Jan 12 2010

Was it something we said?

Last night as we went to bed confidence was high. The stars were out, a cool wind was blowing and even though the snow near our lodge could best be described as creme brulee (a thin crust with soft stuff beneath it) we felt tomorrow held great promise. Unfortunately, like the best laid plans of mice and men, it clouded up in the middle of the night and at four in the morning  started to rain. By eight it had turned to snow but with temperatures hovering around freezing, the helicopter was a no go for the day. The rain that did fall also significantly raised the avalanche danger which in turn severely reduced the terrain available by cat. The staff here rose to the occasion by holding an impromptu avalanche training course and then managed to find some terrain that was safe to ski. There was even some deep powder to be had for short shots and the heavy snow made for a good workout. All in all they did the best they could to salvage the day and we’re all grateful for that. The bigger concern is that it’s still misting/snowing and unclear as to whether tomorrow will be any different. So we’ve all promised to be good and never do again whatever has caused this to happen but only time will tell if our prayers will be answered…


Jan 11 2010

No more pineapple!

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My temporary home sweet home

Now I love Hawaii as much as the next guy. I’ve had many a fine vacation in that tropical paradise. But when I’m visiting British Columbia I don’t want anything associated with the Hawaiin Islands particularly something known as the “Pineapple Express”. This term refers to a weather pattern where warm moist tropical gets funneled directly from Hawaii to British Columbia. While moisture is generally a good thing, the warm air that comes with it is not and can lead to rain throughout the BC mountains in the middle of January. I have experienced this phenomena before and it’s not a pretty thing. Unfortunately the area I’m visiting right now is in the middle of this pattern and while we’re fortunate it’s not warm enough to rain, it has made the snow very heavy and more importantly has caused a lot of fog which makes flying a helicopter quite problematic.

nice accomodations

nice accomodations

This year our group chose a new venue for our annual helitrip – Snowwater. Like all the heli and cat places I’ve visited in BC, it is very nice, with comfy rustic lodges, great food and wonderful staff who cater to your every wish. What they can’t do however, is change the weather. They do have the benefit of having a snowcat that they use when they can’t fly but they can only ski the local terrain for so long before it starts getting skiied out which is not a term I want to be using on a helitrip.

Looking for freshies

Looking for freshies

For most of the day we played hunt and peck with the helicopter and the fog. It would look like it was clearing, so we’d get in the heli but by the time we got to the top of the hill the fog would close in again preventing us from getting any distance from the lodge. We did get some good shots at the top of the runs but eventually everything would funnel back towards the lodge where the terrain would start to look more like your local ski hill than your typical heli paradise. Eventually we switched to the cat for our last run which was actually one of the better runs of the day as we accessed some terrain that had not yet been skied this year.

the happy camper in the cat

the happy camper in the cat

For those of you that know me, it will come as no surprise that I was less than thrilled with the conditions. Fortunately, I was able to remember that I was incredibly blessed do be doing a trip like this in the first place and it is still a lot of fun to ski with a bunch of folks as dedicated to chasing powder as I am. On every trip like this I meet really nice people whom I exchange snow stories and info with usually in the hot tub or over a delicious meal so I got that going for me. But if you know any weather prayers, please say one for me as I will only be here for four days and sure would like to see what these incredible mountains have to offer.