I can't decide if the conditions early season were great or not. Actually, I think it's safe to say they have been both. October brought snow and the transition into November brought a supportive crust that will surely be a topic of discussion when March swings around. Mcrea is always a sure bet early season but luckily only had to ski there once as there was just enough snow to ski to and from the discovery center of Rogers pass. Despite looking bleak from the road once you gained a few scrappy hundred meters, things were pretty alright.
Mid-November came way too quickly and before I knew it I was packing up and heading up to my annual shovel/ski trip to Sol Mountain Lodge.
As always Sol is a fantastic way to quick off the winter season but new for this year was a large rain event mid-week. We made the most of down days by getting all the chores done and building a little pump track feature. Easier to watch the clip than read a description.
We finally got a bit of a refresh and we wasted no time getting after it. It's a good thing too because by the end of the week the freezing levels crept up again and warm winds followed. Exchange day was delayed but I was staying up for another week so I ended up with an extra 24 hours to hang out with good folk before staff training.
Staff training was great in its own right but the highlight of the week has the building storm total and the skiing got progressively every day. Our last ski day was especially adequate. One of those magic Monashee days where 20 cm of daily, low-density blower for three days offered bottomless, over the shoulder cold smoke every single turn. While I was happy to head home after a long two weeks away, that last day made the trip seem all too short. Can't wait to get back to the lodge in a months time.
While it's easy to get swept up in the magic of lodge life I probably shouldn't take my backyard for granted. Only having one day to ski the following week I had to make the most it. Aspiring to be a ski guide is relatively new for me and being on my second winter of the journey I have some gaps to fill in order to round out my skill set. I've skied a whole bunch in the backcountry getting rad and shit but ski mountaineering is a big focus this winter. As a kid from Ontario who is scared of heights, I've always tried to avoid this style of skiing. After few years of rock climbing and building up my skill set and mindset, I am feeling pretty comfortable taking on some bigger alpine objectives. This week we ticked off the Southeast face of Ursus Minor. What an awesome route. A pleasant skin to the ridge followed by a straightforward scramble to the summit that offers up incredible views of the north sides of Balu and the ever-popular Video peak. Skiing the Southeast face wasn't exactly a chore either. A steepish face which gives way to a wide couloir and finally into the wide open Dispatchers bowl. A little glade skiing gets you down to the creek and takes the luge track back to the car. A super value day that offers a little bit of everything that makes Glacier National park such an incredible place.
Currently, a resilient high-pressure ridge sits over the province and a strong temperature inversion perseveres with alpine temperatures reaching up to 6 degrees. Looking forward to the rest of December but I wasn't quite done with the powder skiing program just yet. Whatever, just go ski.