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
You can't always choose your touring partners, on this particular day we had a real collection of misfits; myself, Tom, Greg, Skeets, and Ryan. Tom had recently gotten some new fat tele skis mounted, embarrassingly with the graphics on the wrong foot (insert winking emoticon here) so we started out of the parking lot at a pretty fast pace in hopes that  nobody would see us. Our pace quickly slowed the first time we had to skin up side hill and the 25cm of light fluffy powder slid off of the three week old melt freeze crust and had us straining to hold on. We approached a few groups at this point, some of whoom were bootpacking, we counted one person take 22 kicks with the toe of his ski boot to make a small hole in the snow/concrete/ice to stand in and most of us elected to continue skinning.  We almost lost Ryan at this point but, noting that returning with 4/5 people safely was not to shabby, we weren't too concerned.

There were a few other icy spots on the way up but none as bad as this first. We approached the shoulder of Yak and Thar peak and it reminded me of the only other time that I was here and my friend dislocated his shoulder by falling on the ice while skinning up to this point (again it was stripped of snow) that was not a pleasant experience.  We skied off of the north side, the snow on top was fantastic - unfortunately every other turn you would hit the base below so I can't give the ski quality any better than 6.5/10. We were pretty amazed that even though there were 40 cars in the parking lot, no one else had skied this slope yet.

We did one more lap on the north side, skinning up in front of a huge cliff face that was engulfed in clouds was pretty awesome. Back over the south side and to the van for some celebratory beers - good times and great to be out despite the less than stellar ski conditions.  Thanks Greg for some of the photos.

You can see the concern in is face wondering if someone was going to notice his incorrectly mounted skis

Ladies and gentlemen these are goggle lenses number two, he wears them like a mood ring changing colour when he is sad. 

Atta boy Skeets - Backcountry skiing day #1

Ryan looking like he knows what he is doing - the camera does amazing things

At this point, my camera hand was frozen solid
"hey guys, lets go have  lunch over there above that steep drop off"
heading up for lap number two 
I would like to blame his skins not sticking on the fact that he is a telemarker
Me and Ryan heading back up to ski off the South side towards the car . We were trying to go quickly to avoid the sales pitch for a strip mall  being given at the back of the pack
Cold, windy and a skating rink up at the col - Mark do you recognize this spot?
Tom normally brings a shirt and tie for after skiing - today he dressed down a bit. 

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