Wow!  Not to be that guy that goes on and on about how good things are, how epic this was, how sick that was…..but really, the last month has been exceptional!  A stable snowpack and a 70+ cm re-set has made for a month of climbing peaks and skiing/boarding sunny aspect runs in great conditions. Here is a recap of the most recent good times…

Mt. Afton (2553m) 

Sweet day with long time friend Darek G, up from Loop Brook and into the Asulkan via skiers right SE Couloir.

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Eagle Peak (2846m)

Did not quite make the summit of Eagle this time, due to waning daylight and faceted, punchy boot packing.  Crew: Mark H, Tina G, Stano F, and my girl Hailey R.  This classic S Face was in amazing shape!  Mark, Stano and I chose the direct couloirs through the mid-section cliff-bands, which where a little on the firm side, but well filled in…

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Hailey making her way down the upper face.

Hailey making her way down the upper face.

Summit Pano

Pano from the ridge.

Exploration

Greg was keen to check out a line that he had noted years ago for being Alaska-esque, how could I say no?  Sure wishing I had 1000′  into our day, cause it looked like this:

Yep, that black spot dead centre is Greg, about 50 feet ahead of me...

Yep, that black spot dead centre is Greg, about 50 feet ahead of me…

After three hours of acrobatics to travel approximately 1500′, we really had to pick up the pace once we broke out of the Hemlock burn jungle.

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Well worth it though, this was the view from the ridge looking West, sometime just after 3pm.

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And this was our run!

photo: Greg Hill.

photo: Greg Hill.

Catamount Mtn (2705m) and Cougar Mtn (2375m)

Next up was a mission into the Cougar Brook, with Mark H,  Andrew M, and Steve Z.  We pulled a high traverse into the Catamount basin and headed up to the summit for a SE Face run (thanks for the uptrack BJ and crew).

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Summit Shot

Summit Shot

Mark H busting into the light.

Mark H busting into the light.

We took this run right to the Brook, and headed up the North side of Cougar Mtn via a couloir which we hoped would put us in the col just West of the true summit.  Cougar has multiple peaks, and it is a bit hard to discern which might be the highest…

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Ditching skis at the col, Andrew and I burrowed and facet mined our way up the ridge of the peak to our East, and it appeared to be the highest once we where standing on top.  Here is our view to the West.

That's right, it's an ice axe pick in the left of the photo....even crazier is that the speck in the lower right is Mark, heading to shred the gnar!

That’s right, it’s an ice axe pick in the left of the photo….even crazier is that the speck in the lower right is Mark, heading to shred the gnar!

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The Gnar.

Big day, approximately 9000′, and two new summits for me.  Also got to watch friends ski off of Bagheera, and two unknown people ski an inspiring ramp of the East summit of Bagheera!

SplitFest 2013

Big Shout Out to Wade for organizing the third annual SplitFest, which was a big success, over 150 splitters attending!  I was (am) pretty beat down from previous adventures, but I did manage to catch Mark Hartley’s presentation, which had the crowd cracking up, and a single individual have five tickets pulled for draw prizes, including three (THREE!) splitboards!  Two of which he threw back in the pot, nice one.  Also of note is that the creator of RogersPass 411, Douglas Sproul, was the winner of one of the other splitty’s, of which I think there where 7.  Hope fully he wraps up his guide book soon, so we see him out on the slopes on his new deck!

I also managed to get in a bit of shreddin’ with Joey V.

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Video Peak (2565m)

We then had a short, intense storm that was just the re-set we needed.  The mountains were covered with a fresh new blanket of powder 70-odd centimetres deep, and when the weather passed, the skies where as blue as blue can be.  Which also meant  very cold temps, being January.  Which also equalled good snow on South slopes, so we checked out the alpine by heading for the previously heavily skier compacted runs on Video Peak. 

We where the only party in the Hospital Bowl, a welcome change from the early season crowds, as  Connaught  Creek was the best skiing around, being the highest elevation starting point. 

Two laps of amazing sunny powder on the S Face and an untracked gully to exit made for a fine day with Greg H, Jeff  B, Chris D, and Mark H.

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Yours Truly. Photo: Greg Hill.

Avalanche Mtn (2861m)

Great powder and sunny skies, what to do but head out for another adventure!  On board:  Conor H, Chris D, Jeff  B, Toby B, and Bruno L. The objective: Avalanche Mountain via S Ridge, descending Ventshaft. 

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Jeff B and Chris D ascending S ridge of Avalanche Mtn, Sir Donald, Uto and Eagle behind.

Cheops North 4 (aka Strathcona Tweedsmuir School Couloir)

And most recently, with Hailey R, Mark H, and  Ryan G, we skied the Cheops North 4 line.  This is a prominent N facing gully line that drops straight to Connaught Creek. 

In a very tragic accident on Feb 1, 2003,  seven students from Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (Calgary)  perished when a natural avalanche tore down the Cheops N 4 path and into their group of 17.

The moniker STS Couloir has come into use to describe this feature on Mt Cheops, and no disrespect is meant, rather let it serve as a reminder of the potential of this path, and to commemorate those students who lost their lives.

We ruffled some feathers of an individual who witnessed us skiing this line, and again,we mean no disrespect.  The mountains are a dynamic environment, with ever-changing conditions.  The potential for avalanches is always there, but if you pick your time wisely and are conscious and observant of the potential  high traffic in the valley below, lines like the STS couloir can be descended with minimal risk.

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Ryan G ascending Cheops ridge. Photo: Hailey Ross.

Here I am, tired and haggard after a month of good times!  Photo: Hailey Ross.

 

 

The early season skiing around here has been phenomenal!  After wrapping up some work obligations, I headed up the all time classic Little Sifton tour, always a great option for getting a feel of alpine conditions.  With the occasional window in the clouds revealing a beautiful blanket of powder on all slopes, untouched by the wind, all I could think about was GAME ON!  A quick lap on Little Sifton then over to the Hermit for a bunch of amazing turns made for a wicked 5600′ day….

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The next day’s weather turned out better than expected, and we headed back up Connaught Creek for the Grizzly Chute.  Fitting, somehow, to end my long blogging hiatus with a post about the same tour that started visionsofchance.com off!  I didn’t lose my camera this time.  After skiing the couloir in the best conditions ever, we re-upped to the top of  Frequent Flyer, which was also in fantastic condition.  6600′.

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Just had to go out the next day, things were/are that good.  We started out a large posse, and clear skies in the morning had lofty objectives being tossed around.  By mid morning the viz wasn’t what it was, and we all ended up on Video Peak.  Here we parted ways, Conor H., Chris D. and myself heading N while the rest of the crew dropped S.  As we pushed the track up the glacier on the north side of  Bruins pass the visibility improved, so we did a hot lap on the N side of 8812.   On up to Bruins pass to finish with the über classic 8812 Bowl in the evening light, 7600′.

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The final day in this block of  four was perhaps the most inspiring.  Hailey and myself accompanied our good friend Deane on the also über classic Bruins Ridge to Bruins Pass tour.  Miss Deane is 60ish, and to witness her (and her husband Don a couple of weeks prior) accomplish this 4100′ day ( in style) as one of the first tours of their season was incredible.  One can only hope to be fit and healthy enough to do the same in years to come.

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My plans for the winter solstice/end of the world was based on the weather forecast, and involved tree skiing at Rogers Pass. As we pulled out of Revy, the doomsday black cloud to the west disappeared in the rearview mirror, and the skies to the east were crystal clear. Maybe we could get into the alpine to celebrate this special day…

The closer to the pass we got, the better things looked. Bluebird skies and a perfect mantle of snow on the mountains shoulders sent our hopes soaring. We rendezvoused with the East-siders plus Wade to make a party of nine. Away up the Hermit trail we went, and in crisp temps and amazing snow we found our way all the way up the Swiss glacier and on to the summit of Mt Rogers (3185m)! Beyond all expectations!

What better way to spent the last day of the world, or the first day of winter. Great crew, great weather, perfect conditions.

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L to R: Reed, Zahan, and Steve at Rogers Pass.

Well, I am sure a lot of people have heard the terrible news out of the Tetons.  Ski mountaineer extraordinaire and prolific blogger Steve Romeo was taken down by an avalanche on Ranger Peak in the Tetons, along with fellow Jacksonite Chris Onufer.  Condolances to the family, friends, and community affected by this great loss.

Like many, I knew Steve more through TetonAT than personal contact.  Our paths first crossed in Italy, at the 2006 Ski Mountaineering World Championships, where we were each representing our National Teams.  Meeting  RandoSteve and the rest of the US team at this event was a highlight for me. I became an avid follower of TetonAT, supplying me daily with concise and introspective Trip Reports from the Tetons and beyond, gear analyses and modifications, and more than a few laughs. Got out a bit with team USA again in 2008 (Switzerland and France), and Steve, along with Zahan and Reed, stopped in Revy in 2009. Steve impressed me as a self-deprecating, sincere, knowledgable guy with loads of energy and psych.   He loved skiing, and he got after it! 

RIP Steve, you are missed.

I mentioned bombardment earlier, and here you go. Boom.  Pictures by myself and Hailey Ross, of the mountain life around Revy.

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© Aaron Chance and visionsofchance, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Aaron Chance and visionsofchance with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.