Swanzy Session

Lately the weather has been not great for sessioning and the stability also questionable. Which is a bummer since April is usually steep skiing time. So I have been home and waiting for the window. In the mean time I have been biking and climbing on my wall at home.  I have a 6.5 hour enduro race in a month and would like to be ready for it.  No matter how much you tour biking is different muscles and you need some time in the seat to get ready for thousands of feet of pedaling. I also hope to start really climbing again this summer so I have built a small wall and have been re-building my strength.

Anyways… finally the weather is stabilizing and getting ready for some shredding. Aaron and I headed up to  Mt-Swanzy today with the intention of skiing  a north facing couloir. I wanted to go for this line because involved a rappel and then some interesting skiing. This year I have been gunning for lines with rope work involved. It adds complexity to the line. Getting to the top and then figuring out how to set a solid anchor to lower in to the line.

For this anchor we rapped a large rock and then backed ourselves up with a piton pounded into a crack. A little redundancy but better safe than sorry. We aren’t super techy in our rappels where we are able to retrieve all our gear but I will climb this route next summer and get my cord back.

Early on in my career I learned to always ski something from the top. Instead of sliding in and having hang fire above. This makes sense because if you take out the footing and there is tension in the snow above it could easily take you out. So I always try to get at things from the top and stabilize them as you go down. This saved our lives today.

Once off rappel Aaron worked over to the ridge so he could stand on top of the slope, I slide down to him with my skis on and pressured the slope. As I got near him I watched the crack split below his feet and under mine. He fell a metre down to the crusts as I slid down with the slab. I was able to step off the slab and get a hold onto the bed surface. It’s a pity it was slightly white out because  we didn’t get too really watch it as it pounded to the valley. The slide was up to a meter tall, 150m (400ft) wide and it ran fast and furious for 500m 1500ft.  The layer it slid on was a suncrust with perhaps some surface hoar.  The roll was 34-38 degrees and slightly unsupported.

Having watched the slope disappear we were not sure where we would go down. Safest would be  the bed surface, which would also be the worst.. Looking down into the north couloir we knew the snow would be different, safer but yet we had also just witnessed a huge slide. So we hung around waiting for more visibility and finally decided we may as well ski down our planned line.

The snow was great but my confidence was a little low so I didn’t really shred it but it was still really fun to finally cruise through this cool piece of terrain.  

Now its time to plan for a little 2-3 day mission into the northern Selkirks….

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