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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!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Phalanx Tour

Paul, Justin, Matt and I had a good day on the Phalanx loop out in the Blackcountry backcountry. I like bluebird days in February!

After the week of warm weather, and northerly outflow winds, most slopes were looking rather wind affected or suncrusted, but the views made up for it.

The views are hard to beat. Decker, Fissile and Garibaldi way back there.

Unknown skier sideslipping down the steep section of Don't Swill off the Spearhead.

Paul skiing up above the Spearhead glacier

We got in a nice lap on the bump on the east side of the Spearhead glacier, and then headed over to the Stairmaster couloir on Phalanx. We didn't really have a firm plan today, so it was an endless day of bickering over where to ski breakable crust/powder.

Paul bootpacking up the Stairmaster couloir, a steep narrow gully leading up to the double summits of Phalanx Peak and its nice north facing glacier. A big slog that looks good with the wide angle.

DSC_3565 Double Summits
A group of three enjoying a quiet bluebird day at the top of Phalanx Peak, away from the Olympic buzz in the valley below.

I was skiing with three powder pigs, and there was no chance to get any photos of the glacier skipping down to this bench. There's some pretty good terrain in those open slopes behind Paul, but it's definitely something to do when the avalanche danger isn't too high.

After debating whether to ski out the Poop Chutes (USA vs Canada hockey game), or to skin back up to ski the glacier again, we chose the latter. We thought we would still have time to make it down for at least the second period.

Paul skinning up along the Phalanx Glacier. Almost looks like its inbounds with all those noodles.

Justin getting a nice run down onto the Phalanx Glacier. Videos of people skiing in the backcountry seems pretty popular these days, but I don't have a video camera, so here's the next best thing that I found online. http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/6144815/

Skiing out along the bench and then traversing some slopes to get to the Poop Chutes and Blackcomb Creek. We had a bit of a scare when we lost Paul who had continued skiing down towards Wedge Creek past the bench.

Karate skiing, one notch above survival skiing on the way out to the Poop Chutes. The snow was pretty heavy by this point, and there was quite a bit of shrubbery to get around. We should have stayed a little bit higher on the traverse. We couldn't wait until reaching a nicely groomed green run to take us home.

DSC_3645 Bitter Ending
After bugging the token American in our group (Justin) all day about the game, and making 5-0 predictions, we ended up catching the last ten minutes of the game to watch Canada lose against the USA.

Back in the car and the end of a good weekend of exploring new places in the Coast Mountains.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Thar Peak

According to Justin and Paul, I have a knack for finding the best breakable crust in the Coast Mountains, and the type of snow where I never make tele turns. A nice tour up to a new place for me, and some fantastic views. We went up the southeast ridge of Thar Peak, and then descended the north facing slopes down to Falls Lake. This would be a great run in better snow conditions.

DSC_3430 Waiting for Paul
Justin anxious to get going.

Paul skiing up above the avalanche path. The snow was pretty soft as it was south facing

And then it was quite hard and wind blasted as we got higher towards the Nak-Thar col

East ridge of Nak Peak, quite gnarly looking.

Paul wishing he was skiing powder at Blackcomb instead while climbing up this icy slope.

My sandwich at the top of Thar Peak on a sunny day on the Coquihalla.

Paul heading to the Nak-Thar col

Paul making the breakable crust look like good skiing.

The snow wasn't very good on the north aspects either, the northerly outflow winds pretty much ruined this run down to Falls Lake.

Eventually the run narrows a bit, and you start heading skiers right. Some great light as the sun rose over the Yak-Nak ridge.

Paul at the entrance of a narrow gully at the end of the run down to Falls Lake. It wasn't in very good shape, and we probably sideslipped most of it. The terrain to the left and right of the gully looks quite steep and cliffy. We skied out to Falls Lake and skied out to the car with plenty of daylight left.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Steep Creek

Sarah, Sarah, Paul, Justin, Jeff and I headed up to Steep Creek on the Duffey Lake Road to enjoy some great skiing during a period of sunny weather and low avalanche hazard. Lots of skiing for little slogging, a little bit different than some of my trips.

Paul on the way up to Peak 2318, with Darkside lake below.


On the way up to Peak 2318.

Still going up

DSC_3040 Kick Turns
Paul B making a kick turn on the way up to Peak 2318, on the east side of Darkside Lake.

Jeff happy to be outside

DSC_3063 Pink Sunglasses
Bootpacking to the top of Peak 2318. Sarah needs pink poles to go along with her MEC sunglasses.

Paul B skiing off Peak 2318.

DSC_3130 The Posse
The posse

Looking towards the Joffre group

Sarah's blue steel pose.

Steep Creek
Paul B enjoying some magic hour turns at Steep Creek. This photo was taken while skiing down the west facing gullies on the Peak northeast of Peak 2318. A rather enjoyable descent.

Sarah on the way up to Steep Peak. We skied off the peak in the back with the avy pathes the previous evening.

DSC_3216 Steep Peak
Sarah and Sarah skiing towards Steep Peak. There's a few really steep lines that you can ski down off the left if you're so inclined.

DSC_3243 Nearing the Edge
Justin B getting close to the edge of large cornices on the way up to Steep Peak

Jeff on the way home.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Longer Way Into Phelix

Every so often I feel like I have to go on a "Tim Trip", one where we wake up far too early, ski way too much, and climb something obscure. We managed to accomplish all three of these things this weekend.

On Friday night, some friends asked how long it would take to get into the Brian Waddington hut. I joked that it normally takes 3-4 hours if conditions are good, but we were going to take ten hours.

The weather was pretty miserable at the trailhead, where it was raining, and nobody was allowed to faff. The plan was to ski up the road, and turn left into Phelix West and ascend the south fork, climb Mount John Decker, and then ski up the north fork to reach the Peregrine col and then down to the hut. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into, or at least Tim thought I did.

View Phelix 2 in a larger map. The blue line shows where you turn left instead of continuing up the road, and then the detour south to the peak.

The route over to John Decker was more or less straightforward, except we couldn't really see anything since it was soggy out. We soon learnt that the south facing slopes were a mess of crusty mank as we traversed steep open slopes to reach the basin northeast of John Decker. Even with the poor visibility, we could see massive cornices hanging off the northwest ridge leading to Decker. From the col north of John Decker, we slowly skied along the ridge, encountering a few exposed sections, and having to deal with a game of cornice hide and seek. We made it to the false summit, and decided it was good enough.

Tim, Dave, Anne, Evan, and Greta at the false summit. Piotr was still looking at the true summit (or what he could see of it) to see if it was feasible.

I'm afraid that if I keep on doing trips where we end up skiing in the clouds all day, I might stop bringing my camera along.

At least it wasn't raining. I think Piotr was a little disappointed that we didn't summit.

Greta carefully skiing along the heavily corniced ridge. If the cornices weren't there, there would some great lines down.

We turned around at 2pm, and there was still a lot of distance to cover to get to the hut. The final climb up to the Peregrine col was quite exhausting, and even Tim was slower than usual breaking trail through the crusty mank. We arrived at the col in the dark. The 1000ft run down to the hut was great, despite having to ski it in the fog with our headlamps. The snow was very forgiving.

After a potluck dinner with the rest of the VOCers at the hut, I managed to convince Scott and Chris to go for some more skiing up at Cabin Hill. It was a full moon, the visibility was the best it had been all day, and the snow was surprisingly light. It wasn't hard to convince my legs to go up for a second run. I might have to try skiing more things in the dark now. With those two laps, I think I managed to skin up over 8000ft of elevation that day.

The next morning, Tim Scott Chris Nick and I headed off into the upper basin, in search of "steep stuff". We climbed back up to the Peregrine col and headed northeast along the ridge towards the summit of Frodo.

Pausing for a photo before trying to catch up to Tim and the rest.

Looking south from the col. Birkenhead Peak is the one with the prominent north facing couloir. I believe John Decker is hidden behind the second peak in the photo. That peak also has an unofficial LOTR name.

Chris skinning up, and lingering valley clouds below. The clouds came in and out all day.

Scott stoked to ski his second favourite run of the season so far

Scott dropping in. The first few turns were close to 50 degrees in a 20ft wide chute. It was really just a two person run as there wasn't that much snow in it.

Fortunately it opened up and the angle eased after about four turns. I was quite tempted to just slid slip down instead of committing to the jump turns, but knew Nick wouldn't appreciate my grooming.

Tim reaching for a pole plant at the top.

We skied the couloir just above the sluff. The cornice in the main couloir was detached from the summit, and the right side of the cornice was a near vertical wall of snowy rocks.

The sluff actually happened when Nick fell three turns from the top, and started tomahawking down the slope, weaving through a few boulders as Tim and I watched nervously.

Jeff and Natalie joined us for the second run. We skied off the ridge again, this time dropping in just left of the leftmost cliff in the photo above.

Birkenhead Peak being obscured by clouds.

Scott skiing down.

By the time I got up here, Tim and Nick had already skied down. Unfortunately Nick fell and dislocated his shoulder when his pole got caught behind him. We managed to get him to the hut, while Scott Jeff and I skied out to the car to call for a helicopter. I was skiing too slow on the way out (out of shape), and barely missed Scott and Jeff who left to find a phone. I ended up waiting an hour and half wait for the others in the rain with my booties on .

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