Things are still good, the winds come through and feel like they have wrecked the place, then you give it a few days and ski the right aspect and BAMM its good.
We have talked about Terminal direct to the Vaux for awhile but never linked it up. Today we headed up the Pearly rock trail and up the south side of Terminal. We were trying to stay in cell service in case Jeff got a call from Becky. They are two days passed their due date and ready to have a kid at any point. So the second we wrapped to the south side of Terminal Jeff put the burners on and ran up to the ridge so as to be back in service.
It was a pretty long tour up to that point, we all seemed to be feeling it, probably the 8 km and 6000+ feet. Getting down to our line we wrapped a large rock with a 7mm prussic and tied our two 30 m rando ropes together. We could have skied directly in but the top part was rocky and rotten so we all took the security of the rope. It was also blowing really hard on the ridge and we didn’t want to dilly dally.
This part of the line was steep and decent skiing, with a little unknown bottom. It worked out pretty well and we were soon on the Vaux glacier.
I have dreamed about skiing past this glacial bulge for years and wondered how it would all work out. It was incredible how well this did work out, the roll in was perfect settled powder. Great confidence inspiring turns to start the second part of the line.
From there the line was smooth and playful gullies led us downward. A tiny wrap around and BAM a new line skied. How many years will I be able to keep skiing new lines, I wonder? It will tap out at some point but for now it still remains endless.
The other day Aaron skied the STS couloir, to safely enter he belayed Mark. Mark cut away the cornice and then Aaron coiled up the rope and snowboarded in. Leaving behind his poles…… Thinking we could turn a mishap into and adventure we went up Cheops prepared for everything.
I had dreams of skiing this wild ramp.
But once we were standing under neath it, it did not seem like the right choice. Lots of faceting near the rocks made the upper ramps questionable and overall it did not feel like the right time. It is probably a better line to ski in the spring when there is more snow and the snowpack is more stuck to the rock slabs. Since it felt like plan A was not going to happen we started looking into other options. As we headed up we thought about the West face of cheops and how wild our last ride down there was; so we started looking into plan B, which exited a couloir we have never skied. Plan B looked Ok but as we studied it more it looked thin and rocky near the top and also perhaps better with more snow…so onto Plan C.
Plan C, was a line I kidded about skiing the other day and then found ourselves dreaming of today. Looking at it from all angles, and taking shots of the rappel it started to look like the best option. A connector from a line Aaron and I skied years ago into the STS. It looked like full on adventure on a sunny day.
We gathered Aaron’s poles on the way by and by the time we got to the ridge it was blowing up to 50 km an hour. Ridge to summit looked challenging under the pressure of these winds so we decided to get into plan C. We set up an anchor off a t-slot and walked into the line on rappel. We got some great views of the line and decided to head down it. Since the anchor was still in place I ski cut the first thirty meters on belay and then I unclipped and headed down. Wind smeared softness with some hardness in spots, minor sloughing and bammo out on the face. Chancey snowboarded down.
Getting around and into the next part of the line required some down-climbing. At this point it was blowing constantly up to 70km with ice pellets blowing into us. All around us appeared blue and perfect, while we were in a wind tunnel of ice shards. It was “REAL” though.
After the rock step we regrouped on top of the connector and set up a t-slot and an anchor around a rock. Nice and safe we rapped 10 m down.
Then skied into our final pitch.
Working our way around a few little cliffs and ice bulges we finally joined back up with the STS couloir. Plan C Connected….
The popularity of ski touring has begun to fill up parking lots and clog trailheads, even in the remote Selkirks. It’s not something that bothers me because I understand how amazing it is and I am excited that others are experiencing it. Really my job as an athlete is to inspire others, and for years I have been blogging about the incredible skiing in Roger’s Pass. So in a small part I am responsible for the increase in skier traffic to my local spots.
Some of these spots are really busy, say Connaught drainage in Roger’s Pass. There are times when there are hundreds of people heading up this same valley, and occasionally 30-40 of them are heading to Video Peak. This peak, that for years was rarely skied, is now shredded by the masses. This increased usage now allows us to ski it more quickly after a storm cycle, the skier traffic cuts up the snow pack and increases our confidence on it.
Yesterday a sunny inversion came in and we were still wary of some instabilities in the snow pack, especially the surface hoar that grew during that last clear weather spell. This instability should be between 1500-2000 m but could possibly be higher than that. Its a huge concern but knowing that we could get up above 2000 m without exposing ourselves and then have an untracked, skier compacted run made us keen.
So we headed up and soon enough we were breaking trail up hospital gully and into the Alpine. The frigid temperatures of the valley gave way to sunny and warmer alpine temperatures. Standing on the summit we couldn’t see anyone anywhere, it felt like Roger’s Pass before ski touring was so cool. Seeing that there was nobody rushing up our skin track we sent one nice line down.
Such great skiing.
After such a great run, we ate some more and skinned back up for some more love. Skiers right line this time.
The skiing was off the charts, sunny, stable and fast. It was still early 1:30 and looking around there was no one rushing up Video. We recognized how lucky we had been and decided we should leave some powder for the weekend crowd and we headed out.
Another thing I am really enjoying with the evolution of the backcountry is the amount of splitboarders, as in my photos, there is almost a 50/50 split. I have always had a token splitboard partner but more and more I am the token skier.