Tim Blair at the bottom of the run, Mount Taillefer, Coast Mountains, originally uploaded by RichSo.
It's always hard to decide where to go in the mountains. There are so many places to visit, but certain places are only best at certain times. With a weather forecast calling for cloudy weather on Sat, and sunshine on Sunday, I had a hard time deciding where to go. Friday evening came around, and Tim suggested that we go to Phelix Creek and do a tour around Mount Taillefer instead of going to Rainbow Mountain.
Thanks to the trail breaking efforts of the earlier party, Tim Madeleine and I made it to the hut in speedy time. Tim was skeptical of getting any runs in today, but it was only 1pm, and soon Tim ushered us out of the hut towards the upper lake. Apparently there is this amazing run on the slope southwest of Peregrine Peak. I skied down first, and soon face planted down the breakable crust. Maybe if I knew how to do some of those fancy jump tele turns then I could ski breakable crust. I survival skied to the bottom, and wondered where the others were. It turns out that Champagne and Madeleine thought it was terrible skiing. So Tim came down to rescue me. Skinning back up on the breakable crust in the wind was definitely Type II fun. From the col, we skied back down to the upper lake. I thought the snow was nice, but maybe it was just the strong contrast from the breakable crust. It was getting dark, my legs were tired, but we went for another run in the trees southeast of the upper lake. There were some nice steep and deep stashes in the trees.
Early next morning, at 6:15am,, we went outside to see the stars. We woke up Matthew Baker (along with the rest of the hut with my alarm), who was keen to come along on the tour. Unfortunately, it was still snowing a bit, and we could hear the wind up high. I was somewhat reluctant to ski Taillefer today, but Tim pointed out that we climb mountains in these conditions all the time. It's just too bad it's not sunny.
We skinned up towards the col northwest of Shadowfax, encountering really strong winds. We wondered how cold it was with the windchill factor. From the col, we contoured along windswept slopes towards the north face of Taillefer. This was also Type II fun, we should have just dropped into the bowl instead of trying to save elevation.
Once we dropped down into the trees, the sun came out, and it was really nice. We even found a spot at the lake without too much wind, and just enough sun. From the lake, we skinned up to the col on the ridge between Weinhold and Taillefer, crossing a big avalanche slope. It was still windy at this point, but the sun was really nice. The sun came out because Tim forgot his sunglasses at home. The hardest part of day came when we had to climb a short cliff band to get onto the east ridge. This involved a few moves of snow covered 5.3 rock, and some snow.
For those who haven’t been on a trip with Tim, well, Tim is a high output type person. Waist deep snow doesn’t really stop Tim. At this point, we had decided not to ski the massive avalanche path off of Taillefer, that’s the tempting face that you see across the lake. I’m glad we didn’t ski it, since it turns into 40 degree avalanche gullies at the bottom. Probably comparable to skiing 5.12. Instead, we skied down the southeast face, and down into the east Phelix basin in favour of more touring.
We were all glad that we went down this way instead.
It doesn’t get much nicer in January.
At some point around here I told Tim that my legs hurt, and that I didn’t remember that last time they were that sore. And then I remembered yesterday.
We ended up finding a flagged snowmobiler route in the east branch of Phelix Creek and followed that back to the spur road. There was even nice powder in the clearcut down to the spur road. There was still another 5km of freshly snowmobile groomed road to snowplow down, and that finished off my legs.
On the drive home, while starring at the Tantalus range, I tried to make up a lame excuse about doing homework next weekend. And then Madeleine pointed out homework will always be there, but the mountains won’t be.