Well, it's been a crap winter for touring around here in the Coast Mtn's. A profound lack of snow, big inversions, Arctic outflow, and then a lingering deep instability have left a shortened season. But things did eventually change.
Usually the Blackcomb backcountry looks like this
but instead at the end of 2013 it looked like this
It started dumping around Valentines and with the Duffey even more sparse than the Whistler area it took till the 2nd week on March to finally fill in. Then the fun started. Started in this zone
We hit the N facing ridge
Ted's wife was slaying turns on the Prior Pow Surf
Even though it got a bit greybird the turns were outstanding
Looking back ,there are still lots of options left on this ridge
Hit some resort slackcountry the next day. Then the following day we headed back up the Duffey to the next peak over. Bluebird skys greeted us. The views and turns were great
Evan dropped in second throwing up a rooster tail
I had to work back in Whistler later that afternoon so we just kept it to one lap, top to bottom as ya can see here
It dumped for a few days so we hit the resort. Then I went up for a solo day, ended up running in to an old friend in the parking lot, so we went and hit up a chute, I dropped first
Andy took off and I got a couple more mellow laps in.
After a couple more resort slackcountry days the skys cleared and Evan joined me again. We topped out and had this 600m(1860' in American) shot down to a lake
So I dropped in to blower
After some steep climbing it was down and out, getting my frontside turn on
The upper portion disappears far down behind the ridge, and the lower is an easy out
We got a little more fresh snow the next day and then the following day it went blue. We felt good about the snowpack so it was time to get a bit more ambitious. Unfortunately it was a Sunday so every 9-5 working, MEC wearing, wannabe Van City ski tourer and his dog was probably going to be getting out. Surprisingly when we got to the third lake those people camped out weren't even on the move yet.
We got a view of the Stonecrop Glacier(which would be our route down) and the first half of our route up beside the Matier glacier(black line)...
I pushed to catch these guys who had left the parking lot 20min before us and caught them at the crux of the climb between the buttress and hanging glacier
Steep skinning w ski crampons
I was stoked when we topped out on the glacier and the 2 guys headed off to the NW Face of Matier
I had a lazy lunch then pushed on and set the track. When I gained the ridge it looked like everyone had got their gear together and was coming up so I got on the radio and told the crew to get out front
Evan and Hugh about to start the bootpack up the ridge above the buttress
I topped out with a great view down Mt Currie and Pemberton after 3 1/2 hrs of climbing. 4 1/2 total hrs
I was stoked to drop in to the 1020m(3160') N Face. It rolls over so you can only see the first half
After the first straight shot I cut right under the glacier in to the long chute
Evan followed me down, getting a deep pow turn in the chute in this shot(upper left)
The route down
another view of the top 2/3s
I bailed out and headed back to Whistler for my 430 shift. Spent the next day as a rest day on the Mtn bike in Squamish.
The day after next brought a resort pow morning, 5 laps, then I worked a token lunch shift. I had the evening off so I rounded up a friend who just got back from AK and we headed up the highway. 430 trailhead was definitely my latest and it was about +8c. I found some N facing pow for Aussie Phil
He was stoked and the light was great
The next morning I hooked up with Dan and his friend Vince. Leaving for a 45 day Tajikistan trip in a month on a 6000m(18,600') glacier Vince was motivated and set a good pace. Once we gained the ridge the light was varible
Vince dropping last
Dan getting his ski on
I left early to head off to work and had a good look at our turns
Hit the same zone the next day but it was socked in and warmed up and then took the weekend off riding to cheer on my WhitecapsFC with 21,000 others.
The weather looked great for a couple days in the alpine, although warm and isothermic up to the treeline. I hooked up with James Oda's Prior crew in search of N facing goodness.
We decided to hit some chutes, the view from across the valley looking at the intended lines
James knows how to get face shots on a spine.....
Looking back, Joffre central still has a lot of action out the bottom of it, if anyone is game
After the first run we eyeballed the next one from across the Anniversary glacier
Rob and I headed over and up. With a mostly corniced ridge it would have been tough to find our entrance but fortunately James decided to shoot some video from the other ridge so he directed us in with the radio. Mouthwatering 480m(1490') chute....
Rob decided to do a slope test, with a cornice air
He was hauling
After a night in the hut we woke up to some good colour
The view of Mt Howard was outstanding, unfortunately the Twin One glacier is showing this seasons lack of snow
I led the way up Vantage Peak with a heinous bootpack. After some summit shots Rob led the way just below the summit......more blower pow
A quick skin up for lunch to take in the sights
....and more blower off the ridge
To finish it off we even found a bonus shot right down till the snow crapped out
It was back to work again that evening
Here's some video James shot from the last 2 days.........