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I like being outside if it's nice out. This includes mountain biking, trail running, sailing, climbing, skiing and much more. If you're going on a fun adventure, let me know!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Heartbreaker

Dave, Jonathan, Des, Katie, Lea, Vince and I had a very pleasant day skiing Heartbreaker, a run located in the Joffre Lakes area on the Duffey Lake road. It's actually called Heartstrings but the snow was terrible so we decided to re-name the run. Still a great day to be outside with a fun crew and relatively nice weather. Next time when the snow is better, it would be fun to link this up with some other skiing in the area for a bigger day.

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Lea's new pet. We parked at the plowed parking lot for Joffre Lakes, and continued across the frozen lakes. The weather was quite pleasant, with occasional breaks of sunshine.

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On the way up above the upper lake. A nice pleasant ramp leads to the ridge to Heartstrings. A few other friends were trying to ski bigger lines on Matier, and we watched as they struggled up the steep slope above the upper Joffre Lake. Their progressed seemed slow, and we were nervous watching them bootpack up and across rocky steep slopes to access the Matier glacier.

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Dave on the shortbootpack up to the ridge north of Taylor Peak.

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Leah on the bootpack up. She now has this identical photo, taken by three different photographers.

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The highlight of this run are the beautiful lichen covered towers at the top. It's quite aesthetic skiing through them. We were hoping for better skiing conditions, but the recent outflow winds had hammered this slope.

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Regrouping halfway down the run. The snow improved slightly here, but it was still highly variable.

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Jonathan finds a patch of good snow. The skiing was simliar to playing minesweeper, there were patches of safe snow, and then there was explosive crust. Jonathan's bright blue jacket and yellow pants make this otherwise boring photo look more interesting.

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A tribute to Matt Gunn. We all need more lessons on how to perfect this shot! We were back at the car by 3:30pm, and headed down to the Pony, early enough to still order from their brunch menu. A great day out with a great crew!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cassiope Peak

A great day of skiing in the Saxifrage-Cassiope area, accessed from North Joffre Creek off the Duffey Lake road. This was my third time in this area, and I was surprised by how easy the winter access was. I've approached this area once before from this direction, but it was in May, and we thrashed our way up through thick slider alder at the bottom of the big avalanche path. And then there was another time where we approached from the west via Spetch Creek, a slightly longer route.


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From the plowed parking lot, we skied up the road on the west side of North Joffre Creek, and then across the snow covered marsh. A few friends came skiing here last May, when the marsh wasn't snow covered, and returned home with some great skiing shots. I recommend this approach for mid-winter, and then the Spetch Creek approach in the spring when you can drive up that road.

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From the end of the marsh, a steady climb up a south facing avalanche path, and then a short section of trees, leaves you at the lake east of Cassiope Peak. This is a great spot to camp. We skied the slope at the top left of the photo. There is plenty of other terrain to ski, but you might have to share it with the heliskiers. The last time I was here, we were skiing down off the Saxifrage-Cassiope col, and the helicopter dropped off a group of snowboarders directly above us.


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Sarah on the climb up to the Saxifrage-Cassiope col. The sunshine felt spring like up here.


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From the col, we skied up to the top of Cassiope Peak, giving us great views of the surrounding mountains. It was quite pleasant at the summit, plenty of sunshine and little wind. I think this was my third time up here, I need to start going to other places.

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Powder, sunshine, and friends. It was a pretty good day to be a backcountry skier in the Coast Mountains. I forgot to include myself in the group shot though.

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Susie skiing off Cassiope Peak, with Mount Currie in the background and Gravell Creek on the left.


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After a long conference at the top, we skied off the summit, and then contoured around the south side of the peak east of Cassiope to access the north facing runs. On the way down, Ned went first, and accidentally jumped off one of the rimed covered rocks in the centre of the photo.

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Ned in action. The ridge tops were slightly windaffected, but the snow improved very soon.

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Joel enjoying some great north facing powder.

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Shadow and light. It's hard to get good skiing photos when skiing north facing slopes.

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Sarah skiing down a second run to the east.

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This photo is for Stu's mom.

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Ned looking good off a jump. I should just change the name of this blog to "RichSo's Blog about Ned"

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We skied down a northeast facing avalanche chute to bypass the lake and main avalanche path. It was a great exit, until the end where we had to sideslip our way down through a steep section of trees. At least I can add this part of the day to the map wall.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cayoosh Mountain

Nick, Stu, Ned, Sarah, Reagen, Davey, Paul, Susie and I went skiing on Cayoosh Mountain. A fun day out with great views, though it was quite windy at the top. The last time I was here, it was a complete whiteout on the entire ascent to the summit so it was nice to come back here to enjoy the views.

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The famous Nick Elson went skiing with us today. It was quite cold in the shade.

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Sarah on her way up the Armchair glacier.

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Sunburst and high clouds over the Joffre Group.

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This place is popular. We skied off the col just below the summit, instead of skiing off the rocky steep face directly below the summit.

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Two other skiers climbing up towards another objective, with great views of Joffre, Matier, Hartzell and Spetch.

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Ned lower down on the northeast glacier. We had hoped to ski the Million Dollar couloir, but strong winds and our group size made us re-think our plan.

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We returned to the col. Davey, Paul, Nick and I continued up onto the summit while the others skied down the Armchair glacier. Sometimes fast and light is too light. Nick trimmed off the compression straps on his pack so he didn't have a way to carry his skis. Luckily it was only a short bootpack to the summit. I was surprised by how much heliskiing there was on the northwest glacier.

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A strange combination of a knee drop and a strong upward draft resulted in Davey getting faceshots on the rimed snow on the summit ridge.

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Nick sliding downhill on a pair of planks. Definitely better than a day of bouldering. It was a fun ski back down through the avalanche pathes at the bottom of the armchair glacier, and we were back at the cars with plenty of daylight to spare.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rohr Ridge and Chief Pascall

Tim, Nick, Christian, Line, Ben, Anne and I enjoyed a powder day skiing steep trees off Rohr Ridge. The avalanche danger was considerable at treeline and above, and high in the alpine. With this in mind, we focused on tree skiing all weekend on the Duffey Lake road. It snowed 40cm the previous night, and continued to snow all day. We returned to the cars with another 20cm of fresh snow. All of the storm snow fell ontop of a firm ice crust, and we noticed sluffing on this layer all day long. We skinned up through the steep south facing trees of Rohr ridge. The trail breaking was deep at times, and upward progress was generally slow. Visibility was minimal, but the entire route is mostly in tight trees so it's no big deal.

We skied down Rocky Horror Powder Show, a 650m run that connects steep glades and open rock slopes down to cutblock above the normal Marriott trail. It's steep enough to be of concern at the top, but the terrain in the rest of the run felt suitable for the conditions.

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Anne skiing down a steep section at the start of the Rocky Horror Powder Show. The rest of the run is in denser trees, great for days like today where you can't see anything.

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The skiing was pretty darn awesome after a month of powder starvation. Welcome back La Nina.

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So much snow. On anything flat, it felt like we were just wallowing through the snow.

From here, we continued up the road, and then climbed steeply through tight trees to gain the big west facing bowl on the north side of Rohr ridge. We didn't ski very high above the trees, as everything was turning into a soft windslab and the visibility was very limited. From our highpoint at approx 2000m, we skied down the run called Stellar Bowl, which lived up to it's name.

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It was a very wet day, and the snow resembled more like the stuff typical of Whistler, but the skiing was quite good still.

The next day, we went over to the other side of the highway to ski the trees of Chief Pascall. The weather was much better, with occasional sunny periods. We parked at the weather station, crossed Cayoosh Creek, skied east along the logging road until the second cutblock, and then climbed up and mostly left to get up to the good skiing. There were initial concerns that the runs would be tracked out from the Saturday skiers, but their tracks were almost completely buried. The snow was best again in the trees, with 60cm of fluffy snow. Trail breaking was hardwork again. The snow wasn't very good in the open alpine and we skied a few amazing laps in the trees again.

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Anne skiing a mellow open slope below the northwest ridge. The snow was definitely wind affected in the alpine. We observed a Size 2 avalanche on the northwest face of the bump in steep rocky terrain, likely from Saturday night.

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Anne, back up in the windslab junk snow. The skiing in the trees was too good to take photos on the first run. We could have skied all the way down to the cutblock, but we opted to only go halfway down.

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Nick deep in the Chief Pascall trees. What a great place for easy access to north facing trees.

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The snow was really only knee deep here, but Christian skis a very low stance. Perfect for faceshots.

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Tim skiing back down towards the highway. Rohr Ridge is in the background.

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Nick and Tim enjoying some fun skiing lower down in the trees.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fissile Peak

Chris and I had an excellent day out in the Fitzsimmons range. We took the gondola out to the musical bumps, and then continued on towards Fissile Peak. After bootpacking up the south face, we went up the west ridge to the summit. From there, we retraced our steps down to lower on the ridge, where we skied down Banana Chute. We went back out via the Musical Bumps, as I wasn't looking forward to the narrow icy Singing Pass trail.

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I wasn't sure where to go, but as it was suppose to be sunny and stable, I thought something steep like Fissile would be nice. Chris wasn't too excited about the idea of bootpacking up something and then survival skiing down it though. As we were buying the backcountry passes, the lady at the counter was shocked when Chris told her that he didn't have any records with Whistler-Blackcomb. It's as if she thought everybody skis at Whistler. Chris and I felt like fish out of water as we stumbled through Whistler and out into the Musical Bumps.

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A great view towards Mount Davidson, Mount Carr, and Castle Towers. I thought it would be a bit of a trek to get to Fissile, but those lifts sure do an amazing job of getting us high fast. At the rate we were climbing up that morning, we could have been on Everest by lunchtime.

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Some "dude" bootpacking up the moraine behind me, which leads up to a thin layer of snow of top of rocks on the south face. This whole area is like a more "dude" version of Red Heather. I wore my baggy schoeller pants that day to fit in, but they weren't bright highlighter yellow or blue.

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Paul skiing down into Saddle Chute, a 55deg chute which starts in a minor saddle just west of the summit.

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Neither Chris or I enjoy skiing anything steep, so we took the easiest line down Banana Chute. Although it's only 40deg, the snow was quite firm and it took some effort to make it to the bottom in one piece. It's quite an aesthetic line, following a consistently steep wide gully lined by rock walls.

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Looking back up at Banana Chute, and Chris skiing down it. The snow softened near the bottom making the turns much more enjoyable.

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Looking back at Banana Chute, and Fissile Peak. It goes from the low point on the West Ridge, and cut down diagonally from right to left.

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Chris skiing across Russet Lake.

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The snow was quite variable all day long. We encountered everything from wind blown junk, blower powder, firm icy snow, and breakable crust.

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We took the long way out by climbing back up and down the Musical Bumps to get to the groomed runs at Whistler. I didn't think that the Singing Pass trail would be much fun with the lack of recent snow. The long open groomers were a nice way to end the day, aside from the occasional icy patches where we wish we sharpened our edges.