The South Coast was hammered by the mango express between Jan 16-19, 2017, with a series of warm and wet storms originating from the Philippines. Over four days, there was over a metre of new snow above 1500m. If you look at the Tenquille Lake snow pillow, the snow water equivalent line is basically vertical for this period. The storm started off wet, with freezing levels going up to 2000m in the Whistler area. The freezing level stayed lower on the Duffey. The storm snow ended up right-side up, meaning warmer snow fell first, followed by colder snow. However, it was not a good storm for the North Shore Mountains though. My usual Tuesday night adaptive ski night with VASS on Cypress Mountain was canceled due to the heavy rainfall, forcing Cypress Resort to close for the day. And then on Thursday up at Grouse Mountain, the new snow was 15cm of mashed potatoes with a small gravy bowl of rain on the side.
Instead of doing more swimming on the North Shore, I decided to enjoy some easy access ski touring up at the Duffey Lake Resort with Mylene and Jason. Given the conditions, we stuck with a modest ski plan and went searching for powder in the moderate angle open slopes and trees on the north side of Mount Chief Pascall. You can either take the winter trail or the summer trail from Cerise Creek to get here. The summer trail is more direct to get to the cut block on the northeast side of area, but low branches and tighter trees make it a more unpleasant route for the exit out. The route up goes along the edge of the cutblock and then through tight to open trees onto the ridge top. I find the route up the east side of Chief Pascall, as I did this weekend, more pleasant and straightforward than going up the west side, from the Cayoosh parking lot. The west side is steeper, but does have more pillows to ski in the trees, and also gives better access to the Equinox slide path. Both sides are good for skiing!
It's a popular place to ski, can get a little busy, but what do you expect when there is good wifi and a nice cafe at the top to grab a sandwich for lunch. This is not one of the quieter areas of the resort.
East ridge of Matier and Joffre Peak
Thin clouds above the cutblock above Cerise Creek
Sunshine on the east Duffey, over in the Melvin area
Vantage, Snowspider, Howard and Joffre, above Chief Pascall east bowl
Chief Pascall Sandwich. Bacon, pickes, mayo, mustard, butternut-kaocha squash patty, mozzarella, all barely contained inside a freshly baked rye sourdough loaf. This was the first of two this weekend.
This sandwich takes all day to eat. An all day, sandwich party.
Jason and Mylene checking out the snowpack. The storm totals from the Mango Express this past week was impressive. Mostly rain and wet snow below 1500m, but here at 1950m, there was over 1.5m of fist to finger snow sitting over the old surfaces (depending on where you are, crust, windslab, or facets).
Snow was not quite as dry and light as the past month, but still pretty good.
Mylene dropping in
Pillow are caked and big
Three guys bootpacking/wallowing up a couloir on the northeast face of Chief Pascall. They only went half way up the right line, before skiing back down. Ski quality on the old sluff looked poor.
Low angle, open slopes above the Duffey Lake Road.
Rich getting deep.
And then ending up in the backseat as per usual. Photo by Mylene Lejay.
Lots of snow on the trees
Flurries throughout the day, looking over at the Equinox slide path. There were quite a few skiers over there, enjoying the moguls.
Back up for more. 400m laps from 1900m to 1500m. The chairlift was running slow, taking about 45 minutes from top to bottom.
And now we go down the east bowl to exit
Rare photos of me skiing. Mylene offered to take photos of me with my friend, and I was happy for that!
Jason lower down in the open trees. We skied out through a creek, and then survival skied through a brief section of tight trees to reach the big cutblock. Snow quality was hilariously bad through the cutblock, which was 10cm of powder over top of not quite frozen, wet snow. The icy road and winter trail out was way better in comparison. This snow froze up the next day into a nice firm base.
Gear explosion at the McEwan's. Not photographed, our dinner of venison tourtiere and lemon meringue pie. Gotta have pie to ski!
|Planning out tomorrow's ski options with the new Duffey Lake map. Photo by Mylene Lejay.|
The next morning, we decided to head back to Chief Pascall again. There is a lot of open terrain, and tree skiing and it's easy to find more skiing even if it's busy.
Jason and Mylene on the logging road. Lower elevation snowpack had firmed up overnight.
Working our way up along the skintrack on the northeast ridge.
Patches of blue sky in the morning
Looking over at Jazz, Exidoor, and Southern Comfort chutes
South facing avalanche chutes off Rohr ridge
More ski runs at the Duffey Lake Resort. West face avalanche path off Vantage Ridge. Cheque's in the Mail is at centre, and the line from top to bottom right is the better one to ski. The left one turns into a gully and can get a little unpleasant at the bottom with more alder.
Pillow hunting on the Duffey
Ski transition at 1500m
A few bites later
There are a few couloirs up there to ski. Double black terrain at the resort.
Checking out the new 1:33000 Duffey Lake Map by John Baldwin. It's awesome!
Halfway through my sandwich now, a few laps later
|Photo by Mylene Lejay.|
|Photo by Mylene Lejay|
Almost a normal sized sandwich now
Exit to the cutblock. Open trees and easy skiing out.
My sandwich at the end of the day, now supplemented with car chips.
More photos here