Sunday, February 13, 2011

Two fantastic weeks in the snow

After returning home from an unbelievable 2 week work shift my mind feels empty. If you wonder why, here is a low down of my typical routine as a lead guide: get up at 6:30, have a piss if I haven't already at 5, get coffee, check the weather and start guides meeting. Chewing through over 200 possible runs to come up with a safe run list takes up the majority of the 45min. Go for breakfast and try to answer the many questions of the guests, like-how is the weather, how is the skiing, where are we going to ski? My usual answer after 17 years is 'I can tell you better in the evening', because most of the time I don't even know where my first run is going to be. Go for a morning shit, put contacts in and get dressed (of course I brush my teeth too, but I guess you are not interested in all those details). Out the door by 5min to 9, walk 20m to heli pad, check transceivers , safety gear and AED, and lift off sharply at 9. Below you can see what happens next, unfortunately not every day.

All the images where taken by me lead guiding on the only sunny day last week, more pictures here. We skied the whole day in the Selkirks on big runs with up to 1800m vertical drop. After 12 runs and 13000m vertical of fluffy powder top to bottom we called it quits and where back at the lodge by 4:15, last group in at 5 sharp. 20min of paper work, a beer and some food at the bar, then a 20min Sauna and straight to guides meeting with another beer at 6:15. At 7 the dinner bell rings and we serve our guests a family style dinner at a big table of 12-14 people, besides a great meal you can expect some wine from the guests. This takes me usually until 8:30 or so, back to the guides office for some catch up work and some chatting with the other guides, ah jah, almost forgot the beer. And then, when everything is done, we finally go for drinks with the guests at the bar, a long day in the fresh air makes one thirsty. I try to be in bed by eleven, but I don't always succeed with this task. Before I do hit the sack though, I usually go outside for a last weather check and smoke.After 14 days of this it's not a surprise that I'm empty right now, but not empty enough to feel privileged to have a job like this.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The arctic air is back

A couple of days ago the cold and dry air from the north moved in and we finally get to see the mountains again. The skiing has been fantastic to say the least, and the stability, specially below treeline, has improved dramatically. The picture above shows the views of our highest point in the area, Mt. Syncline. I had to go up there yesterday evening to clean of the rimed up solar panels of our radio repeater. Pretty special to hang out there for half an hour watching the sunset with nobody else around for about 50km. I was still thankful for the heli to pick me up before dark, minus 28 degrees and a stiff north wind made the good buy from this amazing spot easier.
These images both show the run Tetragon, where I got buried 2 winters ago by an avalanche. The guys on top with their beautiful figure 8ths are Michael from London and Robbert from Amsterdam, they ski with me every year the past 17 winters. Always special when they come and we can offer them some great skiing, it's like skiing with friends.