Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Winter Reflections

I'll begin by saying that another great winter of ski touring is coming to an end, and right now I am consumed by my thoughts of climbing. As soon as the days start getting longer and warmer, I can't help but think about all the routes I want to climb this summer. Last night I got together with a few friends to watch "First Ascents" and let me tell you- I could barely contain my excitement. This anticipation is killing me! But, since I don't really have much to say about climbing (yet) I'll brief you on this past winter's adventures.

Late fall I went up A2 (Athabasca was too snowy) to practice my mountaineering techniques and crevace rescues. The summit ridge of A2 is spectacular, and there is a technical pitch to the summit that needs to be short roped. To me this seemed much more interesting than Athabasca anyways. Below is the lower part of the A2 summit ridge.
The ski season kicked off with some Remembrance Day long-weekend touring out of the Jumbo Pass Hut near Invermere, BC. We had 5 incredible days of touring with an amazing group of friends. This is one trip I hope to do every year. Below is a picture of me touring above the hut.
Next was some XC skiing from the Elizabeth Parker Hut in Yoho National Park. The skiing from here is phenomenal. A tour over to the Morning Glory Lakes was definitely the highlight of the trip, although skiing out on the fire road offered some good excitement as well. Here's a picture with some friends from the UAOC beside the hut.
This winter I started leading ski trips for the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC), and what a great experience that was. I probably learned more on the trips than the participants did, which I am not sure I should be happy about or not! It started with a XC ski trip to Lake Louise in December, to teach some adventurers-in-training how to ski. As you can see from the photo, they were truly excited just to be out in the snow.
I spent my Christmas holidays back in Ontario and down in Boston with my family. The 2009 ski season commenced with a girl's weekend at the Mosquito Creek Hostel along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park. It felt like spring skiing with temperatures around +10C in January! Martina came up from Rossland, and 7 of us gals drove down from Edmonton. Here's a picture of me below Observation Peak.
Ian & I went on a trip to Bow Hut on the Wapta Icefields in Banff National Park. We stayed for 4 days and went up two of the classics, Mt.Gordon and Mt.Rhonda. Temperatures were around -30C during the day, quite different from the +10C just a week before! The approach to Bow Hut is short (8km), and the hut is ridiculously large (sleeps 30 people). We only had a few people there with us (Chic Scott & his Corsican friend Tomas), which made for nice quiet evenings by the fire. Here's a picture of me on the Mt.Rhonda summit, and Chic & Tomas heading down the gorgeous summit ridge.

Next was an ACC introductory backcountry ski trip that Ian & I led to Bow Summit on the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park. The trip filled and we had 6 participants. The first day we went through basic avalanche rescue techniques, basic snow observations, and even managed to get a few turns in through the trees. There were some funny and frustrating moments with skis flying down the slopes and people skinning up with only one skin on. The second day was incredible in terms of improvement- they were setting skin tracks, leading routes down, and making their own decisions, which made Ian & I really proud! Here we are selecting our route down on the (lookers) far left slopes of Bow.
This winter I took my Avalanche Level II Course with Cyril from Rescue Dynamics. It was a four day course, with the first day in the ACC Clubhouse (theory day), and then the next two up at Roger's Pass (Grizzly Shoulder & The Notch), and the last day back in the Rockies around Observation Peak. I am really happy I took this, I think it is essential for any avid backcountry skier! Anyways, there wasn't too much skiing, but lots of time spent digging pits and observing the snowpack and terrain. Here I am with one of my hand shear blocks checking out the insanely large January 27th surface hoar.
Ian & I being goofs as usual.
Next was the oh so dreamy annual trip to the Asulkan Hut in Glacier National Park, BC. It snowed more than a meter during our 6 day stay, making it "Hero Snow" as we like to call it- when the snow is so deep you can huck 30 foot cliffs and land on your head and you will be fine. It's awesome. I could write book about this trip, but I'll sum it up into a few words, and say that it was the best snow of our lives, and the two bluebird days we had after the huge snowfall were days I will never forget. Here, Ewen (our videographer) setting up the camera to shoot us skiing down the Triangle Moraine.
Asulkan Cabin and all it's glory.
After Asulkan I headed up to the Icefields to help teach the ACC Winter in The Mountains Course, where we take people who have little backcountry experience and teach them how to ski. We stayed at the Athabasca Falls Hostel in Jasper National Park, and went for day tours to Parker's Ridge (where I learned to backcountry ski) and Bald Hills up by Maligne Lake. Parker's finally had enough snow to ski, but it the wind was still howling as usual, moving the new snow off the slopes. Bald Hills is simply beautiful. The terrain up there is so mellow and just perfect for beginners.  Looking south from the top of Bald Hills.
My final official winter trip was an intermediate backcountry skiing trip I led for the Alpine Club to Burstall Pass and The Black Prince. Kananaskis was unusually snowy, and we got about 20cm of fresh snow each day! Burstall Pass was everything I had heard it was and more, and I am already thinking about going back next ski season. The Burstall Slabs definitely caught my eye as well- I can't wait to go there this spring and check it out.

So winter has come and gone, but my ski season isn't over.  Stay tuned for postings on my three epic spring skiing adventures and traverses.

1 comment:

  1. Nice going Lisa!
    Looking forward to many postings of common climbing trips.