March 20, 2011

"The Ghost Rider" - Wolf Peak Zone

Finally a bluebird day at ol Kootenay Pass!  Its amazing what a little vis can do,  even after yesterdays long tour, the group was ready to get after it.  Maybe it was the sun maybe it was electric energy buzzing overhead in the powerlines.  Finally figured it out...the reason the locals call it Buzz's ridge.  The goal was to explore the massive bowl at the end of Buzz's ridge, after our tour yesterday we figured it would be more efficient to access the bowl from the Creston side of the pass, rather then dealing with the mile plus of ridge travel across Cornice Ridge Peak. So we made our way up Pristine Pass to just under Wolf peak.  From here we traversed under wolf to try and gain the east lip of the massive bowl.  Well that turned out to be less than an easy task.  After finding a steep but safe route to the bowls east lip, we ended up not able to access the bowl due to what were questionable lines, it was hard to tell if any of the shots underneath our noses would go.  Thus we skied the east face from the lip back down towards wolf peak.  Still amazing conditions. After this drop we decided to stop for a bit of a food break.  This was when the ghost rider broke out of hiding.  My unattended board decided to cruz down the mountain without me, first at a crawl, then gathering speed it took a rather aesthetic line down the bowl underneath wolf peak.  Derrick and Julie jammed after the runaway while i started postholing to my crotch!  After about a 400 foot run, the ghost rider got caught up in two trees at the edge of what would of been a steep shot with no barriers for another 400 or so feet...and surely the end of our day.  However it ended up being a slight detour...:)  oops!  After climbing back out of the bowl, we worked our way south around the edge of the bowl, trying to find another way to access the massive bowl.  Unfortunately visibility started to get worse and time was slipping away.  Thus we decided for the long shot back down to the power lines, starting from the termination of buzz's and the beginning of the massive bowl.  What a line it was, the conditions were great....ooh I can only dream what the north aspect of the massive bowl would of been like.  NEXT TIME    

Just short of 8 miles, with a huge tease... the large bowl was well guarded by steeps and cornices
our elevation profile
Wolf Peak and a few of our lines skied (blue dots)
Julie and Derrick scouting the area from our high point. 

Looking east to Wolf Peak
The massive north bowl, which sits at the termination of Buzz's ridge.  

This bowl is FOR SURE the focus of our next trip to Kootenay Pass:)
Derrick waiting below, Julie getting 2nds

The zone we skied the day prior...Cornice Ridge Peak

A look back up our final run

March 19, 2011

"Appropriately" Named - Cornice Ridge Peak

Derrick, Julie and I (friends from Spokane) decided on a ass-crack of dawn departure from Spokane Saturday morning allowing for two full days of touring among the Kootenay's of Canada.
The weekends plan was to ski the zones north of Kootenay Pass.  Saturday unfortunately ended up being one of those all to common low visibility days.  Between the visibility and the miles of heavily corniced ridge, finding safe lines to ski was a challenge. At one point in the day I cautiously crept towards a cornice that ended up snapping off in a blink of an eye.  The result of the cornice break was me flying through the air in the opposite direction, kinda like a cat.... well a cat with a stoned like reaction.  Lets just say, your not going to jump off a cornice before it breaks:) Later on in the day on the west face of Cornice Ridge Peak we noticed a huge fraction line that appeared to originate from a large rock outcropping, then managed to propagate for about 100 yards, likely the result of a warm clear Friday.

Quick plug for an amazing meal after skiing at the pass.  This little gem of a restaurant sits amongst a handful of liquor stores and a gas station based SUBWAY in the quiet mountain town of Salmo.  Derrick said it the best "Why cant the US give a shit about their food like these Canadians".   Check it out:  The Peppercorn Bistro
8 mile day tour ( yellow is lines skied)

elevation profile
A view of Cornice Ridge Pk taken from near Wolf Pk (Sundays Tour).  We skied the lookers right face of the  lower rounded sub peak 
An inviting chute.  Notice the large fracture line on the face in the background

The best visibility we had all day, unfortunately we are back in the truck and heading to Salmo

March 12, 2011

Shut Down - Left with Pineapple Pass

With our shortened weekend (working on weekends should be forbidden), we decided to check out Snoqualmie Pass.  It wasn't more then 10 minutes into the approach climb to source lake basin under Chair Peak, that plan B was put into motion.  Mother nature decided to be on our side and started throwing up red flags left and right.  Visibility sucked as yet another front had arrived a tad earlier then expected, thankfully with the low vis we were still able to note natural slide activity on most aspects, and at lower elevation.
Note the crown

 We crossed countless av debris piles from the previous days warming.  Most of the slides appeared to originate from near rock outcroppings, which makes sense giving Fridays clear skies and warm temps.  Most of the slides involved what appeared to be 12" plus crowns, probably near a hoar frost layer that presumably formed sometime last weekend during some very cold clear nights.  Then almost every day last week came a series of fronts crossing the Northwest causing periods of strong winds and snowfall. Temperatures had generally been warming preceding the fronts and cooling following the fronts.

Not visible on the pic, but top center in the clearing with larger trees on either side is another large crown.  This area was going to be crossed as part of plan A
 Plan B: Included a tour upto Pineapple Pass and the Tooth.  Followed by a long shot down to Denny Creek.  After a climb back to Pineapple Pass, we tried to enjoy the near perfect from the pass, however visibility was well....ZERO, resulting in what felt like DRUNKEN snowboarding.  It was borderline comical, we ate $H!T countless times thanks to the vertigo and the inability to see ANYTHING.     

Pineapple pass with the tooth visible as the sharp formation lookers right of the pass
blue are actual GPS tracks
The tooth and Pineapple pass
The tooth as seen from top of Pineapple Pass
K enjoying the improved visibility provided among the trees