Monthly Archives: January 2012
Are you heading into the backcountry this winter?
Canada West Mountain School is offering 2-day AST-1 courses for snowshoers:
“Avalanche safety skills for those who travel in the backcountry on snowshoes.
This course is specifically designed to address the needs of recreational snowshoers who want to ensure they are staying safe in the backcountry.
One theory session is held on the morning of Day-1, followed by a field session in the afternoon.
On Day-2, you will head to a different location for further field training and practice, followed by a final wrap-up theory session.”
The courses are offered at Mount Seymour and cost $210.
If you are interested in joining me on one of these courses, let me know.
The next available dates are: February 4-5 or 18-19 or March 3-4 or 17-18.
If you really need a reason for taking such a course, check out these frightening videos (especially the second one): http://www.wildsnow.com/6640/small-avalanches/
For more information, please check:
We did a trip up to Garibaldi Provincial Park and checked out the road conditions up to the trail head. The road up from Brackendale (just north of Squamish) was well packed and mostly sanded. Four-wheel drive was all we needed until we got to a section where a sign indicated that chains were mandatory (steeper and unsanded). Not having chains, we parked at the chain-up area along with quite a few other cars and walked the last 3 kilometres of road to the trail head. Note to self: buy chains before next weekend’s trip!
Once at the trail head (where all the clever ones with chains had parked), we put on our snowshoes and headed up the mountain. The trail was great and plenty of backcountry AT skiers, splitboarders and snowshoers were coming and going – all having a great time .
We didn’t have time to get too high up before having to turn around and head back down the mountain.
Next Saturday we will get up to Red Heather shelter and maybe even Elfin Lake!
BTW…we found that Valhalla Pure Outfitters (right near the main intersection into Squamish) rents
MSR Evo Ascent showshoes for only $10 a day!
Anyone that wants to come next time…just give a holler.
We’re looking at going out tomorrow and again on February 4, 11 & 25.
We’ll probably hit the trail into the Diamond Head area tomorrow. Nothing too aggressive, just a recon and conditioning trip.
We’ll probably leave around 9 or 10 am and be back by dinner time at the latest.
For the moment, you will need your own gear.
FYI: Vertical Reality Sports in Squamish rents snowshoes for $13/day
(604-982-8248 – ask for Pat or Donna).
Here’s the latest copy of the trail report for this area:
Well, look what found their way into my briefcase at the NSA Group Commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday night (10 sets to be precise).
October 16, 2011: Black Mountain Done → Scouters Jody & Maciej with Scouts Wojtek, Simon & Conner.
I just noticed that REI has MSR snowshoes on sale for 20-40% off.
This is a great deal for anyone in the market for an excellent pair of snowshoes.
UPDATE: Feb. 13, 2012 – Wow….all the “Evos” and “Ascents” are gone!
Mother Nature sure was busy at Joffre Lake Provincial Park since our last camp up there in November.
To see the difference in the snow level at our campsite at Lower Joffre Lake, compare the two photos below of the branchless tree stump that sits at the back of the main camping area (yeah, it’s that little knob in the foreground of the picture on the right). There was about 3-4 feet of snow on the ground in November and another 3-4 feet of fresh pow on top of that during our second trip.
Snowshoes are going to be mandatory for all our future backcountry camps.
UPDATE: Well, as of February 17, 2012…..the stump is basically covered by the accumulated snowfall:
January 21-22, 2012
Since last fall when we heard that there was to be a North Shore Area Winter Camporee at the Cal-Cheak forest service camp just south of Whistler scheduled for this weekend, our troop had been looking forward to getting out in the snow with other scouts from our area. Unfortunately, that camp failed to materialize.
We planned an alternative two night camp for Mount Seymour only to have the weather turn on us; the freezing level raised above the height of all of the north shore mountains and heavy rain was forecast.
Not to worry, Joffre Lake Provincial Park is always ready to greet us with perfect snow conditions!
Unfortunately, as the weekend came near, many of the troop were struck by illnesses and some had conflicts with their commitments.
In the end, Scouter Jason and I decided to head up Saturday morning with Scouts Simon and Max for an overnighter. The normal almost three-hour drive up to Joffre took nearly five hours that day due to the traffic mayhem caused by the overnight storm on the Sea to Sky highway.
We were rewarded for our perseverance, however, with perfect conditions! Mild (-5° c degree average) temperatures, loads of fresh powder snow and blue skies above the mountains greeted us upon our arrival. On Saturday night, the skies cleared totally and we extinguished our headlamps to witness a fantastic night sky above the mountains accented by shooting stars.
Simon and I had new MSR mountaineering snowshoes to making trail blazing and campsite stomping a much more efficient exercise (totally needed with the nearly 4 feet of powder snow that had fallen on our campsite since our last visit in November). Even with 30″ snowshoes on, I sometimes found myself sinking up to my knees in the fresh pow.
Our only complaint was that we didn’t have a second night to enjoy our campsite and the chance to hike higher up into the mountains.
Oh well, that’s what next time is for…
Note: Click on a picture to start a full screen carousel slide show with captions.
January 10, 2012
Sometimes you have to change your plans when conditions change.
After checking the weather forecast this morning, I did just that. The forecast called for totally clear skies over the North Shore for the evening and I already knew that we had a full moon this week. That was enough to put out the call to the troop: scratch the regular meeting in the church – it’s time for our monthly night hike on Cypress!
We had perfect conditions and everyone really enjoyed our moonlit tour of Cypress. The biggest change since the last time we did this was the addition of all the night lighting and trail grooming for the cross-country skiers. We had to walk single file along the edge of the trails that we were used to being the sole users of at that time of night. Not tonight though. Dozens and dozens of skiers zoomed by us as we hiked along. Many were participating in an organized race.
We stopped at the Upper Warming Hut as usual and enjoyed a short break before heading back down the mountain into the bright lights of the Cypress Nordic Ski Area and then home.
Note: Click on the first picture to start a full screen carousel slide show of the pictures with captions.