Saturday Tour at the Hill

I headed up to Whitewater yesterday with Dayna and Donald for a couple laps and to check out conditions in the local alpine. After a warm spell earlier in the week, temps have dropped again and we received new snow to near valley bottom, and the recent temperature crust that formed at lower elevations has been sufficiently buried with low density pow.

We were the first people in the parking lot besides staff and broke a trail up Sneaky Pete’s and up to Prospector. There was about 15cms of fresh at the lodge and more up high, maybe 20-25. The snow felt good and unconsolidated on top, with a supportive base below. I’m guessing there’s about 95cm on the ground at treeline, maybe a little more after last night.

We had really good turns down Prospector (watch the video), blower the whole way down. A little early for Lone Pine though as we did scrape some rocks in the choke, and the sluff was running fast, making it a way more exciting line than it is later in the season when filled in.

As the day progressed, more and more people were hiking and skinning and tobogganing the ski-hill runs, but only a small handful of people in the backcountry, making for a quiet day of untracked lines. All in all a super fun day riding deep fluffy pow with friends in the Selkirks!

Play it safe out there in the early season!

Cheers.

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Jumbo Pass – Nov 9-13 w/Video

Jumbo delivers again! Another epic trip into the incredibly beautiful and remote Jumbo Pass Cabin this year, making it the 5th winter in a row that I’ve attended this super rad trip that my friend Brace puts together.

A group of keen skiers (and myself the token splitboarder) converged from all over the Kootenays, Columbia’s and Alberta to shred powder snow on the Jumbo Pass. We got rad, we got loose, and we got pow on our faces. Core shots, face shots, whiskey shots, and various unmentionable things went down.

The drive in on Saturday morning was gnarly, four 4x4s all with tire chains headed up the 50kms of deep snow on the logging road. Thanks to Henry for breaking trail and getting super loose on the way up, showing us how it’s done.

The snowpack was decent, 50-80cms on the ground at the pass and up to 120cm HS in the alpine above the cabin. There was an ice crust down about 75cms with large grain facets to the ground, this layer whumphed on us several times while skinning and produced some fairly concerning results in our snowpits (CTH (21) down 75cm, fracture character: SC) So we chose our terrain accordingly and rode safer, more supported features.

The sun came out for us on Monday; something that has never happened at Jumbo before, so we headed up to cabin peak for a sunrise lap, the colours were incredible, one of the most gorgeous sunrises I’ve seen in years. The sunlight lasted the whole day, so we lapped the North bowl above the hut until our legs gave out, then retreated back to the cabin porch for some sunbathing and gaping at the massive views of 11,000ft glaciated peaks.

I felt exceptionally lucky, it was Remembrance day, and we were basking in freedom and sunshine.

It warmed up on Tuesday, and the snow began to turn to schmoo, but by the end of the day it cooled off again and began snowing, leaving a thin temperature crust but still the turns were pretty good, at least for early November that is…

It’s always super cool to be in the mountains riding powder when the valley bottoms are still in their anticipatory autumnal mode of awaiting winter, bracing for what we know is already happening high, high above. The pow-slayers have awakened from their summer hibernation and the season for snow has begun.

I hope everybody has an epic winter…

KEEP JUMBO WILD!

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November 6, First Day of Splitboarding!

Silver Ridge cloud inversion, Nov 6

Silver Ridge cloud inversion, Nov 6

It has arrived, again, like an old friend. Winter is back. (And I’m blogging again!) There is a snowfall warning in effect right now in Nelson and it’s puking outside, bringing back so many memories of winter and all of the associations of radically fun times. The snow has been coming down consistently enough for the last week or so to blanket the mountains in delicious powder, and a deep enough base to ride…finally.

The Top

The Top

I’d been keeping an eye on conditions in the alpine and heard some good reports from friends, so I headed up the long, 11km+ mining road, climbing 1200m to the ridge. I was greeted with some really incredible views south down the cloud enveloped Slocan Valley over an ocean of cloud, and for moments the big peaks of the Goat Range would reveal themselves with pockets of sunshine lighting up the big aesthetic faces of Mt. Brennan and Whitewater Pk.

Good coverage.

Good coverage.

Conditions were good, variable coverage but 50-80cms throughout Wild Goose Basin made for knee-deep turns through some pretty deep baseless powder, but no coreshots or even a scrape. There had been a few small windslabs that had popped out during the last intense snowfall on Sunday perhaps, but mostly unconsolidated snow gave me confidence and I chose a very safe route to the top, and on the way down my ski-cutting didn’t produce any results in the sheltered trees and bowl I rode through.

Looking Back

Looking Back

All in all a sweet first day, a long slog to the top but well worth the effort! The first few turns down the mountain through the deep snow were a little sloppy but once I figured out the snow it was all pow-slashing good times! So good to be back on the board getting amongst it! And the 900m high speed descent down the logging road was a super extreme fast exit.

Stoked for all the upcoming good times in the mountains! Hang loose!

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The Future of Splitboarding

spark magneto

It’s always cool to see new developments in the world of splitboarding, the gear is rapidly progressing technologically as companies strive to meet the demands of the ever increasing market of backcountry snowboarders. I always get excited when something new comes around, and the new Spark R&D Tesla Bindings(formerly dubbed the “Edison System”) are getting me pretty stoked! They look lighter, and quicker to transition for sure, and no more silly pins to fumble around with, I always find the leashes break on the pins anyways, and then you lose them in the snow and end up sifting through the pow like a madman so that you can ride down safely. Pretty amped to be moving beyond the old stagnant systems. I think I’ll be ordering some of these for the 2014 season…as long as they don’t start charging Karakoram prices (650 CAD)! Check the binders out in this video: https://vimeo.com/60717962

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Run of the Day: White Queen

Winter’s still here.

With no touring partners available today (lazy hippies) I headed up to Whitewater for some solo laps off the Silverking Chair, with the intent of putting some fresh tracks down one of my favourite local peaks: White Queen. This little 2100m peak sports some super nice 600m lines down to a groomed nordic track for an easy exit.

lift serviced slackcountry.

lift serviced slackcountry.

It was quiet on the hill, no line-ups to get on the chair and I only saw a handful of people touring. I guess Nelson wasn’t stoked on the miniscule 8cms overnight, not really a pow-day, but those 8 cennies made the backcountry that much more shreddable!

the easy walk to the goods.

the easy walk to the goods.

I’ve always greatly enjoyed touring by myself for many reasons, from the self-reliance aspect and having to totally depend on your own skills and risk assessment/terrain management, to the aspect of total quiet and peace as one walks along in silence. There’s nothing quite like it. Also not having to wait for anyone on the way down is great as I enjoy uninterrupted descents!

Feeling content with two fresh lines off White Queen peak I called it a day, and headed down to the vortex of Neltron for a slice of pizza at Thors, a classic day in the Koots.

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Silver Country

White Bowl Terrain

White Bowl Terrain

Another great day splitboarding in the Selkirks yesterday in the north end of the Kokanee Range, near the rusty old ghost town of Sandon. I was joined by an old splitboarder friend Dayna, from Calgary, and Gerry, Pete and Jered from Rossland. We left the vehicles in the shadowy quiet presence of empty Sandon, where five thousand souls once lived in calamity while the silver rush ran its course. Now only a half dozen or so people live here and most of the buildings are abandoned.

Dayna on the Up-Track

Dayna on the ridge with Sandon below.

We skinned up through old mining claims, talings piles and old roads, up and up to the narrow ridge where we put in more kick-turns than one prefers over some good exposure, then after more than 1200 meters of climbing we reached the peak. The group was stoked on the exciting climb and sick terrain that lay below us, we just had to pick one out of a hundred ridiculous lines from the top.

Our lines below the peak.

Our lines below the peak.

We dropped into a a beauty 450m north facing alpine line with some super nice snow from the peak, then after ski-cutting a little avalanche and cleaning out the danger, we all had our way with the superb powder bowl below, then skinned back up to the ridge and dropped into a beauty 600m line in the trees, then down to the cars 400m below through pillow fields and cutblocks to the vehicles. A big day with some sweet rewards! Always a pleasure to have great company in the mountains!

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Norns Range, Jan27-28

On Airy's North Ridge

On Airy’s North Ridge

On Sunday I sledded into the Norns Range with Tanner, Kev and little Bella to look for some good snow up the Airy Creek drainage. After a short but jarring ride up the washboarded logging road we parked the sleds and toured over Airy Mountain and down into the Russel Ck. drainage, finding some nice light snow on our way to the cabin. We dropped our heavy gear and headed up for a stellar run down to the lake.

Above Russel Lake

Above Russel Lake

On Monday we woke up to 10cm’s of fresh snow and some good weather: high cloud and clear views to the peaks, so we headed up high and bagged some fun 600m steep lines off the ridge. We rode high quality terrain all day, from big alpine features to steep trees, booters and icefall hucks, then with heavy bags skinned up to Airy’s ridge and skied an endless open run back to the sleds. It’s good to be back in the Koots.

Lodgings

Lodgings

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