Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Spearhead Traverse


After waiting years to do this, it finally happened. For those of you that don't know, Spearhead Traverse is basically a horseshoe-shaped traverse around Fitzsimmond Creek that links Blackcomb to Whistler. Some do it in one long day, but usually people take 2-4 and enjoy what it has to offer.

Our team consisted of Luke, Mark and yours truly. None of us had done it before but Mark is a very experienced mountaineer and knows how to travel in the alpine and on glaciers. He climbed in the Himalayas, Alaska, etc. and was part of NSR. Luke and I have done many trips together; we are very comfortable in unfamiliar places and work well together. This was a fairly strong team. As first timers it's a good idea to use a professional guide or go with someone that has done it before. It's not the most complicated traverse but some dangers exist, as you do travel on many glaciers. You could get into serious trouble if not properly prepared. We felt comfortable with our skills and decided to go without.

With packs on our backs, it was time to go. We started slowly. After a few chairs, and a pit-stop at the Roundhouse lodge for a quick lunch, the first day was really a wash. All we wanted to do was ski a bit, set up camp early and enjoy the evening perched up high. It was a nice mellow way to start the trip.

Packing up and getting out of the tent is always hard. It's cold, you're tired and you just don't feel like moving. As it turned out, though, we got packed up and fed pretty quickly. Without any planing or saying much at all, we all knew what to do. As one was packing, one was melting snow, the other breaking up the tent. Then as quickly as you completed your task, the roles would change. A fine tuned machine we were.

Being the owner of a newly acquired used $40 GPS, I was the designated navigator. Route finding is fairly easy when you're fitted with a map, knowledge of the general direction and notes on what traps lay ahead; it's hard to get lost. The only tricky part is to trust your notes as you approach sketchy exposed sections (this is when a guide would be useful!). I'll be honest. For me, it's my favourite part. Don't get me wrong, I love deep powder turns, but not knowing what's coming - the exposure, the fear and those dreaded butterflies in your gut - is what gets me coming back for more. It's strange, it's what I love and hate the most about these kinds of trips.

I won't dwell on how beautiful it is. Nothing I can say can describe it, specially with my lack of writing skills. That's something we need to experience on our own. But what I will say is, man, we're small! The Spearhead is not particularly big but those mountains are imposing. I felt like I was traveling in a postcard.

After a long super-duper awesome day it was time again to set up camp. Taking in the views, relaxing in pure silence is always welcoming. Snowy peaks and missed lines along the way was on our minds. For the first time traveling in these mountains and spending time figuring out the routes, we did not have much time to actually ski. But I think it's the only way you can truly learn when you do these kind of things. Only time in the mountains can give you the knowledge and confidence, there are no short cuts. Doing it without a guide is a lot slower, but nothing can replace the experience you gain.

The last day was an early start, Mark made sure of that. I don't know what time it was but the sun was just barely rising and there is no way Luke and I would get out of bed without a good kick in the ass! We were off in a flash and started the last big climb. That climb was not particularly steep but it was an ice rink, and with no crampons, it was a bit tedious.

I was not ready to leave but, the resort boundary poles were nice to see. Heading down the Flute is when I really started to feel my legs. I was skiing like an old man. I was having a hard time turning, but eventually we made our way back down to the village.

What a trip! I'm so happy we finally got it done. But most of all, I'm glad that we took the time to actually learn the terrain, figure out the different routes and get familiar with the mountains. I'll be back for sure to ski some lines next time and hopefully one day bring my kids along.





Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Fissile overnighter

A few emails back and forth and voila, a trip!

Nick- want to do something next weekend if the weather is good? was thinking an overnight around garabaldi glacier just past elfin. it would be good fun and not to long, just one night. I cant talk about this stuff anymore, just need to do something, anything...

N- fuck me I cant sleep... Was thinking we could do fissile as well. ski the resort until ~2pm then go set up camp, have some beers, sleep, then lap a few runs in the morning. what do you think?

Luke- Next weekend forecast is looking good..you still good to go?Fissile or somewhere else?

N- yes, so in to it! but Chantal reminded me that we have a b day party for one of my god children... would I be an ass if I skipped it? If I cant, I'm bringing the girls up saturday to whistler while she gets the party set up at home.

L-When's the party? Maybe we should try go Friday/Saturday? Back Saturday arvo.. No if you have to skip no worries, they're forecasting a small amount of snow only thu/fri, fissile is awesome skiing, but if it's dust on crust or ice it won't be.. We're getting it somewhere this season, even if we have to drive further!

N- I like that. can you take friday off? party saturday night.

N- so you think you can pull friday off? if weather is decent I'm game for fissile. sun is setting late now!!! btw mec gave me new boots!

L- Im still trying to work out Friday, they aren't calling for much snow (trace), im pretty sure all the north facing ski lines would be icey? So a trace on ice...  Am I thinking about it too much?! It's a perfect spot though to camp and ski.  And theres a hut there (Russet Lake).  Nice one on your boots! I didn't see the Freedoms version in the store but it looks like you can get them online, which ones did they swap you for?

N- same boots but the new walk/ski mechanism is much beefier now. tell you the truth I don't care much about the skiing (well I do but...) I just want nights under the stars surrounded by mountains. we could ski the resort friday then go in the afternoon.

L- Ok, youre right.  Same! Ill get it sorted tonight, I reckon we could bring beer to.  Ill probably have to take the kids to school Friday and then we could head after.  Good on your boots.

N- all good. you have the tent? food I figure just freeze dry super and breakfast with some snacks should do. I have stove and small pot, should be all we need. talk to you later.

L- Sounds good, yep I have tent. Theres a cabin there to!

N- I'm going to mec after work to pick up food and fuel. do you need anything? any food you want? I'm getting lasagna for supper and eggs for breakfast. Not the best but it's easy and all you need is a spoon and water.

L- Thanks, thatd be great, I cant get there today.  Ill have the same as you!  (Food is all I need)

Now here's a few pictures.














Monday, December 1, 2014

First Tracks

It's getting cold here and we finally got a few centimeters of snow. We're leaving soon to New York city for Christmas and I really wanted to hit the back country and get a few turns in. Well, that's off the list now!



Chilcotin Pictures

I've been really bad updating the blog, lot's of family trips this summer. Here's a few pictures of a trip I did early September in the Chilcotins with a few friends. Hope you like them.














Thursday, September 11, 2014

Vancouver Island

Here's a few pictures of my trip on Vancouver Island this past July. We rode in Cumberland and on Hornby Island. Cuberland trails are so smooth it's unbelievable. I was lucky because three weeks earlier I broke my hand during a race. I'm not sure I could of ridden any other trails but these are like billiard tables.
Broken hand on super smooth Cuberland single track

Sometimes there's no dirt

Having a post ride recovery meal

Getting ready for Hornby Island camping

Riding with heavy load

Taking in the view and resting before the ride to our camping spot

True island hippie. Thanks Michelle you're rad!

No need for words

It's just never ends, every turn is more beautiful

The ride back home :(