Gallery shot (top) Ryan Creary,Nzsnowboarder Mag.
Article Splitboard magic, Wriiten by myself shot by Ryan Creary and Corbin Crimmins.
Backcountry Gearguide, down day at Icefall Lodge, Ryan Creary
Gallery shot (top) Ryan Creary,Nzsnowboarder Mag.
Article Splitboard magic, Wriiten by myself shot by Ryan Creary and Corbin Crimmins.
Backcountry Gearguide, down day at Icefall Lodge, Ryan Creary
Soo ended up driving down to Washington State early on a Sunday morning just as the first flakes of another Revelstoke dumpage began to fall. Twelve hours, two bags of jerky and one long interrogation at the border later we arrived at Crystal Mt to compete on stop three of the Freeride World Tour to be held in conjunction with the North Face Masters.
Monday morning dawned with a storm brewing which unfortunately wasn’t enough to cover to the rock solid rain crust that had formed all the way to the mountain tops! With one day before the finals the Tuesday was spent getting in touch with the challenging conditions and visually scoping lines on the finals venue, there was no inspection runs to be had so it all came down to reading the terrain from across the valley and flipping it around in your head to imagine how it looks from above.
Buddy Seb Grundin had made the trip down from Revelstoke also to compete, unfortunately after a solid run in the qualifiers he was denied entry into the finals for a minor washout! But he still had fun and came away with valuable competition experience. Shot bro big ups, look forward to see how you go at Kirkwood next month!
The finals day dawned bluebird, with one more chance to get the line visually sorted its hike on to get to the summit of The King for a drop in. Bit of visualising and mind tricks and time to drop in. The start gate dropped straight down into the gnarliest ice I ever seen in North America, control counts! Anyway my run didnt work out as planned so kept it in control and kept it fluid as much as possible.
Ended up placing 20th out of 42 in the North Face Finals which ended up equating to 6th for the FWT stop. Feel I could definitely have done better personally, forever learning! Thanks Seb for hooking a bro up with your camber board you saved my ass there! haha.
After prizegiving Sandy and I jumped back in the truck for another 12 hours sitting down. Was kind of easy as snow fell and snowbanks grew larger as we neared home in the early hours of morning.
A great experience and good learning curve seeing first hand how the worlds top freeriders get it done.
Winter in Revelstoke has kicked off in full form with unusually cold temps and early snows hammering down early in Novenber and continuing ever since! I was fortunate to be asked straight back into my previous job here finishing the mansion on the Resort. Great to make some coin again!
Mid December saw a massive storm roll in while Gord Spurgeon, Corbin Crimmins and myself drove to the middle of nowhere to wait for a helicopter that didn’t show up. After sucessfully eating the day away we resided in Vernon for the night before flying into Sol Mountain Lodge the next morning.
Sol Mountain is a backcountry lodge nestled deep in the Monashee Mountains with all the creature comforts of home and endless backcountry touring at your doorstep. The day spent sitting around saw a fluffy 45cm of dry white goodness fall to earth setting the week up nicely (it continued to snow 20cm each day for the next three days). Needless to say shit was blower as we got to work scouting tree lines and doing our best to capture the essence of Sol Mountain on film. Bit of a learning curve for myself being a newbie to the splitboard game, definately an energy efficient way to score the goods! Days went by rising super early to the chirp of our turbo guide Aaron Cooperman, shovelling breakfast down and packing lunch before launching out the door for another day spent scoping and shooting whatever took our liking. With snow this dry and deep anything slightly resembling a turn turned into a trip to the white room, try that mach ten through the trees and you want a good memory. For the record I do like trees.
Days ended skinning home in the dark back to a warm lodge, gourmet meals and a drink to the day.
Our last day at Sol dawned sunny with not a breath of wind and a snowpack that was finally settling down a bit. We had our chance to get some alpine style lines.
A great trip, thank you to Vshaw Productions for the opportunity, Sol Mountain for having us for the week and Gord, Corbin and Vance for good times.
Hi peeps . . . . .a quick update on my upcoming season in North America . . . . .
The wildcard entry I gained from ‘winning’ the ‘Freeride Series of New Zealand’ allows me to enter into the Freeride World Tour stage at Crystal Mountain USA. It will likely be streamed on thenorthfacemasters.com or freerideworldtour.com on the 7th of Feb 2011 so write it down, crack a beer and have a laugh. Will do my best, these guys are the best in the world so I’m not expecting to do well but will have fun smashing pow and learning a thing or two from the pros.
Other news is I will be filming on ‘Powder Highway’ for ex-Teton Gravity Research filmer Vance Shaw, making a documentary ski/snowboard film on the Kootenay mountains area and its culture. It’ll require alot of time cat skiing, snowmobiling, staying in backcountry lodges, touring, helicopters and in general a lot of epic powder freeriding. Tough work. It’s projected to be released late this year. I will post teasers and clips as it happens.
So far the season has been epic in Revelstoke, loads of fresh pow nearly everyday it seems to fall, town is a pile of white! Been lucky to ride with a bunch of super motivated peeps and learn a thing or two from them also.
Waitin for the sun to shine and snow to stable itself up, looking forward to get into some big lines around here.
Catch you soon
http://www.chillout.co.nz/news.php#a_121_K2 Big Mountain CHILL Series event round-up and results.
http://www.chillout.co.nz/news.php#a_122_Black Diamond Big Mountain Competition with CHILL round-up and results.
http://www.freerideworldtour.com/fwq11-snb-men.html current Freeride World Tour Ranking
Once the winter season came to an end in the northern hemisphere it was time to get down to work and make some coin for a change although working on a multi million dollar holiday home on Revelstoke mountain resort never really felt like a job! Summer is fun there definitely a year round destination with tonnes to do for the adventurous kind. Fishing is especially good even right in town and the local rock climbing crags boast endless climbing routes on good rock. Cheers Chris and Gee for getting a newbie hooked. Unfortunately the time came to pack my gears and say a sad goodbye leaving my lovely girlfriend Sandy behind to hold the fort for a couple of months. Thanks Sandy for being an understanding partner and being ever supportive! A quick 8 hour bus ride, and 18 hours flying later put me back on home turf. Good to see the family again but only a couple of days at home to do a few interior mods to make the trusty Toyota Caldina wagon livable, pick up sweet new gears from Nitro and 3CS outerwear and hit the road south, pick up Chill pass in Churr churr and straight to Temple Basin carpark.
Temple Basin is a low-key club field situated an hours walk from the summit of Arthurs Pass. You wont find any of the mod cons of busy commercial fields – nutcracker tows and natural grooming keep the crowds away, and a helping hand is pretty much expected each day. The natural terrain here tho, is enough to keep the keenest rider busy for a very long time, the entire month I spent there it never got tracked out. Good times! For those of you wondering what the heck a nutcracker is, it’s a harness you wear with a clamp-like device attached to the harness that you somehow fling around the rope and hang on. On the ride up you have to feed the device through pulleys keeping the rope in line and do your best not to get anything caught in the pulleys!
The team at Temple Basin are super friendly and upon settling into the groove and becoming helpful I was able to stay on as a volunteer for the remainder of my time there.
Unfortunately I learnt the hard way not to leave any gear in your car in the carpark as its right next to the highway and a great opportunity for passing dickheads to help themselves. Luckily I still had my riding gear, a pair of shorts, 3 t-shirts, and vital underwear and sleeping bag with me at Temple Basin so enough to continue on! A shitty situation but however I couldn’t have been in a better place. Scoring 20cms of dry NZ pow with 6 other people lapping the tow quickly puts a smile back in place! For future reference check with the Info Centre in Arthurs Pass – they will show you good places to park your car safely.
Much thanks to the team at Temple Basin for great times – Todd, Juliet, Ben, Jo, Bruce, Stan, Elliot, Sam, Jase, Gordy, Mary, Team Shovel on any particular day, and everyone who came along for good times! You create a magical vibe unique to any skifield anywhere!
The Chill Series came along quick toward the end of August. Five days set aside for competition – two at Craigeburn Valley, two at Mt Olympus and one weather day. This year being a Freeride World Tour Qualifier Event, a heavy contingent of Euros had assembled for a culture shock, along with a talented line up of Kiwi riders and skiers. Day one got underway with one inspection run through Middle Basin chutes and one judged score for qualifiers. The snow was hard and well tracked out making smooth riding a trick in itself. All went well with my qualifying run taking a flowing technical line, it was enough to qualify in first place through to the finals. Day two was a weather day with mega winds, so ol’ mate Travis Donaldson decided his Daihatsu rental was up to 4wd duties. A hard day on the handbrake turned the shiny 1.3 litre from gold to brown, along with some close shaves with slow-moving fence posts it passed the day in quite an entertaining fashion. A top up with supplies and it was back to the carpark campground for another night in the wagon. Day three dawned clear and the finals were on. Two runs – best one counts – on the first run I ran my qualifier line and stuck it solid, second run pushed it hard to better my score but came unstuck taking the transition bit too deep on the final cliff section. First run was enough to take first place! Awesome.
On to Mt Olympus that same night, interesting times getting up there! to say the least. To get to the upper lodge you have to go via a nutcracker tow – try this in the pitch dark on an unfamiliar tow loaded with gear! Next day dawned patchy and with weather deteriorating it was eventually called off and the final day moved to the Little Alaska Zone. With a forecast looking worse for the final day a bunch of us cut loose in the bottom hut so it could have been expected to dawn bright and sunny. It did. By the time we got up there the clouds in our heads moved skyward and continued to build during the morning, allowing for only a brief glimpse of the amazing terrain Olympus’ has on offer before fully socking in and bringing an end to the comp. Scores from Craigeburn counted overall so ended up winning the Chill Series, a bit of much needed cash and a Helipark Pass added for overall domination at Craigeburn! Good times had by all at both resorts and special thanks to Team Euro (a bunch of sick Austrian and German freeriders and freeskiers who like eating zee roadkill) and Emi and Kate Earl for letting me show up with the Euros and have a much needed shower and do laundry! Thanks heaps! Check Team Euros video teaser here.
Click here for full video coverage of the Chill series.
With only a week to go before the Black Diamond event at Temple Basin and a return north it was time to put that Helipark pass to good use! A quick call to confirm Wednesday was looking good and get directions and it’s all go. Helipark is a heliski/ride resort just south of Mt Hutt inland about 40 minutes. The terrain is controlled by explosives which is unique to heli operations which normally cover a wide uncontrolled area. The benefit here being you can ride wherever you like from drop-off point to pick-up point, let your imagination go wild on the fly up and do it on the way down! Superfun. Wednesday dawned clear as forecast and after a huge breakfast the crew turned up and we got a full safety briefing. The chopper flew in to land in the paddock next to us and I’m luckily chosen to go on the first flight up. The flight up is amazing. The valley unfolds before you to reveal the terrain available for the day. Before I can take all it in we’re unloading upon one of the higher peaks. The chopper disappears leaving an intense silence, five people atop a mountain, 30 cms dry pow and no tracks. Brilliant. We are told what aspects might avalanche (and that it’s quite possible in today’s conditions) and we pair up going one at a time. Yeah it’s good fun – I fully recommend the experience over a day at a busy commercial field!
The Chinese Nike 6.0/Mellow Parks crew were up enjoying the day too. They had been filming their NZ adventures and put together an awesome clip of their trip down under. Interestingly they run the Mellow Park 40 minutes out from downtown Beijing where natural snowfall is rare and the terrain is not what we call mountainous. Their trip to NZ was the first time most of them had seen/ridden mountains! They were like kiddies in a candy store, loving it! It’s neat to see different facets of snowboarding coming together like this.
On the next two drops I got first hit off peaks in the valley being reassured it’s not usually the first person down that sets off a slide, it’s the second or third. I feel dubious but do it anyway to let rip on some fun lines. Unfortunately for the second or third guys it did avalanche! They were ok tho no one got hurt just taken for a ride and shaken up and understandably so! Last run of the day we got dropped in a new valley head with true big mountain riding terrain laid out underneath. A quick check to see if it’s actually safe enough to ride, and an all clear given with advice to point it out the end and not to turn much at any point to minimise triggering a slide – uh huh – had to be done tho and definitely a highlight of my time riding in New Zealand. It really opened my eyes to a new style of riding, super keen for more! Thanks heaps Helipark for an amazing experience and everyone there that day!
After an epic day it was straight track to Christchurch for a rendezvous with ol’ mate Jordan Decker for the trip to Temple Basin. Cheers Sol for the accom in Chch! Our drive to Temple was welcomed with fat snowflakes falling well before Arthurs Pass, a sketchy drive up to the Temple goods lift ensued just before the road closed. It was a quick unload and careful drive back to hide the car in Arthurs Pass. Thumbs out we scored a ride with Paul the friendly snowplow driver to the Temple Basin track. It’s a hard hike to start with but in a blizzard with a foot of fresh snow its a bit trickier tho it’s good to see this amount of snow falling. The Temple lodge is a welcome sight an hour later when the new snow tops our knees by this point! Good to be back among the Temple Basin crew that night and anticipation builds for the coming day! Seriously, when the snow is good at Temple the terrain is that much better – it goes off!
Two days later it cleared sufficiently to open the top tow once Team Shovel worked their magic on the walking track. Good fun for sure, some of the driest pow I’ve personally sampled in NZ hands down. That night we experienced the Christchurch earthquake, still a violent shake even out at Arthur Pass! Next day was the Black Diamond Big Mountain event. With a premium 40 cms fresh snow to play with and a sunny day it was going to be good. We didn’t realise the magnitude of the quake at that stage. It turned out a lot of people stayed home that day opting to clean up the mess instead. So with a limited field of competitors it didn’t feel like a comp any more with the 40 or so competitors enjoying the good conditions and sending it just cos they could! Ended up taking 2nd there. Sad to farewell the Temple Basin crew up there but for sure paths will meet again somewhere someday.
We leave the next morning seeing first hand the damage the quake has done, amazing no one was killed. A long drive followed non-stop to Ohakune – good to get there! Cheers Rodger for early morning floor spaces, legend! We came up for the Export 33 Xtreme event on Whakapapa’s Pinnacles. The highest points accumulated from this and the Chill Series will get a wildcard Freeride World Tour entry. Once again Pete and Mary at One Stop Ski shop in Owhango got hard to work repairing a sad looking board. By this stage it had four inches of steel edge ‘floating’ off the sidewall. Needing edges on the Pinnacles, Pete worked his magic late into the night and rising early to get it ready for the next day. Cheers Pete, you’re a good fella! I owe you more than just a case of beer for that! Good thing he did a good job too cos a solid rain crust had formed making staying on edge vital! The snow never really released and after waiting as long as I could and seeing many people wipe out I decided taking a lame run and doing it clean could still do okay in these conditions enough to get enough points for the wildcard. So after two icy as runs each it came down to not wiping out! I placed 3rd and gained the wildcard entry for points overall from the Chill series and Export Xtremes. Stoked!
That’s really a brief rundown of my New Zealand season. Thanks to everyone along the road – you make it what it is. Also to Sandy for being so very patient (I will be home soon) and to my family cos I couldn’t do it without your support! Thanks Paul Crosby and Kaimai Sports for the Nitro/3CS hookup. For now, its a couple of jobs to do here then back to Canada, back to Sandy, a job asap, and get ready for another awesome Revelstoke winter.
Scotty (John Carolin Photo)
Two years ago I spent the winter riding around the resort town of Banff, at the time I never thought I’d attempt riding the 2998m face of Cascade Mountain towering over the town. It has been ridden twice by snowboarders both times climbed from the front side. I had mind ridden the face spotting a way off the overhanging cornice at the top, picking through the maze of cliffs, chutes and definite no fall zones to the avalanche run-out far below. February 2010 saw the opportunity to actually ride it come to fruition..
Good friend Dan Leonn called me up wondering what I was up to in the next few days, apart from snowboarding I had not a lot going so when he mentioned his friend had pulled out of Cascade face and he was looking for someone keen to attempt it. I figured it’d be a good scare and of course, fun, im in!
Dan has tried to ski the face of cascade for a couple of years now with the window for weather and snow stability rarely coinciding it has so far eluded him. Preparation would be key to safety and apart from having many avalanche courses, being well experienced in backcountry travel, rock climbing and mountaineering procedures Dan went all out hiring a heli to scope a safe route through the face and planning the ascent/descent meticulously leaving as little to chance. Dan’s good friend Tom would be our eyes from the ground in town with a hands free radio system between the three of us to safely guide us down. Safety measures in place it still doesn’t guarantee the summit with snow conditions, higher altitude and exposure to elements would need to be taken into consideration on the ascent.
Ol mate Andrew Worthington was couch surfing at ourplace at the time and was due to return to Banff. I threw all the bits and pieces together I would need and few hours later we arrived in Banff with the high face of Cascade hiding under a veil of darkness. A catchup with a few old buddies was in order and a few beers followed that night. Next day weather was perfect sunny no wind and near zero temps (feb temps regularly reach -20 and lower), Cascade face looked a lot bigger than Id remembered.
After a hearty breakfast and team meeting to get the low down we decided the best way to go about it is to go by the ‘we are going for a walk and maybe get to go riding’ ethos. Over determination can produce bad decision-making when time and conditions are pushed at higher altitudes.
After loading up in the Norquay car park we set off along a cross-country trail before splitting boards and donning skins for the arduous climb to the amphitheatre (high valley basin) behind Cascade Mountain. Three hours and numerous switchbacks get the job done, enough time I hoped to get accustomed to skinning before the real climb tomorrow. Huge leap patterns, massive paw prints and thick tail drag marks in the soft snow confirm a cougar is around making for an added burst of energy! The day was still fresh so we decided to ditch packs and skin the sunny side of the amphitheatre above the tree line. A few hundred feet above the valley floor and we had a good open run below us and a view of the exposed ridge
we needed to climb tomorrow. A few long pow turns later we are back at our packs and I decide this split board fells very different to what I usually ride, hmm..
In the deep valley bottom the sun is well gone and temperature is dropping rapidly so we pack down snow for a tent base and set up camp. Dehydrated chili beans mix is possibly not the best choice for three guys overnighting in a tiny tent, but after an open fire and 2 hippers of whiskey and yagey the gas storm eventually resides and we retreat to warmer prospects. Taking snowboarding boots off were not an option as they tend to freeze solid, hunkering down for the night in full clothing, jacket, survival blanket, in winter sleeping bag and water bottles in the sleeping bag to prevent them freezing. A reasonably cosy night followed.
Next morning we awake later than we should. By the time we pack up our gear and load Tom up its already nearly 9 o’clock. Great work Tom you are a legend, carrying all the extra gear back down from the amphitheatre to Norquay looking like an overloaded mule must have been some task, not to mention fresh cougar tracks and being alone, thanks bro!
From the amphitheatre upwards we break trail in 2 feet of loose sugary snow following the ridge towards Cascade summit, it is a relief to break out of the tree line making picking a route easier on the exposed ridge. On the right there is a steepening snow face sloping towards a series of cliffs, on the left is 600 feet of pure down. The safest route is close to the left side shy of the cornice! 200 feet below the first spur in the ridge the snow thins and its on foot for now. The rocks below are thin, flat and the flat side points downhill making this part extra slow, often finding a large enough crack in the rock under the snow to walk up being the easiest way. By the time we reach the spur summit it is already near noon.
A quick lunch and a discussion we plan to drop down over the spur and continue up the ridge back on skins. Being a snowboarder having to skin like a skier shimmying around a series of exposed rock ledges is not the easiest especially with a steep face below ending in sheer bluffs. A bit of teeth gritting got the job done.
We found a similar aspect of snow to that of Cascade face and dug a snow pit to evaluate the snow stability, after close scrutiny of layers and a predetermined turn around point on the stability test the test passes and we continue up the ridge that opens up on a wide steep face narrowing at the top to the windswept rock exposed 5th peak. We needed to pass by under this peak using a series of rock bolts and harnesses and rappelling each other around in stages safely as the exposure here is massive. Beyond the 5th peak and halfway to the 4th is a high ridge leading toward the ‘summit’ with a cornice on the right overhanging the drop in point for our planned descent. To get over this safely I would have to anchor myself and rappel Dan over to the cornice where he could cut an entry through it and go ahead to ski cut the face below. All going well to there we could begin the planned descent.
Halfway up the face to the 5th peak the snow once again runs out and its back on foot this time its a mix of smooth rock and shingle making going very slow and hard especially in the thin air now requiring frequent stops. It is now 2.30 in the afternoon very close to our turn around time of 3 o’clock, we have a quick rest and collect our thoughts.
Its getting late. There is a long way to go yet with the most time-consuming part yet to come and if we get to the drop in point and the snow is not stable enough to ride the face we could end up spending a night on the exposed ridge, not a nice thought up there. A building veil of high cloud over western skies and smooth clouds doming distant peaks indicate high-speed high altitude winds and an approaching weather system. In the end it is an easy decision although hard at the same time after the mammoth effort it takes to climb this far. A call is put through to Tom to say we are turning around, he’s disappointed for us and understands our decision. I assemble the split board to a more familiar design and Dan clicks in his skis, a careful walk down to the snow face rewards us with a handful of big, fat, fast turns. Then around the rock ledges, a short walk over some shallow snow, a few more easy turns down the next face before hiking up the spurr face wallowing through steep waist deep sugar snow and clambering over rocks to gain the spurr summit again, it takes 20 mins to walk less than 50metres here. Down from the spurr we walk carefully down the ridge with the flat rocks pointing the wrong way and keeping to our previous tracks untill the snow becomes thicker then its strap in and ride the ridge enjoying some hard-earned vert into the trees and putting that awful ridge behind us! We find the skin track and hightail it out of cougarville down to the river all in about 25mins. A good drink from the creek and split the board again, skins on and an easy 3km skin back to Norquay in fading afternoon light. The entire descent took us 1 and a half hours and its a good feeling to be down safe.
Further reflection over a jug of cold beer brings us to conclude why we didn’t make it in time, a mixture of unpreparedness, snow conditions and late start. But its ok we are safe and there will be another time. Right from the start we said “we are going for a walk and we might go riding” we did ride, although not the face we aimed for, it will have to wait for another day when conditions allow another crack at it.
Thank you Dan And Tom for the amazing opportunity, I hope there will be many more to come! Cheers Andy for the ride and couch and Bails for lending the splitboard even after I told you where I was going! Cheers
Revelstoke gets a lot of snow! What better way to use spare snow and time than to build yer own backyard park, here are a few pics from home!