Stage 6 of Singletrack 6

On Thursday July 31st, Stage 6 of the Singletrack 6 mountain bike race series finished up its 2014 run in Revelstoke, BC. The race consists of six days of single track racing, with entrants competing from all over the globe. The tour this year consisted of stops in Bragg Creek, AB, Nipika Mountain Resort, Invermere, AB, Two days in Golden, BC and Revelstoke, BC. Although we weren't able to partake this year, I was able to grab a quick video of the start of the race from my work truck.

 

Congrats to all the riders, head on over to the results page to see who won! 

Pic of the week, Aug 1 2014

As temperatures are touching the high 30's and low 40's Celsius here in Revelstoke, we wanted to quickly throw back to Winter. Remember standing on top of that line, getting ready to drop in? Remember talking it out with your buddies, playing paper rock scissors trying to decide who's dropping the gnarly cliff first, or who gets first crack at the waist deep chute? Winter is only 4 months off, and while it may not feel like snow is in the forecast just yet, keep on remembering those gnarly days spent with friends in the backcountry and we are sure you will make it through!

 

This week we have a shot of a group of friends picking lines in south bowl, a 15 minute walk into the slack country of Revelstoke Mountain Resort. 

South bowl, RMR. Photo Jay Morrison. 

Sell Out

Sometimes you need to hit rock bottom in life so you can pick up the remaining pieces and head in the direction you were initially meant to. Now rock bottom varies from person to person and is based on their qualities and passions, so my " rock bottom " was a ten by twelve office with a great view, a great salary and a nine to five Monday to Friday "Career". It's your typical ideal situation and one that most North Americans strive for but it wasn't for me. It's not that I wasn't good at it, I was damned good at it, I worked seven days a week, ten hours a day and as a hotel general manager in a high turn over area I was just gaining traction by the end of spring and was able to take a day off here and there.  Before I knew it the resort loaded it's last chair and | wasn't on it. I hadn't been on that chair for month and only a few times a month the whole season. At some point I had stopped thinking of myself as a skier and more of a working professional and after that, a sell out for a paycheck no less. That is certainly not the motivator in my life and I certainly do not want my son so grow up with that mindset. Figure our what makes you happy, do that and build your life around your passion, not your "career". 

 

Let's fast forward to present day. I am sitting on my couch in Revelstoke ( yeah we moved) , it's Canada long weekend and I have two weeks left of work ( yeah I quit ). Let's just say lesson learned and my efforts will be focused on pursuing my passions before pursing a paycheck. but enough of that and here's and edit from Grand Daddy couloir back in April. 

Enjoy your weekend and come back often because fresh content will be pouring in weekly. 

-K

Enter; Hayes Hill, Sunshine Village

  Setting up at the top of the drop zone, gear and camera check's are a must!

Setting up at the top of the drop zone, gear and camera check's are a must!

Here we are again, in the same position; waiting for snowfalls that are few and far between. We've been blessed with the opening of Delirium Dive free ride zone at Sunshine village a couple weeks ago and things haven't been all that bad! Snowfalls of 10cm with wind can make for some fun turns in the Dive.

Recently Andrew and Vince made it out for a day of dropping cliffs and slashing pow turns at Sunshine village and with the help of David Wren from RWND (rewind) photography they came away with some great shots!

 







At this point in time we knew what the risks were with the snow pack. We had recently had a cold and dry spell that left a nasty surface hoar for the new snowfall of about 20cm to "bond" to, well let's just say that bonding was minimal at best. We did have a slide right on the failing layer of buried surface hoar, about a 20cm crown.  

  Vince getting his stoke face on; good friends and fun times makes for a happy skier!

Vince getting his stoke face on; good friends and fun times makes for a happy skier!

  Andrew catching some air in Hayze Hill 

Andrew catching some air in Hayze Hill 

  Vince sending it large into the fresh

Vince sending it large into the fresh

Hayes Hill is a sweet little zone just off the bottom of Delirium Dive, it's got numerous options for pillow drops a few fun chutes! From the half way point in the Dive you can take a traverse, snowboarders be wary, over to the Fat Boy zone which also offers some great riding if the wind loading is right!

All in all it was a pretty fantastic day, we'd like to send a BIG thank you out to David Wren from RWND Photography for getting these awesome shots for us. We look forward to working with him again. Let's keep praying for more snow and hope for some 'March Madness'!

http://www.rwnd.co.uk/
 



Better late than never!

Well so far this season has been a bit of a let-down stability wise resulting in the late opening of the Wild West freeride zone at Sunshine Village ski resort. But every cloud has a silver lining and just this past weekend (Feb 15-16th) we received a dump of snow allowing ski patrol to open up the zone this past Tuesday. We can’t say that it was as deep as we had hoped and we definitely were not the first ones through but man did it feel good to get into a more technical zone and let er’ rip!

 

   A fist bump and we’re off! Smiles ear to ear.       

A fist bump and we’re off! Smiles ear to ear.



 

   Things were a little spicy getting into the chute, playing hop scotch from rock to rock.     

Things were a little spicy getting into the chute, playing hop scotch from rock to rock.

 

   Vince H. Standing at the top of Peytos Chute     Once we got into the chute we could see we weren’t the first ones to have at it, previous riders packed things up a bit so we knew we could pick up some extra speed. Things were tight and we expected to nick a couple rocks on the way down but we were pleasantly surprised by how soft things actually were.     

Vince H. Standing at the top of Peytos Chute

Once we got into the chute we could see we weren’t the first ones to have at it, previous riders packed things up a bit so we knew we could pick up some extra speed. Things were tight and we expected to nick a couple rocks on the way down but we were pleasantly surprised by how soft things actually were.


 

   Vince getting his groove on     

Vince getting his groove on 
 

   Vince racing his sluff     

Vince racing his sluff

 

   Andrew P. getting some turns in before the chute chokes     

Andrew P. getting some turns in before the chute chokes

 

   After tackling the chute you can travers left below the cliffs to some pretty decent tree skiing, some of the better areas to ride at sunshine actually. Nothing like your BC tree skiing but pretty darn good for Alberta!    


After tackling the chute you can travers left below the cliffs to some pretty decent tree skiing, some of the better areas to ride at sunshine actually. Nothing like your BC tree skiing but pretty darn good for Alberta! 
 

   Vince airing off a little pillow into some much desired pow     

Vince airing off a little pillow into some much desired pow

 

   Andrew getting some nice turns in before dipping into the tree maze    All in all it was a very worthwhile day, we would like to send our thanks out to Ullr for blessing us with the conditions idea enough to open the Wild West. For such a slow and dry start to the season it really was refreshing to ski a chute with conditions like this, the past month we’ve been ripping on windblown crust and lapping an icy (almost bulletproof) snowpack in the terrain park. But you know what, any day spent skiing is better than a day not spent skiing!   

Andrew getting some nice turns in before dipping into the tree maze

All in all it was a very worthwhile day, we would like to send our thanks out to Ullr for blessing us with the conditions idea enough to open the Wild West. For such a slow and dry start to the season it really was refreshing to ski a chute with conditions like this, the past month we’ve been ripping on windblown crust and lapping an icy (almost bulletproof) snowpack in the terrain park. But you know what, any day spent skiing is better than a day not spent skiing! 
 

oh hey , it snowed!

The drought is finally over! After a slow and seriously dry start to the season things have finally turned around and conditions are deep albeit very touchy when it comes to the stability. The resorts have been skiing splendidly this week  and the crowds were minimal generally speaking. Here's a visual condition report from Sunshine Village.

Screen grab shot with the MUVI HD

 Mitch gets pitted! Photo: kevinannalaphotographyblog.com

Mitch gets pitted! Photo: kevinannalaphotographyblog.com

 Kyle enters the white room. Photo: kevinannalaphotographyblog.com

Kyle enters the white room. Photo: kevinannalaphotographyblog.com

 Sara enjoys herself. Photo: kevinannalaphotographyblog.com

Sara enjoys herself. Photo: kevinannalaphotographyblog.com

 Nice to catch some air again!  Photo: kevinannalaphotographyblog.com

Nice to catch some air again!  Photo: kevinannalaphotographyblog.com

 Mitch gives it a try. Photo: kevinannalaphotographyblog.com

Mitch gives it a try. Photo: kevinannalaphotographyblog.com

Skiing conditions have certainly improved in the last few days, with 85 cms so far and another 40 on it's way it's safe to say mother nature has hit the reset button but our uncrowded slopes would soon be overrun by holiday skiers visiting for the Family day long weekend.  Saturday we headed off for whiter pastures and opted for a tour on the Icefields parkway on highway 93N located just north of Lake Louise. The avalanche bulletin was reading  as HIGH across all elevations for the forecast region, we would have to stick to simple terrain during our outing, bummer!  As we passed the Lake Louise ski area there was a 5 kilometer line of cars lined up for the resort ( seriously )with many more vehicles to follow suite shortly and just like that we felt much better about our decision. 

Kicking our way across the flats

With the new snow we wanted to have a look at what the snowpack was doing with this new load and warmer temperatures.  We found that the storm snow wasn't playing nice with the two surface hoar layers from January. Then we looked at what seems to the be the only constant in continental snowpacks. Some dirty, square , huge depth hoar.

Kevin breaks trail

Zach had some other issues. Nothing duct tape , a shoelace and some zip ties won't fix.

After a quick lunch break we chatted about the conditions and what we should be skiing with the conditions we had, It was quite obvious that anything steep and open was out of the question. We had some deep snow below us with plenty of little pillows , little cliffs and well glades trees but most of all we were comfortable with our choice of terrain.  3...2...1..drop.

Tree skiing here is as good as it gets in the Rockies

Tasty

Enter white room.

Always good to look back up at your mountain squiggles 

Good times were had with good people and although this is considered to be a pretty popular area it seems people only chose to ski the classic way own, too bad for them! If you haven't yet, for the love of everything holy get out there! After all who knows, it may be another two months after this storm leaves us before we get snow again. 

And The Drought Continues

We have been patiently waiting for Ullr to bless us with his bountiful snowfall creating powers but he has pretty much ignored us this season, leaving only dribs and drabs of meagre snowfall that generally total nothing more than trace amounts on our favourite resort conditions pages.  What did we do to possibly deserve this ? Did we not burn enough skis in the name of Ullr? Maybe, but what can we do? We have been going crazy waiting for the snow to come and short of sacrificing virgins there isn't a whole lot we can do (plus they're near impossible to find in the Bow Valley anyway).  At least we are being blessed with some stable avalanche conditions for a change this season. Time to do some exploraskiing!  

Vince and Kyle left the Bow Valley to meet up with Erik (Canada's foremost John Cleese lookalike who happens to man our Revelstoke office) at the Discovery Centre located at the top of the historical Rogers Pass - the part of the Trans Canada highway which also happens to be a world renowned ski touring mecca. It never snows here, just rains - trust us, we wouldn't lie. Once both parties arrived we checked out which areas were open, had a quick chat about our objectives for the day  and headed off to a northerly facing area. We were looking for pillows for future shoots and we were not disappointed.

The diving board feature is an easy 8m. 

Gnarnia.

While the zones were nothing short of what we were looking for (except the photo above, that's just silly), conditions were certainly not primed to jump on the rodeo train and start pillow bashing.  We worked our way further up the ridge to a second bench that had some features we could manage with our current ski conditions. 

Mos of what we skied looked like this. Not too bad

Even the views didn't bore us. Bonus! 

Vince got rad.

Kyle with some turkey vulture steeze.

Kyle links some pow turns to end the day.

The day could not have gone any better. What was planned to be a scouting mission for future film days once the snow returns had turned into a fun day in the mountains with great skiing and fun features. Rogers Pass has been a crew favourite for some time and given the vastness of the park we have only begun to scratch the surface of this places potential. If only it would snow some day. 

New Year's Pow.

After a pretty bleak Christmas period we finally got a little fresh snow for the New Year. I tested how soft it was with my first run of 2014 - which turned out to be a ridiculously failed backflip attempt after being talked into throwing one to guinea pig a step down that had been built (note to self - go faster next time). This edit kicks off with my much improved (but still unsuccessful) second attempt.

The rest of the footage is from a pow morning two days later on January 3rd: Milking faceshots whilst trying to dodge rocks and making the most of the very limited terrain we have open so far this season.

Michael Hall

The Deep Freeze

The season started off with a bang! We were skiing knee deep just about everywhere getting faceshots and skiing fresh lines all day long. It snowed pretty much all opening weekend and we were still finding fresh lines in the trees despite all of Calgary showing up to pillage the opening weekend goods. Monday morning Mt Standish opened after another 20 centimeters of fresh, finally something with some pitch to ski and virgin chutes were chest deep in some pockets, couldn't be happier! Best early season ever right? 

 Photo by Dan Evans Photography

Photo by Dan Evans Photography

Well not really. Shortly after the great start to our season the mercury started to drop and leveled out around the -20c mark. With the cold temperatures , no snow and with the resort being ravaged by the weekend crowds the resort was as rough as he have ever seen it . Ice , rocks, stumps, just generally shit conditions were the only things we could access by chair so we decided to go poke around in some ... not yet opened terrain to find a few fresh turns. 

A short skin through the woods gave way to some fresher conditions but also revealed early season conditions with a serious lack of snow, barely enough to cover over fallen trees and stumps.  Considering it hasn't snowed in about two weeks and the skin into the area only took us about 25 minutes, conditions were as good as gets for times  

Mike finds a soft spot

Kyle just trying to keep warm

Everything is still at -40c 

 Cold starts 

Cold starts 

As if things couldn't get any worse, lets fast forward a week to present day. Temperatures have been sitting at about -40c for about 4 days straight , obviously no new snow and just way too damned cold to go ski groomers or lap up the park and Mike out with an injury all adds up to no skiing for the last week.  Thankfully things have warmed up to a balmy -20 currently with the barometer dropping and we have some snow on the forecast! Finally.

Roctober

 On the up

On the up

We set out on October 29th 2 days after a 35cm dump came through the Highwood pass region of Kananaskis Country. We skinned right from the parking lot (bonus!) on a sporty skin track through the forest which then broke out into an open meadow. After looking at our possible options we headed towards an area that had three chutes, the chutes would provide the best skiing because they were a little more filled in and generally boulder free. We made our way to the fan below our chosen chute , had a coffee break and dug a quick pit.

 Boot pack

Boot pack

 The base while shallow  at 55cms, was actually pretty stable and well consolidated so we packed up , put our skis on our backs and kicked out way up the slope for about 250m until we found a solid wind slab on top  of rain crust. Red light. Quick test and we pulled out a little slab. That was about as far as we were willing to go , taking a ride down the rocky slope below wasn't very inviting and hey , it's October and we were standing above a nice line and some great snow. All smiles. The chute it's self had great coverage and was rock free ( yay! ) but the fan below on the other hand was littered with rocks lurking below the surface. We skied the fan and bounced off less rocks than we thought ( was still about 6 or so ) , highfived each other , skinned up and left for the car. 

 

Uploaded by Chasing Snowflakes on 2013-10-31.

 All and all , really fun day out. It was great to spend the day in the mountains getting our legs back! Another system moving in, can't wait. 

 

First Turns 2013/2014 - 26th September.

There's nothing like hiking through ankle deep snow (as in the previous post) to get you in the mood to go hunting for your first ski turns of the season. In spite of the fresh snow up high, however, we weren't expecting much when we left Banff at 6am. Reconnaissance done during a recent camping trip to our destination, Rae Glacier in K Country, hadn't been very promising with much of the foot of the glacier having receded in the past year. In light of this, and unsure of recent snowfall amounts there, we didn't expect much more than a long hike with heavy packs on our backs with at best a couple of wind loaded deposits to milk in amongst all the rock and ice as the reward at the end of it. As we got deeper into K country we couldn't help our hopes rising a little though. The trees were looking more loaded and the landscape more and more white as we got closer to the trail head. 

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After hiking the first couple k we stopped at Elbow Lake to skin up and struggle into our ski boots for the first time this season. 

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As we gained elevation the snow got deeper and we started getting a little excited. 

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We were thrown a few curve balls when the usually obvious track became a little confused. The June floods which ravaged the eastern side of the rockies had obviously shifted a fair amount around here rendering some of the gully sections unrecognisable. This made a straightforward skin a little more challenging although Kevin's optimism in what was still skin-able was admirable, albeit destined for failure.

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Rae Glacier - a field of lurking rocks mostly hidden by an inviting blanket of snow.

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As we got higher and higher we couldn't believe how much snow had accumulated so early. We knew that for most of the ski down we'd be hitting as many rocks as we got turns but up top it was money. As you can tell from Kevin's face we certainly didn't think we'd be having to dig a pit, let alone find a base of 115cms.

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And finally ready to drop in on lap one.

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My shitty Iphone pictures don't do it justice but you get the idea - these were some outstanding early season turns. 

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About to drop for lap two.

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And in typical Rockies fashion the day ended with some wildlife. I can't recall taking a trip to Rae and not encountering at least one Moose but it started getting ridiculous, this guy being one of the four we saw on the roadside that day.

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Fall Arrives

With fellow skiers growing impatient about the beautiful weather we'd be having this September the change of seasons came overnight. Previous excitement had been restricted to the leaves changing colour but then in the space of a few days we went from temps in the high twenties to our first snowfall. 

An early morning start beat the hordes of photographers who make their annual  pilgrimage to see the golden larches in Larch Valley.

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We soon reached Sentinel Pass and started dropping down into Paradise Valley to complete the day's loop. What is normally a fairly straightforward scramble became a tricky exercise in finding your feet with deeper snow than anticipated covering the steep field of boulders.

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Along with some of the most beautiful hiking in the Rockies Paradise Valley offers up a peek at some incredible looking lines which have a very long access in the winter & spring months thanks to the closure of the Moraine Lake road.

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After having lunch on the Giant Steps we started making our way out of the Valley along the trail which skirts under the mighty north face of Mt Temple. A stop at Lake Annette gives you time to check out some of the very rarely skied couloirs that are located on the north face. 

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Above you can make out the still-filled-in upper section of the Dolphin Couloir from which it gets its name. The lower sections have lost their snow. For a hugely impressive and gnarly trip report from this area check out  Ruari Macfarlane's blog:   

Zoomed in on the top of the north face's most well known line, the Aemmer Couloir:

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And at the end of a long day back to Moraine Lake where the clouds had cleared and offered up views of 3/4 Couloir (which was pictured on the old $20 bills).

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Summer 2013 - A Few Highlights.

With the winter resort season coming to a close at the end of May it was time for a much needed fix up - Kyle and I both in for shoulder surgery at the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital. Hopefully that'll put an end to our amateur efforts at popping our shoulders back in mid ski run.

 Fearing the worst, surgery turned out to be a breeze - amazing surgeons, wonderful nurses, strong drugs and private rooms with mountain views to top it all off. As you can tell from the gown, trying to eat chicken thighs in tomato sauce with my less capable hand was less straightforward. 

Fearing the worst, surgery turned out to be a breeze - amazing surgeons, wonderful nurses, strong drugs and private rooms with mountain views to top it all off. As you can tell from the gown, trying to eat chicken thighs in tomato sauce with my less capable hand was less straightforward. 

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This made the start of summer fairly subdued of course but it was nice having some down time after a tiring winter and I was still able to lend a helping hand to some friends when the shot ski was doing the rounds:

 

As soon as I was allowed to ditch the sling it was time to snap out of the lethargy and start bagging some peaks.

Cirque Peak (2993m), on the Icefields Parkway. Photo credit Tony Larosa:

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Lunch atop Paget Peak in Yoho National Park (2560m):

 Paget Peak (2560m) in Yoho National Park.

Paget Peak (2560m) in Yoho National Park.

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Alan enjoying some tomfoolery with Old Faithful on the last remaining block of snow:

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Some steep scrambling in one of the most beautiful parts of the Rockies: Valley of the Ten Peaks below.

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Approaching the summit of Eiffel Peak.

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Lunch at the summit of Eiffel Peak (3084m). The upper part of the Mt Temple scramble route in the background.

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Looking down into Paradise Valley.

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Deltaform Mountain - the highest of the Ten Peaks.

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Glaciated Mt Fay with Moraine Lake far below.

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The Eiffel Tower from which the peak gets its name.

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Some boot skiing on the descent:

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Kyle and I enjoying some kayak rehabbing on the Bow River.

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Lake O'Hara.

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Lake Oesa with a nice looking couloir in the background.

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Zoomed in on the couloir.

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Summit of Cascade Mountain (2998m) with Lake Minnewanka in the background - early morning solo mission before work.

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Looking back at some of the route - the false summit and first peak in the foreground, the runs of Norquay ski resort in the distance.

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Laughing Falls, Yoho National Park.

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A break in the clouds at the summit of Mt. St. Piran (2649m), shortly coming across a group of three Wolverine loping across the slopes.

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The Truth Behind The Photo

Last fall ( if you consider September 11th fall ) we receive a very light dusting of snow above 2150m.  Knowing a small and shallow pocket glacier tucked away high up in Kananaskis country , we packed up the car and headed out before the sun started to rise. As we made our way up the road it didn't seem like it snowed at all , just rain. At 8am we arrived at the parking lot and still not a single snowflake on the ground, not even up high on the nearby ridge tops.  We made the call to walk up and have a look at the glacier anyways. "Worst case scenario we get some exercise"  We got lucky and came out of it with a shot that won us a back country photo contest and some attention on the web, not to mention we had some good times. Conditions looked great. Here's the shot

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Conditions looked more than incredible for a September snowfall. Most people can only dream of such a great day with the sun shining, boot top powder and no crowds. That's that's the story the photo tells. Now here's the truth.

The trail opens up to nice lake right by a back country camping area 

Tony Making his way up the trail. 

 Up and over the hill. First signs of snow! 

Up and over the hill. First signs of snow! 

About half way the trail it opens up a decent size lake which has a pretty incredible camping area adjacent to it. Every time we have come up here there has never been a single campsite set up so you can almost certainly have the place to yourself. The trail continues though the campground and around to the lake to the south .The trail makes a sharp right up the glacier fed creek bed, over a hill and it's at this point the glacier comes into view. 

Once we get to the toe of the glacier conditions look pretty bleak. It might have snowed 2 maybe 3 cm's overnight with heavy winds. Most of the glacier was bare ice but we had dragged our gear all the way up here so we might as well get to the top and who knows, maybe the wind filled in some spots. 

 Tony checking out the conditions.  Initial Prognosis...Conditions looking firm.  

Tony checking out the conditions. Initial Prognosis...Conditions looking firm. 

 The wind actually left us a few stashes to pillage.

The wind actually left us a few stashes to pillage.

So all in all the photo turned out really well but the conditions really sucked. We had a great time ,  made some turns and would give our right nut to be doing it right now. Exactly a year later we thought it was time to spill the beans on this photo. There was one patch of snow on the whole glacier, there was one soft turn and the rest was ice.

Bow Summit Ski Touring-May 25th 2013

Spring has dominated the valley over the last few weeks ,temperatures in the low twenties, the leaves are returning to the trees and the lifts have stopped spinning. Most people are looking forward to mountain biking, rock climbing or golf but not us. We watch the weather. Always.  May 23rd the rain started and the temperatures dropped, May 24th it snowed in the valley and there were reports of accumulations of 30 centimeters up on the Icefields parkway with still 15 to 20 expected overnight.  Kyle grabbed his sleeping bag, camping gear , touring gear and spent the night in the parking lot to unsure and early start.

This is what we like to see. Poor driving means good skiing!

The drive up was a little worrying as the snow line was much higher than expected. Once in the parking lot full confidence was restored

Home for the evening. 

It was nice to just hang out with no electronics for the night. A head lamp , a paper back novel and a fresh cup of tea were the source of entertainment for night. With the lowest temperature reaching minus 3 Celsius , the back of the truck was warm and comfortable enough.  Morning came quickly and there was no sense of disappointment when assessing the snow conditions. 

 The trees were loaded and the chutes were looking primed! 

The trees were loaded and the chutes were looking primed! 

 TailGate Alberta. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day you know! 

TailGate Alberta. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day you know! 

We could spend a lengthy amount of time describing how incredible the snow was ( and it really was for anytime of the year never mind May 25th!) but how about we show you.

We were able to bang out five laps before eleven am and it was by far one of the greatest days of the 2013 season!  Be sure to check out Kevin Annala Photography for more photos of this late spring storm.

http://www.kevinannalaphotography.com/blog/2013/5/skiing-powder-in-late-may

We got skunked, so we made this.

We were off before the crack of dawn, mountaineering axes in hand and a big objective planned for the day.  We met up on highway 93N where we skinned up to get access to the couloir in the photo below.

This couloir is in your face along the road. 

It was a very easy skin from the parking area and just a short bootpack got us up high on a ridge. We were watched by a mountain goat just hanging out as we topped out on the ridge.

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 Michelle on the bootpack

Michelle on the bootpack

Once we got over to the open slope below the couloir we started seeing red flags. Blowing down to depth hoar with every step made up investigate the lower snowpack. We found a large layer for 5mm depth hoar crystals and after a quick hand pit and a compression test ( failed on ct-1 yikes) we decided to bailout and just head back to the car.  

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Even with an avalanche buletin reading Low at all elevation bands it's important to slow down and have a look. We were all confident in our decision to bail and that couloir is still in the same spot and we will return in the future. Nothing to feel bad about. 

With less than epic skiing to the car we didn't take out the big camera's. So here is pretty much the dumbest edit you should see from us. hopefully. 

Photo Bomb

Here's some highlights from the past few months of skiing - condensed into a few photos and a few helmet cam screen grabs.

A beautiful spot for a rest - touring somewhere near Surprise Pass, Lake Louise:

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Spot the snowboarder:

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A couple steep turns. Photot Credit - Ruari Macfarlane:

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Dropping into some great snow at Tryst Chutes - touring in K Country. Photo credit Tony Larosa. 

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Kyle sending it over sme gnar in Delirium Dive, Sunshine Village. 

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Even in a poor snow year the Dive consistently provides the goods with a little wind loading. James Ford getting some faceshots:

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Very occasionally good snow and good light have made an appearance at the same time as this spine slash shows:

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Some steep turns on the fourth Galaxy Chute:

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A shot from Slopestyle TV's visit to Sunshine Village last season. Photo credit Doug Henderson.

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Slopestyle TV made a return to the Rockies this year - this time for an episode showcasing everything Lake Louise has to offer. We were lucky enough to be a part of it again and show off another one of our winter playgrounds. Local big mountain snowboarder Audrey had us following behind her for a few days jumping off stuff:

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The footage is under wraps until the episode airs next year. Until then here's a little teaser of a fun triple drop line:

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We couldn't have asked for more - a bluebird day for hitting a few little drops. Photo credit Doug Henderson.

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Sunshine Village's Wild West - speed is your friend when the chokes are full of rock and blue ice:

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Michael Hall

One week in the kootenays

A little while ago Jesse Matthewman spent a week in the kootenays backcountry, ski touring and searching out powder. he wrote us a little something, and filmed!

So a hut eh.

I've heard about these places. Legendary creations that turn everybody into a saw wielding, wood chopping, societal leper. Needless to say, I'm none of these. well, maybe the first two. Also there's another part where you have to walk uphill for 8 hours a day with a pack on and heavy skis, only to descend through a couple minutes of glory, rinse and repeat. If that doesn't put hair on your chest I dunno what does. You see, I own a sled. A little bit of mechanical knowledge gets you deep into terrain (and into creeks courtesy of kyle) with much less effort.

I’d first found out about touring three years ago when a family friend offered to take me. I was rockin' a pair of 195 Hagan titan texes (112-65-90) with Fritschis and Lange boots, circa 1983. Didn't tour for a year after that. I picked it up when I finally decided to buy myself some Rossi S3's and was on and off for a couple years, until the sled was acquired, at which point I decided that I needed some new skis. So I made a few pairs and ended up with some fun models. (They're sitting outside held together with duct tape as I write this.) Now I got some 185 Blogs from Atomic, Dynafits and the whole shebang. Anyways I digress.

It's snowing. A lot. The wood stove is cranking, and the smell of salmon on the grill and cornbread in the oven battles for supremacy with the dank stench of drying touring gear. I have parked myself on one of the huge couches that surround a handmade cedar coffee table. Actually the whole lodge is handmade from cedar logs that were milled by the owner, that he harvested from his 1000 acre parcel. By hand, naturally. Probably with his teeth. His name is Martin Glasheen, aka Glasheen the machine, known for having planted over 3 million trees in his 30 years of service as one of the many people responsible for reforesting cut blocks, after the logging companies desecrate them. Sporting a huge beard, rosy cheeks and always smiling, he's always happy to relish you with a crazy tale.

On to the skiing. Yes there is lots of snow. Yes it snows every night. It's deep. Like real deep. A few runs I had to remind myself to stop breathing, or yank my bandana down over my face cause I was ingesting too much snow (fun fact, you can actually drown from that.) Majestic 1000 meter runs, steep trees, open bowls, pillows, everything. We skied madly, every day pounding out at least two or three of these runs, which doesn't sound like a lot, but believe me, when you're sinking into snow up to your thigh with every step, it's a lot of work. Snow stability was bomber for the whole week, despite it being “extroyme” on avalanche.ca, and we got to slay some areas that were pretty crazy. One pitch had to be at least 45- 50 degrees, and populated by big timber (they don't move, I tested this.) It was so steep I had a taste of Alaska style spines in the trees as my sluff quickly outran me and chewed troughs down slope. I tend to fall a lot when I ski, not because of any lack of skill really, just cause sometimes it's the best option for saving your strength. Take the fall, get back up, no struggle. Although on this particular slope I chose to give up right in front of a very formidable branch of the aforementioned big timber. I didn't stop to think that these trees were probably in excess of 500 years old, being cedars, and are extremely tough. So as I tried to go logging with my face at speed, the branch decided it was best to pull a full clothesline on me, and throw me a good 15 feet down, to be engulfed by sluff and carried another 20 feet downhill.

That's pretty much the theme for the whole week. Lots of steep skiing, lots of good food, beer, and company, and a little bit of bootcamp. If you're thinking of going on a hut trip, give the good people at Valkyr adventures a call! Check out the edit, coming soon!

Jesse Matthewman