Saturday, January 19, 2013

The North Side Isn't Always Better

It hasn't snowed in awhile around here.  In fact, it's been getting kind of warm.  So when we were talking about touring this weekend, trying to find some gorgeous powder runs wasn't even in the picture:  not only would they have been tracked out over this past week (terrible, I know), but they would be covered in sun crust and possibly experiencing some wet snow sloughs.  Instead, we decided to go tree skiing on the north side of Needle peak, where we would be in safe terrain and have snow that hadn't seen any sun.

Well.  I guess that all the snow on top of the forest sees the sun, gets heated up and mushy, then falls to the forest floor and freezes into death chunks.  Within the first 2 minutes of our skin up, it was obvious skiing was pretty much out.

Needle Peak January 19, 2013

Not to mention the surface hoar that we saw from the parking lot.

Needle Peak January 19, 2013


In any case, we had already driven all the way out there, so we went for a bit of a tour along the ridge.  Lots of ideas were generated for future trips when skiing is better.

Needle Peak January 19, 2013

Click here for the full album.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Skate Skiing at Nordic

The sun came out today, which hasn't happened in a while.  Conditions were gorgeous.

2013.01.18 Skate (5)

2013.01.18 Skate (6)

2013.01.18 Skate

Monday, January 14, 2013

Birth of the Icefield

We spent this past weekend in Vancouver - Caroline went down midweek for a work conference, and her company was good enough to pay my way as well.  We figured we could use this as a great excuse to hang out in Vancouver and, more importantly, go to MEC.

The drive down was slower than normal.  I spent 2 hours at the Coquihalla summit looking at this:

Coquihalla Summit

Notice the people who should be on the bus are standing beside the bus.  Bad crash I guess.  It was too bad I was driving alone - someone could have skiied a run or two.

In any case, I finally got to Vancouver on the Friday night.  Saturday we spent four and a half hours at MEC learning and refining our gear selection.  Which was a part in allowing us to finally kickstart planning this Icefield trip for this winter.  First step was to assign the reading:

Icefield reading list

Then we figured out our stove setup.  This has been a long time in the refining process, but I think we have it nailed.  Our next overnight we plan on boiling two pots of water, one with the full set up and one with nothing.  Maybe another with half the setup. It should be interesting.

Winter stove

It boils down to 3 components:

1) The Base Plate.  This is critical, or the stove will melt itself into the snow and fall over, which pretty much ruins your night.  There are lots of do-it-yourself systems out there with various types of foam, aluminum foil, plywood, etc.  They all seemed pretty complicated, large, and heavy.  We found this one at MEC.  I have high hopes.

2) The whatcha-ma-call-it.  To trap a lot of the escaping hot air.  This is half the weight of the setup, but I think it is very effective.  We will test.

3)  The Muffin-Top.  Light and effective.

Winter stove
We also worked on refining our route choice.  More on that later.  However, while researching various routes I found a bit of a gem in a trip report:

"Fyles and Dalgleish went on to the final, tottering pile of rock which called itself a peak, but seemed hesitant about announcing their victory. They commenced throwing rocks at the blade like crest of the ridge and triumphant shouts finally re-echoed their success in knocking over the unattainable summit. "

I like their style.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Okanagan Mountain Dog Test

We had a quick (very quick) night out in Okanagan Mountain park this weekend - the idea was to make sure the dog didn't explode spending a night out in the cold, with a very easy escape route if it looked like there was going to be trouble.

2013.01.05 - Okanagan Mtn (3)

It was a success.  I think the dog may have been more comfortable than we were - as it was only -8 degrees, and we had our full winter tent and -20/-30 bags.  Being too hot in the winter is awkward.  We also decided that sleds are an absolute must for any multiple night ski trip.  Even with the bare minimum for a single night, the weight of our packs focuses most of your attention on your shoulders, rather than where you are.

2013.01.05 - Okanagan Mtn (2)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Years on Nak

New Years Eve on Nak Peak.  We ended up cutting the route short, but the skiing was fantastic.  Every time I go out I say it was the best backcountry skiing I ever had, but this time - I really mean it.

Nak Peak Jan 2013

Dan also managed a spectacular double ejection that I was lucky enough to catch.

Nak Peak Jan 2013

Nak Peak Jan 2013

Nak Peak Jan 2013

Click here for the full album.