Hello outside world. B.C. Backcountry reporting live. Our days here are running together and I will be back in the Explorer headed south again by Monday morning if all goes well. We have the chance of another 25 cm of snow with high winds in the next couple days so we might even get a little natural avalanche action to check out.
Dan, Sam and one of our instructors Mike.
The paper work, homework, work sheets and observations are relentless but it feels really good to get into a solid routine. The instructors made it clear early on that our skis are for access first and foremost. Even though we are surrounded by awesome ski lines we are most certainly there to work. This however doesn’t mean we didn’t shred the SHIT out of a 35 cm freshie run with 2% blower pow to get to our low elevation pit location.. 2% has to be up there as the best snow I have skied in a LONG time. Pillows and slashes abound, but about 98% of the day is spent nose to the pit wall and pencils to field books.
Getting ready to hit a 2% pow run in 35 cm new.. YEEEEES
Errant shot, but a goodie.
Hanging in the bunk upstairs for a minute and I got my work done a bit ahead of time to give a quick update from Valkyr Lodge. The lodge is a beautiful three story wood lodge. A gear room downstairs and a large drying room at the entry to the second level. The main floor is super open with views in all directions to possible ski tours. The upstairs hallway has small bunk rooms on either side.
Our heli bump was cloudy but cool nonetheless. I liked getting out of the chopper and having it buzz away in a powder cloud and let the silence sink in around my home for the week. The instructors are knowledgeable and the curriculum is slightly more geared toward industry (which it should be) than my previous American courses. I really like being immersed in the snow world. There is essentially no time to do or think about anything else. Up at 5:45AM and out the door to -5F to get morning weather obs from the study plot. Then it’s into class till lunch and out in the field till 4:00PM and our evening weather obs. Then more lectures, dinner and homework. All snow all the time. I like getting into the rhythm and feel really comfortable so far with the requirements of the course.
Getting a lift into the lodge
My crew has been great. There is one other American (albeit from Colorado, but he is still nice), one woman, and I am the lone splitboarder. Most are from Calgary/Canmore/Banff or Whistler area. Cool peeps to spend the evenings with sharing tales of avys and pow days.
Today on my tour I went to take some insulin and noticed the bubbles weren’t moving. Just as I made the observation the vial turned opaque from one end to the other. Frozen solid. Standing and digging pits requires me to carry my insulin closer to the core, especially when it’s -5F or lower. Thawed it out though. No biggy!
Test pit on NW ridge of Stoney Trees
I think we are firing up the sauna tonight. PSYCHED! Gonna be one sweaty, stinky pile of ski bums!! Hoping to get some clear sky shots and steal some photos from others by the end of it all.
B.C. backcountry – over and out.
Boots has it figured out. Boots is Sparky and Bridgette’s cat that apparently “came with the house”. That puts Boots at over 17 years old. She sleeps under their woodstove at home in Rossland, B.C. a cool little mountain town I stopped off in for a couple days before heading to my CAA level 1 course.
Doesn't do the quaint mountain town justice but it was a grey day..
A typical Rossland home. Super cool.
Bridgette and Sparky, old friends and roommates of Pete and Sarah showed me an awesome time in Rossland. I had a bed, great company, food and even a lift ticket to Red on Saturday thanks to the ski patrol director.
Red Mountain in the back. The bigger Granite mountain isn't in the photo. Overall the terrain was siiiiick and the snow was softer than expected!
Sparky’s daughter Sally was competing in the freeskiing comp that day and ended up winning it all in front of the home crowd. Red mountain is minutes from Rossland and an easy XC ski to the lift. The town has a great feel. Steep roofed homes on hilly streets a nice downtown and a major outdoor community influence.
During my stay I also got to meet John Tweedy, a big name in avalanche forecasting that ran the avalanche program at Kootenay Pass for 30 years. He is the avy guy in the new snowboard flick “The Art of Flight”. He was all stories and sage advice over a couple hours and a beer at the pub.
Currently I am set up in the back of the Explorer, piled with blankets and a sleeping bag trying to stay warm for the night in the staging area of my course. In the morning a heli will pluck me and 12 other students to fly us into Valkyr Lodge in the Selkirk Mountains.
Hiking around the lake outside a tiny town named Burton. I stayed the night in the back of the Explorer in a 45 F bag... luckily I had some blankets!
Home in Valdez the faucet has finally turned off and the constant snows have given way to single digits and wind. Under Sparky’s woodstove Boots sits warm as can be and at the moment I am quite jealous of her position.
I had an extremely looooong weekend. Due to unsafe amounts of snow on our roof at work, and other places in town, we were asked to leave the building and not return to work until Tuesday morning. Today! That made for a beautiful five day weekend full of great bits and fun! Check out my weekend through photos below.
We had a great day ice skating yesterday near North Powder. With a big breakfast for fuel we inspected the ice and found it safe to skate near the edges but dared not venture out into the middle.
Robyn got new skates for her birthday
Robyn is a natural at ice skating. Good thing too cuz I am not sure the ice could have sustained a fall! There were cracks shooting this way and that, and you could hear the water beneath the ice reverberating sounds like star wars lasers.
Robyn slicing the ice
Fence leading into the ice
Jimmer kept trying to sit down for a pose but couldn’t get any traction to get his feet under his butt. It was pretty freakin funny watching him spinning out his hind legs trying to sit.
Debut of our new skates! Fun!