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The Best of Winter

June 19th, 2014

Osprey Athlete Evan Stevens is a fully certified IFMGA Mountain Guide, examiner and instructor for the AMGA, a member of the AMGA Board of Directors, and owner and lead guide of Valhalla Mountain Touring, a backcountry ski lodge in the Selkirks of British Columbia. Somehow he managed to do all of this whilst only escaping from the suburbs of New York City just over 10 years ago.  When not on his skis, he can be found climbing hard rock in his summer home of Squamish, BC, or trying to fire off alpine rock free ascents through out the world.  Highlights include numerous first descents in the Valhalla Range of BC, traditional rock ascents of up to 5.13, first free ascents in BC such as IV 5.12 Man of Steel in the Adamants, IV 5.12 R Lost in Space on Mt. Gimli, and speed ascents of big walls in Greenland. Besides that he is usually being humbled by his super human wife Jasmin, and trying to keep up to his dog Benny on the skin track.

 

I know it’s no longer winter, and the ski boots have officially been traded in for rock and bike shoes. In the spirit of not always looking ahead and living for the next moment, the rainy spring weather on the coast of British Columbia has given me a few days of wetness to reflect on an awesome winter.

Rather than wax on semi-poetically about the ski season and how great it was, I want to just try a different format, and go for a ‘best of’ if you will. So, no fluff, just straight to business, small blurbs and some pics and clips. Enjoy, and I hope your winter was as great as mine!

January 10, 2014, Grizzly Shoulder Tree skiing at Valhalla Mountain Touring.  This day was everything I was missing last year on the couch with a blown up ACL. It had been snowing tons, the temps were cold, and after a month on the boards I was finally getting enough confidence in the knee rebuild to start really having some fun and opening it up. There is nothing like the pure joy of flying through the cold smoke with your favorite people in the word!

 

evan stevens video jasmin caton

 

January 25th 2014,  Unguide-a-bowl, Unaccept-a-bowl, Valhalla Mountain Touring.  Once in a while all of your ski terrain goes ‘green light’. No avalanche concerns, minimal sluffing, and good skiing. When this happens during a guiding week you get a chance to put guests into places on skis and boards that they never dreamed of. Letting guests open it up on 45 degree spines is pretty much as good as it gets!

 

Skiing the beautiful spines in Baron Bowl with VMT guests today.

Skiing the beautiful spines in Baron Bowl with VMT guests today. Video: Jasmin Caton

 

January 27th, Wragge Lake, Valhalla Mountain Touring.  With each passing year we get closer and closer to opening up a new lodge in our tenure to hugely expand our ski potential. This year more than any, I put a ton of effort into exploring the terrain, and this day paid off because Jasmin and I got to open up a new couloir I have been staring at for years. A scenic ridge traverse and a short technical down climb got us into the beautiful dog leg couloir. With decent snow, and close to 50 degree rollover, it was game on and 5 star, ripping steep turns through the huge buttress.

 

Jasmin contemplates the blind, steep rollover of the Dog Leg

Jasmin contemplates the blind, steep rollover of the Dog Leg

 

February 20th 2014, Begbie Shoulder, Revelstoke, AMGA Ski Exam.  A big part of my winter every year is training and examining aspiring ski guides for the American Program. The first day of the program saw cold temps, and about 40cms of new snow. I put it out there to the group that we should take advantage of this, and we did with 8,000’ of face shots and pillow drops with massive smiles on our faces. Its great when an ‘exam’ can be a fun and rewarding experience. It was great to be back in this role again and charging hard with motivated and inspired people!

 

photo: Donny Roth

photo: Donny Roth

March 10, 2014, Ruby Bowl, Valhalla Mountain Touring.  This winter saw the longest period of the sketchiest reactive persistent weak layer snow conditions that I have ever seen. After a month of avoiding terrain like the plague, we decided to conservatively climb a ridge to the summit of Ruby Peak. Jasmin dropped in to dig a snowpit on the edge of some terrain we were not going to ski, and when she shifted in the pit triggering an 800m wide, 150cm deep massive avalanche that wrapped around into another basin ripping trees out. There is nothing like a safe, super humbling day in the mountains to keep your ego in check and refresh your respect for the hills!

 

Small skiers, big avalanche

Small skiers, big avalanche

 

April 24, 2014 Capucin Couloir, Chamonix, France.  As a ski mountaineer, I have always dreamed of the classic lines of the alps. This year I finally got to sample a few lines, in what I call the ‘glorious shit show’ that is Chamonix. Unbelievable terrain, unbelievable access, and unbelievably stupid things that people do because of the previous two things. The Capucin Couloir was one of the better more technical lines I got to sample on this trip. Steep cramponing up to a tiny col, a few rappels to 50 degree fall you die ski terrain in firm conditions. A small hop over a bergshrund at the end and then a long creamy ski decent to the valley bottom. It was great to get a taste for the ‘extreme’ lines of the alps, and on a guides exam no less, letting some students push their guiding limits!

 

 

American Mountain Guides Association steep camp on the Capucin Couloir. A few raps, hard snow in 45-50 degree cooler, a small shrund hop and a long creamy glacier decent.

American Mountain Guides Association steep camp on the Capucin Couloir. A few raps, hard snow in 45-50 degree cooler, a small shrund hop and a long creamy glacier decent.

May 4th, 2014 North Face of Mt Blanc, Chamonix France.  A super classic decent from the roof of Europe, in knee deep powder with some of my best friends whom I hardly get to see, on my last ski day of the season. Enough said.

 

Skiing from the top of western Europe with great friends and amazing snow was really the best way to end the ski season. Thanks for the great lap on Mt Blanc

Skiing from the top of western Europe with great friends and amazing snow was really the best way to end the ski season. Thanks for the great lap on Mt Blanc

 

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Mt. Baker Mustache Couloir — New Ski Variation

May 21st, 2014

Mt. Baker | Osprey Athletes Andy Traslin & Mike Traslin

 

After winter finally showed its snowy face through most of February and March, a weather-window opened and we were eager to take advantage of it. It would be my first time up Mt. Baker in March, (although my 20th time summiting Baker and Andy’s 21st time) so I was keen to make the trip happen.

 

Mt. Baker | Osprey Athletes Andy Traslin & Mike Traslin Read more…

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Dispatch from a winter of contrasts

March 14th, 2014

Osprey Athlete Jasmin Caton owns and operates Valhalla Mountain Touring along with her husband, fellow Osprey Athlete Evan Stevens. Jasmin grew up in Hills B.C. and has been hooked on skiing ever since. She devotes most of her time to her passion for outdoor recreation, primarily rock climbing, alpine climbing and backcountry skiing. Some of her most memorable outdoor adventures are guiding her parents up Bugaboo Spire, hiking the Valhalla Range in 3 days with her sister, and topping out on War and Poetry, a 30 pitch route in Greenland in a raging storm. Jasmin is an ACMG assistant rock guide and works for Squamish Rock Guides during the summer.

The epitome of winter bliss. Rosy cheeks, tired legs and great friends to celebrate with. "Porch beers" was part of the daily schedule of the VMT Women's Week.

The epitome of winter bliss. Rosy cheeks, tired legs and great friends to celebrate with. “Porch beers” were part of the daily schedule of the VMT Women’s Week.

Bhumi Mountain Camp participants skinning across the Secret Valley at Sentry Lodge

Bhumi Mountain Camp participants skinning across the Secret Valley at Sentry Lodge

As a ski guide and ski touring lodge owner, winter always passes in a blur.  A day of sitting on my butt in front of the computer is the exception not the rule, and time seems to slow during these days as I get caught up on my inside jobs. I revel in this time — I can almost hear my leg muscles say “ahhhhhhhh” as they sink into the couch and my normally ski-boot clad feet say “thank goodness” as my toes spread into the furry depths of my slippers. It’s nice to have a bit of time for hang-boarding, yoga, and feels great to achieve that feeling of caught-upness that comes when I tackle my to-do list.

But as I look outside, at the winter sun reflecting off the snow I know that I won’t make it a whole day. Afterall, my dog needs his walk so I’ll use him as an excuse and get out for a run or two. Hopefully I’ll finish this little post first! Read more…

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South America Gear Test with Folsom Custom Skis

October 12th, 2010

Ryan airing at La Hoya

Recently I arrived back from a month long ski adventure traveling through Argentina. The travelers consisted of three Folsom Custom Skis athletes: myself (Ryan Prentice), Mike McCabe and Kasie Stroshin. During the summer months we all reside in various places throughout North America including Whistler, BC, Boulder, Colo., and Portland, Ore., but for a month each year, we all convene in South America to test skis and travel in search of snow.

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Skiing Summit to Sea in Iceland

May 27th, 2010

I think I see Greeland

I’m here at Klængshóll Lodge in Iceland with photographer Grant Gunderson for 2 weeks of ski touring and we’re skiing some big peaks with with the help of Artic Heli Skiing. The snow is great and the evening light is amazing. The mountains here are much larger and rugged than we expected, and the geography of this place makes for a color skiers only dream of — with vertical folds in nearly every peak. Add the maritime snowpack, which bonds to the rock, and and we’ve got a perfect canvas for skiers to paint.

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