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What a day

April 5, 2011

Its spring, well the calendar says its spring. Not too many sunny hot days yet to be had but one memorable to share. As I remember thinking it was the beginning of blue skies ever lasting long daylight hours, I now think back and tell myself: “What a day!”

When Hartley calls me up, I usually don’t want to miss out on the adventure, knowing that he’ll come up with something good. The crew started out as 2, but quickly became 6. Discussions about options in the truck ended up with the Asulkan Valley as our destination.

We made our way up the Dome for some creamy turns, and headed back up it, but this time traversing over to Sapphire Col. With lots of sunshine left in our day and Renaud never having done the Jupiter traverse, it made for an easy choice. Hartley lead the whole way, which made it easy for all of us. It was over pretty quick and we were ready for our descent down Leda. The boys slayed it down from the summit and I choose a more conservative way not having looked at the line enough for my own comfort.

We then had an amazing long powdery line down the Thorington to finally head up to our final summit, Youngs Peak. The sun was still shining and a fair amount of people were shredding the Seven Steps of Paradise, however, there was still plenty of room to put our own lines in.

The weather changed as we got to the top of Youngs Peak and without my long johns, I wasn’t about to stick around too long. The turns were still really good as all of us made it down the Mouse Trap and out of the Asulkan Valley. The cool temperatures made for a quick exit.

We were at the parking lot at 19h30, and got delayed on the highway for some snow clearance which was a great opportunity to stretch and for my boyfriend to cook dinner ūüôā Love you Jeffie



March 24, 2011

Anyone who travels up the Connaught Creek has probably contemplated skiing the STS chute, venturing up the “cone” or shredding Cheops 5.¬† All north facing options staring down at you, dusting you from above or inviting you to track up the pristine slopes.

Wednesday morning we woke to the sound of rain. Pouring rain that is, that could easily discourage any of us, even the ones with the best intentions with spring objectives in mind and gritty still to get out there and get after it. But our group stuck with our initial plan and got after it.

With a few discussions and the snowy, cloudy weather not looking to lighten up any time soon, we headed for the Balu trail. Conor decisively skinning towards the “cone”, had us up there in no time, wrapping the cone as efficient as it gets.¬† A few of us had never gone up that zone, we were surprised by the nice 1500 feet of spring-like conditions that felt like a groomed run underneath.

Tracy, Jeff, Conor and I paused at the bottom of our run, snacking and feeling damp from the wet conditions when we saw Mark appear from the cloudy horizon. Looking like he had spent the night rocking to some DJ playing in Golden, with only a couple of hours of sleep but with a keen attitude as always, we continued our search for good skiing.

Connaught Creek was quiet, not many skiers to be seen but a couple of groups wondering around. With a quick skin and boot pack to the top of Cheops 5 we were looking down the STS couloir.  Conor roped up and chopped a big chunk of cornice so we could all ski in easily and enjoy this long intimidating run. It was a repeat for some of us and this time around was a rather enjoyable thrilling descent for moi.

By that point the weather had cleared and the sun was shining in and out, bringing the temperatures significantly higher every time. We had some eats at the bottom, the day still early with lots of light left. It didn’t take us much to decide on going back for one more, seeing that the group that had been up top had not ski any lines down the main open bowl.

Jeff and I chose to explore the nose of it while Conor and Mark skinned a bit further to drop in the higher “door”. Tracy had decided against coming back up but was happy to wait in the sunshine or at the pass. We realized pretty quick how hollow the snow and how thin the coverage was on that nose so we waited for those guys to drop in and take some pictures. What a fast, enjoyable run that was. We chose a different exit and caught up with the boys right before spring skiing some more corn on our way out.

We were greeted by Tracy’s beautiful smile and great persona, thinking back on how awesome this day of skiing had been. But the fun wasn’t over yet as we met friends that were having a Cuba slide show from their 3-month trip at the end of 2010. Mojitos and lots of laughter were on the menu for most of the night, and for others salsa dancing lessons were just the beginning of the night.

Feeling under the weather a bit today, I will recover and then Jeff and I are headed to Golden for course setting and some fun races. Everyone is welcome to join, the more the merrier!!

ciao ciao ciao


Mt. Sifton North Face

March 21, 2011

This winter has been, well, epic.  With the consistent snowfall since December, lots of things are filled in, and recent bits of storm snow followed by milder temps are allowing things to settle out.  Talking with Ian Gale we made plans to meet up at Rogers pass with goals to ski off the North face of something high and alpine.  Mark and Tina were also keen, and we made plans to hit the parking area just as the permits opened

Heading up into the Hermit zone, things were looking pretty white.  The crust on the southern aspects was very prominent, and we figured our best bet of keeping a low-vis option was to head towards Sifton as opposed to the Swiss Glacier.  As the day progressed, the variable cloud meant some beautiful light and some opportunities to push higher up.

“It’d be pretty nice to be standing on top of Ursus Minor right now”, I said looking towards it’s North face from the Sifton-Little Sifton col.

“How about standing on top of Sifton”, Mark replied, motioning up the ridge.

We discussed the options for ascent/descent and started working our way up.  After a bootpack and short descent, we wrapped around through the North-West basin and were soon on the North ridge making our way to the summit.  Once on top, we did a couple of roped up ski-cuts, and then it was time to drop in.

The surface snow was sluffing fast and as Mark rode the upper steep section, some substantial sluffs raced down the face through the choke and out to the fan below.  Ian followed Mark through the centre line, while Tina, Julie and myself worked our way skiers right to meet up with them at the bottom.  An amazing 3000 ft line in great snow and great light, one to remember.

We climbed back up a steep snow slope to the North ridge and crossed the North-West glacier to return via our line of ascent.  Surprise, surprise, Hartley opted to recycle the uptrack and return to the summit to shred back down the south-face of Sifton, MANIMAL!

Thanks to Julie, Mark, Tina and Ian for an awesome day in the mountains and a great start to my spring break…here’s hoping for a great week!


Rad Cord

March 19, 2011

While skiing with a group up in Fairy Meadows a couple of years ago, a gent from Colorado was telling me of how he’d keep 20m of small diameter static cord in his bag in case he got himself into something he didn’t like.¬† He had explained how it let him explore lines a little further, often finding some hidden gems others weren’t willing to search out.¬† It seemed like a good idea, and this winter I picked some up to take out on those exploration days.¬† Saturday was one of those days.

Julie and I enjoyed a bit of a sleep-in and headed up to Mt. MacPherson later in the morning.¬† There’s a small couloir that enters the womb from the fingers side, and I’d always been interested in finding a fun variation to get into the womb for a shorter day.

Once on top, the look of the couloir entrance (protected from cliffs above), seemed like more than we were ready for.¬† We worked our way skiers right through some nice glades to a cliff section on the edge of the couloir.¬† Hoping to find a ski line through, we ventured further right.¬† The next line I checked had me bootpacking back up above a BIG cliff to work myself further right.¬† By this point we had committed ourselves fully to the descent and it was obvious that the “rad cord” was coming out.

Setting up on the edge of a pillowed set of cliffs, we tossed the rope and quickly realized that 20m of rope wasn’t going to be enough to make it through the lower rock band.¬† However, it did get us over what looked like the steepest section, and it looked feasible to downclimb in the runneled gully and maybe even hop the rocks at the bottom.

Once below the cliffs we were able to traverse out into the chute and ski some great snow through the bottom of the womb.  A great day to practice escape rout techniques in the mountains!

Alpental Race Report

March 3, 2011

Thanks to Brad Schalles for the great re-cap of the skimo race in Alpental a few weeks back.  Brad is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with on the circuit!


“Hope it’s not raining like this tomorrow!” I said to Aimee as we drove back to our hotel through sheets of rain. We had been taking in some of the events at Vert Fest at Alpental ski resort and were planning on racing the next day.

To our relief, we awoke to clearing skies.  The freezing line had dropped overnight and Mother Nature had blanketed the Cascades with 6 inches of fresh, wet snow. This was a mixed blessing. It would make skinning on the resort slopes easier, as they had been hard and icy the day before. But it also meant that there would be some trail breaking for the front pack.
This was my first time at Alpental and it quickly became apparent that this place was steep. The first climb left the base area and meandered its way to the top of the resort for 2800 feet of elevation gain.¬†From the top, the course headed down a steep mogulled run called Upper International. After that, the course traversed over to Snake Dance, an aptly named run that required you to slither your way through trees and bumps to to the base area.¬†This was the end of the recreational course. From the base area, the race catagory climbed up another 1300′, transitioned, and skied back down Snake Dance to the finish. Prior to the race and throughout the weekend, the racers celebrated the life of Monika Johnson, a local skier and perennial winner of the Women’s race division, who had recently passed away while backcountry skiing after a cornice broke off, taking her with it. The race was restyled as a memorial for her, and rightfully so. It sounded like Monika really got after it in the hills.
The race began with a bang as 120 competitors jockeyed for position prior to the first choke point of the course, located just a few hundred vertical feet uphill. On the lead climb, a pack of about 5 started to pull away. But with the angle of the skin track and the new snow, no one in the lead pack wanted to stay in the number one spot. ¬†Things were much more crowded in the middle of the “recreation” pack, as racers shuffled up the course like ducklings in row. While the lead pack had to contend with trail breaking, the recreational class had to contend with a battered and bruised skin track. In many spots, the new snow had already been scraped away, leading to some tricky and icy sidehill skinning. Two bootpack sections kept the course interesting, and broke up the monotony of “pain cave” skinning.
I was able to make it to the top of the first climb in the lead pack, and with a good transition gained the lead. Half way down Upper International, I lost a skin and my lead. But by the bottom I was back in the lead pack, and we were working together to break the trail up the last climb.¬†By the top, the lead pack of three racers had solidified but the question of who would take the crown was still undecided. I was in the front at the top of the last transition, but wasn’t fast enough and was overtaken by Andy and Mike Traslin.
We screamed downhill to an incredibly tight finish. The top three racers were separated by less than 50 seconds. Ski mountaineering racing is a very technical sport and results are very dependent on how well your gear works and how well practiced you are with it. This race was no exception from that. It was a learning experience, as all of my races have been this year. It was great to be on the podium for the first time in a skimo race. My podium finish is no doubt attributable to to the fact that this race was held so close to World Championships in Europe, keeping the best in North America from showing up.
Check the results at

Zach Giffin at one of the great Clinics held throughout the weekend

Italy 2011

February 17, 2011

There hasn’t been much skimo action to blog about since we arrived in Italy on the 13th of the month.¬† I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I’d posted some decent skiing action.¬† And now that we’ve found ourselves in an area having a wicked-rough snow year, I’m regretting not posting more of the “over-the-head” action we were experiencing back home.

After spending the first couple of nights in Venice (on Valentine’s Day nonetheless), we headed up to Cortina to get the ski legs working again.¬† It didn’t take long to realize why the World Championship race organizers weren’t posting the course profiles, the lack of snow was staggering.¬† My dreams of skiing a few Dolomite couloirs before the championships were fading quickly.¬† With no significant snowfalls in weeks, and a weather front moving in, it didn’t look promising for any serious ski mountaineering objectives.

Yesterday, as the storm started, we headed up to the resort to ride the lifts.¬† What little glimpses we had of the massive rock walls, were awesome.¬† The highlight of the day was Julie and I skiing down the World Cup DH course.¬† I’d seen it many times on TV, and actually skiing the area was pretty exciting.

Today, we met up with Stano and James to get find a little bit of softer snow.¬† We headed towards the Passo Giaua and were quickly up into 20+cms of new snow.¬† The terrain is beautiful, and with the pass above 2200 m, you are up into some beautiful zones quite quickly.¬† After a short tour, we stopped at a refugio at the top for lunch before heading back down to do a bit of transition work.¬† With the “sprint” race being the first on the itinerary, it is pretty clutch to have your tranny’s dialed in.

Perhaps another day of skiing around here before we head towards Claut in the afternoon tomorrow.


Mini Ticks

January 5, 2011

When you live in a place like Revelstoke, your tick list can be long.  The list of inviting summits and couloirs is long, and over every new ridge there seems to be another few lines just begging to be skied.

Heading out with Darek and Tara meant an another opportunity to gather information and inspiration from one of best in the business.  With low-elevations still be a trick to work with, we opted for a tour up Glacier Crest.  Using the summer trail to avoid an alder-bash, we were on the ridge quickly and things were looking nice for the descent.

I’d always looked at the lines off Glacier Crest that dipped back towards Lookout Basin.¬† I knew there were several lines straight south that worked, but without the beta at hand, it wasn’t really a day to go exploring.¬† We skied the main gully that drops off the SW shoulder and wraps down into the bowl.¬† Great skiing with Alice, Julie and myself taking the direct line, and Tara and Darek wrapping around through the larger face.

With some great views of the North lines off Ravens, Jules, Alice and I skinned up the ridge to line up a stellar looking chute to bring us back into the bowl.  1hr later we were ripping skins and cutting the cornice into 1500ft of lovely.  Back around to the skied out Ravens trees and out the long Asulkan Valley.  And with that, a few mini ticks off of my list.