Man I look old and tired in this photo! Oh well, I guess that’s what happens when you get almost no sleep the night before an anticipated ski. Even though it’s June 1 today, this past week I knocked off the Middle Sister right here in Canmore. It’s kinda fun to do a ski that stares down at you every day. In the photo she’s right behind me.
For this mission I enlisted the partnership of Eric Groenevold, who actually is the son of a very good friend and competitior of mine (Jon). Eric had previously done the line a month ago, yet is pretty new to backcountry skiing and I think was glad to have me along.
We hit the trail at 5:30 A.M. for the requisite early start. It took 1.5 hours to get to the snow. Part of the hike entailed climbing up a gully with previous years avi debris to clamber over...a good reminder to play it safe. The whole time up we were quite sure we’d have to turn back as the forecasted cold night didn’t seem to really materialize. Patches of snow we attempted to walk over always gave way as we sunk down deep.
However, as we reached the snowline, crossing a recent avi slide, things began to harden up. Skiing up the moderate angled slope we constantly were checking the hardness of the snow. As long as we stayed in the shaded part of the mountain, things seemed good. The original ridge we’d planned on booting up was more in the sun and we began to ominously break through. So with a little beetle back over to the shade and what we felt was bomber, it was all a "go".
We elected to use crampons...a good decision. The boot packing was steep and though slipping wouldn’t be fatal, still not a good idea in the very firm conditions. It’d be a fast ride for sure!
The ski down was pretty uneventful. Fun, but not crazy. It’s funny because from the road this line looks incredibly steep and epic. Yet up close it’s just another black diamond run. It’s fun though to tell friends what you skied. They think you’re crazy. I shared the adventure with one of the official "Crazy Canucks" downhill aces, Jan Hudec. He thought I was studly, until I told him the truth.... "it looks a lot steeper from the road". Oh well, at least I’m honest.
So am I done for the year? It’s been a wonderful 8 month ski season. Maybe it’s time to dust off the bike, lube the chain and try some other stuff. However, after meeting with our federation president, the honourable Dave Dornian, I’m committing to go to World Skimo champs next year and being in the best absolute condition I can be in. The adventure continues!