Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Asulkan Cabin Rememberance Day

This trip a few years ago ranks as having some of the deepest snow that I have ever skied. I missed 2012 and they trip got cancelled in 2013 due to lack of snow. This year we had very few expectations due to the fact that it rained up to 3000m two days before and there really wasn't much snow at 1700m in the Revelstoke Mtn webcam.

We arrived on friday night in Revy at the Powder Springs Motel ($65/ night in shoulder season). Its attached to The Last Drop a pub I've been to a number of times but never for my first drink. We went directly to the pub around 11:30 and finished off a bunch of Pints of Mt Begbie Brewing's Nasty Habit IPA (delicious). The place was packed - reminded me of frosh week at Queen's - apparently all of the lifties had just shown up and still had money to spend at the bar.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Squamish to San Diego - Nearly a Month in Arlofornia

I am not near the point where I am bored with all of the things that can be done in BC yet but when I have a big slot of time off it is always great to get a little further a field to see what the rest of Western North America has to offer.  This was the first long road trip that we have take our 6 month old son Arlo on, perhaps we could have warmed up with something a little less than 5300km! I was really excited to have the time to spend with him. Babies and long road trips do not always mix - but I wanted to focus more on the things that we could do, rather than those that we couldn't. With a little bit of patience and a little bit of luck (Arlo behaving himself) having a 'baby on board' didn't slow us down at all.


Day 1 - Portland
Day 2 - Florence Beach Regional Park
Day 3 - Harris Beach State Park
Day 4 - Humbolt Redwoods State Park
Day 5- Santa Rosa
Day 6-8 - Santa Cruz
Day 9-10 Yosemite
Day 11 - Inyo National Forest
Day 12-13 Bishop
Day 14 - Alabama Hills
Day 15-17 San Diego
Day 18 Santa Barabra
Day 19-20 Montana De Oro State Park
Day 21 Monterey
Day 22 San Francisco
Day 23 Oakland
Day 24 Salem
Day 25 Squamish

As far as our favourite places go - we would both agree that the Eastern Sierra (Days 11-14) was probably a highlight, the high desert is such a gorgeous area with fantastic access to the alpine for hiking; perfect weather, an beautiful fall colours. The best camping spot was in the Alabama Hills, a landscape of huge boulders, with dirt tracks leading to great secluded spots.  We had very little expectations about what the cities we would visit would be like but thought Santa Barbara was a really neat spot, its amazing how a strict municipal building code can make you think that you are somewhere in Europe.

It was fantastic to get to spend good chunks of time with some great friends in the San Francisco area, as we get older and time with old friends become fewer and further in between, I won't miss an opportunity to see them when I can - we rented the house in Santa Cruz with everyone the first weekend and then swung back through San Fran on the way back north to see them all again.

One issue that kept coming up on the trip again and again was the three year drought that the state was experiencing at the time. Some things were difficult for us to notice since we did not live in the area full time, but in some areas it was clear as one person put it - that "nature is beginning to shut down" - dried out trees, lakes with little to no water in them - on our way back north we found it actually weird when we saw our first river near the Oregon California border that actually had water in it.

We were lucky with the timing of the trip - Arlo was 6 months at the start, old enough that he was eating solid food and someone could go to the back seat while we were driving to feed him without us stopping. He was also young enough that he could sleep for long periods of time in the car seat still (on the drive home he slept about 16 of the 24 hours of driving! We did not do as much biking as we would have without him, that being said hiking was great using both the Ergo carrier and the larger hiking backpack although a nap in there caused some serious face chafe that turned into a scar for a few days after. I did get out for some great bike rides however; a few in Santa Cruz with Mike et all, the Monterey Peninsula, Montana De Oro State Park, Santa Barabara, Yosemite etc. A trip I will never forget, big thanks to Sarah - I won't ever forget the endless gourmet camping meals by headlight post baby to bed.  This was the Delica's last Hurrah - cracked the cylinder head shortly after returning home.
Love the Eastern Sierra

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Lorna Lake Drop - Chilcotin Mountian Biking

I went to the Chilcotins in 2010 and vowed that this would be a place to return to year after year. It is amazing how life seems to get in the way of these sort of trips and it took 4 years to return. This really is a mountain bikers playground with miles of scenic fun single track to enjoy.

Day 1 - Float Plane Drop to Lorna Lake - Big Creek to Elbow Pass - Tyaughton Creek - Spruce Lake (gear dropped here by plane) (5-6 hoursih)
Day 2 - 
Group 1 - High Trail to Windy Pass - Spruce Peak Ridge Ride - High Trail back to Spruce Lake (6 hours ish)
Group 2 - Tyaughton Creek  to Deer Pass - Trigger Lake - Hummingbird Lake - Spruce Lake (8 hours ish)
Day 3 - Gun Creek Trail - Tyax Lodge Patio ( 3 hours ish)

The weather was perfect - warm days and cool nights, no bugs and a great crew to ride with. The food was fantastic - from steaks to BLTs to the unburnable Yun Pup to dinosaur egg oatmeal. A lucky floatplane rescue of another group at Lorna Lake reminded us of how remote some of this area is. 

Ride Fast - Take Chances
Ron charging through Big Creek 
The Robertson Conquerors

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Brohm Ridge Hike

We had a wonderful day up on Brohm ridge sept 6th. This was Gran Fondo day in Squamish so we got an early start to avoid road closures. This area has such high potential for public use but the current access is really limiting as it took - 2 x delicas w 7 people took about an hour to get up the very rough Cat Lake FSR from the highway. The road gets progressively worse as you go. We parked at the gate 1385m after briefly descending we climbed up past the snowmobile cabin to the height of the ridge at 1700m - this is the most tiring part of the hike. There were a few people at the snowmobile cabin doing some maintenance to the road. We took a break at the highpoint to change Mark and Arlo's diapers - it was a little weird watching Laura (mark's new fiance) change his diaper but you know, whatever floats your boat. Though it was foretasted to be very hot in town, the breeze and the cool alpine air were quite refreshing and best of all there were no bugs.

From here the walk undulates along the ridge and is actually a really good bike ride. There was only one group of dirt bikes up there on this day and they just went up and back sticking to the trail. We had lunch around 1900m, this is the park boundary and there is a quick bit of exposure on the trail get passed (this could be bypassed by taking a low route through boulder fields) a few others continued another km up the ridge to the edge of the Warren Glacier at around 2100m. About 6 hours of hiking round rip with a number of stops.
Mt Garibaldi ....and Mark looking good - you may not be able to see greg because he is skinnty and his shirt isn't there too take up space 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

CFFOV in Squamish

This is not really my adventure but rather one of my mother's. All of my spirit of exploration I get from my parents, they spent many days when I was a teenager at the cottage exploring the back-roads of northern Ontario. My mother last flew CFFOV across the country in 1992 when she flew from Ontario to Alaska I remember crying on the dock at the cottage when she arrived back and then had to leave again to drop her copilot off in Toronto.  This time Squamish was the final destination, It took her three days to fly across the country with my Uncle Alan in good weather (except for a bit of a headwind). When she was here we went for a number of flights around Squamish along with one up to Desolation Sound and one over the mountains through the Salmon Inlet over to Howe Sound, flying along the back of the Tantalus range was truly awe inspiring.

Above Woodfibre

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Arlo's First Chief

Uncle Cam and Aunt Christine are here so we decided to go for a jaunt up iconic Squamish Chief. Arlo behaved himself the whole way up and down (slept). We got a lot of looks from other people on the trail. This will be the last time I carry him up - next time he has to do it all on his own.

This is a baby blog now

Ok how can I resist one post - Arlo Cameron Norman at a whopping 8lbs 12oz showed up after 24 hours of labour. Sarah was a champ and i'm a very proud father. Arlo hopefully you will read this blog someday and see how fun your father used to be.

Yes Arlo, welcome to the outside world - life is difficult

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Rainbow Drop

It took me allll day a few years ago to get to the top of rainbow mountain w Pascal via the SE ridge passing false summit after false summit. When we arrived a helicopter dropped a group of skiers right on the summit beside us. We did one run on E glacier and I told myself that was the last time that I would climb rainbow from valley bottom. A heli drop is clearly a much more sophisticated way of visiting this popular mountain right across the valley from Whistler. The plan was to get dropped up high and then do a number of laps in the alpine / at tree line. There was a cloud cap on the summit, the helicopter went in for a closer look but it wasn't going to be able to land  there so it dropped us on a nearby shoulder. 

I'm not sure if that is a smile or a grimace - Whistler Blackcomb in the background photo cred Jake

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cowboy Ridge

Last ski tour before baby and a few edge card days to use up - it really doesn't get more dependedable for good skiing than the Musical Bumps. Had some turns with Brewster and Short in the morning then headed out with Jesse and Tom in the afternoon. First run on backside of Flute was the best, slight crust everywhere else but with big skiis it was hardly noticeable.

We took second chute from the right, seemed to have the least tracks

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Dog Climbs Couloirs

You can see this 300m chute from almost everywhere in Squamish - and  its been a target of Cam and I for awhile now so we decided to give it a go this week. I was excited to get out on skis with both Cam and the King and Queen of the Squamish Valley. It was t-shirt weather as we left sea level at Squamish and drove up some logging rds to the the start of the ski around 12:30. I tried to get Andrew to duck down in the car so nobody would wonder why I was driving a homeless pedophile around in the delica but he refused.

We drove to about 700m and started the hour and a quarterish skin up the logging rd. The snow was a lot more isothermic from the sunshine over the past few days than I had expected but it was still great to be out. We approached the couloir and noted that a big slide had come down in the past few days. This was not good news for the skiing conditions but was good news from a safety standpoint of climbing up it. We skinned as high as we could and then threw our skis on our backs and started bootpacking.

The firm surface was pretty difficult to kick boots into at many places, we actually found that it was best to follow the bits of avalanche debris that was left in the couloir. The surface bed elsewhere was so hard that the snowboarders needed me to go first and use my hard boot to kick in foot holes. the dog however, had no problem at all and even fell asleep while standing halfway up. Gorgeous views of Squmaish and the surrounding areas from the top. The way down was survival skiing at its best. Back to the car by 7pm  - got to love spring time for long hours of daylight.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Snowzone....Kind of

Got out to the Duffy with a good crew of Squamolians on a chilly Saturday - we headed to 'Snow Zone' pretty much as far east as you can go on the Duffy Lake rd for skiing. Started up the Blowdown Creek FSR in the cold, had our heads down going so quickly that we missed the turn off the first time. Easy skinning up to the end of the FSR at which point we headed a little too high to cross the large avalanche path where I felt like I was a mouse trapped by a whole bunch of thick alders. We traversed the burn and ended up above the col on the ridght side. We decided to keep going higher up the ridge as the skiing was probably not going to be very good in the alpine and a bit sketchy avalanche wise. The snowpack was very thin and sugary in the area but it could certainly be a spot  to return to on a good snow year. Found a highpoint on the ridge and then skied back down through the trees. Good skiercross course on the way out I can't remember but I probably beat Eric, just like on a bike.
The old close you eyes, point and, go that way navigation trick

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Revelstoked - Brock Dock Ski Trip Ep 4

Somehow I lived with four individuals at University in Kingston who took up an interest in backcountry skiing. Now I can't say that I still like all of these individuals but it certainly is convenient that we have the same interests. About every other year since we finished up at Queen's we have gotten together for a ski generally alternating between Revelstoke and the Coast. This year it was Reveltsoke and timing seemed to be pretty good with the mid winter drought having ended a week prior and some clearish days in the forecast.

That a boy James

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Duffy Lake Rd - Chief Pascal

I cannot believe that it took until mid Feb to get out skiing on the Duffy. It snowed all week and with heightened avalanche danger we wanted to find somewhere safe to go with good skiing, Chief Pascal fit that bill nicely. The Delica chugged up the Duffy in about  an hour and a half from Squamish. Of note, there were ZERO cars in the Joffre Lakes parking lot, good to see that people were avoiding some of the more exposed terrain accessed from this point. We originally had seven + the dog in our group but three decided to break off and go ski some trees elsewhere. We headed up the Cerise creek trail  with Mags leading the way despite my best efforts to try to get her to calm down to conserve her energy. This was the deepest day that I had taken the dog on yet, and I was a little worried that she would be exhausted by the end of the day or just get stuck one of the many tree wells that had formed with the recent storm snow. The skin up was steep but not too technical and the new snow made for good grip. The trees on the E facing slope were a bit tight to have any good turns in especially with the low snow pack (about 1M more is needed to cover all of the deadfall).
Duffy Lake

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Coquihalla for Dummies - Nak Peak Ski

With the three weeks of high pressure finally coming to a close this past week, I needed to get out there. Unfortunately the Sea to Sky only got a dusting from a midweek storm so we decided to head to the Coquihalla which had reportedly gotten hit a bit harder. Our hopes were high on the drive up until we approached the pass and it really didn't look like there was much snow at all. We arrived at the falls lake parking lot around 9am to nearly 40 cars - last time I was here on a Saturday there were only two you think backcountry skiing is getting more popular?
Greg ripping it in front of this awesome cliff

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Callaghan Country

My Parents came out to visit this past weekend and kindly took Sarah and I \ up to the Journeyman Lodge in the Upper Callaghan Valley. We took the snowmobile shuttle in - hoping to run over Tom McCarthy  on his XC skis in the process, it almost worked. Arrived around noon on Saturday and went for a ski with Sarah who is 7 months pregnant and still races me up the hill! My parents were on a three day guided ski touring escape put on by Guillame from  Squamish based Coast Mountain Guides. After the nearly a meter of snow last weekend it got very windy around here and subsequently very warm so ski conditions were a bit challenging, that being said, its tough to beat a sunny day in the mountains!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Vans, Dog and Kootenays

I finally got around to building a bed in the back of the Delica and what better way to try it out than a week of skiing in the Kootenays. After getting some good powder turns in on Christmas Eve I felt that all the talk about the low snow year on the coast was a bit overblown - that being said its always nice to try  a new spot.