22 April, 2013

Closin' It Down On The Last Week At TLH

I just got back from the last week of operations at TLH.  Great group, actually fantastic, and probably some of the best conditions we've had all year.  Dry deep snow, sunshine, and a single helicopter to use in an area bigger than Switzerland.
(Photo Above:  Alex Wigley (left) Ken Gray (right) flying laps in The Gun.  Credit:  Andrew Doran)
Guiding this week wasn't as simple as most spring weeks, as there was a hair trigger layer of 20mm Surface Hoar buried 30-75cm down on a hard Melt Freeze Crust.  The snow on top of it was high quality dry snow, but continued to build a slab with multiple convective flurries dropping 10-25cm each day on top of it.  Needless to say, anything above 2350m steeper than 30 degrees was avalanching when we walked or landed on ridges.  It took careful planning to negotiate through and avoid run outs.
(Photo Above:  One of many remote triggered avalanches on Surface Hoar)
(Photo Above:  Alex Wigley leading another line in The Gun.  Credit:  Andrew Doran)
As for our guests, one in particular spent the time to create an amazing video of his trip, and it turned out great.  Check it out.

Heli Boarding BC, Canada, April 2013 from Niki Luysterburg on Vimeo.
Great season, stoked to be out exploring such amazing terrain with such great people.

06 April, 2013

Lucky 13 - TLH Spring Work Shift

Week 13, lucky 13, at TLH was on.  And when it's on... it's on.  46,000m skied in a week, with some down time and hanging out at the Meager hot springs, 11 First Descents (1 more may be confirmed), major peaks and aggressive lines skied every day, teetering landings with the helicopter no wider than 140cm, bluebird skies, and making ice cream at lunches.  I can say, wow, what a week.
(Photo Above:  Jonny Simms standing on top of Toba Peak after a knife edge landing. 50 deg roll in!)
When conditions are so good you can simply point to the line you wish to ski and be there moments later.  Exploring massive ranges far from any signs of human life, and white expanses as far as the eye can see, the feeling of being "out there" can be hard to achieve with a helicopter; but for the time spent last week we felt... "out there."  So out there we could even see Mt Waddington and the Tiedemann Range all week!
(Photo Above:  Tiny knife edge ridges after balancing the heli to land, Jonny fired up for the down climb.)
(Photo Above:  Alex Wigley warming up on Bridge Peak North. Photo Credit:  Randy Lincks)
Among some of the lines we skied, was Thor.  Mt Athelstan's massive couloir dropping from high in the alpine down through a usually ice filled couloir, and large avalanche chutes to the valley below.  The line hasn't been skied by a group in 11 years, but this week it was in condition.
(Photo Above:  Mt Athelstan and "Thor" as seen in February this year, waiting for a descent.)
(Photo Above:  Jonny Simms dropping into the legendary Thor)
One more week to go up at the lodge, hopefully it will be sunny so we can crush more lines!
(Photo Above:  Mt Magaera.  Waiting for some skis to paint on it's white canvas.)