Monday, May 5, 2014

Three Rockies days in a row.

After getting sick for the first time this Winter during Easter break I felt weak and sans energy. But I knew the skiing had to be unreal out there and I finally stopped dragged myself out into K-country for a solo mission, just to see where I was at. Since our stolen ski gear never surfaced, I had to re-activate my old Dynafit Manaslu "boingers" with some half broken bindings for an unexpected adventure in my immidiate backyard. After skiing the regular Buller chute with a foot of new snow over a very stable and supportive snow pack, I decided to go for a line I looked at for years. The big cornice that usually threatens the entire couloir was gone and the snow looked good all the way up with no wind effect or avi debris. This was the day to do it, and so I decided to poke my nose in.

everything went well and I got higher in what promised to be a great ski down,
hard to get lost in that one
Selfie half way up where the chute widens again,
this was the first time I could see that hidden cornice.
It was a small one but certainly unsupported and overhanging.
From now on I made my way up a vague ridge feature to stay away from the potential party pooper above me.
As I topped out on the ridge and started to climb towards the summit, there was a sudden whumpf and
a hole opened just 2 feet away from my track and the cornice released down into my ski line.
Although it did not take out my up track in the upper half, it certainly took out the whole lower part you can see in the  first picture. So much for all the good snow I was looking forward to ski...
I had to put in the slow 4 wheel drive for the last 300m of the choke.

The next day Ben F. and I had an early start in order to beat the radiation on the east facing top slope of Haddo. We tried this line a couple years back with Josh Briggs, but sloppy snow conditions below the summit made us turn around. This time we hooked up with Kyle C. from Golden in the parking lot at Lake Louise. The last time I skied with Kyle was in the Bobbie Burns when I was still guiding there and he was the maintenance man. Good ol' days.
overall a wintery day, pretty high on the mountain was the first time we got into direct sun rays...
...but cloud cover with the occasional little snow shower kept the surface cold and powdery.
The Sphinx Face of Mt. Temple looming behind Ben.
Due to a logistical error of our intricate planning procedures we did not manage to summit.
(read: us idiots did not think we need a rope and left it in the car although it was obvious we had to climb a rock band just below the summit, dahhdushbags)
 ...and we could not blame any bad conditions on it, other than our own stupidity.
regardless, we had a fantastic powder run down and afterwards a little bonus boot pack to a col west of Surprise pass which gives you access to a wonderful couloir down the backside. Kyle (in the back) in particular seemed to enjoy the boot pack and had a hard time keeping his inner feelings under control.  
And then, just as I was ready for a rest day, Wex finally got out from Camp Bugaboos and we had to get amongst it for the first time after his accident at the start of last Winter. We figured the last time we were out together was on the Narao couloir over two years back. Jason Kruk from the coast joined us last minute for what seemed to be a casual outing to the north chute of Mt. Bell.
10min into the day Wex already lost his ski pole on the intricate hiking trail to tailor lake.
Luckily he is used to mishaps like this and has already developed a technique for lost item recovery in isothermal snow.
After 10km of schlogging past Taylor Lake we finally saw our goal, but we could also see something else.
A narrow slot left of the main line was slicing it's way almost all the way to the summit.
Neither of us had been in this area before so this came as a pleasant surprise to all of us. At this point we did not know if the line would connect all the way to the summit ridge or not, we had to wait for 2 more hours to find out.
Wexler Photo
That's why I like to bring the young lads with the strong legs.
Back in the skis higher up I was ready to go ahead again.
Beautiful pink quartzite can be found left and right of the main chute and would make a summer climbing visit worth while.
Photo session close to the Summit with Jason checking out the entrance to our line.
Since I let the youngsters have first tracks on the boot pack, I thought it's my turn to go first.
Gotta clean it out and make it safe for the boys!
Jason Kruk photo
This is the wider middle part of the Hells Bells Couloir;
 there you can really rip it before it narrows again at the bottom.
Jason decided to ski another arm of the new line which joined  the main chute a bit earlier,
here I snapped a picture of him in the lower part of the main chute.

1 comment:

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