Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How Deep is Too Deep?

Okay, so I just scored a copy of Powderwhore O7 (which by the way, is a pretty fun way to spend an hour of your life to get fired up for charging on the snow) and watched it two days ago. Besides the ripping tele skiing footage, the question is asked at the end of the video, whether it is ever too deep for skiing. Now I can pose you all with the same question, and present first hand documentation of a day that just might be too deep, but that is for you to decide.

This morning started out typical enough. Wake up at 5am, meet the ski partners Adam and's very own Tommy (who might have been skipping out on work?!!!??) for an early AM Wasatch style slacker dawn patrol. A few quick phone calls tell us that both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons are closed for control work, so we already know that turns won't come easy. It has snowed about 35 inches in the last 40 hours. So with our fate of Mill Creek Canyon decided, we start hauling up the gradual climb into Porter Fork.

Down low in the early morning light, trailbreaking is easy enough: boot top powder, staying dry while it continues to dump in my super light Outdoor Research Synapse Jacket, but not over heating, and chit chatting the morning away. Slowly we climb, until about 2,000' later we realize progress is being slowed tremendously, and the question of 'How deep is too deep?' is pondered. It shouldn't take you too long to notice the WAIST high trench that I am plowing!

You might start to think, as I am, that maybe it is too deep? However, there is more evidence for you to examine. Here is exhibit B, a short video clip to show the speed and efficiency taking place this morning, in an attempt to ski some powder:

At least there was 3 of us to break trail, so the novelty gets to refresh itself every 5 minutes or so. However, we need to examine the evidence from the other side of the coin...the downhill evidence. So here for you to examine is exhibits C and D. The first shot here is of Tommy skipping work, but to his luck, you can't really tell it's him, so he might just stay out of trouble.

The second shot though, is definitely some good proof, that maybe its not too deep, or even if it is, we can still laugh about it...then again Adam's face might be frozen in the single digit temps after sticking his mug shot in the snowmaking gun for a few turns!

In the end, we all decided that we had experienced enough of the ridiculously deep powder, and would glide down the canyon to resume our other responsibilities. At least we still got to debate the question of if it is ever really too deep...what do you think?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Chronicles of a (Slacker) Mountain Guide

I've been invited to start sharing some of my adventures on this blog, and I can only hope that everyone who reads them, doesn't begin to hate me...I am more thinking along the lines of inspiring a few folks to get after it, much like TC and powstash have been doing on this blog.

TC posted a bit about skiing with me up at Valhalla Mountain Touring 2 weeks ago, catching me in the middle of a 3 week stint of guiding at the lodge based in the heart of the Selkirks of British Columbia. The Utah crew caught it pretty nicely up north, skiing the ridiculously deep powder in an area about a third of the size of the central Wasatch, but with only 13 other people to compete with for freshies. With the week before they came, and the week after they left, I ended up tallying about 100,000 vertical feet of backcountry skiing all for work (see this is where you start to hate me). Life is tough being an IFMGA mountain guide, but I have to make my living some how!

Thankfully I am back in Utah as of Sunday for 3 weeks of down time before heading back north, and my timing couldn't be better. Monday morning the wife and I woke up to a good dose of new snow and fresh off the plane we headed out to Mill Creek to enjoy the deep stuff.But the wife has no remorse so I had to chase her around for 8 grand of touring...luckily she turned me on to her Canadian ways of using the ultra-light and bomber Dynafit bindings instead of tele skiing a few years back and I can keep up.

No rest for me though...Tuesday dawned and I still had yet to unpack, the phone rings and its time to climb some ice, as the Wastach are not only having a banner snow year, but the cold has kept the ice in good shape. So, I hook up with my photographer friend Andy Burr and my best friend's wife Caroline George to go climb Storm Mountain Falls in Big Cottonwood Canyon. It is in good WI 5 shape, catches a bit of sun, and is only 3 pitches long, so what the heck, unpacking can wait until tomorrow.

So I get home Tuesday night, but the whip is cracking and the wife insists its time to go to the climbing gym. A couple hours later I am on the phone, scheming about today's (Wednesday) plans...conditions are good, so time to grab the skis again. Today's mission: East Couloir on Kessler Peak, booting back up and skiing out God's Lawnmower. A good choice for a half day morning tour, and definitely fuels the adrenaline needs, skiing some big steep faces...however, the light and fast nature dictated that all parties forgot their cameras, so you are just going to go see what they are all about your selves...

Now I am home after the AM mission, and it is only 3 days since I have been back, but I just finished unpacking, so now I have the time to begin chronicling my adventures.

I told you that you were going to start to hate me.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Getting into the swing of things

Well, its been a whirlwind of the typical winter onslaught at the lodge. The last few weeks have mostly entailed skiing my brains out. I think I have logged about 100,000 vertical feet in the backcountry since getting up to VMT in late December. Last week, my buddies from SLC put the hurt on, and a few of us averaged about 6,500' to 7,000' per day. Now I am in the end of another week of guiding, where some of the group members are averaging close to 6 grand a day. Not bad!

The winds have been ripping through the alpine in all of the Selkirks lately...but luckily we have tons of tree and tree-line skiing that is staying in top notch shape. Yesterday we went to the doors area of Cariboo, and were able to ski all of the doors, dropping lots of 40 degree shots. One of the guests and I were even able to sneak in a pretty fun 20 foot cliff drop...he he he. Don't tell the boss!

Well, the skiing is still good, with another storm on the way. Here is a photo from last week's REALLY deep fluff cycle. If that doesn't whet your appetite, I don't know what will.

I will also occasionally post to so check it out. There are some posts there from last week with a few good photos, and a video of some helmet cam footage...enjoy!