Thursday, March 24, 2011

Liquid Courage and Beer Goggles: two new runs at Valhalla Mountain Touring

The day had gone so well, maybe that was the problem. My Mum was up at Valhalla Mountain Touring to visit and ski while I worked as the lodge custodian for a self-guided group. I had had my eye on an unskied couloir for the whole season, and stability and weather were looking good, so I figured we'd ski it together since it didn't appear steep or difficult. Just a pretty rock-lined narrow powder run in a beautiful setting. As I parked us on the exposed ridge that leads into the run, my Mum started having second thoughts. "Hey Jas, I need some liquid courage" she said, laughing. I passed her a beat up brandy-filled chocolate from the bottom of my trail mix bag and she washed it down with some black tea from her small thermos (she doesn't drink water while out ski touring) and was ready to rip.

We dropped into the line, which had great snow and beautiful overhanging rock walls on either side of it. When we got to the bottom, I asked her what she wanted to call it, and she decided on "Liquid Courage".

First run of the day - some powder turns to warm up for the goods

Benny and Bella dropping in on Liquid Courage

My Mum shredding

With plenty of daylight and energy left, we began touring up to ski another run in the same cirque as our newly discovered gem. To the left of Liquid Courage, a steep snow headwall loomed that looked skiable with great snow. Enter the Beer Goggles. See, from the uptrack the run looked like Jake Gyllenhaal - sexy, with just the right amount of scruffiness. When we peeled our skins and I dropped in to the entry I realized it was actually Seth Rogen, all scruffy, no sexy. Way steeper than I had thought and with my first few turns I kicked off a thin windslab, leaving firmer snow beneath. Knowing that she was not psyched for the sustained mid-40 degree pitch with firm snow, my Mum skinned back to where she could access some mellower terrain, and I did the walk of shame down "Beer Goggles", partially loving the steepness of the run, but feeling bad that I had misjudged the severity of the terrain. We enjoyed a few more good runs, before heading back to the cosy staff quarters at VMT, ending our day as all good days in the mountains should end, with wine, tasty food and a warm fire.

Just another first descent for Benny, at the bottom of Beer Goggles in flat light

My partner in crime for the day, the coolest mother ever!

Friday, March 18, 2011

VIMFF Best of the Fest

If you want to see a slideshow about my Greenland trip last summer, I am presenting it at the VIMFF Best of the Fest Wed March 30 at the Pacific Cinemateque in Vancouver.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Precious days in the mountains

Here's a video Evan put together from our last few days of touring at VMT. Pretty exceptional snow. The recent loss of a friend and fellow guide reminded us to savour every turn because you never know how many days on this amazing earth are left. Hope you're skiing endless pow and climbing perfect rock somewhere, Andrew.