Back at Balu Pass

Today I went out with a friend, Bryan, to Balu Pass in Roger's Pass. The weather had been snowy and windy and the north face of Mt. Cheops was shooting size two avalanches as we skied by, uphill, on the other side of the valley, hugging the safety of the trees. We could hear the avalanches before we could see them since the visibility was poor.

Given the touchy conditions and what the visitor center called "a very reactive layer" in the snow pack, we played it safely. We skied up to Balu Pass (5 km / 700 m from car), picked our line down a descent that was less than 30 degrees steep and came down safely.

During snow tests, a simple shear test revealed no sudden results in the upper snow pack where we skied. There was maybe 25 cm of storm snow on top. Skiing in that snow was a little tricky because it had quite a lot of drag, probably because it was forming a soft slab.

It was very windy at the top and the gusts were strong. Proper winter conditions!


Ski season begins

The ski season has started in Revelstoke!

Yesterday a friend and I headed out to Roger's Pass in Glacier National Park to open up the ski season. A mere two weeks ago we were still mountain biking on the trails of Revelstoke. It's a smooth transition to skiing - just need to get 1500 m higher to where the snow is. Technically one could still bike in the valleys but it's rainy and miserable and the bikes don't love all that water in the linkages. I now have a lot of work to do on mine.

Anyhow, please enjoy these two shots from Roger's Pass, Connaught Creek area. We reached Balu Pass in nice weather and stable conditions, then descended back down. There was maybe 20 cm of fresh snow on the surface, with no cohesion to form a slab. Skiing was good. The snow had an isothermal base and on top of that maybe 50 cm of variable snow, with a crusty layer 20 cm down from the top. We saw no signs of avalanches, heard no wumphing, and skied mellow well-supported terrain avoiding convex rolls and terrain traps.

Can't wait to get back there again.


Frigid January Ski

A frigid day in January, two determined skiers take to the slopes behind Pangnirtung. Here are some pics of us skiing what we dubbed Wine Peak (or alternately, Whine Peak), because although it really sucked at the time (it was frigging cold! -28C) we realized that the memory would get much better with age.

Cold but happy.

It was so cold that the snow consistency was affected and it felt like sand under our skis. A skin fell off Markus' ski and wouldn't reattach because it was too cold for the glue to work, so he walked the last pitch to the summit.

Pulling skins off for the descent.

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