Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Musical Bumps

Sorry for the lack of postings lately! When I don't post it either means that I am busy not having fun (as was the case on Friday when I spent the day working on the bathroom) or busy having fun (as was the case over the weekend when I was up in Vancouver visiting Fras and Carla). Anyways, Friday morning I had a reasonable weigh-in at 163.8, and since I didn't weigh myself over the weekend (my excuse was that I was in Vancouver so it would have been too hard on an unfamiliar scale, in reality I had eaten so many cookies on Friday that I felt sick so I didn't want to face the numbers), so that makes my weekly average for the third week 164.4, meaning that I actually went UP from the second week. Oops! I'm going to have to do better than that to hit my New Years Resolution weight of 160.0!

Anyways, enough about how heavy I am, on to how I spent my weekend! All day Friday I worked on the bathroom, the result being that the sink and vanity is now installed and working (with some help from Roanne when she arrived home from work on Friday) On the left is a picture of our lovely Asian-themed washing station.

I headed up to Vancouver on Friday night, Roanne was staying in Seattle since her Mom was flying in for a visit. The drive went smoothly, and we went to bed soon after my arrival since we had big plans for the following day: a backcountry ski tour of the Musical Bumps up in Whistler!

The alarm went off at 5:30am, and we rolled out of bed and fired up the Bialetti espresso maker and ate some steel cut oats that we had soaked overnight in soy milk. Kyle arrived promptly at 6:20am, and Fras and I loaded up our gear into his Forerunner and we were off! Below is a shot of the early morning drive through downtown Vancouver, headed for the Lions Gate.

We arrived in Squamish just before 7:30am, and rendezvoused with Martin and John (a.k.a. Markezzy). We then continued on to Whistler, and after some routefinding hijinks we finally found the staging area for our backcountry adventure. Below is a shot of us getting our gear in order. After gearing up, Kyle and Markezzy drove the cars to the day lots and took a cab back, since there was no parking at the "trailhead".

With everything now in order, we donned our skins and headed up the trail, making good progress despite the icy conditions that made skinning up steep parts precarious. On the left is a shot of Fras heading up through the trees, it was a beautiful sunny day which made things very enjoyable!

After just under an hour of ascending, we emerged at the Gondola midstation, decided that aerobic activity was over-rated, and hopped on the lift. After riding a few lifts and sampling some of the icy groomers and crowded lift lines, we finally arrived at the taking off point for the start of the real skiing, the gateway to powderland! Below is a shot of Martin and Markezzy looking out over our kingdom.

I wasn't that familiar with the names of all the features so I might be off a bit, but I think that we started by skiing some nice gentle slopes down into flute bowl. Not super steep, but there wasn't so much powder that you couldn't make nice turns so it was still a lot of fun. Here is a shot of Martin at the bottom of our first descent, with Fras approaching in the background:

From here we put our skins back on and headed up Oboe Peak, then de-skinned and had another amazing run, this one being a little steeper with some tree skiing at the bottom. So awesome! Every time I go backcountry skiing it seems like I have having the best runs of my life, so awesome! We regrouped at the base, and rendezvoused with another group led by the fearless Stu "Bookie" Bookbinder. We then all headed up our next objective called Russet Ridge, which turned out to be the longest ascent of the day. We all followed in Markezzy's contrails as he rocketed up the ascent, then deskinned and headed down for the best run of the day. Here is a shot of Fras shredding a turn, Fras has only been on skis a handful of times (Martin lent him his old AT gear for the day) but he is already one of the most promising young skiers of 2010.

At the base we ate some food and regrouped, then started the ascent back up Oboe Peak. We reached the top of Oboe Peak in some amazing light, here is a shot of me after completing this ascent.
We had some amazing views looking south towards Black Tusk, here is a shot of the scenery. Black Tusk is noticeable is the little bump in the middle of the horizon (ascending Black Tusk is still on my to-do list!).

We had planned on skinning back up and into the in-bounds Whistler terrain, since that would make for the easiest way down. The other option was to drop into the valley that leads to Singing Pass, and ski out along that hiking trail, but from talking to Markezzy who had done it three times previously it sounded like a bit of an ordeal. However, Bookie caught up with us as we were de-skinning on Oboe Peak, and he convinced us to follow him on a descent that would take us into Singing Pass. We headed down one more sweet powder descent into the valley, along the way encountering a 5 foot cornice drop that the others fired with ease, and on which Fras and myself deployed the "Cornice Butt Drop" technique where you sit down and swing your skis over the edge, then sitting on the edge of the cornice slowly ooze off of it until your skis touch the slope beneath. Watch for it in the next extreme ski video you see. We also encountered a "booter" (jump) someone had built, Martin, Kyle, Markezzy, and Stu all launched off this while Fras and I skied beside it (equally awesome). Finally there was a small cliff that the others dropped and Fras and I again managed to avoid. Below is a shot of Martin sailing off the cliff.

We eventually made our way down into the valley, where we followed the seemingly never-ending trail/bobsled course back into the village. The bobsled course was punctuated by narrow log bridges that you could either try to ski across (with dire consequences if you went off the edge) or keep taking your skis off and walking across in your slippery ski boots. It was a real nightmare, if you ever are faced with an option of descending Singing Pass on skis (or a snowboard, that would have been even worse) you should avoid it at all costs. The only good thing, as Markezzy opined as we finished up, was that we are all now "Singing Pass Certified" and we never have to do it again. Sweet! We emerged at the Whistler Base area in the dark (as all good adventures should end), and sat down to enjoy a pint under the heat lamps.

What an awesome day! After experiencing backcountry ski rides, I can't believe that anyone would ever ski at a resort (other than to bum a lift up into the backcountry). On the ride back to Vancouver we were feeling pretty tired and sore from the full day, and Fras put in a request that our next day's activities not involve using our arms. He thought a little longer, and then put in a request for the activity to not involve using our legs either. I assented, knowing that he would come to his senses after a good night's sleep.

We woke up Sunday morning around 8am, fired up the Bialetti, and then picked a restful activity we could do for the day: nordic skiing! What a great idea, so easy on the arms and legs! So we headed up to Cypress, where they are currently in a state of panic with low snow conditions and the Olympics just around the corner. Looking across from the nordic center at the downhill runs was pretty wild, one set of runs was entirely brown and green with grass and dirt, and there where helicopters flying around with loads of snow to dump on the other set of runs where they had been making snow.

At the nordic area we were greeted by thin coverage and brown slush, as seen in the photo below.

It looked like some of the worst conditions I have ever skied in, definitely the highest dirt to snow ratio. But, we had come all the way there, and nordic skiing is so stinkin' fun that even if you are skiing in pure mud it is probably more fun than most other things, so we bought two passes it and it was off to the races! Luckily the snow was better at the higher elevations, here is a shot of me skiing in some slightly whiter snow.

In the upper loops we stopped for a while at the warming hut where Fras started a fire to warm us up. Luckily the poor snow meant that we didn't have to deal with any crowds in the hut (come to think of it, you never have to deal with crowds while nordic skiing since the misery sticks don't appeal to most people).

There was also some sort of children's event going on near Hollyburn Lodge, with little kids wearing race bibs and milling around. I dubbed this event the Sitzmark Loppet after one of the runs, but Fras didn't like that title so he renamed it the Spitzmark Locket, which has a nice ring to it also. After skiing for a couple of hours we headed back to Vancouver and finished the day with a bike ride to MEC and a trip to Granville Island to make a delicious dinner of grilled halibut and veg. What a great weekend!

Anyways, one last piece of info before I sign off: I am on fire with my weigh-ins this week! I think it must have been the delicious canoli that Fras and Carla fed me on Sunday night, yesterday morning I set a 2010 record with 162.8 lbs, and then this morning I smashed it again with 162.2! Bene!

1 comment:

  1. Your report had me rolling multiple times this morning while drinking my coffee! Thanks for sharing Cam and glad to hear your spirits are up. :)