Jan 14-15, 2017
I spent two days skiing in the Cayoosh Mountain area of the Duffey Lake Road. It hadn't snowed since Monday, which was then followed by an arctic outflow which blasted most of the snow off the north aspects. Finding powder and good skiing was going to be a little harder this weekend. Fortunately, the area around the Cayoosh area was less affected by winds, and we were able to find good skiing on the south aspect of the big Rock and Roll gully, and even nice boot top powder on the northeast glacier of Cayoosh Mountain.
Will skinning through the trees up the north fork of Cayoosh Creek. Access is really fast to this area, as described in my trip to the 7 Mile Lake. There are even trail markers in there now!
A quick skin up past the road, through the creek valley, across the flat runout of the avalanche paths, and up to the headwall towards the base of the northeast glacier.
Will points out our objective for the day, the southwest facing Rock and Roll, a 500m avalanche path off the ridge that separates the Cayoosh area and Marriott Basin.
Cloudy skies over the Joffre group. The weather was mostly greybird up on the Duffey on Saturday, while the region to the south saw more sunshine that day. That was fine by me, we were about to ski a south facing line! There was an inversion today, with the parking lot at a chilly -15C, while it was around -2C at 2000m.
The light was a bit flat and cloudy most of the day. Black and white helps with this, a photo style that I don't experiment with very much. I love the vibrant colours. Will skins above the Seven Mile Creek headwaters, with Cayoosh Mountain behind him.
More skin track stoke. I really like the view of the Joffre group from this side.
The main avalanche problems today were lingering wind slabs. We were fairly conscious of the possibility of triggering a wind slab near the top of the run, due to the "reverse loading" from the northerly winds in the prior week, transporting snow onto the south aspect. Looking up, we could see old avalanche debris near the top of the open bowl, which was covered up by a light dusting of wind-transported snow. We took a slightly lower line rather than skiing ridge from the very top and traversed into the main run. At first, it was fairly firm edge-able snow, which transitioned into nice boot top powder where Will is skiing.
A little further down the run, but still wide and open.
Will dropping into the lower sections of the run. Down here, the run turns into more a gully. Obviously, a place to avoid if you have any doubts about the stability. Even in these conditions, the skiing was a little funky. Due to the tightness of the chute, I was skiing in the middle, then make a turn into the side, where the snow was deeper and the gully walls steeper. I was constantly thrown off balance. It wasn't the best skiing down here for me! Next time, I'll try to ski one of the other lines further over, which don't have as pronounced of a gully feature near the bottom.
" Elsen gets it. Onion tart. Slowly peeling back the layers of the onion of knowledge (as my cooking experience, knife skills, rolling pin abilities grow or your "Epicurious" chose when to pass on the crucial information seeing that you're ready for it) is one of the best parts of living a pie eating life. It's delicious, it's aromatic, it makes you full, and it preserves the experience, for you and others. It's not about elitism, it's about making every young fruit, when they're ripe for it, just a little bit more fulfilling in their chosen pastry." A random quote from the Internet about the importance of not sharing your pie recipes =)
Looking across at some more good skiing, Mount Taylor, Ottoman, Swivel Rocker.
Standing on top of our next run. It warmed up in the afternoon, and we were happy with our one run down the steep southwest aspect. We skinned back up, but this time took the more mellow line back down to Seven Mile Lake, and then dropped back down the headwall into Cayoosh Creek.
Million Dollar Couloir and the Northeast Glacier of Cayoosh Mountain
We weren't the only ones out today. There were three other snowmobilers in the area. They seemed to be fairly respectful, and they spent their time shredding the other slopes while Will and I skinned up. After we were finished and skied back down, they went up and brapped the little slope we were on.
Dropping back down to Cayoosh Creek
Skiing along the creek
The next day, Guy and Geoff joined me for another day up in the Cayoosh area. The plan was to go up the Northeast Glacier, and depending on the snow, either ski back down the same way or make a loop of it and go down the east facing Armchair Glacier. We watched a group of seven ski down the northeast glacier on Saturday, but it was hard for me to tell how the skiing was for them. It didn't help that they had flat light for their descent.
Looking up at the run "Jazz." Sam McKoy and his dad skied this a few days earlier. My weekend was entirely following the skin tracks set by Sam. Thanks again!
Looking over at Joffre
Armchair Glacier on Cayoosh Mountain. Still not too many tracks on it.
Heading across the avalanche run out, looking up towards the Sick Face above the Cayoosh Northeast Glacier.
It was warmer than yesterday and sunshine felt warm as we skinned up the east facing slope.
This is a photo of the northeast glacier of Cayoosh, taken from the Marriott ridgeline in the summer. The approximate ski line takes the centre bench, from lower right to upper left. This is a route for safe avalanche conditions only. There's a photo on Bivouac.com by Mitch Sulkers, of a large avalanche off a convexity on the right side, which ran out and across the glacial bench. Something to keep in mind when skinning up and skiing down here!
Contouring over towards the northeast glacier in the beautiful morning light.
The Million Dollar Couloir
Looking back at the Rock and Roll chutes. We skied the furthest left one, and you can see our tracks if you look closely.
Looking back at the Cayoosh Mountain Northeast Glacier Sick Couloir and Sick Face. The first descent of the face was down the right skyline, by Alex and Maddy back in April 2012. However, the first internet descent was done by the Foon boys. I'm not sure which one is a more valid descent, but I guess if you don't post it on the internet, it doesn't really count anymore. I would recommend taking the approach that the Foon guys used though. A sled ride up 7 Mile Creek to this secret zone that shall not be named, makes the most sense.
The clouds were rolling in and out. I wasn't sure about going up the steeper part of the summit. There was going to be wind packed snow and not much of a view given the cloud conditions. I've enjoyed some great bluebird conditions up there, so bootpacking up some sastrugi was less desirable than the boottop powder on the glacier.
Oh look, it's Sarah and team! We bumped into each other at the coffee shop and then the parking lot. We were up here at almost the same time.
Sarah at the col between the Armchair and Northeast Glacier. A familiar face, in a familiar place. This feels like a long time ago, when we were also up here skiing in 2011. Here's a trip report from the past
Guy on the bootpack, with the rest of the crew behind. This has turned into a party!
Geoff leading the bootpack up the firm snow to the shoulder below the actual summit of Cayoosh, which is still further up to the right
Sarah and Rich, posing for the camera as per normal. I like to take every oppurtunity there is to get a photo of myself, however rare those are.
The visibility was not great, so I couldn't go and check out the descent down the south side.
Sarah with the two essentials for any Instagram summit bid, an iceaxe, and a gopro on a selfie stick.
Going up inside the clouds
Summit party on Cayoosh. We only lingered for a bit, just enough time to take a few group shots. It was windy and cold up there.
And a few selfies too
Luckily, the clouds cleared up. Not completely, but just enough to get a view down into North Joffre Creek. There is lots of good skiing down there! One day.
Looking over at the ice climbs on the Swiss Wall, in North Joffre Creek.
Unfortunately, I left my pie behind in the fridge in Squamish. This was a bit of a disaster, as I had to buy a lunch at Mount Currie Coffee Co. I chose poorly. I thought that with the warmer weather, I could get away with a chicken pesto wrap. Unfortunately, the lettuce in the wrap froze, and I had a fairly unpleasant eating experience up here in the alpine.
Very atmospheric conditions, it was fun to watch the clouds rip through
The group getting ready for the descent
Firm snow conditions off the shoulder.
Geoff drops in
Cruising down the Northeast glacier with better snow
Sarah skiing down the northeast glacier
Geoff and Guy skiing down
Guy skiing down the northeast glacier
Sarah skiing, with a view of the seracs on the lower part of the glacier
Joel cruising down into the valley. It's a pretty quick ski out from here. With a little bit of double poling and some skating, you can make it all the way back to the highway without needing to put skins back on. It's fast!
And if you're Guy, you don't even need to take your skis off to go across the highway.