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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!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Iceclimbing in the Smoke Bluffs

IMG_1883-1, originally uploaded by RichSo.

With the recent cold snap in Vancouver, ice conditions were looking really good in Squamish.

After skiing at Brohm ridge with less than spectacular snow, Pete, Kristen, Sarah and I decided to go and check out some of the iceclimbing around the Smoke Bluffs. People were saying that the bluffs had more ice than they have had in decades. Since none of us had done any "real" iceclimbing, we figured TRing ice routes in the bluffs would be quite safe. Short drive, easy approaches, no avalanches, minimal icefall, and nearby Pub sounded quite good.

Getting out of Vancouver on Sunday morning was quite difficult. In fact, we didn't leave until 11am since we couldn't figure out if it was worth driving all the way to Squamish in the blizzard. Afterall, it's just iceclimbing, not powder skiing on the Duffy. This didn't give alot of daylight for climbing, as it was also the winter solstice. The highway crew did a great job of keeping the highway clear, and soon we were putting on our boots. Well everybody except for Pete, who had left his boots back in Vancouver. Fortunately Kelly Franz was home, and lent Pete one of his five pairs of boots.

We walked up to the Bughouse heights area (left of the fixed route at Penny Lane), saw some nice ice smears, but there were already people on it. We eventually found a short smear of ice on the right side of Krack rock. It was probably only 3-5m high, but long enough for us to figure out that ice climbing is scary.

The next and last climb we did that day was a longer full pitch of ice on the left side of Krack rock. Take a 35m rope to toprope this one. Swing swing kick kick. A fair bit of video footage was taken here, so look forward to seeing Sessions Vol 2: Return of the Ice Devil.

The next day, Pete and I went back to the Smoke Bluffs for some more ice cragging. It was a bluebird Monday, and Pete the working man was feeling "sick." There was some ice above Krack rock, but we couldn't figure out how to walk to the top so we left that alone. We went back to the Bughouse heights area, where we enjoyed a few pitches of warm sunny iceclimbing.

Next we went to check out Alice on Ice. This was a fun ice route to the right of Zombie Roof. Once again the climbing was quite fun and comfortable with sunny belays. After a few more laps here, we figured it was time to go home.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Brohm Ridge Tour

Pete, Jeremy, Sarah, Jay, Louisa, Louisa's friend, and I went for a scenic tour up at Brohm ridge. Normally this isn't the place you would go for skiing, unless either you could drive up the road, or own a snowmobile. We tried to drive as far as we could with Pete's truck. However, without chains, we only made it up 5km. So we all piled up into Jay's truck with chains, and drove another kilometre or too. The way up to Brohm ridge follows an old road heavily used by snowmobiles later in the season. Unfortunately there is one descent enroute, meaning one final hill on the way home. 

I'm not really sure where the good skiing (if any) is at Brohm ridge. We found one bump, cranked out a few turns on it, and decided to go to the Brew Pub. At least the views were fantastic, especially of a rarely seen aspect of Garibaldi. 

Friday, December 19, 2008

Power Slaying at Table Mountain

Bram, Duncan, Grahame, Matt and I had a really good day of skiing in the Mount Baker backcountry today. We skied in the Blueberry Chutes area, dropping down from below Table Mountain to Bagley Lakes. With the short days, we only managed three runs, but each one involved epic deep fluffy snow. It was quite the treat to finally ski some nice snow, after such a disappointing start to the ski season here. 

Me skiing down. Photo by Matt Gunn.

Grahame freeheeling 

Matt ripping it up

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mount Seymour backcountry gnar

Duncan, Matt Gunn, and I went for a lazy tour at Seymour on Monday. The main lifts aren't open yet, so you could ski up the groomers and back down all day if you felt like doing that. We opted to ski up the trail since it was less windy.

The views were great up high, but super windy. The snow in the trees was quite fluffy, but the coverage was lacking over logs, boulders, etc. Everything near Pump Peak was hammered by the wind, resulting in either sastrugi, bare rocks, or a sheet of ice. I sure hope we get some more snow...

Instead of skiing back down the up trail, we foolishly skied down the narly couloir that the direct uptrail goes up. It wasn't very pleasant. Below this couloir was the only slope where we cranked some turns. Duncan was doing quite well with his new beefy AT boots, until his skis released (again) after this shot. 

Brewtal Winds at the Brew Hut

The past weekend was spent ski touring up to the Brew hut, a cozy little hut maintained by the Varsity Outdoor Club on the Squamish-Cheakamus divide. It was incredibly windy up there, resulting in poor snow quality. The weather on Saturday wasn't great, but things cleared up on Sunday allowing for some photography. It's difficult taking photos in cold weather (-20C). Either my fingers were too cold, or my battery kept on dying. I did take out the battery whenever I wasn't using the camera, and also slept with it to keep it warm. Changing lens in strong winds is also difficult, since snow can blow into the sensor which isn't good. Unfortunately my UV filter broke, likely due to the cold temperature. It's still useable, but it just feels a little loose since the plastic ring cracked. 

Bram skinning against the strong winds on Sunday morning

Incredible sastrugi, formed by the strong winds around the Brew Hut


Thursday, December 11, 2008

First day of the ski season

Matt Gunn, Anna, and I went for a daytrip at Heliotrope ridge today. It's been a fairly slow start of the ski season. With recent snowfall in the local mountains, I was really hoping for good powder skiing at Heliotrope ridge. Afterall, it's pretty high up right?

Well it turns out that the freezing levels were quite high at Mount Baker. As a result, a thick layer of melt-freeze crust had forming, turning everything into one gigantic skating rink. It was still a really great day in the mountains, if not just for the views and sunshine.