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

 
Basket boy - Photo Cred - Jake
Photo Cred - Jake
The crew minus me
Sean and Jake 
 The first lap we stuck to relatively mellow terrain in the alpine following a ridge all the way down. It is serious terrain up there with crevassed glaciers off of the North and East side of the mountains, we were not properly equipt for crevasse rescue so we stayed off the glaciers for the most part. Because of the long hot summer and the lower snowfall this winter there were a lot more open cracks than normal. The snow in the high alpine was a mix of wind packed and nice powder, not the best that i'd skied this year but there were some fun pockets and being up that high is an incredible feeling. We did one full and one short lap and then decided to head for the summit.
The fellas making their way up high
Approaching the lateral moraine separating the E and N glaciers
Some convective cloud cover and even light snow moved in. 




The view from the summit was blocked by the cloud cover but it was nice to go as high as we could anyhow. We then planned our decent of the N side of the mtn along a similar route that we skied earlier. Some of the group were more comfortable with the avalanche conditions and decided to take a more exposed line down. One of the interesting things about a heli drop is that you do not get to study the terrain as closely as you would if you ski toured up the whole way, this can leave a lot of unknowns regarding what is bellow you as you are skiing. I chose what I thought was the conservative route and ended up getting cliffed out and having to climb back up.
Dustin and Tristain
Dustin ripping it up
 We skied down to treeline and then up over the NE ridge with plans of dropping back into the 19 mile creek basin. The snow seemed so nice on our skin up that a three of us decided it was necessary to go for a few laps. As you will see from the photos it was worth it. Not the deepest snow of the year but still a fantastic smooth and open powder run.
I call this one 'anticipation'
Nice!
Check out that pole drag.
Yippppp  My tracks to the left, going first is a sacrifice that you have to make by having the camera. 
A happy happy man
You can tell that the snow is good when you can see powder clouds from your last THREE tuns behind you!

That a boy Jake! I love the little lines that snow from previous turns made in the snow. 
Second run almost as good (the 15 minutes of sun had made the snow a little bit heavier but it was still fantastic.Way to smile for the camera Jake

We rejoined the rest of the crew who had just finished their hot toddy's up on the ridge and skied out into the 19mile drainage. The SE facing slopes on the way back in had a think suncrust. The ski out took a few hours, A little more difficult for jake on the splitboard. It was flat at the beginning with a 5 minute up hill, then mostly down until another flat part just before the logging rd. The logging rd was flatish for about 1km before angling mostly downhill on refrozen hell crust. GREAT DAy! I think I was more tired after this than when I climbed all the way to the top.

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