Sunday, February 28, 2010

Losing is tough

Thanks to all of you for viewing and laughing with (or at) my entry to the contest: "What inspires me to ski tour" by CMH and Arc'Teryx.

With so many awesome entries in the contest, winning was never guaranteed, but I was a little disappointed today when I found out the contest results. So as not to come across as a sore loser, I would concede that there were many better videos than mine that were made by true rippers; people who had wonderful videos of getting up high into the alpine on glaciers, or doing "dawn patrol" in the morning before work.

However, let me ask you this: How are you inspired to ski tour if you do not ACTUALLY ski tour? Ski touring does require a significant investment in equipment (ski gear, avalanche gear, survival gear, and a backpack to carry it all), and education (avalanche course), but this can all be acquired for cheap from consignment, gear swaps, or the internet. And unless you are barely scraping by, the total cost is not that significant. The short form of this is that if you can find a friend to join you, the sport is very accessible.

I would agree...totally different story if we were talking about some boy in central Africa who really wanted to shred some self powered pow, but had absolutely no means to. But I think for the average person, this sport is pretty accessible.

I'm going to go back to crawling under my rock and crying... I'll blame myself for thinking that a heli-skiing company actually cares about a bunch of dirtbag ski tourers who would never spend $1000/day to go ski low angled glaciers, when their ideal clientele is the clueless gaper who doesn't know any better.

EDIT: Apparently, I am not the only one who is a little disappointed with the selection (ha I'm not going to comment on that one): the contest is just getting roasted in the comments!

Both of the finalists the judging panel picked (grand prize winner and runner up) were submitted by people who seem to "make a living" out of entering video contests. This was just another one of those contests, and unfortunately a bunch of real ski tourers who would give their left nut to ski with Greg Hill lost out...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The self powered circuit

Here are some pictures from my "Olympian" effort last Saturday with Max and SRT

Max after gaining the bench

Enjoying a short snack

Looking up at the long grind ahead

"It is like moving in a ping pong ball"

Max savouring the moments before he enters the hurt locker

Max and SRT looking hungry for the descent while getting shred ready

"That was the worst experience of my life!"
"What, the descent?"
"No, the faceplant"

"Well should we continue on, or descend from here?" (Maybe I should take that lift ticket off my shell?)

"Nah, let's descend from here"

"It's okay, your ankles don't bend much when you pedal"

The Five Ring Circus

Olympics are on and any spare time has been consumed by watching the Olympics.

Here are some of the highlights of my viewing:

- Group consensus was that hanging around the Olympic village would arguably be the highlight of anyone's life.

-Someone got a coreshot while training the moguls.

-Laughing out loud the first time we saw Johnny Wier. Time for figure skaters to wear "uniforms"

-While watching half pipe snowboarders sideslip down the start ramp, I was thinking that they should replace that start ramp with a snow filled couloir. They could be judged on how well the fresh snow is removed from the couloir!

-Lovin' the mixing pot of commentators and giving them a good heckle. Stoked to see Pierre McGuire between the benches; Jamie "Blue Jays" Campbell adding in his remarks at Cypress; Nick Kypreos with the rest of the TSN hockey panel, Dutchy at the desk; the TSN curling team including Vic Rauter; James Cybulski providing some updates from track level; Jen Hedger giving us the scoop from the Whistler village; Gene Principe and his puns; and even a little RJ Broadhead at WOP in there as well. The reunion of Peter Lombardias and Ray Ferraro is sure to be everyone's favourite memory of the less popular hockey games! Brian Williams taking his usual seat at the desk; it just wouldn't be the Olympics without him. Just missing some Jason Portuando, and Jamie Thomas with the intermission interviews to round things out! Shoutout to Yanks Al Michaels and Al Trautwig as well for increasing the epic factor!

-Getting super pumped up with every goal, victory, and medal win. Go Canada! Funding the athletes is cheap national pride if you ask me...

Now a couple my thoughts:

Extreme sports:

North Americans get so jacked up over snowboarding at the Olympics, and motor sports. But how come sliding sports, ski jumping, and alpine skiing have little popularity outside of Europe, while they are arguably more "extreme" (faster speeds, higher risks, etc...)? It is probably because they are wearing lycra, and the morbidly obese Americans are so jealous of their superior athleticism and the years of training that go into success. Funny how sports like Skier cross or DH mountain bike have to ban skinsuits to "promote" the right image! North Americans are so lame...

Halfpipe Snowboarding:

Why are Canadians so shitty in the pipe? We have mountains, snow, and halfpipes don't we? I don't think it has to do with government funding as just south of the border Sean White is raking in millions; probably all through sponsorships.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Reading Week Part 3:

Act 4: The Finale

Back during the avalanche course, we were looking up at some of the other lines in the cirque that we traversed. I was instantly pumped on making another traverse out of one of the prominent lines we spotted. Steve (SRT) and Bill were not as stoked on the line as I was, and I thought it would be impossible to convince them to join me on that. However, an upslope storm earlier in the week that dropped 13cms at Nakiska quickly changed their minds.

Nope, not worth skiing...

We initially planned this traverse for Sunday, as we were going to hit up Roger's Pass on Saturday, but bailed due to unstable snow. The snow on the drier side of the divide was more stable, allowing us to poke up into the alpine ("I'll poke you in the alpine"). And Max would be joining us for his first ever day of touring. I was a little worried as there was a pretty demanding day ahead. Oh and not to mention he was rocking the classic Alpine Trekker (Day wrecker) adaptors! Bill bailed as he was still feeling the effects of a failed backflip from Thursday.

Another issue was that the final descent back to the road spits us out 5km from the trailhead parking lot. No problem as we stashed an old Trek Antelope in the bushes where our descent would end. It turned into a human powered traverse for me as I rode the bike back to the car at the end, and then picked up the boys.

We made good time on the snowshoe trails from the trailhead, and used our new route finding skills to help us make our way up to a bench to begin the final grind to the top of the descent. Visibility was variable, but we were able to gain the col. Max was climbing well, and only really suffered on the final push.

Dug a hasty pit at the top and found a couple of suspect surface hoar layers. We found the February 10th layer well preserved, but with only 15cm of loose snow on top, but popped under and easy compression test. The January 24th layer was a little spookier, failing with a sudden pop under moderate compression at around 35cm down. Kept this in mind while skiing the 300ish meter straight shot down the chute. After watching Steve and Max get pwned by hidden rocks near the bottom, we discussed our options for the rest of the day.

  1. Continue over the next col, the same descent we did last Saturday in the avalanche course. A fun descent, but an annoying exit following the edge of a creek, and requires another 200m of climbing
  2. Descend down through the cirque from the bottom of the chute. No more climbing required, and the exit is an old logging road.

Both options finish off around the same point. Max and Steve wanted to go back to Edmonton for whatever reason, so we chose option 2.

After dropping off a bench into some loose trees, we found ourselves standing on top of another 250m descent through the trees. $$$$$$. Skied out to the bottom, got the bike and ripped towards the car; riding in ski boots. Have to go back there for option 1 just to say that I have done it.

Max rocking a little bit of big mountain tuck

A good end to a good reading week that included:

-Listening to nothing but Top 40 (or Indian music if we were out of range) the whole trip. Probably heard "Bad Romance" 20 times

-Adding some new vocabulary to the group. Biebs is short for Justin Bieber, who is 12

-All you can eat buffet at the Stoney Casino. The only thing that could be better is when it is half price on Thursdays

-getting shot down by both of the Avalanche course guides for bragging about how fast I am.

-Olympic themed drinking games. Never have the words "readjusted time", "double cork", and "quad" had so much meaning

-Bill's failed backflip attempt

-Free candy, free cover

-"Lurking" : lifties, Norwegians, googly-eyed cashiers (Googs), and female olympians

-Biking in ski boots

-Max's epicness: MAX beer cans, Uncle Ben's, Kim Mitchell


Hopefully more pictures to come

Monday, February 22, 2010

Reading Week Part 2:

Act 3: Kicking Horse

After a very lazy rest day, except for Bill and Max who were throwing backflips off kickers, we headed down the road to Golden, British Columbia.

There was not a cloud in the sky and the weather was described as being "Bluebird as f***", and we enjoyed views of the mountains on the way, many of them offering excellent ski touring descents.

KHMR had gotten little snow since Family day long weekend where it was probably invaded by the "red tide" from Calgary. But unlike Sunshine, KHMR has the terrain to keep us rippers occupied during the drought. Off the ganjola, dropped into Tunnel Vision, checking that off my list. Warmup runs are for the weak. The next run, hit up a top secret, newly opened area, known only by a plastic sign at the top. Having only seen the area briefly before from afar, we were just looking for a clean line to the bottom. However, we emerged on a zone riddled with spines, couloirs, drops and pillows inside some loosely spaced trees. We all made our way down slowly, unsure of what was around the next turn or below us. After cleaning out any fecal material that may have come out as a result of scaring ourselves entering this gnarly zone, we made our way down for another lap, having one of our most memorable groomed runs ever. Day continued, checking another line off the list, and just having an all around good time. Max even got an opportunity to whip out his Norwegian. Hung around watching Olympics on TV while the boys picked up pizza and beer from a cashier that Max described as "googly-eyed".

Even got to check off Euphoria after receiving a tip from a local during the X-mass break. Man do we love moguls!

Headed down into town to the Kicking Horse Gear Swap as has become tradition this year. The name is a bit misleading as they do carry tonnes of new product including 2011 Rossignol S7's. Seriously this place puts all of the pathetic ski shops in Edmonton to shame for one looking to load up on a setup for cheap, but that is best left for another rant. Seriously, if you asked Kevin from Out of Bounds if he would blow out 5 pairs of "new in wrapper" 189 Rossignol Squad 104's for $250 each, he would look at you funny, and then try to argue with you that such a deal does not exist.

But the madness was yet to ensue. Headed into the local grocery store to pick up some baby carrots for the ride home, and what do you know: free V-day chocolate. You can probably guess where that went, but I think it included being chased out by the manager, and Max getting called out for trying to take a flat of Kinder Surprise.

"Oh shit, I think I forgot the ice"

Also saw an old Volvo running on vegetable oil, and that really drives home how much better of a province British Columbia is. Sure taxes are higher, the beer is pricier, but what it really comes down to is a better quality of life. Anywhere in BC, you have awesome mountain biking and are at most a car/sled/skins away from blower pow.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reading Week: Part 1

Act 1: School during reading week?

Back in January, Steve decided that it would be a good idea to expand our avalanche knowledge, so we decided to take the next step, and enroll in the AST 2 (Avalanche Safety Training) course. Going into the course, we were never really confident about getting up into the alpine. From the AST 1, we didn't really know what to expect, as the field experience in that course was limited to searching and analyzing snowpack.

Day 2, got up high with a traverse of Hero's Nob. Nice finally getting to ski a nice long descent! All you can eat buffet at the Stoney Casino was much needed. It is weird being surrounded by smokers and morbidly obese people.

Half of the participants were splitboarders!


Day 3, brought a long 1000m ascent part of the way up Mt. Vermillion, and we had our work cut out for us. A good test for the boys that was! Skiing down through the burn area was fun as even though the trees were tight, they were easy to ski around because they had no branches. Ski conditions got a little punchy at the bottom and with submerged logs and stumps under the snow, we skied like we were sitting in lazy boys. But that is excusable. Park skiers ski like that all day!

The boys getting ready with the goal in the background


Act 2: Scumshine

What can I say? They need snow, and we were a little chapped the Dive was not open. Just 2 mediocre days not worthy of even one picture.

Now begins the much needed intermission before what are supposed to be an awesome three days. Kicked that off in Banff at the Aurora, ears are still ringing!



Friday, February 5, 2010

Hey Peter Knight here with another fantastic product!

A little project that I did some work on recently....

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A quick escape from reality

Last weekend, took a much needed break from life and headed to Canmore. MT and Bill were more than willing to join me.

Left nice and early on Friday, so plenty of time for some fun in Canmore, not limited to extreme brake bending:

...and Wikipedia editing

and a quiver pic:

"yes, I need all of those skis"

Next day, no rush as we weren't waking up to waist deep blower, rolled out to Sunshine (SSV, Scumshine) to spin some Dive laps. Got in 3 good laps, including mountaineering our way into the Galaxies, and having some fun in lower Starbucks, which I do not get to ski often enough in the rush for the stashes. Met a cool Brit who tagged along for the last 2, who just happened to have a sick setup (Rossi S7 w/ FKS 14 if you speak skis). When we weren't in the Dive, we were watching newbies sliding on their butts down Headwall. They really need some new snow, even Bre-X was closed!

The next day was something like 2.5 years in the making. I finally went skiing with the elusive Mat D.

"what sounds like a lightsaber?"

Mat brought along the speedy Dustin A. and we proceeded to put 10 new sets of tracks on the slope.

"I let Dustin go ahead because I didn't want this powder to go unphotographed"

Mat was charging hard, and found some sustained pitches where he didn't have to cross tracks on both runs, but later stated "The snow was too variable". I guess it isn't the neck deep blower they have at Blanket Glacier we heard all about?

Some good times were had, laughs were shared, and I now have a couple more ski buddies who can rip up the mountain both ways. Looking forward to meeting up over reading week!

Sickbird award of the day goes to Bill for his straightline to yardsale all caught on the GoPro. Thanks to MT for once again assuming the role of ski retriever. Didn't see Bill's second run but apparently it was gnarly.

Rolled out early to get back to Edmonchuck because I had some midterms to study for, and a report to finish up. Welcome back to reality...