The winter has been mind boggling in the interior of British Columbia. So good. Quit your job (or use all of your vacation time) and get up here now and ski your brains out, because hey, it’s going to be spring soon. As I write this, the cold smoke is piling up AGAIN, but I need to share some spectacular skiing from last week. A brief 2 days of sunny skies allowed us to explore some new zones in my backyard at Valhalla Mountain Touring, and what we discovered was one of the 5 best ski runs at my lodge. Check it out, we named it Fireball. Why? Because at the bottom of this mind boggling run, when we were reveling in the pure ecstasy of the moment, my buddy Tony busted out a flask of Fireball cinnamon whiskey. That is classy, and that is how ski runs get named.
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There, I said it. And I believe it after spending quite a few years skiing around the world. I haven’t found a place where the terrain, snow pack and snow quality come together in such a way that you can consistently ski such high quality powder snow.
And this last week was proof that my (not so) bold statement is true. Well, the last 3 weeks, wait, the last two months actually. I tallied up my snow observation history the other day for the season, and it showed me that 53 of the last 61 days had measurable amounts of new snow, and that the temperature never got above 0 degrees Celsius at my lodge (www.vmt.ca). And this last week was the icing on the cake. A brief windstorm last Saturday kind of plastered on the snow in most locations, and the temps warmed up. Then it started snowing about 5 to 10cms a day for 5 days, with gradually dropping temps and no wind at all. The result was bomber stability (aka low avalanche danger) and boot top cold smoke from the highest summits to the lowest valleys. That’s what I’m talking about.
I made a quick video from a few runs and summits last week, but I was too busy skiing (my group I was guiding tallied about 40,000 vertical feet of ski touring last week!) to take more photos and video… Enjoy!
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Last week, on the way home from a ski trip to B.C., my gear was all smooshed into my Transporter duffel and thrown in the back of the truck. As we drove through Spokane, Washington, it was alternating rain and sleet. Nothing even got wet. A worthy upgrade — sorry Dad!
I got that duffel for a trip last summer to Cirque of the Unclimbables, Canada, where its adventures all began….
With almost 4 meters of new snow in the last month, it was really nice to wake up to some cold and clear arctic high pressure up north in Canada. The snowpack has doubled in depth, tightened up and the last storm finished off with a sweet icing of cold smoke. All of this has coincided with my first few “days off” from life at Valhalla Mountain Touring. I know, tough life that I live, having to be up at a backcountry ski lodge full time. But its nice to ski somewhere different, drive a car, and watch TV in a hotel room after 6 weeks of not even turning my cell phone on, or driving more than 5km to the dump once a week!
The colors set in and the trails disappear under a thick bed of red, green and yellow leaves. The trails that have been nice and dry for most of the summer turn into sticky, muddy terrain and the shinny roots stare at you, trying to make you slip on every turn. The hot summer days make way to chilling, dark and rainy days. When all these elements come together, it only means one thing — it’s time for epic rides!
Your daily ride might involve a lot of things, but how often do you come across this? “You never know what you might run into during a seemingly normal ride around Banff, Alberta,” as Justin of Venture There says. We figured it was a fitting photo to end our Ride of the Week contest with.
Thanks to everyone that submitted! We’ll be announcing our grand prize winner next week. And even if your photo wasn’t selected, keep your eyes on the Osprey Bike Blog, because we’ll be featuring more contests soon.
If I remember correctly, I started mountain biking in 1985. I worked all summer in West Vancouver landscaping to save enough money to get my first bike — a blue and white Gary Fisher Montare.
From the get go I was hooked, I mostly used my bike to get my skinny 15 year old legs stronger for ice hockey try outs in the fall, and ski season in the winter. By the summer of 1986, I started racing my mountain bike and had instant dreams of becoming the next John Tomac. Only a handful of people had mountain bikes at my high school in North Vancouver, which eventually became the place they call the North Shore — the birth place of free-ride mountain biking. One thing I remember most about riding back then was that you could get lost for hours and never run into a soul. Now, there is a constant flow of mountain bikers from all parts of the world.
All I can say is “WOW” what a fun way to end the race season!
Because of shift work and home renovations, my final big race of the season was going to be another 24-hour solo event. Chico Racing puts on two 24-hour events a year, Summer Solstice and Hot August Night, as well as other Mountain Bike events.
Hot August Night is held in Bolton, Ontario and runs from noon on Saturday to noon on Sunday. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, although it may have been a tad hot, but no complaints since the three previous 24-hour events had been spoiled with rain. They set up a course that was fun for all riding abilities. There were some awesome fast single tracks, as well as some technical down hills, and yes — a lot of climbing.
Last Tuesday I woke up to another cold gray morning alongside the Belly River in northern Glacier National Park, only 6 miles from the northern terminus of the Continental Divide Trail. I pried myself from the warmth and comfort of my sleeping bag, slipped on my shoes, and undid my bear hang. After chucking everything into my pack I started off down the mushy, muddy trail along the Belly River.
Soon I came across some fresh Griz tracks, which got me singing some made up songs, loud enough to scare any bears with any remote musical taste far, far away. As I hiked, the mountains turned burnt pink with an early alpine glow. Thimble berries lined the trail all the way to the border.
Before I knew it I was standing on the Chief Mountain Highway hugging the border monument. (Road walks aren’t really my favorite).
A mere half hour later I found myself in a friend’s van on the way to Park Cafe, a local favorite whose slogan is “pie for strength.” We ate an entire peach pie and they were kind enough to give me tokens for a 12 minute shower. That left me heading up the Going to the Sun Road (by car) satisfied; full, clean, and in good company.