Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Best Christmas present!!

We woke up in Christmas morning under a shinning blue sky! We headed towards a variant of the Lone Pine slidepath in the Hermitt area. Sarah taking a break and Freddy gone skiing with one of his friend, I teamed up solely with Piet.
I have never spend too much time in Hermitt due to the fact that the forest is not that skiable. You then need to ski in the different slidepaths which is not my favorite place to hang out when the avy danger is a not too, too stable.

Being bless with a LOW avalanche danger all the way to the alpine, we figured it would be a great option!
Unfortunately for us, just as we got to the top, the clouds moved in...
Since we weren’t too familiar with the area, we waited for some openings in the clouds to find the entrance to the slidepath.
We eventually got one and we were really glad to have found it!
The run was 1300m vertical of pure untrack awesomeness!!
I got so excited skiing it, I was woop-wooping all the way down like my good friend JS showed me! The snow was probably only 20-25cm deep, but steady and bottomless!
This was one of my certainly best run in Rogers Pass ever!

We then made it up towards Cheops.
Our initial plan was to ski the STS couloir which is a nice aesthetical line that needs good stability. Since it was already tracked, we opted for a bit less spectacular line and ski Nikki’s Notch which is somehow parallel to the STS couloir.
The top part was not so nice since it was windcrusted, but we the lower was really good.
Once at the bottom, we put our skin to climb back up to Balu pass.

From there, we climb back up on Cheops and this time, we dropped down the Cougar Valley. From my past experience, the snow is usually really nice and on top, you have an free extra 300m since you end up at the highway and hitch hike to make it back.

Hitch hiking is usually not a problem since there is a lot of people travelling by themselves in big pick-up trucks!

The top part was really nice, but the lower part was lacking a bit of coverage turning it to some nice adventure skiing!
I haven’t been to Avalanche Crest in a while, so it was kind of cool to hike up there. The area is fairly wide, so there is usually quite a lot of room to lay tracks even if it hasn’t snow in a little while.
The view from the top is really cool as you ski straight down to the highway.
As planned, there was still a lot of room to make fresh tracks!
We enjoy the continuing Low to Moderate avalanche forecast to try some new lines.
From the Rogers Pass Discovery center, we climbed up towards the Hourglass, but kept going until we got to Cheops 1. We first skin it, and then bootpack our way up.
From the shoulder, we skied into Cheops 2 which is a quite impressive open bowl.
Conditions were good, we were able to feel a wind slab that kept us from being to funky!

At the bottom of Cheops 2, there is a plateau from which we start skinning up towards Napoleon Spur.

Even if Napoleon is a classic of Rogers, I’ve never been there myself and I really wonder why since it is a nice steep pillowy terrain!
Late at night, after a 8 hours journey from Calgary due to some road closure, my girlfriend, Amelie, joined us after being dropped at the top of the pass from the bus. It took her a bit of arguing with the driver to convince him she would be better and more comfortable if she would be getting drop at the pass than in Revelstoke!
Our Christmas run was so good that we figured it would be a good idea to do the direct version of Lone Pine starting straight from the top.
From a distance, we were able to see there wasn’t any tracks and the weather forecast was calling for some great weather.
Amelie wanted a small day to start off and I guess it wasn’t exactly what she had in mind...
It took a bit of encouragement, but she made it up the 1400m after cursing a bit at her blisters!
The view from the top was really spectacular!
We were all really glad to have waited until some good stable conditions since the entrance was fairly sketchy.
The snow was not super deep and we all hitted some rocks somehow on the way down.
I guess this slidepath is probably a bigger threat to the highway and probably more control that the variant we did a few days earlier.
After this quite good day of skiing, we felt it was time for us to move a bit. After all, we haven't rented an RV only to park it and not move it!

With more and more people showing up, we wanted something a bit less busy.

Piet and Sarah proposed to make it towards Retallack where we could probably skied a good backcountry spot they have been before.

So we packed everyone in the RV and hit the road!
Living the RV liftestyle!



Thursday, December 24, 2015

Good Old Rogers still delivers the goodies!

Apparently, much of the good things must come to an end one day or another. After a GREAT year living in Grenoble, I moved back from France to Saguenay, Quebec (that’s in Canada ;) in May. After a year playing the housewife, it was about time for me to get back to the work market!

It was kind a hard to find a job and after spending most of the summer whitewater kayaking to keep the boredom away, I eventually found a job in late September! It was just about time, since I was starting to juggle about the idea of stopping my work research and postpone my return to the work market in April.

Since the office were closing during the Holidays, I already manage to line up a first ski trip by adding an extra week of non-paid holidays to get a nice three weeks off.

The plan was fairly simple: go to BC and revisit good ol’ stomping ground and hope to be able to toss in a few new runs! With signs of winter and great snow dump in November and early December, it looked like the most promising skiing destination anywhere in the world for Christmas.
Winter really took its time to show up in Quebec. We are usually not dumped on, but at least the ski hills are usually doing a great job on doing fake snow. Such fake snow is a bit harder to make if the temperature hoover around +10Celcius...
I usually like to skin up a few times to warm up the muscle from their summer break, but this hiking boots were more useful than climbing skin to get around the brownish hills!

I was pretty proud to mount my very first pair of skis myself (I’m not much of an handy guy, so mounting the skis was pretty stressful!) even more that those Xalibu skis were design and made in Quebec.
The plan for this ski trip was simple: Fly to Calgary, rent a car and find snow...
That was until 7 days from departure, when Piet, Sarah and Freddy, (the Germans with whom I spent last Christmas in Norway with) sent me a message.

Snow was not coming to the Alps, so we are flying over to Calgary 3 days after you. We will be renting a RV and you are welcome to join.

I eventually got to Calgary where signs of winter were much more obvious than home.
After using shuttle and Greyhound bus, I eventually made it to Tree, a friend now living in Revelstoke, after a bit more than 18 hours of travelling!

It hasn’t snowed much, but the resort looked like a good option to get the legs warm up. I have never skied the resort, so I was pretty stoke to check it out! Tree was also all in to ride the resort. After a few laps where the runs were smooth but not so deep, we slapped our skins on and went for a little tour just next to the resort.
The cat-skiing terrain is just adjacent from the resort, but you can get to it after a 15 minutes/50m vertical-gain skin. The terrain is pretty extensive and you can get back to a cat-track that get you back to the lift after another 15 minutes /20m vertical-gain hike

This is probably the best ratio Quality vs Effort slackcountry skiing I’ve ever seen!

The snow was nice and smooth and I was pretty happy!

It did snow a bit overnight, so we headed back up to the resort to witness the improvement!
And improve it was!!
With strong with coming from the south, the snow piled up in the backbowls turning a gentle 15cm overnight into the best day of the season so far!
After lapping furiously until closing time, I rushed back to Tree’s place to pick up my stuff and head to the bus-stop to go back to Golden to wait for my German friends to show up with the RV!

The eventually picked me up around midnight at the bar were I had a few beers with a friend who lives in Golden.

We made it up to Rogers Pass first thing the following morning. I felt I haven’t been there in ages, but my last visit was in 2013. I guess since it is one of my favorite place in the world this is why it has missed me that much!
We headed up to Teddy Bear Trees for our first day out.
Weather was nice and snow looked nice and cold on the skin up.

Our expectations were fulfilled on the way down.

Freddy here tasting for his first time the Canadian goodies!

We scope untrack lines starting near the top of Grizzly Shoulder and dropping into Grizzly Bowl that was untrack. We made the plan to ski it, skin back up and head towards Grizzly West which is usually really nice to ski.
Since it was Piet’s idea, he got to ski the best open line which consisted of around 250m vertical of 40degrees untrack 25cm of snow... Beside his line, we all had good run since it is a very wide wall to lay down turns on.
Visibility was getting a bit bad as we got back up, we found the entrance into the Grizzly West slidepath without too much problem.
Grizzly West has a steep entrance that is kind of pillowy before opening up. Being a bit less popular than Puff Daddy because of the 100m extra vertical you need to climb to get in, there is usually a bit less tracks.
Life in the RV is so far not too bad! (and not too stinky yet!!)