Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ursus Trees and Puff Daddy

Ursus Trees on Saturday with Steve and Nick. We left the parking lot at the same time as several large groups and there must have been 25 people strung out along the track. It was crazy. Thankfully for everyone a lot of folks went up Grizzly Shoulder and others peeled off to various destinations along the way until eventually we were breaking trail up Ursus Minor Ridge. Coming down it was the same story as it has been all season -- great skiing. We headed back early in order to be at the Visitor Centre in time for a "Winter Permit Orientation Session".

Ah yes, the bureaucracy of skiing in Roger Pass. There have been many changes to the permit system since last winter. One is that there is now an Annual Winter Permit that allows entry into the Winter Restricted Areas without having to obtain a daily permit. To get the pass you need to attend one of the orientation sessions. The permit is associated to your vehicle by license plate and has two parts: one with your photo on it that you carry on your person, and the other that you leave in your car.

It's hard to say at this point whether or not this is an actual improvement for skiers or if it's just a sop to the powers-that-be. On the one hand it will be convenient to not have to line up for a daily permit when intending to ski in a permit area (now officially called a "Winter Restricted Access" area). But that will only be the case when every member of the party has an Annual Winter Permit since those without an Annual Permit still require a daily permit. As well, the Winter Restricted Access areas will only be pronounced open or closed at around 7:30 each morning. Since there is limited cell phone coverage in the area (depends on your carrier) you pretty much have to be at the Visitors Centre to get the information anyway.

Dystopian nightmare? Remains to be seen. At least they're not charging us for any of these additional permits yet.

On Sunday Brenda and I went up Grizzly Shoulder with the idea of skiing Puff Daddy back down to the highway. We'd been there twice before; one time was great and the other time it was a fiasco. This time it was a little of both!

At first we recognized the terrain and enjoyed some nice skiing, but soon we were drawn into a steep gnarly gully and we realized that all was not well with the world. We were pretty committed at that point but the fear of a repeat fiasco drove us to put our skins on and thrash back up through some cliffs in the hope of finding a better way.

To make a long story short...

Yay! We found the twin slide paths that provide excellent skiing and popped out on the highway between the Visitors Centre and the Hermit trailhead.



I think the moral of the story is that it's pretty hard to go too far to skiers left on Puff Daddy.

Last thing of note. The hotel is much improved again this year (not that we stayed there, but we will). The buffet is cheaper, there's a well thought out dinner menu, and the pub fare looks great.

Alas there's much less weirdness. I kinda miss the weirdness.

Moe: "Nobody wants to hang out in a dank pit no more."
Carl: "You ain't thinkin' of gettin' rid of the dank are you Moe?"
Moe: "Ah maybe I am."
Carl: "Oh but Moe! The dank, the dank!?"

Monday, November 23, 2009

Malakwa

Harsh 6:00am alarms ringing in the darkness. A freezing cold house since the heat hasn't come on yet. Groans from underneath the covers. Severe misgivings about about going skiing today.

Day trips to Malakwa start with a real...whimper.

This was our first trip to Malakwa since January 2008. Access is dependent upon the logging company plowing the access road and it wasn't maintained last year. The kilometer 15 pullout was jammed with a dozen vehicles by 9:30 so we continued on to around kilometer 16 and had the place to ourselves. There isn't as much open skiing as there is around 15k, but the tree skiing is excellent.

It's been an incredible start to the season. Two meters of snow at treeline in mid-November? Wow.

Apr├Ęs-ski drinkies at The Burner featured Mount Begbie's Attila the Honey. I'm no expert (Pat?) put this is a good beer.

No pictures (of beer or skiing). Camera on the fritz. Again.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Asulkan Cabin

The most uneventful start to the season ever?

No mud. No sticks or rocks. No cow patties. No goofing around on daft patches of machine-made snow. No doubting the sanity of trying to push in some early skiing.

We simply drove to the pass, climbed to the hut, skied in midseason-like snow, and went home. What could be easier? I don't get it. No complaints though. A terrific start.