2014
Dec 10

Wrote some of this when Fransson died. But these last few months have been chaos filled with endings and new beginnings for me, all capped off by an unplanned, life-sucking house reno. Lately I haven’t even been able to contemplate skiing, let alone finding the motivation to search for the next beautiful ski line.  Doesn’t help that Squamish broke a December 9th temp record of 8.9C from 1991, with a staggering 15C.

But that’s where guys like Fransson come in. Fallen comrades who lived such amazing lives, with a seemingly endless thirst for skiing. Inspiration that helps you reset your course, get your priorities right, and reignite your love for the mountains regardless of whether you’re skiing something steep or just going on a walkabout.

fransson

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Jun 03
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Rich’s camp bottom left, and yes those are absolutely massive crevasses in front.

Note on photos: It was so cold Tobin’s camera never worked the entire day, and mine would freeze up periodically. Many of the photos are a bit soft because my viewfinder and my automatic focus was frozen (so I just had to put the focus near infinity and hope for the best).

Summit day – Tobin and I wake at 6am. The last 2 nights have been torture. As soon as I lie down and try to relax the subtle suffocation begins. Breathing faster to get more oxygen in, the mind begins to obsess about breathing and the lack of oxygen.  My mind can’t distract itself by daydreaming of better days, because it doesn’t seem to have the ability to hold a thought or image. When I wake I have a splitter headache and immediately pop some advil. The condensation inside the tent has created 1cm thick surface hoar on our sleeping bags. The weather is perfectly clear, but it is probably the coldest morning I’ve ever had to operate in.  2 merino undershirts, my ultra-light puffy and my light down jacket are all compressed under my slim-fitting Gore-tex shell. My liners are frozen and refuse to conform to my boot shells. Jon graciously warms them in his sleeping bag while I finish packing.  Soon we’re skate-skiing across the vast expanse of the summit plateau. The route starts to climb and traverse above and below seracs on the flanks of the west summit. Without Rich’s route description, we’d have no idea whether the east, west, or main summit is highest. They all look so similar.

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May 30
logan1

Logan Basecamp

So we were at the base of Canada’s highest mountain with no map, no route description, no idea of how many camps were possibly needed, or how long it might take (had a malfunctioning GPS with a tiny screen).  All I knew for sure was that my gloves were pathetic, my down jacket wasn’t full of enough down, my sleeping bag was over 15 years old, my TLT6 liners were unproven in extreme cold, and my 35L pack could barely fit my sleeping bag.  All my gear worked fine at -15C, but -55C with wind-chill seemed a bit unreasonable. But changing gear wasn’t an option, so I focused my attention on strategy. With the Inreach, we got weather forecasts, number of camps, camp elevations, and how long the average tourist took on Logan. It was something like 16 days, which didn’t really help us since we only had 5 days until the next major storm came in.

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May 27

 Logan 07

Extraordinary circumstances . . .” was the phrase I seemed to mutter, when we pulled the plug on our first mission. We knew that this area didn’t break world-snowfall records, but this was ridiculous.  Back at camp we formulated a plan B and C.  Plan B was to call the pilot and get the hell out (not a bad option considering the state of the crevasses). Plan C was to head to higher ground. We chose the stick it out.  We were relatively low in elevation, so conditions might improve as we headed up onto the icecap. Furthermore, Mt Logan is just around the corner (35 to 40km away), and as Canada’s highest peak (5,959m – 19,550ft) it might hold some snow somewhere on its flanks. If all else failed we would at least be able to escape via the King Trench landing zone (near the base of Logan), which is at 9,000ft and frequented by our pilot.

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May 24

St. Elias Expedition: Part 1

By Trevor 2014, Yukon Comments Off
Logan 01

Jon trying to figure out how much beer he can fit.

Since there are only 35 million Canadians in the world’s second largest country, you could probably say that the opportunity for adventure is higher than anywhere else in the world. With this in mind, I decided to stay in my own country for my yearly expedition. There are many ways to have an adventure (this trip report will be proof of that), and finding areas that haven’t been explored with skis is my favourite. Jon pulled an objective from a hazy memory bank, but after spending the Autumn searching in vain for any photos that would confirm the quality of the area (I guess it was too remote!), we quickly switched focus when Tobin spotted some lines on Google Earth.  I contacted the pilot in the area, and was pleased to hear that no one had ever landed a plane there. So the ingredients for our adventure had been chosen: 3 weeks in an unskied zone in the St. Elias.

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Apr 22
dalton final web-2

View near Murrin Lake – Highway 99

Whistler is one of the busiest resorts in the World, with millions visiting each year.  On the way up from Vancouver, the Garibaldi Massif (aka. Diamondhead) is probably the most iconic mountain people see. There’s lots of skiing to be had on the massif, but all of the lines are hidden from the eyes of these visiting millions.

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Mar 15

couloir5

One of the interesting quirks of steep skiing, is the difficulty of training for the sport. It’s basically the opposite of Olympic sports, where athletes mindlessly train specific movements until they’re burned into the subconscious.  Yesterday I inched towards the edge, wondering how my first steep turn would go, while trying to remember the last time I performed the movement (approx. 10 months ago in Georgia).  I could go to Whistler and practice on the inbounds steeps, but a little bit of my love for skiing dies when I have to battle with the crowds.  I wasn’t scared that I’d screw up, but there were still some thoughts of “how do I do this again?”

dave-2.jpg

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