Sunday, March 25, 2012

Campbell Icefields

We went to Campbell Icefields this year for our annual hut trip. It was my third visit to Campbell and the best by far.

The hut is in the middle of a large cirque and at first it seems like the skiing is somewhat limited. But this is deceiving. It's a huge area with lots of smaller terrain features that constantly lead you exploring further afield and surprising you at every turn.

The weather was superb and the snowpack was surprisingly stable given the difficult week we had just had in Rogers Pass.

We were very happy that Pat was finally able to join us for the first time on one of these trips. Hopefully his better half Anke will join us next year.

And of course Konrad, purveyor of fine pastries and other delicacies.

A super trip. See you all next year.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Catching up...A few days in Rogers Pass

We got behind on the blog back in March. Since then the job of catching up has grown bigger and more daunting. Now it's 34C outside in July and here I sit sweating in front of the computer wondering if it's even worth the effort.

But the reality is that the biggest users of this blog are probably Brenda and myself. It's a diary of sorts that we regularly consult to figure out what we did, when we did it, and how long it took. From that perspective we may look back when we're old and grey and wish we'd kept the thing going. So, with the photos we've posted online as a guide, I'll attempt to make a series of rapid fire back-dated posts over the coming week to catch up.

This first post takes us back to the week before the annual ski trip. Damon, Brian, Martin, and Matt came out to do some skiing before going in to Campbell Icefields. It was a bit of gong show. High/high/high for the entire week, permit areas closed, highway closed, and a touchy snowpack that tended to fail huge or not at all. In the space of an hour we witnessed the first major path behind the hotel go full-length to valley bottom and up the other side, and then this huge avalanche off Avalanche Crest.

Despite lying low for much of the week we did manage to get in some limited skiing, and what we could ski was pretty fun. Recognize that hat?

And of course no matter what the skiing conditions were like I wouldn't have passed up a week of hanging out with these guys for anything. It's silly how much fun you can have when there's a sauna, a ukulele, too much snow, and too much beer. Not sure that Major Rogers approved.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Big White

We've been away skiing for a couple of weeks and haven't had time to make any updates. This trip was a quick jaunt up to Big White with Dan.

I didn't know much about the backcountry around the ski hill but Dan was up for exploring and I was in need of the exercise so away we went. We parked at the Black Forest lot and followed a well beaten path just below the ski out from The Cliff. On the way we met up with John Fazekas who I knew from trips many years ago to Apex or Zoa or somewhere. He was using Dynafit boots on homemade bindings and a homemade splitboard. Neat stuff.

We climbed around the lower end of the ridge that forms the skier's left hand side of The Cliff and into a small bowl on the backside of the resort (Smoker's Bowl?). The snow was wind hammered and nasty but we were well compensated for our efforts by one half of John's splitboard making a break for freedom. He post-holed around searching for some time while we had lunch and ruminated on life in general.

After this we climbed back up to the ridge and found better snow for a couple of runs on the south facing side amongst the trees before calling it a day.

Close to home but otherwise not much to recommend Big White on this day anyway.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Zoa Peak

Steve and I made a quick trip up Zoa Peak last Sunday. Snowing and blowing like heck for the whole day so we didn't get much skiing in. Making the best of it we dorked around doing every type of snow stability test we could think of on a 35 degree slope on the north side of the ridge. Of note were some sudden planar compression tests (CTM14 and CTM12) and a Rutschblock that failed as I stepped onto it.

The snowpack is really deep along the Coquihalla this year. From the bottom of our 2 metre deep pit we couldn't even find the ground with a 320cm probe, so over 5 metres. As we dug around the swirling snow soaked our faces and filled every nook and cranny with fine snow crystals. Our packs were full of it. Small items left on the surface were buried within minutes.

Anyway we were outside and got some exercise and the roads weren't too bad. So not a bad day overall!