Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Valhalla Mountain Lodge

For this year's annual ski trip we made the big mistake of scrambling to find a cook at the last minute. Oh how we suffered.

Conrad, a pastry chef by training, had us shaking our heads in disbelief almost daily. Crêpe Suzette, Black Forest Cake, cheese fondue, eggs benedict, heavenly steaks for the omnivores, brilliant veggie creations for the herbivores. In a tiny backcountry hut? You've got to be kidding.

In between magnificent meals we skied some terrific terrain.

The area around Valhalla Lodge feels big, and looks big, but is ultimately very accessible. We needed hardly any time at all to settle in and get a good feel for the place.

I don't know how many years we've been doing this trip for, perhaps dozen? A lot of years together anyway. So just when I thought nothing could top the hilarity of previous trips out came the Sambuca and viking helmets.

Yargh! See you next year guys.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A few days in Rogers Pass

Brian and Damon came out a week before the annual hut trip for some skiing in Rogers Pass. We set up camp at the hotel and had four fun days of skiing. I had hoped for some clear weather so that we could get up high and show the guys around a bit, but sadly the visibility was poor most of the time and we were restricted mainly to below treeline skiing. We spent two days in Ursus Trees, another on the Bonney Moraines, and one day skiing a slide path on the west side of the Asulkan drainage.



Evenings were spent drinking fine beer and stuffing nachos in our faces.


The last time we had all skied together was in the mid-nineties on Lyon Mountain in the Adirondacks. Seems like yesterday.

Also on this trip I finally used the Voile Drifters bought for a song last summer. They're the widest skis I've ever owned at 145-121-133. They looked farcical at first and I never really got used to just how much ski there was underneath each boot. They're also heavy when the skins are attached so I can't imagine ever using them on a long tour. But they sure were fun to ski; fast, stable, and completely effortless.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Asulkan to Lily by Dome Col

Sunny skies and good stability. What to do? First option; go somewhere that we've been before but that we know will be an excellent trip. Something like the Tupper Traverse for example. Second option; do something a little different and risk having a mediocre trip on a day with possibly the best conditions of the season.

Let's hear it for novelty!

We left Fred's car at Loop Brook and made our way up the Asulkan with designs on the Dome Col.

This route is basically a variation on the Sapphire Col traverse which we had done a couple of times previously, but rather than skiing south from the upper part of the Cleaver to Sapphire Col we would instead climb up on top of the Cleaver, ascend to the Dome-Rampart Col, and then (hopefully) drop down onto the Lily glacier.

Nice day. Spring-like, but not too hot, with great views over the Asulkan Glacier.

We were at the col by 2:00ish and had our first tentative look over the other side.

No worries, that'll go. A little rocky but nothing a little p-tex couldn't fix.

We scratched our way down from the col and over a little wind scoop to have a look at the Lily far down below us.

We were a little tentative on the way down from here; the terrain was constantly rolling off making it difficult to see what exactly we we're getting into. But we sussed it out and enjoyed several long runs until finally dropping down onto the glacier. I like this photo of Fred, even though he's barely visible, with Swanzy and the upper Lily in the background.

Huge country up here.

Plenty of places left to explore when novelty next wins the day.