Sunday, January 31, 2016

Ghoster Coaster

I have been wanting to climb with Brett for a long time, so when he suggested Ghoster Coaster, I was double stoked! I have wanted to try that route for a while. We invited a few extra people to join us, knowing quite well that it would make the day a bit more of a faff. In a surprising turn of events, we slept through our alarm and were awakened by a phone call from Charlie wondering where we were. As we scrambled to get out the door, the friends we had invited went ahead without us, and Alan had to meet everyone without us there. Despite oversleeping and my headache from a bit too much wine the night before, we arrived at the climb to find Charlie and Alan working on the first pitch of ice. 
One of the lower pitches on the route
Another party was waiting to climb ahead of us so we got ourselves ready while they started up. We caught glimpses of Alan and Charlie at each pitch, but hadn't seen Brett or Eric yet. Nobody was waiting for the sleepyheads. The climbing was fun and easy up to the crux of the route, a 30 m pitch of steeper climbing (WI III) where it got a bit more vertical and made my calves ache. The pitch was wide enough that we were able to climb 2 parties across and Kyle passed the other group to catch up to Charlie and Alan. We walked up the ice together to the final, short pitch that involved some tree climbing for extra excitement! Brett and Eric had boot-packed up the gully above the climb to investigate some ice, but after struggling with post-holing, the rest of us took a break to eat lunch and enjoy the view while we waited for them to return.
Tea time at the top of Ghoster Coaster
It was a really fun descent once we had finally caught up with everyone, although Kyle and I got a lot of slack for sleeping in. We rappelled down the 4 pitches quickly and our walk out was much more enjoyable with a slight downhill the entire way.
Having way to much fun!
Pitch #3 - The Crux
Happy days in the mountains with my friends
The whole route only took us a few hours and we were able to climb the whole thing with one 60 m half rope (the longest pitch was 30 m). The approach from the Cougar Creek parking area involved walking up to a Y junction (45-60 mins walking), taking a left at the junction and continuing up the creek until the hoodoos on the left side (high on the bank), which took an additional 15 minutes. From there, we walked up a small, steep drainage on the left side of the creek bed until we hit ice (another 10 mins). I think we spent as much time walking into and out of the climb as we did climbing! It was worth the walk for a fun 135 metre WI III, but I don't think I will be making the trek in there again for a while, there are too many other awesome things to climb! 

Thanks for the great photos Charlie!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Huckleberry Hut

Christmas Day: Kyle and I spent the day alternating between family Christmas celebrations and frantically attempting to pack for our trip to the Bonningtons.
The mess that eventually turned into a (relatively) neatly packed truck
 Boxing day: We miraculously arrived at our meeting spot within 15 minutes of David and Tyler (who were driving in from Vancouver). We had an earlier start to the ski in than we had expected so were able to get on the trail before dark. The ski in was straight forward (or so we thought). After parking at Porto Rico road beside the shooting range, we followed the road that had been well traveled by sledders for 3 km before reaching our first junction. It was around that time we had to turn on the headlamps, at the super late time of 4:30. We took the lower (left) fork and continued on for 3 km to the next intersection. All the sledders had continued up to the right so we started breaking trail on the left fork for the final 2 km. The ski in was 8 km and it took us 2 hours and 45 mins on mostly broken trail. If we hadn't been paying attention, it could have been easy to ski right past the hut in the dark because although it is right on the road, the roof is at the same level as the road and it was covered in snow.

We settled in the the cozy hut. When they say it sleeps 4, they mean it!! There is a bunk bed and each bed is just wide enough for two (but it was more comfortable to sleep with our heads at each end of the bed). There was a wood stove and a fold down table that revealed shelves full of dishes and games. Despite its size, it was very functional and warmed up very quickly.
Welcome to our home for 5 days
Huckleberry Hut complete with dishes, pots and pans, a lamp and a wood stove (colemen stove too!)
 Day 2 - 1200 m of elevation - Dominion Peak
We left the hut early and followed the road up the the Midday-Cabin col where we contoured around to Dominion Peak. We toured up to the top and enjoyed a fantastic 800 m run down to the bottom of the valley through moderately spaced trees and lots of fresh powder. After lunch it was time to make our way back up to the col, which turned into a bit of a bushwhack mission, but we got there eventually. We got to ski right to the hut down Cabin Run and quickly got to work on one of the gourmet dinners we had prepared for the trip.
Kyle breaking trail up Dominion Peak
Lots of snow in the Bonningtons at this time of year!
Clouds were moving in and out all day, making it hard to see the mountains around us
David finds some pow
Big tree on our way back up to the col
 Another group arrived as we were making dinner. We had brought a tent for David and Tyler that night, but 6 people cooking in a 4 person hut is cozy. Our other friends were supposed to come in that day, but there was no sign of them. We later learned that they had taken a wrong turn at the first junction and skied up a completely different mountain before turning home as the light started to fade. We were initially worried about them, but there was good cell service at the col and you could even get a few bars of service on the road above the hut so we were able to get in touch with them the next day to see what had happened.
David and Tyler enjoying some down time after dinner
Home for the night for David and Tyler
Day 3: 1400 m elevation - 3 runs on Midday Peak, one run off Cabin Peak and a night ski on Cabin
Kyle, David and spent the morning putting in some tracks on Midday. We were the only ones skiing in the area so just used our old skin track from the day before to do some laps. The snow was deep and light and we found some steep, open runs which were really fun!
Mid-day on Midday! The sun is low in the sky this time of year
Nearing the top of Midday Peak
Getting excited to drop in
David in the trees and sweet lines
I stepped in a hole!! Lots of snow and so much stoke
Tyler had taken the day in the hut to recover from a cold. When we returned for a late lunch, he had cut wood, melted snow, boiled water and was getting ready to bake us some cookies. Amazing!
Khyber the hut hog supervises the cookies
Day 4: 1800 m elevation - 1 long run off Midday Peak to the road and 2 runs off the very top of Cabin Peak
We woke up on our second to last day to bluebird skies and got our first good view of the area. It was spectacular! We used the good visibility to our advantage and bagged the line right off of the top of Cabin Peak. The stability was great so we were able to enjoy fall line skiing all the way to the hut and left our mark on the most obvious line in the area.
Raring to go!
Hut-top photo op
Kyle picks his line on Midday
Everywhere we looked was untouched pow
Tyler drops into Midday
Kyle getting some
Happy days
Tyler farms some powder off Cabin Peak
Going up for another lap!
Fading light as we head back up Cabin
Peak ahead!
Pretty dark by the time we reached the top
We dropped in for our last run of the trip with our headlamps for our second night ski in a row. The night before, we had launched our fireworks before going for a ski. We had all brought really bright bike lights which made the night skiing really fun. I think our best run of the whole trip was the last one down Cabin, a 500 metre run of big open slopes just waiting for our tracks. It was heli-ski quality!
Fireworks on Cabin Peak
Night skiing is so much fun and beautiful
Day 5: We got up early to pack up and go, and skied back down the road in the dark. It wasn't a challenging ski down and we covered the 8 km and 800 m of elevation in 40 minutes. There were a few creeks that we had to cross and the snowmobile trails made for a bumpy ride. We celebrated our successful trip with an awesome breakfast at Full Circle Cafe in Nelson before heading off in different directions for our New Years plans.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Fernie - Resort Pow

I don't normally post about resort days, but the two days we had in Fernie before Christmas were spectacular! The hill was empty, there was fresh snow every night and the sun came out. Merry Christmas indeed! There isn't much more to say other than I forgot how amazing the Volkl One's are in the resort. They were perfect for all the tight trees we found but still performed great in the chutes and deep open powder in the bowls. I am in love!
Welcome to Fernie - I haven't taken the Volkl One's out in a while!
First ride up White Pass for the year
Laps of Cedar Bowl
Barely tracked, just waiting for us!
Chairlift selfie
Kyle finds a stash of pow after lunch
Lots of alders in the landing
All smiles back at the truck - the Volkl One's were awesome!!