Monday, February 15, 2010

Sapphire Col Traverse (Lily Glacier)

We skied up the Asulkan Valley last Saturday morning (Feb 13th). Usually when we come this way we're going to the hut with overnight packs; this time it was a pleasure to be traveling light and moving quickly.

We followed a well-worn skin track through the mousetrap and then began breaking trail up to climbers left of the cleaver. The forecast wasn't great so we were trying to leave some options open. We could come back the way we came; or we could sneak over the top of the cleaver to the Dome Glacier; or, more ambitiously, we could ski over Sapphire Col and exit out the Lily Glacier and Loop Brook (we had shuttled a car just in case).

Several hours later, with our heads down into the biting wind, we made the last long pull across the upper glacier to the col. When we arrived the visibility was crapping out and we couldn't see the steep slope that drops down to the Lily. Resigned to returning the way that we had just come, we ducked into the hut for a hot drink and something to eat. The respite from the wind made the tiny hut seem cozy and warm at first but it didn't take long for the cold to get into our bones and we figured we'd better get a move on.

By the time we looked outside it had cleared just barely enough to see down to the Lily. Time was getting on but we thought we'd be okay if we didn't dawdle. Seemed like a good plan at the time! Down we went.

We soon realized that this slope wasn't exactly the most stable piece of terrain we'd seen today. It took an age to pick our way down. Then the tedious haul across the flats seemed to take forever as these things do when you're in a rush. Finally the Lily started steepening into the long gentle run that we knew from our only previous visit. But something was a little different this time...

Crevasses. Or, more precisely, semi-bridged-difficult-to-see-in-the-fading-light crevasses stretching across much of the glacier. Our previous visit had been in April but here we were in February, hence the encroaching darkness, and in a year with a below average snow pack.

We hummed and hawed. We debated options. We went left. We went right. We checked the time. A lot. We picked our way down. It was by the light of three headlamps that we arrived back at the car.

Not a single photo; all three of us forgot our cameras.

March 7th: Just found a photo on Brenda's camera that she took when we got back to the car.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Zoa Peak and Manning Park

Wes and Tina, who we met last weekend at Baldy, invited us to join them at Manning Park on Sunday. We were keen to ski at a new place but less keen on the 5:00am start that it required. So to break up the drive we went to Zoa Peak on Saturday which in a roundabout way allowed us to get to Manning on Saturday night with minimal extra driving. Zoa is at "B" and Manning is at "C" on this map.

Google Street View has recently become available in our area. This is the Zoa trailhead in summer. The snowy peaks on the left are Nak and Thor Thar. Zoa is the rather unimpressive looking ridge on the right.

View Larger Map

Zoa is an okay destination for an easy non-committing kind of day. The north facing slopes off the summit only provide about 200m of vertical, maybe less. We saw some neat hoar frost on the trees on the way up.

The ski out on the road cut can be either a mellow slide home or diabolical survival ski. Today was the latter on re-frozen snowmobile tracks. Yech.

Continuing on our way we eventually found the Cambie Creek trailhead in Manning and settled down in the parking lot for the night. In the morning we were surprised to find some sort of outdoor education camp set up just on the other side of the parking lot snowbank.

As we were having breakfast they trooped by en masse to go watch the Olympic torch pass by on the highway. Meh. I'm fed up with the Olympics.

Joined by Sandy, Wes, Sid, and Tina, we skied up the Fat Dog ski trail for several kilometers before heading up a small knoll. There was some mellow skiing from the top and we just enjoyed being out somewhere new.

I'm not sure this location would be worth another 3 hour drive from Kelowna, not when we could be in Rogers Pass with the same amount of driving. But as always it was just good to be out skiing.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Mount Baldy

We went lift skiing at Silverstar on Friday night for 5 bucks. Good deal eh? But then we spent many times that on beer at the pub afterward. Mmm... Back Hand of God.

On Sunday we tagged along on an ACC trip to Mount Baldy, a relatively small ski resort south of Kelowna quite near to the US border.

It's an interesting hill with an old time feel much like the small resorts in the Eastern Townships near Montreal. A one ride lift ticket can be had with minimal fuss for $13 allowing quick access to the summit.

We skied some really gentle terrain. It was the wise choice given the size of the group and the skiing level, but the slow pace and the limited vertical left me with that "mall funk", a pervading feeling of lethargy and sapped energy which usually occurs whenever I spend any time inside a shopping mall.

Nevertheless we enjoyed our day; we got to see a new place and met some very nice folks who we may ski with next weekend on an exploratory trip to Manning Park.