Friday, March 21, 2014

Kicking Horse Part Two

Our time with Jonathan and Sam at Kicking Horse was incredible. We had 18 inches of powder on our second day of skiing, and even some sun on the last day. The mountain is so huge that there was untracked snow even on the day after the storm. I can't remember skiing in better conditions.

We stayed right at the base of the gondola. Really right at the base. We could have thrown a microwave from our patio onto skiers waiting in line. In the evenings Jonathan cooked some tasty dinners and we fought the good fight in Pandemic (but lost anyways). We even got a bit of spades in.

We're flying to Argentina tomorrow and don't have much time to write, so I'm going to go straight into the pictures!

The four of us in the sun on Monday. We thought the photo was narrower :)
The view from our patio. A pretty prime location.

Jonathan shreddin'
And throwing a spread eagle.
Beard growing competition.
Sam climbing the final pitch near the summit of T1
The Woods on the top of T1
Me coming off of Pride Rock.
In Fuez Bowl.

Under some powder pillows.
On the patio with beers after we were all done skiing :)
Omar wearing a tie in court.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Kicking Horse, Part One

It's hard to write these updates five days in the past because so many great things are happening right now! But we'll try. Tuesday was travel day. We had the most gorgeous drive across British Columbia in brilliant sunshine. Seven hours flies by when you're looking at amazing snow capped mountains the whole time. It was just us and a LOT of tractor trailers making our way east across the Trans-Canada Highway. We stopped for late lunch/dinner in Revelstoke, crossed into Mountain Time (it stays light so late!) and headed up Rogers Pass.

Golden, BC is a 4000 person town in the middle of nowhere. Perched above it in the Dogtooth Range, across a one lane bridge, is Kicking Horse Resort, our home for the next 6 days. It's a much smaller resort than Whistler, but has a great feel to it. The lodges seem new but unpretentious. Our room was just a stone's throw from the gondola. It was sweet. And apparently mid-week bluebird days soon after a storm aren't quite enough to attract a crowd - it felt like a ghost town.

Wednesday morning there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The sun was a much welcomed change. We skied some steep chutes and bowls and hiked up to a summit peak, which was scary (not for Mike), in search of some powder stashes three days post-storm. At the end of the day we may have even achieved a minor goggle tan. A massive pile of nachos and a pitcher of beer on an outdoor patio (in t-shirts and shades...ahhhh) wrapped up a fantastic day.

On Thursday I only skied a few runs in an effort to save my knee for the hard charging to come once my dad and brother arrived Friday evening. Mike skied another 7 hour day (I don't know how he does it) while I relaxed (t-shirt weather again!) on our deck overlooking the mountain. We went into town for a 5 pm dinner and were the only patrons. Ski days really throw off your eating schedule!

The stunning drive across British Columbia
Rogers Pass (and basically our view for most of the drive)

The view from our room's deck...wowzers

The summit of T1 after a hike. Don't look down, don't look down! 
The chutes we skied coming down from T1 
"Ahh back on solid ground"

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mt. Baker

What day is it? I take it as a good sign that I'm asking myself this question frequently. After leaving Whistler in the typical Pacific Northwest Rain-Fog, we said goodbye to Dave and hello to the Dodge Avenger. We roared into Vancouver and tried to pose as Canadians. We had pho for early lunch and then visited the Museum of Vancouver in order to pass the time before late lunch: sushi+cappuccinos. I should mention here that so far Mike has managed to eat salmon, raw or cooked, at least once a day. He says he wants to be one with the bears. Finally it was time to head south to Baker. Between the torrential downpour, gulag-style architecture, and far too expensive parking meters (4 quarters gives you 20 minutes? What??), we agreed to cross Vancouver off the potential-places-to-live list.

By Saturday evening we had arrived in Maple Falls, Washington. The rain had melted all traces of snow. The only sign of life was a pair of patrolling Canada Geese, guarding the muddy driveway up to the 'Retreat Unit,' our trailer in the woods. We cozied up on the saggy leather couch and thought, well this will be romantic! Then Mr. Mouse peaked around the corner. Then I looked at the ancient gas heater. I suddenly realized my worries over tree wells palled in comparison to death by hantavirus or carbon monoxide poisoning. Long story short, the next day we had the owners put in a CO alarm, bought some mouse traps, and slept well (we sent two to mouse-heaven, but they died fat and happy after munching my chocolate bar and BOTH of our delicious plastic-wrapped muffins the night before).

Mike is going to be complaining now that I'm not even talking about the skiing! Mike skied a half day on Sunday and I hung in the lodge letting my knee recover. We both skied on Monday. The conditions were pretty wet, but fun nonetheless. The sun peaked out periodically. We had some great spring skiing runs, had fun on the runnels, and avoided the bergschrunds (observe my new snow lingo). The overall impression? A tame family/local mountain that happens to have some massive cliffs and overally-aggressive signage. And lots of snow.

After poaching some wi-fi (gotta download those Wire episodes...) in town, we built a campfire and went to bed. Tuesday morning we drove to Kicking Horse. Stay tuned.

The Retreat Unit

Crazy Monster Trees on the drive up to Mt. Baker 
Runnels caused by lots of rain. Mike called them butt cracks. I thought it was more like a giant's mattress.

Mike hucking a 360 off the half pipe. Note the chairs with no safety bars in the background

Friday, March 7, 2014

Whistler with Billy and Dave

Our first stop was at Whistler, which is an enormous place. Each of the mountains (Whistler and Blackcomb) is 1.5x as big as Snowbird. It seems like there are endless bowls and chutes, and the base village feels a bit like Disney World. Billy and Dave skied with us, which was great.

It snowed hard for a few hours on Wednesday morning, which made for a total whiteout at the top of the mountain. I've never skiied in such low visibility. It felt like skiing blind. On Wednesday night eight  inches of fresh snow fell and the skiing Thursday morning was incredible. We went to Blackcomb and skied powder all morning, including a huge run down Blackcomb glacier on the backside of the mountain. It was pretty wild to ski on a remote glacier surrounded by jagged peaks.

Billy jumped several cliffs, and had a few epic faceplants. Really first-rate thudders. He also landed some of them quite nicely. We all had great runs in the powder and made a few top-to-bottom runs which were a full 5,000 feet. See below for pictures.

We ate well, with highlights including a Mexican joint (in Canada!), spicy sushi, and some locally-caught salmon. Billy bought us all beers at the bar, capitalizing on the lower drinking age in Canada.

Tomorrow we're heading off to explore Vancouver, and then on to ski Mount Baker, where it may be rainy :(

The four of us. It was only sunny for about 10 minutes across the three days, but we caught it here :)
Powder turns Thursday morning on Showcase Glacier high on Blackcomb. Nellie's tracks are the middle ones.
After an epic run on Blackcomb Glacier

Nellie charging a groomer on Friday morning.

Dave shredding the gnar. Patent pending for the nose flap on the googles.

Nellie in the Bumps
On Wednesday morning at Whistler

Nellie with an Inukshuk at the top of Blackcomb (they're all over!)
Dave knows no shame. Luckily the rest of us weren't there to be embarrassed.
(He's lying on the glass floor of the peak-to-peak gondola)