30 December, 2010

Bluebird Powder Days

After a long December with very little sun, flat light, and a huge amount of snow we can see!  Another year, another bunch of layers in the snowpack keeping us on our toes, and forcing us to take a step back.  Earlier this year, after a cold snap, we had a layer of facets buried underneath more and more snow.  They are currently buried 2.5-3m deep, but are still being triggered by skiers and lighter loads in shallow rocky snowpack areas.  So with stability not really on our side we had to settle for some stellar powder skiing, rather than ski mountaineering. Darn. (Photo Left:  Zack Wasson bagging face shot after face shot)

On Thursday, Dave Booth, Zack Wasson, Tom Rourke, and myself headed out on the Musical Bumps.  Climbing up Flute, the first ascent of the day, we were beaten up by 90km/h winds and serious blowing snow hampering our original ideas of some steeper chutes.  Changing our plan, to suit the conditions at hand, we headed over to the Apostles on the back side of Oboe.  First lap dropping down perfectly spaced trees sheltered from the wind, we found such deep snow, skiing another lap down another Apostle was mandatory.  This area truly has been one of the most consistently good areas to ski while dealing with less stable snow.
(Photo Above:  Dave Booth Gettin' Some on the Apostles) 
Cowboy Ridge across the way was next on our list after farming the Apostles.  It seemed like the wind hadn't hit it hard, and we even noticed another group setting a skin track up it.  Our group was strong, already skiing two laps two peaks back in the Whistler Backcountry and breaking deep trail, we caught up and passed the group setting the skin track up Cowboy.  Since they had done most of the trail breaking, we allowed them to ski down first, luckily not skiing the line we had chosen down the middle of the open slope.  Truly hero snow, light, fast, and deep.  Another three laps, complete with Super G turns down perfectly spaced trees, and farming the runs to look at from town.  Now with the sun was going down, cooked from so much powder, we called it a day skiing out Singing Pass to sleep and eat getting ready for day 2.

Early the next morning Paul Cordy is at my place.  We're loading our gear into his vegetable oil powered van for a 100% carbon neutral day of ski touring on the Duffey Lake Pass.  Driving up, discussing our various options and formulating a plan on where the best snow would be, we settled on a circum-navigation of the Marriott Basin to Cayoosh.  The plan was to start off skinning up the Marriott Basin to the top of a subpeak in the area (near Honey Bronzed and Very Desirable if you know the area) and skiing down the massive vertical relief that the SW avalanche chutes provide and out.  (Photo Top Left:  Courtesay of Matt Gunn, our line - the large avalanche chutes in the background)
(Photo Above:  Paul Cordy dropping into the 700m Rock And Roll Chutes)
After skiing our first lap of high quality snow, even with a mission to get out still and walk back along the road to the car, we opted for another lap.  The photo above says it all.  Stats for Rock And Roll, 700m descent to the valley, lightly treed, average slope angle is 38 degrees.  After walking out and along the road after skiing the final lap in the fading light, it was time to go home and plot the next epic day.  Soon the snow will be stable and it will be game on, until then we can survive skiing days like this..... everyday.

1 comment:

  1. Love this story Alex, quite different from your usual missions. Enjoy the snow and sun (maybe we'll see it again soon).