25 February 2013

Chicago!

This summer I had a few quick hours in Chicago and so Grandpa Max and I did a little city exploration. Here are a few pictures from our morning in Chi-Town:

Our plane was VERY delayed leaving. Frowny Face Grandpa

I love this. Reminded me of climbing-group campfires. Only, they're pigeons.

Bean! Or apparently it's "Cloud Gate." Whatever the hell that means.

In the belly of the beast

Pretty day!

All Hail the new Bean Captain: Grandpa Max


Buckingham Fountain - one of my first memories of Chicago

More water features!

Looking toward the pier

Okay, yes, I did use colour enhancing on this photo. What?

VERY tasty food here. I highly recommend it!

22 February 2013

A Powder Day & Moonlight Skiing

Photo from the end of our trip - Mattier pointy mountain at left, Joffre at right

On New Years Eve day, we set off from Keith's Hut with big plans to try to summit and ski Mt. Mattier. As we climbed onto the Anniversary Glacier the weather was deteriorating, so we reassessed our plan and opted to descend to this awesome powder field we skied the day before and make some laps.

Alice and I descending to the pow under cloudy skies. Photo by Andrew Sullivan.

In the backcountry it's important to not focus too much on "objective" and instead make plans for yourself that all lead to fun with variable levels of risk. So, good team decision on this one! We had lots and lots of pow all to ourselves =D

Andrew laying in the skin track.

More steep awesomeness

Picking a line. Photo by Alice Bremner

By mid-afternoon the sun had come back out and we were able to actually see what we were skiing. Not bad Canada. Not bad at all.

OH, Cannnnn-aaaaahhhh-daaaaaaa!

I love this photo of Alice. So primal. So Fierce!

Another shot of Alice getting after it. Red, White, and Blue style !
Not bad for a day's work. 

Back at the Hut, it was dinner time and before we knew it - time for dessert! Alice kindly brought some chocolate pudding, which we shared with the entire table.

Juya and Alice showing of their proudly made chocolate bowl

One thing to note about late December in the Canadian mountains: it gets dark early. Like, it's DARK by 4:30pm. With the shortness of the days and the amount of energy we were expending, we were really lucky to be able to stay up until 9pm all of the previous evenings.

This being New Years Eve, a heated debate erupted at the table about just how long we had to stay up to celebrate NYE. Being Canada, they celebrate in Newfoundland at 8pm PST. I was arguing that we crack those cans of champagne that I hauled up to the hut (yes, they have canned champagne) at 8pm and go to sleep. Another faction was arguing that we needed to wait until at least 9pm and celebrate an American New Years!

Surprisingly not terrible. Actually pretty good!

This debate was put to rest when someone said, "Well, I mean it's got to be almost 8pm now, we can wait another hour!" And we all agreed until someone looked at a clock, and were like, "I wonder what time it is???.....SIX THIRTY?!?!?!"

We continued to drink our other drinks as long as we could, then when those ran out about 8:30 we cracked the champagne and toasted to the New Year. 

Happy 2013!

Only THEN did the night get interesting! Invigorated by our bubbly liquid courage, we all geared back up into our skinning attire and ascended about 1,000 feet by moonlight to ski down under the stars. I can honestly say it was one of the coolest experiences of my life, and definitely one of my most memorable New Year's Eve's ever.

Does not do the lighting justice....but a rough look at our moonlight ski. 

The view during twilight. We ascended to the knoll just above treeline center.

New Years Day greeted us sunny and clear, but alas we had to get back to our normal city lives. After a hearty breakfast we loaded our packs, snapped some final pictures, and began the hour long ski back to the car. I must say, not being hung over on New Year's Day was a surreal and rewarding experience! I just wish I hadn't been so worked from the weekend so that I could have enjoyed the ski out more!

The Crew: I love that we accidentally (almost) made a colour palindrome!

Thanks to everyone for a FANTASTIC four day weekend! I hope to get back up and hang at Keith's Hut in the very near future!

Happy Hutters

08 February 2013

Ski Porn...Aussie Style

In my last post I took you to the top of Mt. Joffre via the Aussie Coulior. Because it's just such a damn beautiful line, here's the photo for you again:

Aussie Coulior. Photo by Andrew Sullivan.

The ski descent was steep; stable; springy; SOLID! Basically one of the best backcountry runs I've ever taken. I believe I had, and this is the technical term, a "shit-eating grin" on my face the whole way down. So did Andrew and Alice.

For the descent, we took turns making turns, all the while sure to relish in the fruit of our efforts. That's really the best part about BC skiing - each turn is that much sweeter because you earned every. Single. One.

Now, as promised - Ski Porn:

About to cross into the coulior. I love that it just completely disappears below. Photo by Alice Bremner.

Making turns feels so good. Andrew showing off his excellent pole planting.

Taking a break near the top. Photo by Andrew Sullivan.

Giving it my best effort. Photo by Andrew Sullivan.

Alice getting after it. Andrew working the camera.

The aforementioned "shit-eating" grins. Photo by Alice Bremner.
Lots more fun to go!

Photo by Alice Bremner

Photo by Andrew Sullivan

I love the angles on this one! Photo by Andrew Sullivan

We bottomed out and skinned back up to the Col, where we were greeted with more wintry views, and enjoyed another 2,000' decent back to the hut. Great day.

Andrew in the shadows

06 February 2013

Joffre Peak and Aussie Coulior

Our first Canadian objective as part of the Keith's Hut Trip was to ski from the summit of Joffre Peak.The other people in our crew sent it the previous day and had nothing but fantastic reports of great snow and stable conditions. We awoke to completely clear skies and headed UP!

Andrew leading the way. The summit of Joffre is the furthest high point on the right
Fantastic sunburst shot displaying our breathtaking weather by Andrew Sullivan

The route takes you from Keith's Hut up onto the Anniversary Glacier where you eventually gain the Col between Mattier and Joffre. The climb to the col is over 2,000 feet, and once reached you descend/traverse for a few hundred feet to get to the base of Aussie Couliur, our true ski objective for the day.

Alice on the Anniversary Glacier nearing the Col
The Col - to our right Mt. Joffre. Photo by Alice Bremner. 

Aussie Couloir is a sight to behold. With over a thousand vertical feet of steep, skiable terrain, it truly is ski porn for the adventurous. But I don't need to wax philosophic about it, I'll just let the picture do the talking:

Mmmm....Aussie Coulior (left). Skier at the bottom. Picture by Andrew Sullivan.

We skinned as high as we could before stripping down to our base layers (it was HOT in the coulior, as is common on sunny days), removing our skins, fueling up with lots of trail mix, and beginning the boot pack to the top. Luckily the track was already laid in for us so trail breaking was not necessary - however unluckily for me, whoever laid in the track had LONG legs, and some of the steps were....challenging.... for the vertically inhibited (aka short people).

A different group of 3 nearing the summit with us. Photo by Andrew Sullivan.

Alice coming up below. You can really see the steepness of the slope and size of the boot pack.

It took over an hour to gain the summit. I recently learned that there's a math equation to estimate time for backcountry travel:

Horizontal 1km = 1 unit
Vertical 100m = 1 unit

Total your units. 
Divide by 4 for uphill travel, or by 10 for downhill travel.
Total remaining is time in hours. So 1.75 = 1 hour 45 minutes.

To ascent Aussie Coulior which was roughly 1,200ft UP (so virtually no horizontal travel), you have 4 units (1200' = roughly 400m), divided by 4 = 1 hour. So, over an hour of travel time was about right given the steepness of the slope and the fact that we kept rubbernecking to take in the fantastic views.

Speaking of - here are summit photos for your viewing pleasure:

Black Diamond should use this in an ad. Looking south.

Looking north. Snow capped peaks as far as the eye can see.

Panoramic south-east-north. True Summit is at right. Photo by Andrew Sullivan.

Happy Ladies on the summit! Mt. Mattier is the point peak behind to the right.

It was so clear we could see Mt. Baker all the way in 'Merica!
How was the ski down? I guess you'll have to wait to find out, as I've tuckered myself out writing this blog AND I'm having a hard time cutting enough pictures to make this blog a reasonable length! So...until next time. Stay safe my friends. :)