretty cool.

After a good day of hiking, the beer at the car was just better.

The 140 mph winds from couples days ago had really damaged the backcountry around here and there wasn't much soft powder to ski.

We figure maybe some groomed runs would be better, so we try Mammoth Mtn. It is a really big resort with a lot of lifts.... but still not much soft snow. It seems that they have those conditions quite often, because they even have some signs to warn you about the quality of the snow....
After a day exploring the mountain, we figured we were really in the need for a good day of skiing. We decided to go check out Tioga Pass and its couloirs. With some warm weather on the forecast, we figured that with having an early start, we would probably be able to get some nice soft turns on V-Bowl (an east facing aspect).

After dragging Babiche out of the car, we started the hike that was getting us on Dana Plateau.

This Plateau is home of a lot of interesting couloir that are going to be on the must do list from now on!!! It is apparently the home of the biggest concentration of steep quality couloirs in the Sierra.
The ski down happen to be just at the right time since we were able to enjoy some nice spring conditions.
The snow was wet and soft and carving some turns into that open face was really nice.
We missed our tree-bridge on the way back, so coming back to the car was interesting...

After some more rewards beer, we drove to Travertine Hot Springs. Those are natural and free Hot Springs near Bridgeport.

The set up was really cool and the water really hot! We spent the rest of the afternoon soaking in that nice water and enjoying the view of the Sierras.
Yesterday, we were heading out to the backcountry but we met one guy in the parking lot that told us that the conditions were really bad... We figured that some resort skiing was probably a better option. We were able to get some parking lot ski passes at Alpine Meadows and we spend the afternoon carving the corn snow.

Last night, Babiche and I had a long conversation with Jimmy at one of his friend's place in South Lake Tahoe.
That delayed a bit our start this morning to hit Heavenly. I had some really good souvenir about the place since two years ago, when I skied it it was +15C, big sunshine and bikinis all over the place!!!
It was a bit cloudy and a bit more chilly this time so no bikini...
Heavenly sits on the border of California and Nevada. The view from it is pretty awesome since on one side you get the view of the Lake Tahoe and on the other side, the desertic view of Nevada. The snow did melt a bit later in the afternoon turning the conditions to soft corn again.
I'll have few more days of skiing around here and then I will have to hit to road to go back home in Quebec... On my way back, I will hit Utah and Colorado to end my trip.

See you soon!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Powdery Sierra Cement

We started our California trip in Lake Tahoe.

Since Sierra-at-Tahoe has a new inbound slackcountry bowl, we figured it would be a great place to check out since more than 7 feet of snow has hitten the resort last week.

And it was good!!!! The cement was far from being unpleasant!

We stayed around Huckleberry Canyon for two days enjoying the untouched powder left by so many skiers! We couldn't believe that no one was skiing that snow!

Weirdly enough, it was really crowded on saturday, but still no one in the canyon...

I think Sierra is THE place to ski in South Tahoe during and after a storm.

After two days at Sierra, we headed to do some backcountry.

Babiche had some classic that he wanted to show me. We firstly checked Mt. Tallac north face and its stunning view of Lake Tahoe.
The snow was still nice and soft and according to Babiche, some of the best snow he has seen in California in 2 years!

Today, we went out to ski Crescent Moon couloir of Carslon Pass.

The wind was hauling!!! ...and the snow was really firm, making any fall followed by a slide of uncertain length...

We are now in South Lake Tahoe thinking about driving down towards Tioga Pass and Bishop.

Your Chef...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The wet coast....

It's a conspiracy!!! The wet coast don't want me to ski..
After a late start, we headed to the backcountry of Mt. Baker.
The snow from the previous storm was pretty packted but there was still some really good turns to do. We were both really impress about how big the backcountry out there is nice, steep and big!

After enjoying two really good runs, we car-camped in the parking lot since some more snow was forecasted overnight.

The snow did fall into a much more wet state call rain...
After some shopping, we left Baker to head back to Vancouver without skiing


I then planned to go to Whistler since they mostly received snow and no rain but when I checked the weather report, I figured it would be really warm and the snow would be too heavy and wet for the powder princess that I am.

After spending a day shopping to get some motivation in Vancouver, I left to go towards Steven's Pass to do some night skiing with some discounted lift tickets. I arrived just in time for the beginning of the night skiing than I realize the night skiing stopped two days ago.... So no skiing for me today!

So I kept driving to go closer to Crystal Mountain which is the biggest ski resort in Washington state. I was about 18 miles from the resort when I figured the road I intended to go was..... closed. That mean a 3 hours + drive to get to the mountain.

The drive totally worth it! That mountain is REALLY a good place to ski.
With a lot of steep chutes and tree skiing I now have a new favorite mountain in Washington state. They received a bit more than 9in overnight so the conditions were aaaawesome.
The resort hooked me up with some of their guide so I can really enjoy the mountain at is best.

We skied all the best stuff and even checked the slackcountry (... with a prearranged pick up at the bottom of the run!!) I hurt my back a little bit on one of the run, but it was so good that I kept skiing.

After trying to ice up my back by eating 1.5liters of ice cream, I had to realize it wasn't really working so I started to eat some ibuprofen...

With some more snow on the forecast, I really wished I would be able to spend some more time here, but I had to keep driving to get closer to California where I was to hook up with Babiche!

So I did get close to Mt. Hood and was really up to check out Timberline Lodge. Well, now it's the wind that are closing all the good lifts at this resort... Since my back was still hurting and I pretty much only had blue or green runs to hit, I kept driving to make it faster down to California. The drive through Oregon is really not always as interesting as someone would think.

Oregon is really not only lush and rain forest and can make a 10 hours drive really boring.

So here I am now in Sierra cement homeland where I will be skiing with Alexis for the next 2 weeks.
Hopefully, California is going a little bit more easy to ski! With more than 7 feet of snow last week, the conditions are certainly going to be great!