Saturday, December 23, 2006

Old photos

I was going through some old photos and came across these ones which I thought were good.

Bugaboos two summers ago:

Asulkan Glacier last winter:

And two shots of Fred in the Balu Pass area (not my photos...they're too good):

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Last Gasp at Malakwa?


Now and again you have one of those days when everything just works. For once we arrived at the trail head at a decent hour. We put tire chains on Brenda's car for the first time and it wasn't a complete gong show. There was already an intelligent uptrack from the previous day (blessed are the trail breakers). The snow was deep and cold and fluffy.

And oh man the skiing was amazing!

We even managed a bit of a coup by finding a new route back to the car. This was made even better by the manner in which we pulled it off.

You know that feeling you get when you're pushing your luck a bit and you know it? There's that insistent little voice in the back of your head saying "Hey, Bub, this could get a little ugly if it doesn't work out"?

That was us as darkness closed in and the temperature was dropping and we were still climbing rather than heading down the easy route back to the car. We'd already been cliffed out once, our heads were down, legs weary, puffing along.

And then...

Revelation! Angels sang! Heavenly voices bade us welcome! A magnificent slope of gentle glades appeared through the failing light and we skied magically, effortlessly straight down to the car.

Chains. A novelty for Brenda and I.

Other notes:

1) We ran into Jeff and Chantalle from Revelstoke who we had previously met at the Asulkan Hut in November. Great folks.

2) Fred broke the cable on one of his bindings during our run to the car. (Of all tele bindings the G3 Targas are the ones I've seen break the most.) Momentary panic but he managed to jury rig it by securing the free cable end under his boot buckle with just enough tension to hold the boot in the binding.

3) Fred says to mention that he's single.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Zoa Peak

On Sunday we joined the ACC Okanagan section on a trip to Zoa Peak. Zoa is 2 hours west of Kelowna on the Coquihala Highway.

The Coquihala is a toll road and the miserable $10 toll is collected at the halfway point. Zoa is just west of the toll booth which means that to visit Zoa from Kelowna you must pass through and pay the toll twice (the swines).

There had been a freeze-thaw cycle here since since the last snowfall and there wasn't a whole lot of snow at the trailhead.

Part of the route up to Zoa follows a decommissioned power line right of way. It's visible in this photo of Brenda. Brenda said I shouldn't post this photo cuz she looks snotty, so here it is...

Sledders had been driving all over the track when the snow was wet. It had re-frozen into a giant mess of breakable crust, death cookies, and corrugated hard pack. Oh man it was beyond belief on the ski out.

Above 1700m or so we got above the death crust and the snow was very consolidated with about 5-10cm of fresh snow on top. After digging a pit this was the first slope that we skied.

The rest of the terrain is pretty much the same. It's only about 400m run and we skied it several times. Apparently there is a much longer run on the opposite side of the summit (behind where this photo is taken from).

Battery problems (yet again) so there aren't many interesting photos from today. Here's Brenda sporting the new jacket that some wonderful guy gave her on her birthday last week.

I think this is Yak peak.

The other side of the peak (facing the highway) is a giant dome-like layered slab that looks a lot like New Hampshire's Cannon Cliff. There's a rock route called Yak Crack that I'd love to do some day.

Tele Clinic at Apex

Not really a trip report per se. On Saturday we went to a telemark clinic at Apex that was organized by the ACC Okanagan section.

The instructor was Fred Waldron, a fella we ski with regularly. He raced for the national ski team a few years back and has a very groovy "Canada" logo on his ski pants to prove it (chicks dig it).

It was a good chance to get some mileage on the new skis and bindings (Jak BC's and 7tm tours) in a more controlled environment. In deep snow I've been struggling a bit with the skis -- mostly bad tip dive but also just general weirdness (read "bad skiing"). It's odd -- I didn't have that problem when I tried Damon's skis in the spring (same bindings and skis although his skis were 179 vs 174).

I'm a little suspicious that the bindings are mounted too far forwards. Although they're mounted with the pins at Karhu's recommended location there has been lots of chatter on Telemarktips about this point being kinda wonky. That and the stickers that are used to mark the recommended mounting points were slightly different on each ski!

Anyway they worked really well at the resort so it isn't a problem inherent in the bindings or skis. I'll give it a few more weeks before thinking any more about moving the bindings further back.

Why is telemark gear such a pain in the ass? You always need to file this or Dremel that or modify the other thing just to make it work the way it's supposed to work in the first place. Yurgh! More on this later.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

McGill Shoulder

We spent Saturday night at Cat's place in Revelstoke. McGill Shoulder is a new destination for me and Brenda. The trailhead is at the start of the Bostock Creek hiking trail west of the Rogers Pass summit.

After a few minutes on the hiking trail we cut off onto a skin track that headed up and along the ridge. Initially we had good views back across the highway which gave us a unique perspective into some other areas we have yet to visit. So much terrain, so little time. Soon it completely socked in and eventually it started to snow quite heavily. We climbed to about 1900m before pulling out the map and trying to get an idea of where we were.

It wasn't too late yet but a couple of things were on our minds -- the first was that we were in unknown territory and the second was that the "Ski Touring in Rogers Pass" guidebook had mentioned the possibility of "a truly heinous thrash-fest" in the early season! Reason enough. So we dug a quick pit (which we've resolved to do more often this year regardless of how conservative the line is) and then pointed the skis downhill.

We had several hundred meters of good skiing before the open areas petered out and we began picking our way down through the trees looking for the hiking trail.

Here's Brenda pretending she's having fun...

We found the hiking trail without too much trouble in the end. In retrospect we could have climbed back up for another run but it was one of those days when there were a few too many unknowns and it just seemed best to err on the side of caution. Ah well, we know for next time.

The ski down the hiking trail was classic Adirondacks stuff.

Here' s a maniacal looking Brenda back at the highway...

That's all for this weekend. I'd have more photos but I again had battery issues with the camera today. Gotta get that worked out for next weekend.

Malakwa Gorge

Up to Malakwa on Saturday.

Not us on the sled. We took a more traditional approach.

After all it's only 3k on the logging road. Unfortunately that will turn into 15k after Christmas. Rats. Anyway a good day for Brenda, Cat, Steve, and myself.

Here's Steve in one heckuva snow pit...



And we're off to Revelstoke to spend the night at Cat's place. We'll head up to the pass tomorrow.