Thursday, December 31, 2015


New Years Eve! Damon and family had just returned from terrorizing Dave and Holly in Vancouver. Evan needed a gentle intro to Rogers Pass. Sounds like an NRC day. Too bad about the weather.

Evan was a good sport giving it his all in his dad's unfamiliar tele gear.

Some day we're going to run out of untracked snow on NRC but not today.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ursus Major - Christmas Couloir

The stable conditions and clear skies during the holidays lured us over Balu Pass to the fittingly named Christmas Couloir on the south face of Ursus Major.

It was a stunning day. The ongoing temperature inversion again meant frigid conditions at the car and near t-shirt weather in the alpine above the valley cloud.

It was one of the rare occasions in Rogers that we actually had to break trail. Except for a few folks in the distance on Cheops west face we didn't see anyone until the end of the day.

We chose an ascent line to looker's left of the run for most of the climb until merging into the steep upper couloir near the top.

The reward was a stunning view over the other side that suddenly revealed itself with our last tired steps to the ridge crest. What a place to be. We genuinely felt very lucky to be in such place on a such a day.

The run down left us gasping for air. It was steep and really fast.

Thankfully the gentler moraines lower down allowed us look up and take in the surroundings.

And to look back at our route up and back down again.

Before crossing back over the pass and heading back into the cold dark murk underneath the clouds.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Camp West

A magical day in the mountains. One of the best all around days of skiing that we've ever had in Rogers Pass. At times our faces hurt from smiling so much. But also a candidate for one of the most trying exits from a ski that we've ever dealt with.

The forecast was for light flurries which could mean anything so we headed to McGill Shoulder where there were plenty of options. Stability had been excellent all week and we were gaining confidence with some of the steeper terrain. As we climbed the weather just got better and better until it almost defied belief.

Camp West is on the opposite side of the ridge to the more familiar slide paths on the Bostock Creek side. None of us had been to Camp West before and the descent would drop us a good distance up the highway from where we'd parked. I think our little group has a low risk tolerance in general. We're not the most hardcore forty-somethings around. But our excuses not to push it a bit justifiably fell away one by one. If not today, with perfect stability, great weather, and several days of recent skiing in the area, then when? So on we went.

To here.

Where we did this...

And this...

And it was good. It was very, very good. A thousand metres of big long sweeping effortless high speed drifting turns. More like surfing than skiing. The next day Nick got a photo from Mount Afton where you can just see our tracks dead center.

That run will remain fresh in our minds for many weeks to come.

Sadly however this does bring us to the second part of our little story. The part where we pay the piper for our all too brief excursion into the extraordinary. Our exit to the highway was through a gnarly gully. Not yet filled in at this time of the year it was choked with alder. Sketchy cliff bands were plastered with hard ice with real consequences for a fall. The occasional dead end. Did I mention the open water?

It was a little on the rough side. Nick had a nasty tumble. Brenda got cliffed out and had to re-ascend a tenuous little cliff. But you know what? It was all good. We were all in this great "zone" just kind of enjoying the silliness of the situation. Perhaps still buzzing a bit from earlier in the day. Things were sketchy, dusk was approaching, but I think we all, for no real reason, just knew it was going to be fine and soon we'd be looking back on this day with nothing but great memories.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Cheops North 5

It was a blustery day with a bit of snow in the air so we just headed up the Connaught waiting to see what the weather would do. If the visibility crapped out then we'd go to Ursus Trees. When we reached that decision point there was a little sucker hole of blue sky so we headed for Balu Pass thinking about Cheops 5.

We didn't do ourselves any favours that morning by leaving Revelstoke at 10 o'clock or something ridiculous. It was nearing 2 o'clock by the time we reached Balu Pass. We gave ourselves half an hour to get on top of the shoulder. Otherwise we'd bail back the way we came. Just made it in steadily worsening light.

The upper bowl was a little wind effected but the bottom half was great. A fine way to wrap up three days with Ross and Deanna.

On a side note over the last couple of outings we've performed a high quality fully controlled and scientific goggle study. Our results are summarized thusly: Smith I/OS Goggles suck ass.

Friday, December 25, 2015


Christmas Day! Food! Snow! Friends! Presents!


In the madness to finish work, buy the food, pack the gear and get ourselves to Revelstoke for 12 days we somehow, um, forgot the presents. Not kidding. What a calamity. Thankfully Ross and Deanna helped us out by leaving a 15 year old bottle of rum under the tree. Thanks guys. There's a moral there. Somewhere.

After having a bit of a gong show at Bostock Deanna longed for a short approach with good skiing. Sounded like NRC to us.

See Brenda standing off to the side there? Yeah she forgot her skins. Oh well. She caught up with us for the second run.

I like NRC...when I can forget that it's just a giant avalanche path that occasionally runs to the road. Today was one of those days. Far skiers right was largely untouched and provided some great skiing. Not deep, but fast and fun.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

8812 Bowl

Christmas! We started the holidays with a trip to 8812 Bowl with Ross. I forgot my camera. Ross forgot his camera. Brenda's kind of worked once the batteries were heated up in a pocket. So we got a few shots of a quiet day just before the madness of skiing in Rogers Pass over the holidays set in.

The ski down 8812 Bowl sometimes feels a bit...underwhelming? The top is nice since it's steep and usually holding good snow. But that section is short and the majority of the run is through rolling moraines in gentler terrain. So I think the appeal is mostly the setting. There are views into two different valleys and the narrow ridge just below the pass has a real alpine feel. So don't get me wrong we'll be coming back again. And again.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Avalanche Crest

We had never ever skied Avalanche Crest before. Whaaat? Odd because it's spectacular, popular, and very accessible.

We began by exploring this seemingly benign moraine between Avalanche and Eagle.

Pow! Crunch! Scraape! It was a freakin' mine field of talus lurking just below the surface. Three of us had varying amounts of Ptex hanging in flappy strips off the bottom of our skis.

Back up to the ridge to overlook the highway and our cars parked far below.

A good long run but it still felt a little early season with plenty of trees sticking up to catch the unwary.

The lower few hundred metres was full-combat skiing.

But we survived and were happy to have visited a new yet familiar place.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

NRC with Damon

Damon arrived in Revelstoke on Saturday! Off to NRC on Sunday. First we looked for the surface hoar.

Couldn't find it. So we skied.

Oh man it was good. There was a rain or suncrust down about 30cm but it was supportive enough to keep ski tips above any lurking alders. What a great start to the season. It's felt like mid-winter since early November. Damon was slightly broken by the end of the day. But that's okay he's got 4 months of skiing in Rogers Pass ahead of him to get into shape.