Sunday, January 27, 2008

McGill Shoulder

Great day at McGill Shoulder on Sunday. Good visibility, not too cold, and 10-15cm of new snow had fallen overnight. Brilliant.

There's so much terrain at McGill. We often get slightly turned around only to end up stumbling across some great new run that we've never been to before.

An uneventful day for the most part. Just great skiing. Until we were almost back at the car that is...

The trail out is a real bobsled run. At the end you rocket out of the trees and up onto the snowbank beside the highway and then follow it back to the car. We had both just shot up onto the snowbank when some sixth sense made me look back over my shoulder.

To my horror all I saw was a giant brown wave of snow and muck hurtling down the highway towards us. I threw myself off the snowbank into the trees and simultaneously screamed "PLOWWWWWWWWW!!" at Brenda. Without hesitating for an instant she repeated my performance and landed in a heap just as the tsunami of muck and gravel washed across the snowbank.

Good times.

This was the second plow related incident in a few weeks and both occurred within 100m of each other. Weird.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Three Valley Gap

Everyone likes to explore a bit and find some new places to ski. Fred is more committed than most to this sort of endeavor. He's developing quite a reputation for himself. Although this as much for his successes as it is for, failures. I had already been on one adventure (read: epic) with Fred a couple of years ago and just last weekend on another "adventure" he ended up hanging upside down from a barbed wire fence somewhere outside of Salmon Arm. In the dark. After a 12 hour day. I'm not kidding.

Prepared for an epic we drove a short distance up the Wap FSR in Three Valley Gap on the west side of Revelstoke. It was crawling with sledders. We were reluctant to start skiing up the logging road while sleds screamed all around us but it was the only practical route. But it worked out in the end because by the time we started skiing they had all sped off. We didn't see any more sleds for the rest of the day.

Our goal was a ridge that had series of clearings facing the highway. To make a long story short we didn't make it up all the way. As we neared the ridge top it became cold, misty, and windy and the snow was crusty as heck. More evidence of the high winds of last week.

But it was a fun ski back down to the car. No epic. No barbed wire. Nuthin'. We'll probably come back again some time. Nice work Fred.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


A sunny day! Not a cloud from horizon to horizon. A rare event this winter. The downside was that it was really cold and really windy.

Malakwa is still open for now. It's anyones guess as to how long this situation will last for. We intended to drive to the usual parking spot at 15 but were forced to stop a couple of kilometers short of our destination. There had been very high winds overnight and a combination of drifting snow and a small slide had covered a 50 meter section of the road. It was really tempting to try to push through with the tire chains on. However, there were bigger vehicles than ours already parked below the blockage. We weren't going to be the first to try it.

We skied from where we were and didn't mind the extra few kilometers. We didn't venture too far from the road. Due to the strong winds the snow conditions varied from bullet proof slab to nice fluffy powder all depending on the aspect.

Despite it being a nice sunny day I didn't take a single photo. Too cold.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Flat Creek and Perley Rock

On Saturday morning we woke up at the Bostock pull-off planning to ski at McGill Shoulder. We chatted with another group who were heading into Flat Creek. We'd never been there before and since there would be a track to follow we decided to go there instead.

After crossing the road we were forced to sprint along the snowbank to avoid getting buried by an oncoming plow. We crossed the CP Rail tracks and the Illecillewaet River and then plodded up the drainage on a meandering and yes very flat track.

Edit Feb 2014:
I should note that our route along and across the rail tracks back in 2008 was acceptable at the time (sort of) but is strictly forbidden now. There is a designated access route that avoids crossing the tracks. It's kind of a Big Deal with Parks so please check the Parks website for details.

Eventually the trees thinned out and we were able to get our bearings. There's a south and a north aspect in the drainage. We followed the track up the north side and ended up on an enormous wide-open but gentle slope that presented several options. We climbed from one island of trees to another trying to minimize our exposure and aimed for a ridge line that looked like it would give us a view over into the next drainage.

We ran out of steam just below our destination at 2200 meters near the 'X' in this photo.

It was 1000 meters of fun skiing from the 'X' to where we're standing. Thinking about it, it was 5 hours of climbing for a half-hour descent. Sheesh, never do the math.

Afterwards we enjoyed a nice cold beer at the hotel lounge (5 deer, 3 bears, 1 raccoon, 1 eagle, 1 goose, 2 ducks -- see previous post) and 1 arse-hole avy instructor (details upon request).

On Sunday we skied up towards Perly Rock but never really got the visibility we needed to get there. Still we enjoyed a short but excellent run down and learned a lot for the next time we come up this way.

We also saw Petula the Ptarmigan. We saw her at the Asulkan hut last year and she makes a cameo at the end of this short video. She's, white thing. With a beak. Ptarmigans don't film well in the winter.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Christmas 2007

Between Christmas and New Years we spent four days at Rogers Pass. We skied at Cheops Glades, Hermit Meadows, Ursus Minor, and NRC gully. Fred joined us at Cheops and Hermit and Steve joined us at Hermit.

We slept in the van each night and this was almost as much fun as the skiing itself. Each day we'd finish skiing around 4:00 which left us with several cold, dark hours with which to entertain ourselves. There's not much in the way of amenities at the pass. First we'd drop in at the visitor centre.

The centre is a fantastic facility with great ambiance and it does a really good job of conveying a sense of the history of Rogers Pass. When skiing here you almost always start your day at the visitor centre to check the weather and avalanche forecasts and to obtain permits for the ski areas which are sometimes closed for avalanche control. We'd spend an hour here drying out in front of the fire before they chucked us out at five.

We'd then make the cold walk across to the the perennially weird Glacier Park Hotel. I can't describe the hotel any other way. It's just weird. We'd spend a couple of hours in the lounge surrounded by stuffed animals and stuffed leather chairs. It's like a gentleman's club from 19th century London. We'd nurse some drinks and watch the weirdness for a couple of hours before hunger would eventually force us back to the van to cook some dinner and then we'd be in bed by nine. Life was good.

Steve at Hermit Meadows

Fred in Cheops Glades

Brenda on Ursus Minor Ridge