Skiing with CJ

In early Feb I did a heliski guiding practicum in Revelstoke. IMG_7304

A pineapple express was fizzling out, leaving us poor vis and heavy snow, with rain at lower elevations, but some really good powder skiing at treeline.  Temps were still warm, the storm slab was settling rapidly, and although the interior was full of reports of natural and artifically triggered avys to Sz 4, it was apparent that the snowpack would quickly stabilize with cold temps. Back at work for a week, a cooling/clearing trend was not really helping the rockies out quickly enough to ski anything great, but in Revelstoke it was a different story. As Sophie and I drove through Golden on our friday (monday) night, a phone call from ex-pat Craigieburn skiier CJ Wright confirmed it.  He quietly mentioned he’d been on a solo exploration that day and ended up skiing both Goat Peak, and the NW Face of McKenzie. This latter, I’d wager, would be amongst the rowdiest lines that anyone has skiied in North america this season, certainly it’s one of the most dramatic/exposed faces I’ve seen with any proximity to a ski resort.

We’d been planning on day touring, but CJ convinced us to join him for an overnight to Ghost mountain (peak?), a prominent wedge in the RMR backcountry. He had all the necessary camping gear we’d left at home.  While others scraped loudly down icy groomers, we skiied settled, sluffing pow on Mac Daddy (McKenzie East Face) Tuesday -this run I’d looked forward to for years –  lapped back around to grab our overnight gear, then enjoyed a beautiful sunset en route to Ghost Lake.


“Mac Daddy”


Mac daddy Face


CJ waits in a lone island of safety for Soph to join him, after the first pitch of Mac Daddy. A rather intimidating chunk of avalanche terrain. We avoided the skiiers right of the upper face under the cornices in case of lingering old windslab, despite its obvious allure. The run out is bad.


Brief regroup, stoked on some beautiful steep skiing. Sophie Norton, CJ wright


not the only people enjoying the conditions on steep alpine features…


the day prior CJ skiied the long sinuous couloir in the shade on goat peak, the mountain in the background


CJ explaining route options to Ghost Lake. Ski line was from the summit down the right skyline, easy but aesthetic


A sighting of the elusive Roryus Cammus in his natural environment was made somewhere around here, half an hour before this photo was taken. It’s not hard to see why some of NZ’s most dedicated skiiers, such as Rory and CJ, choose to settle in Revelstoke.

IMG_7340 IMG_7342

The next morning we’d skiied Ghost return to camp, with two separate runs, in 4hours, then ground back along the connecting ridge, before an afternoon clearance had us skiing spines (with heavy packs!) back down towards the resort. A typical couple days in the humble, grounded and exceptional ski life of CJ. Thanks mate!

flat light and thin, creamy snow on the windblasted summit of Ghost

flat light and thin, creamy snow on the windblasted summit of Ghost



Sophie Norton, with overnight pack

Sophie Norton, with overnight pack


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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