07 January, 2014

TLH Setup 2014

The Guide's work is never done, and it's an interesting year out there, as British Columbia has definitely seen so far.  We just did a shift working on setting up TLH Heliskiing, focusing on getting everything ready, but more importantly sussing out the snowpack and checking out glaciers.

I think the one thing many people can take home from a few of our observations is that we need more snow, but not as much for our snowpack depth, but for the coverage on glaciers.  Crevasses have started to bridge, however, with the winds they are bridged very thinly and very discretely.  This was discovered very quickly, when we descended down a pocket glacier (probing our way down), and found a few crevasses that were perfectly smooth on top with no visible sagging.  So with that discovery, our goal was to find runs that either had smooth glaciation with no holes, or simply no glaciation at all (at least until we get a number more big storms coming through).
(Photo Above:  Scott Flavelle probing a unknown width but deep crevasse, perfectly concealed by the wind and snow, only a small amount of snow bridging it.  Notice the clues on the rib in the background, where the crevasse goes up to, and subtly suggests it's there.  Too bad those clues aren't everywhere.)
(Photo Above:  Deciding we don't want to ski down a glacier riddled with slots that we are unable to see.  Erika Flavelle and Conny Amelunxen escaping to a new pick-up.  You can go Ski Mountaineering when hell-skiing!)
The other main goal while setting up is to establish a strong understanding of what is going on in the snowpack.  We go out, dig multiple profiles, in different elevation bands, different terrain features, and different aspects to learn what's going on.  During the guides meeting, we focus on what we don't know, and then form our field objectives around learning and shedding light on those concerns.  By the end of the week, we've got the snowpack pretty sussed out, and understand the variety of changes though out the tenure which is a touch larger than Switzerland.  This process is key for us, but the process is standard even for recreationalists.  Find our as much information as possible, if you have questions about an aspect, elevation, or layer, answer those questions.  Just don't go ski something if you are unsure.

Overall, it's great to get out check out the terrain, travel through the mountains, and of course heli ski with friends in between "working."
(Photo Above:  Alex Wigley on White Cross, "working".  Photo Credit:  Conny Amelunxen)

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