Scott, Sandra, Tim, Ben and I skied off the north side of Puma S1, a peak between Madeley Creek and Beverley Creek, in the Callaghan Valley.
We did an excellent loop going up the south ridge, and then skiing down the N/NE bowl, which goes for about 600m down towards the Soo River, before turning right and heading up to the low pass between Puma S1 and Rainbow. From here, we followed the Beverley Lake trail that Scott marked, back to the nordic trail. The trip was capped off with some exciting tree skiing in crusty snow by headlamp.
Jay, Laura, Luisa, Tim, Leah, Mark and I spent the day skiing in the Iago/Great Bear area on the Coquihalla. Due to a late start and some deep trailbreaking, we didn't explore all the slopes. There's some great glade skiing here! Definitely a good spot to go when the weather isn't so nice.
From the rest stop, follow the same route towards Zupjok Peak along an old road towards a forested pass. We went too high in the forest, when we really should have contoured lower to gain the gladed ridge on Iago. On the way back, we found a nice path through meadows and more open trees.
Jay skinning up towards the rounded summit of Iago, with Yak in the back.
Skinning up along the sparsly treed ridge to the summit of Iago Peak
Skinning up along the sparsly treed ridge to the summit of Iago Peak. Its possible to continue along the ridge towards Great Bear Peak, but those slopes down from Great Bear looked more exposed than what we wanted given the amount of new snow.
Fix the heel, fix the problem? Tim out on his first day on his dynafit setup. Another Aging Telemark bites the dust.
Luisa skiing down from Iago, some great snow in the glades.
Jay and Luisa enjoying some fun glade skiing!
It must be December. Luisa and Tim skiing out to the Coquihalla rest stop.
The conditions looked really good for a December weekend, two days of sunshine, some fresh snow over the past week, and moderate avalanche danger. That’s almost traverse weather according to Tim. After flopping through a few different ideas, we made a last minute plan to head out to Phelix to join thirty other VOCers for a weekend of leisurely skiing. No slogs, no epics, no obscurity, that was the plan.
We briefly considered skiing up the west branch of Phelix Creek, and then climbing Tolkien Peak along the way into Phelix, but the lower part of the spur road looked too bushy and alderly. We passed on that option, and continued on a steady pace up to the hut, arriving just under three hours from the car, following a well-broken trail.
It was really cold at the hut, and we didn’t linger too long before thinking of what to ski. I’ve never been to Phelix Creek in the early season, and was surprised to see so many boulders sticking out everywhere. We headed up to the Peregrine-Frodo col, and skied one run down the south side of the col. I’ve tried to ski this slope before, it’s at a good angle, wide, and very smooth. The last time I skied it, it was a sheet of ice, and this time, it was nearly breakable crust, but still skiable. At least we were skiing in the sun.
Tim skiing along the upper lake. It was pretty bony in this basin.
Looking southwest towards the shoulder of Tolkien Peak
Tim pauses to enjoy some of the spectacular December sunshine
We headed back up to the ridge, and noted the incredible temperature difference between the shady north side and the sunny south side of the ridge. We slowly headed up towards the top of Peregrine Peak. We took our time, as it was sunny and calm on the ridgetop, and I knew it was going to be an icebox down at the hut. Just as the last glimpse of the sun disappeared over towards Sun God Mountain, we dropped down into the top of the Return of the King, a nice ski line. The skiing was pleasantly good, and before long we were back at the hut. Lots of singing, guidebook reading (me only), and copious amounts of food and desserts were enjoyed by all. It was incredibly starry outside too, with a completely clear sky and a new moon.
Tim skiing up towards Peregrine Peak. The entrance to the Return of the King is nearby.
Getting the last bit of sunshine before skiing down the Return of the Ring to the cabin.
A spectacular starry sky and an awesome group of VOCers at the Brian Waddington hut
I was excited to ski Copp Creek, and the Aragorn Glacier on Sunday, and it didn’t take much to convince Tim either. We thought a few other people might even join us on this nice tour, especially those who were lucky enough to stay for another night at the cabin. At 6am the next morning, I looked around and saw that a few other keeners had also woken up. Apparently it was my bad influence on people to wake up before it’s bright outside.
We continued slogging up at a Tim pace towards the Aragorn glacier, breaking trail up towards the hanging valley below the east face of Gandalf. The best route up follows steep trees on the climber’s right side of the creek until hitting open alpine slopes above. We contoured around the open basin up there, and it was quite beautiful up there as the sun started to hit the east face of Gandalf and Aragorn and everything started to turn into a deep red. We skipped past the toe of the Aragorn glacier, and it was awfully hard to ski past it’s smooth glowing slopes. Tim was already way ahead as usual, on the way into Copp Creek. I figured we would come back here, and see a bunch of VOCers happily skiing down those slopes.
East face of Gandalf
Tim skiing along the open basin at sunrise
Looking back at the sunrise and Aragorn Peak
A few years ago, Tim, Scott and Sandra skied down into the Copp Creek, which drains in Callawader Creek. I've heard Tim rave about it every time I mention Phelix Creek. From the shoulder northeast of Aragorn, it’s a full 600m down to the meadows below. The run starts off on a big open slope, which all funnels down through a terrain-trap gully before fanning out into microterrain with lots of boulder fields and sparse trees.
Tim at the top of the Copp Creek run.
A long climb back up.
We climbed back out of the Copp Creek drainage, and was surprised to see that it was still early, and that nobody had skied the Aragorn Glacier yet. So we headed up the Aragorn Glacier, skied along the windswept ridge to the summit boulder, and then turned around to enjoy some fantastic powder on the upper half of the glacier. The bottom half was good too. Two days of skiing in the sunshine, two summits, and good snow, it's almost as good as it gets.
Light and fluffy boot top snow on the Aragorn Glacier
Robin was in town, so Tim, Fred, Mark, and I piled into Blinky and drove up to Whistler to go skiing. We headed up the Rainbow Lake trail, where coverage was somewhat marginal. The worst bit was between leaving the trail, and the Hanging Valley, where we had to take off our skis to bootpack through the steep headwall. The snow up high was quite nice though! A very pleasant day for touring and enjoying the rolling terrain up there.
Robin soaking up some of that beautiful November sunshine
Fred skiing up through the rolling meadows
Rolling terrain and lots of snow up high
Mark enjoying a little bit of meadow skipping. The avalanche danger was considerable at treeline.
Looking over at the true east summit of Sproatt. It's all very rolling and rambling up here. The main run off Sproatt was looking too bony today.
Touring through rolling subalpine terrain in the Sproatt/Gin Peak area.
Beautiful afternoon light through the snow-covered trees.
Robin deep in the Coastal powder!
They just don't have powder like this in Toronto, just look at that grin!
Alas it was time to go home. The ski out through the headwall was quite technical, requiring some sideslipping along the frozen icy ground, log rails, and alder gates. It just needs a bit more snow!