Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012 Race Calendar

After the Whitefish Whiteout, I have been super pumped to train hard for the upcoming races. Here is my proposed calendar for 2012, I will update it with results and events as they are posted.

Whitefish Whiteout, January 21 - 5th @ 82% , (3rd @ 86% on the first climb)
Dogtooth Dash, February 11-12th - 5th @ 77% (Reiner really kicked our asses that day)
ROAM Randonee Rally, February 25th - 3rd @97% (deep snow kept the pack from blowing apart)
Ken Jones Classic, March 24th - 4th @84% (probably my best race yet)

Pretty short SMCC calendar this year, next year if I am living in the mountains I definitely want to help put another date on there, and to assist in organizing, course marking, for some other events.

ABA calendar:
Hardcore XC, May 19th 9th @92%
Kananaskiker, June 2-3rd XC: 9th @82%, XCTT: 6th @88%, HC: 3rd @89%
Iron Maiden, June 9 DNF (worn out brake pads)

Get Rev El Stoked, July 8th. 4th @93%

Kicking Horuse Cup Hill Climb and Road Circuit race, July 28-29, HC 2nd @98%, RR 4th

Kicking Horse Cup Dark Horse, August 4, 1st!!!!
Kootenay Krusher, August 18, 9th @82%
Hinton XC Provincials/Muck Yeah, August 25-26th (awesome course!) 4th @94%/5th @90%

Kicking Horse Cup CX Races. September 1 and 2. 1st and 1st!!!
Kettle Cross Enduro CX. September 9 6th @93%
Martha Creek Meltdown EN. September 15. 1st on the climb, 69% overall on the DH, 1st overall
Various CX races, maybe even a Kaslo Sufferfest?

I would still like to fit in a trip out west before the snow flies!

Goals: Faster than last year, have fun!

As you can see, I am not racing any of those stage races (aka Trans Rockies, TR3, TR4, Rundle's Revenge, Furious 3) as $100+/day races don't bring people into the sport, and they are not worth supporting. They only exist for crusty masters racers.

I'll be based out of Canmore, so it should be awesome. I'll be making a trip to the coast at some point during the summer as well.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Whitefish Whiteout: Living up to the name

I felt like I was ready to race, so I headed down to Whitefish, MT with Mr. Sellers, and actually I think my first time south of the border in about 8 years. Being lazy Pete, I never got around to getting any greenbacks, and we were only there for a day (New Belgium Fat Tire Ale was calling my name).

So anyways, now to the race.

Course: Having never skied Whitefish before, I was "flashing" the course. The descents were pretty fun, but the climbing was heinous. New snow and low cloud made for a tough climb up the Toni Matt groomer, and the rest of the ascents had ascents through steep glades. The descents were through the trees but were marked with GS gates, so not too hard to follow. The ascents were marked with flagging tape, which was a little hard to see in the fog and rime. Fun course, I will definitely be back.

Gear: Whoaahh boy, new snow combined with some weak glue on the tails of my skins made skin failure a huge issue on the day for me (I did not wax my skis recently, but maybe the bases were contaminated?). Only on the first ascent did I not have to stop midway through to change a  failed skin. On the 3rd ascent, I was about 2 switchbacks below the start of the bootpack up the NBC gully and I could not get any of my skins to stick, and I really struggled to get to the start of the bootpack. I felt really foolish for leaving my wall to wall skins with tails on them in Canmore, when they should have been in my backpack. And I think for this course, wall to wall might be more effective.

Technique: My transitions were pretty dialed, but my kickturns were a little lazy, and not keeping the tails of my skis out of the snow may have contributed to my skin failure problems. I felt like I was skiing well for not knowing the descents.

Engine: I think I probably could have done with a better warmup as the first climb was really tough, but I was in 3rd at the top. I was feeling good, eating and drinking well, but just wasted too much time and energy dealing with my climbing skin problems.

TSN Turning point: You guessed it. My skins failed midway up the 2nd climb, and I got passed by a guy on some telemark gear, just cruising up with ease. Ended up finishing 5th, but the winner Ben Parsons was done before I started the last descent :(

So overall, a good lesson learned, I will definitely race with the glidelites in the pack from now on. Pretty tight community, and thanks to Whitefish for being so accommodating to the uphilling crowd!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Returning to the scene of the crime

Still sore throughout last week, but slowly feeling better, I decided to get back out skiing, and attempt to search for my missing ski.
Medicine that works

Directing the Subaru owner to the goods. Gtay's first day out touring, he was a good sport helping me look for the ski.

A view from the top of the slope that I triggered. About 20-30cms of new snow had fallen since the incident. The picture really doesn't do justice to the steepness of the slope, and the slope also appeared to have a nice convex roll to it. At that point, I realized that I never really got a good look at the slope because I came in from the skier's right side. The continued steepness of the slope and the density of the trees downslope increased the consequences. I was very fortunate. Even with a significant portion of the unstable snow removed from this slope, I was still weary of heading down, as I did not want to risk triggering another pocket and going for a similar ride. We tried to approach the slope from the bottom, but the terrain was too steep or the trees were too thick. A search will have to wait until the spring melt freeze, or the summer or possibly on belay?

Moral of the story is to know and evaluate every terrain feature you encounter.

I also happened to forget my poles that day, luckily I didn't forget my snowsaw! I might also be onto something with the curved pole tips! Snow was pretty good otherwise, though sloughing fast, something to watch out for in the next while for sure.

Sunday was fun with a huge group of some cycling buddies skiing some more great snow

 And breaking some gear.

Still lonely :(

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I bung'ed er up good

Hi, some of you may have heard about my avalanche incident at purple prince.

Pretty much what it boils down to is that I skied a steep (50deg according to KCPS) , windloaded and unsupported feature in the trees and triggered a size 2 (according to KCPS based on destructive power). It released on the depth hoar and I went for a ride through the trees and got banged up pretty good (required 11 stitches to my chin, and my back is pretty sore and possibly a broken collarbone). One of my Dynafit Manaslus w/ Vertical st bindings is still up there. When I consider all of my body parts that are currently hurting, I feel extremely lucky that I didn't break my pelvis, femur, or my spine.

We had a skied a line at similar aspect and elevation earlier (but probably not simlar slope angle). We dug a pit on that same slope we skied earlier (got some medium partial planar results), and I even kicked some small cornices down on to the slope that I eventually triggered and got no results. All of these turned out to be false negative results.

I first really saw that the slope had a skiable line while observing it from the highway with Bill earlier in the week, but I did not have the picture with me on the day of the incident. I was determined to ski this new tree line.

That day the avalanche danger was High in the alpine, Considerable at treeline and moderate below treeline. As purple prince is below treeline, I figured that the local avalanche danger would probably be either Considerable or moderate. But I neglected to think about the wind (something that is kind of considered at treeline forecasts, and not really considered at below treeline forecasts) even though the clues were right there in front of me! Cornices...

I also didn't really consider the slope angle. Steep slope angle = thin snow (think about the extreme example of a cliff face), thin snow = easy trigger point. As fun as it is to slash a turn on a steep rollover, it is not very much fun getting strained through some trees.

I also didn't consider the consequences of getting caught in a slide in the trees. Trees are not soft. I made the wrong decision.

I let my guard down in the trees where it is usually assumed that the snowpack is well supported by the surrounding trees. About a week and a half earlier while skiing Vermillion Peak with Bill, we stopped before an opening in the trees, and got the snow in the opening to release about 15cm down with a ski cut. The trees on Vermillion are burned and have no branches to provide additional support to the snow, but it was a great example: Just because you are in the trees does not necessarily mean you are safe.

I was with a new partner, and he did an awesome job helping me get out of there. But not only was it his first time skiing with me; it was his first time skiing in K-Country. I would understand if he was naturally apprehensive to question my decisions (and I’m not even sure if I would have followed his suggestions; trying to reassure him that it will be fine). Now some of you probably have figured out that I am a pretty goal oriented person, and it takes a lot for me to walk away from something (Bill has been on some good deathmarches, he would know!). From A Dozen More Turns (an excellent case study) a good rule to follow is to back off if even one person in the group is uncomfortable.

In the future, to offset my goal oriented attitudes, I want to see my partners step up and plan the touring days instead of trusting my judgement. I’m also going to stop posting backcountry skiing pictures and talking about descents that we have done on my Facebook or my blog. I don’t want to feel like I have to ski the deepest pow or the steepest lines. 

Carry an inclinometer. Look for the red flags. Don’t ignore the red flags (steep slopes, possible trigger points, wind loading). Think of the consequences (terrain traps, trees).  Plan escape routes and pinpoint safe zones. You can’t ski the backcountry the same way you ski at the hill.

Helmets are a good idea in the backcountry. Mine took a couple of good dings. I wear a Buff and take the earflaps out, therefor no complaints about impaired hearing.

Monday, January 2, 2012