Monday, December 28, 2015

A Stadium in the Backyard

It was great to explore some of the classic lines in an area so close to home that has been inaccessible during the winter for so long. Last year even with the Gondola in place, the snow was so poor at lower elevations that there was no hope in getting turns in here. This year is a different story. Paul, Mike and I were in the parking lot at the crack of 9:30am  under a mostly great but good visibility day. It took us about an hour and a half to get to the bottom of the skiing slope before the skin track got steep and a bit slick. At the Habrich - Skypilot col we headed right towards the Stadium gl. Almost immediately after the col there is a rather steep slope that has to be skinned that would not be great in higher avalanche conditions. After reaching the top of this slope the views really open up and the terrain becomes undulating. We climbed as high as we could on the glacier and got a lovely run down on 20cm of snow. Back at the gondola station by 3:30pm, only to be disappointed that the bar wasn't open.
Yes Paul, we know that is where we came from. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Sking the Sea to Sky Gondola - Never Miss Albert's First Day

If you only got out once in December, this was a good day to choose. It just started dumping on the approach above the and the stable snowpack enabled us to ski a great open pitch. We were not to enthusiastic about the skin up the open slope initially however. Its too bad that the tree skiing is a bit short in this area because the spacing of the trees is fantastic. 
Albert not showing any rust

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Birken Awesome

A good start to winter on the Coast is just what we needed, Wednesday me Greg, Cam and Mags headed out to the Birkenhead area in hopes to find some snow that was spared Tuesday's monster outflow winds. The major problem with skiing in the Birkenhead Area are the long approaches and lack of plowed roads to a good starting elevation. Luckily early season you can make it pretty high on some of the logging roads (getting up is the easy part). The snow really was fantastic, consistent and very light shin deep powder. 
Short days make for some great light in the alpine - looking good here Cam

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Opal Cone October

At least once every time that they visit I like to really tire out my father in law David. This time we decided to head up to the Elfin Lakes area of Garibaldi Park, the classic alpine access in Squamish. I recently bought and Rocky Mountain Vertex that simply flies uphill, lending this to David quickly evened out any cycling speed advantage and made it a pleasant ride up to Red Heather (about 40 minutes). The temperature overnight had dropped down below freezing at 1400m elevation making the trail a little bit slick so we took a little bit of air out of the Vertex's tubless tires to improve grip - ooops. It turned out that when I was packing my bag, while remembering the ever important summit beers, I forgot to put in my pump. The lower pressure caused a patch inside one of my Maxis Ikons to leak and I was left with VERY low tire pressure for the rest of the day (9PSI!!!) The road up to Red Heather has been recently repaired which should help to make it skiable with another anticipated low snow year on the way. Many of the alpine colours have faded by now but it is still a wonderful time to be up high. Mt Garibaldi had her cloud cap for most of the day so we couldn't quite see everything but wow what an area. Past Elfin lakes the trail has been recently upgraded with a machine and is pretty much a road all the way until just before Opal Cone it is a manageable grade that would be great to bike but for some reason BC Parks has limited Bike access to Elfin. There is an opportunity to create an incredible bike loop that starts at the Diamond Head Trailhead past Elfin lakes to Mamquam Lake and out via new trails that would link to the Mamquam FSR.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Howe Sound Highlines

What a fantastic day of riding above Howe Sound in this endless summer.
you couldn't make up a prettier place to ride bikes

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Up Up and Away and the Sproatt Alpine Bike Trail

The RMOW and WORCA are working on a wonderful project for the Sproatt Alpine across the valley from Whistler, it is not yet complete but we wanted to go and take a look. Mid week adventures are becoming more common with a few friends with some flexibility in their schedule and young Arlo safely in daycare. We shuttled a car up to the Callahagn access point of the trail which is the same way that Canadian Wilderness Adventures  uses to access the alpine for their snowmobile, jeep and ATV tours. It takes about 35 minutes on the logging road to get to the parking spot after which there is another 30 minutes of steep pedalling and hike a bike until you get into the alpine. The alpine trail is going to be fantastic, twisting and turnining amongst the alpine meadows at a gradual grade that is perfect for biking. It looks very will built and is elevated above the grade so it will not be too muddy in the spring. The trail is not yet complete and ends fairly abruptly before you have to make your way on older but completely ride able single track to the start of the Up Up and Away trail that is the current descent option. This trail is steep, loose and eroded (it would be extremely difficult to stay on your bike in the wet). WORCA has plans for a blue descent trail in the area at some point in time but for now this is the only option. The trail spits you out just above Function Junction where a beer at the brewpub would be an excellent idea. Thanks Jake for the Photos.

Mags and some Men - Whistler in the background

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Downtown Creek Hike with Mountain Mags

I had been eyeing this area for awhile now but the long drive had always pushed me away. With 22 degrees and sun forecast in Squamish for late September, Mags told me that she wanted to go to the mountains and I was not one to deny her. After a stop at Mt Currie Coffee Co  we headed up the Duffy Lake road gazing at ski lines as we drove and dreams of winter starting dancing in my head.  Just past the cottonwood creek campground we turned up the Downtown Creek FSR that would take us up to our 1700m parking spot for the holy lake trail. Most of the drive up the FSR is straight forward however it is steep at times and one area where it drops off quickly to one side. I would not want a 2wd car on this road. There is only one right turn that you have to look out for (we missed it the first time and started hiking up the wrong valley that was to be saved for another day). Another wonderful day in the Mountains!
Once described as a Majestic Animal, once described as the animal that sheds in my car

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Biking the Chilcotins Again and Again and Again

Last year we lucked out with some spectacular weather the 2nd weekend of September and had a perfect trip to the Chilcotins and I swore that I would  not wait four years again before coming back. I had to work on friday evening on the annual bike trip this year but it wasn't going to stop me from meeting up with the fellas for a quick weekend trip. Cam and I headed up early saturday morning across the Hurley - it only took us 2.5 hours from Squamish to get to the Taylor Basin trail head. I had never been up the Taylor Basin Access before and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly we got to the alpine 2 hours to Windy Pass. It wasn't the most pleasant pedal up but all in all not to bad. We then hiked out bikes up to Spruce Peak and rode one of the ridgelines before ascending Windy Pass again and heading back down HIgh Trail to Spruce Lake where beers and swims in the alpine awaited. The rest of the crew flew our gear in a day earlier but it was a little disappointing that they did not have dinner ready for us when we arrived.

After some baked brie and some beers that night we were ready to go for the ride out. We headed back up high trail and through Eldorado Basin to eventually meet up with Molly Dog for a great descent, So much fun riding with a crew all going similar speeds.  The weather was a bit cooler with some rain and snow in the area. Can't wait to get back again next year!

Cam looking slugish after the long climb. Riding the ridge off of Spruce Peak

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Mamquam Stand Up Paddle Board

Sarah and I decided that we needed another way to get out on the water so we pickup up an inflatable SUP in the spring. It has been fantastic (although not great upwind). Murray came up from the city and we decided to give the Mamquam River a a try. We shuttled a car to our take out just before the Squamish Spit and drove to our put in at the Mamquam River whitewater site. Neither of us had ever SUP'd on moving water before so we were a little cautious to begin with, not to mentioned decked out in biking and skateboarding helmets and pads. The water level we really low after a little rain and a hot summer, we both took the big fins off of our boards and replaced them with smallest that we could - it turned out that this was a good idea as the biggest risk was the board suddenly stopping when it hit a rock and us flying off the front. Balancing on the boards was actually easier than expected by the end of the river we were standing up for almost all of the rapids. Probably the most incredible part of the trip was the Salmon, before Ring Creek joined the river it is incredibly clear and they swam in schools just like in a National Geographic film. By the end, the river was starting to get a bit stinky, this may not have been as enjoyable of a trip in a few weeks! The lower Squamish River is a bit of a battle to paddle along as the inflow winds battle the current making quick travel difficult.
Anyone have a rod?

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Just Like the Sound of Music

We have been very lucky that King Arlo has allowed to take him on some great hikes in the first year and a half of his life. (Brohm RidgeEastern Sierra, Etc) but as the months have gone by he has become less and less interested in riding in his backpack and more interested in finding garbage to eat and dog poo to squish between his fingers. I've always wanted to take him on an overnight and with this summer coming to an end and him getting big, the time was now!
That is a big and cold kiddie pool Arlo

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Paddle the Squamish River

The might Squamish River drains a very wild 3,200 square km NW of town. It is wide and fast moving and cold which makes it a bit intimidating to paddle down. That being said there are not many rapids that are too difficult in its lower reaches making it a great addition to the outdoor activities in nearby. My good friend Mark was getting married this summer an we decided that paddling the Squamish was an excellent idea for a bachelor party, it was high on the adventure and low on exercise. I  did two trial runs of the river beforehand so that I would be confident in the route, once with Mike from Anderson Beach and once from a little bit down river with David Sylvester. These runs were actually quite beneficial in scouting the rapids. The biggest challenge of the river is near Baynes Island ecological reserve just past the confluence of with the Cheakamus, it is best to stay left here to avoid to tight corners and log james (the right line can be paddled but is a bit exciting). Just before the confluence with the Ashlu there are some potentially dangerous log dames as well, we navigated left but a flood this fall could easily have changed the river's path.

Mark's Bachelor party weekend was on the only rainy one of the summer, luckily with this crew the rain wasn't going to dampen our spirits. We met at the Squamish Valley Golf Course for breakfast then used the Sea to Sky Adventure Company to shuttle us and our canoes up the valley to the Ashlu Bridge. We had a beer and waited out some rain before setting off and going through canoeing 101. As I mentioned above there is a tricky area right before the confluence with the Ashlu, log jams on this river are potentially very dangerous. We had a taste of Vietnam with some Banh Mi  sandwiches from the Locavore Food Truck  on the sandy shores of the river and after some vigorus adventuring made it to our sandbar camp by about 5:30. Baked Bri and some Schooner Bay Rum made it necessary that Mark sleep in a tent with a dirt floor.

Some neat mixing where a creek joins the muddy Squamish

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Spiteful Lake Before Work

I felt as though I wasted away my day off this week so I wanted to get out and take full advantage of the day before work so I got in touch with my friend Mitch and we were off for an adventure.  The BCMC has done some excellent trail work in this area and deserve a lot of credit. I was in a bit of a time crunch with a 1:45pm departure time to the city so we brought our bikes to make the logging road approach a lot shorter. After making our way up the power project logging roads we parked and got on the bikes at 815m. The first km or so was quite steep but still mostly bikeable. We reached about 1100m and the road flattened out and became quite good for biking. We stashed the bikes a bit early during a think part of the road, next time we would push through this as the wheels would be beneficial right until the trail turn off. The trail (not evident everywhere but flagged the whole way) heads left and down off the logging road  (look closely for flagging) through some marshy areas and along the creek. It is quite scenic the whole way with minimal elevation gain until the end. Took us 1.5 hours up and 1.25 down (would be more without bikes).
Next time I will go to Home Depot and maybe London Drugs for a camera, car insurance and maybe some toilet paper. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Pemberton to Whistler by the high Road (Currie to Wedge Traverse)

This is my seventh winter living on the coast - the first one was just ok followed by four very good ones and an below average one last year (see stats). This year has been difficult - the best turns so far were Remembrance Day in Asulkan Cabin, a trip that we almost didn't even go on because we thought that the snow was going to be bad. Since then there have been a number of snowfalls, generally followed by a pineapple express with freezing levels above the local peaks, turning everything into boilerplate and then a high pressure system of no snow. There is so little snow at low elevations, that many of the forestry roads are still clear making access to higher terrain possible. With a large number of warm storms, above 1900m though, the snowpack in the alpine is at near normal levels. This weekend we wanted to get way up high, around here it doesn't get much higher than the Currie to Wedge Traverse.

The high divide between Hibachi Ridge and Ure Peak, We were headig toward the small but obvious saddle in the ridge ahead.