Friday, January 20, 2012

The Cunuck Splitfest, Rogers Pass, BC

We left Lussier and headed north up-valley with the Purcell Mountains to the west and the Canadian Rockies to the east.  Huge mountains capped with gorgeous snow and quickly lessening depth towards the valley floor.  Let's hope the snow is here in Canada because it sure has been sparse since the San Jauns in Colorado.  In Radium Springs, BC we stopped by the visitor center and came to the second work by the Canadian version of the Civilian Conservation Corps.  The first was the amazing Lussier Hot Springs, this however was a beautiful 4' by 10' model of the valley and mountains we were currently driving through.  The detail and craftsmanship was topographically correct and really awed us into realizing how wild this country still is. 

We reached Golden and fueled up the car and our pantry.  I wish I could say that we didn’t have to gas the car again at $6/gallon, especially when the mpg turned out to be >15.  It was the beginning of our realization that Canada was gosh darn expensive. 

Driving west it became clear there was snow up here and that there was a ton of it.  Gaining an hour we arrived at the lodge around 1pm and we checked in at the Discovery center and purchased our park pass for the next 4 days which cost us $50.  We talked to the rangers and discussed avalanche danger and daily winter use permits.  Pretty neat system, they monitor the areas that empty onto the highway so that you can be held responsible if you trigger a slide that shuts down the highway.  To prevent this though they close areas that a skier could affect if the conditions warrant higher avalanche danger.  Though there are two corridors that lead deep into the valleys so no matter the danger you can still risk your life.  This link will show you a .pdf of the topo map and the areas i speak of, we headed west out from the Discover Centre and into the Mt. Urses Minor drainage area. 

As we headed into the pass we started driving under these snow shelters.  These are not places to park and wait out a storm, in fact during a storm this shelter would be a very scary place to be indeed!  Rather these are built to lessen the extent of avalanche cleanup, they are built over the road where 9000' mountains plunge into the valley and deposit their avalanche debris.  Another one we drove through, which had no lights was completely covered by snow.  The day light you see on the left in the above picture was absent, blocked by walls of snow.  This was terrible on the eyes from bright white to complete darkness, we couldn’t see a thing.   

The Discovery Centre had lots of historical information about the creation of the pass and the avalanche devastation that havocked the 18th century workers.  During the trans-Canada railroad building when British Columbia became part of Canada the BC representatives stipulated that the rail be built through the Rockies and Purcells and through to the port city of Vancouver.  In the centre they also had gorgeous models of the mountains depicting various eras and what the railroad, tunnels, and commercial road looked like.  Specifically during huge avalanche accidents where trains were buried 10' deep.  Other things they had on display were their avalanche control tools.  Above is a 2 1/2' tall shell used by the cannons pictured below with Hannah.  Let's say these did not encourage Hannah's confidence in our complete safety, rather questioned how big the trouble that we were walking into was. 

This area is called Avalanche ridge and when we arrived surprisingly enough it was closed.  But as we learned more about the skiable areas we realized that these giant slide paths are where we would like to be riding, since there are not actual ski slopes cut.  The snow was deep and unfortunately we didn’t get our cameras out until Sunday so the action shots are all in the Cheops tree area.  We had a lot of fun in there and thanks to Gary and Eva they set a beautiful skin track.  When we get it Gary got some amazing shots of Hannah and we will repost them then. 


You can see the depth of snow on top of the Discovery Centre behind me and to the left was a BCA beacon park to practice our beacon use skills.  On the ground is Hannah's demo for the day, she used a Prior AMF with Voile Track bindings and G3 skins.  The biggest improvement she found was the skins, they glided better and were much less bulky when stored.  Also they had the tail clips so the skins would not come off track.  I was able to demo a pair of Karakorum bindings, size Medium.  Well I expected them to feel a bit small and in the traverse my toes were hitting the ski on every step but the size did not bother me and I really enjoyed the straps, they held a lot better than my K2s.  What really stunk was that I mounted the binding and touring system without using lock-tight.  I had to stop 5 different times to tighten, realign, or completely put back on the hardware.  The feel sliding sideways with them was amazing; the board really did feel a million times stiffer and more responsive than I have ever felt on a splitty.  For $600 though, I think I'll try some Sparks before I decide on a different binding system than the slider plates. 

A beauty shot heading down a good pitch on Cheops. 

I'm liking the lichen. 


The display cannons covered by the recent snowfall. 

We love the snow. 

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