The Rockies most laugh-out-loud fun run

A post actually written several weeks ago… I have to admit procrastination is a vice of mine at times. Some of it isn’t valid; for example my 2 week touring trip at the beginning of May has fallen through, due to partners changing plans. I’m free till May7; if anyone is up for spending some time up high in the hills, please let me know; I’d love to get some fresh air and get out of the valleys for a few days or more. Anyhow here’s the post:IMG_4835[1]
” It seems like I haven’t really ridden since my last time in BC. That was great though. After two days judging Wrangle the Chute at Kicking Horse (one of the only current Canadian Big Mountain comps running, unfortunately), watching everyone else getting amongst it in deep snow, I was frothing. The afterparty was way up there with the best… The band was rocking, the snow was plummeting out of the sky, and I’m sure no-one will ever forget the huge snowball war or the hilarious bus ride to town. Wow.

golden backcountry

golden backcountry

Kicking Horse

Kicking Horse

near golden

near golden

Columbia river from the kicking horse access road

Columbia river from the kicking horse access road


However, reality bites. I really had to win or podium a tour stop, or two, to have money to do what I wanted this spring. The fact I didn’t means I’ve had to turn down offers of snowboard mountaineering trips to Peru and Mt Logan/Alaska.
scenes from travels in southern alberta this winter

scenes from travels in southern alberta this winter

scenes from travels in southern alberta this winter

scenes from travels in southern alberta this winter

a shot from a possibly illegal backcountry shelter in utah, from which we rode 2000m of vert on some classic utah lines...not the best recuperation for a FWT comp the next day

a shot from a possibly illegal backcountry shelter in utah, from which we rode 2000m of vert on some classic utah lines…not the best recuperation for a FWT comp the next day


So, I arrived back from golden and instantly started working near the bottom of the ski industry social pyramid, in a rental shop. Not exactly living the dream or the high life, as some people assume once you make the FWT; but it will keep me humble, pay the rent(and maybe a climbing trip to norway in June!?) and I’ll learn some good repair skills…invaluable if you like to ride snowboards in NZ or the Rockies. I have managed to get out for a few days filming with Sherpas Cinema for a travel alberta/ski Big3 promo though; which has been really fun; good people and good times all around, while getting to ride ER5 from the very top of the perma-closure; something I’d always wanted to do.
on an evening XC ski / future line recon near home I discovered this well known yet deserted spot...

on an evening XC ski / future line recon near home I discovered this well known yet deserted spot…

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phil and seb B. Oliver

phil and seb B. Oliver

IMG_4952[1]Monday, a lightweight (Metaphorically/spiritually) excursion to ski a mellow couloir at Boom Lake on Tuesday (On a different aspect on adjacent Mt Whymper, an ACMG guide exam remote triggered a size 3.5 deep persistant slab, which has got people talking); and then Wednesday I joined Eion, Kyle and my old friend Matt Decarufel for what turned out to be a super day on Cathedral. One of the most ‘typical’ Rockies tours I’ve done(It’s even featured in ‘Summits and Icefields’, I couldn’t believe the quality of the whole experience. It would be a perfect intro to ski mountaineering for a fit, keen individual, as the case for Kyle. I’m sure the views to Lake O’Hara are amazing, but we were denied by typically inclement and occasionally vehement weather. However the clouds parted around us on the summit ridge, and what a fine, exposed position for such a low-angled tour! I thoroughly enjoyed peering down the maw of the West face. IMG_4978[1]Rapid accumulation and increasing winds were beginning to build some highly reactive soft slab which we would have to navigate on the return down the up-route(lee), and anyway we were keen for some fall-line, so after a quick assessment we ducked under the steep polished glace guarding gully/bowl feature just NE of the spectacular, and utterly distinctive cathedral crags. We arranged a rap from the anchor someone…the other group fro the morning? had left; only to find the water-ice bulge was an inviting 6-foot drop only. Regrouping below, it was time to rip the longest gully bank I’ve ever ridden in the Rockies…wind-blown, woo-hoo-hoo faceshots every searing turn… through an atypical, Narnian boulder garden at treeline, with every concievable pillow combo, and then a gully all the way to the trans canada thsat delivered pillowy joy unto the last turn. I’m calling it, this is the most laugh-out-loud fun run I have found thus far in these hills. woot!
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matt D, Eion and kyle in a occasional clear spell on cathedral

matt D, Eion and kyle in a occasional clear spell on cathedral

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Also, Thursday my girlfriend and myself enjoyed nice snow though a little upside down, in the Chester Lake couloir. A striking feature, not a challenging ski but aesthetic and it sure deliver a nasty ride. We turned around 4/5 of the way up, due to increasing slabbiness, it felt like little energy in the upper snowpack but a rather spooky structure. Localized but repeated CTV SP results under the first crust 60cm down aided our descision!

sophie norton, mt chester couloir

sophie norton, mt chester couloir

sophie norton approachiong Mt chester

sophie norton approachiong Mt chester

sophie norton, chester lake

sophie norton, chester lake


Anyhow, it’s back to work. Hopefully I can pull off a longer basecamp style trip with old friends for the first two weeks of May, then perhaps see if I feel like getting at all serious in the rockies this Spring. Some others certainally are; good on them, with due caution; and I hope everyone has a productive and safe spring.

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About ruari

a lover of the beauty of the mountains, coast and other wild open spaces. An adventurer and high-level snowboard freerider / snowboard mountaineer
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One Response to The Rockies most laugh-out-loud fun run

  1. Matt says:

    I was wondering who beat us to Boom. I skied the main couloir on Tuesday and we could just see (presumably) your tracks underneath the fresh.

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