Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Skaha - something completely different

Waiting for summer to arrive got boring, so we went and found it in the interior of BC. Amazingly, Penticton is only 5 hours from Vancouver... but the weather was like this all the time:

I wrote things on the Fig Rolls blog here, Paul wrote things on his blog here, and Jacek put photos here. I think that is all that needs to be said.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Manatee Glacier ski touring

Paul and I just got back from 5 days touring around the Manatee Glacier here in BC. We were supposed to go to Mount Waddington but like the weather, and in fact because of the weather, things change. Paul and I met up with Jasmin on the island and stayed over at Marc and Nikki's place... then early the next morning drove up to Campbell River to meet the rest of the group plus Cliff and Jan from Island Alpine Guides. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas and the first flight couldn't land on the glacier due to poor visibility. So, we drove back to the ferry and went home to Vancouver to wait for better weather. The new plan was to fly from Pemberton (so no more ferries for us) on Saturday morning, which meant we could go to the pub on Friday night. Three hours sleep later we loaded up the car and drove to Pemberton, where the clouds were clearing. However, the clouds still seemed to remain in my head...

Suitably refreshed, and with the weather looking good we flew into the Manatee Glacier and set up basecamp...

For the next 5 days we toured around the area from the base camp each day, guided by Cliff and Jan. Despite being quite a big group (11 of us including Cliff and Jan) we got around pretty smoothly with amazing view all around us. As the first trip Cliff and Jan had guided together there were plenty of experiments, including the $99 "Skeena" kitchen tent. We had a sweepstake on when it would blow away, but amazingly it survived and had enough room for us all to pile in there to eat.

From the second day we started the hunt for the elusive corn snow. I've never skied real corn snow in the backcountry before as you have to have the right combination of cold nights to freeze the snow pack, followed by a sunny morning to get the surface melting, then you're in for quite an experience. The melted surface holds a ski edge really well but is incredibly smooth and fast... like a groomed run in a ski resort but covering the whole mountain side. A few thousand vertical feet of that got some excellent telemark thigh-burn going.

Returning to Pemberton felt strange after the solitude of the mountains. We hadn't seen any other signs of human life (other than a couple of aeroplanes passing overhead) the whole time. Despite spending most of my weekends in the snow through the winter it felt good to have really got out there for a few days. It's hard to believe how close you really are to home (in a straight line) when you're out there. Back in Vancouver the readjustment to suburban life was quick and Paul and I headed out for a mountain bike ride in the evening from Port Moody, stopped at Leo and Karen's for beer... and then got a take away pizza. You can't do that up on the glacier.

Here are my photos, here are Paul's photos, and here are Jasmin's photos.

Big Friday

Friday the 18th April 2008 is a day I think I'll remember for a while. It was my last day of work (in this job anyway) which had been preceded by a week of packing up the flat to move out (on the 18th) , and fly to the UK (on the 18th). Added fun was provided by the cable company who accidentally disconnected the internet and phone from the flat a week early... forcing me to work from various nice cafes on Main Street which have wireless internet. Oh, the hardship. To cut a long story short, I finished work, moved out, and got on the plane (eventually).

First stop was London, which was conveniently where the plane landed. I made a tour of Raynes Park, Hammersmith, and the King's Road meeting up with Sarah and Luke, Dave, Fiona, and Will from school days, and Alex from Victoria. Thanks to everyone for the beds to sleep in and the company... it was great to see you all.

The next stop on my tour was Oxford to visit my Grandma and meet Mum. Along the way we saw the Headington Shark, which recently celebrated its 21st birthday. Happy Birthday Shark.
The next few days we spent back and forth between my Mum's place and Oxford before I headed up to Sheffield, en route to the main event of the trip. The main event was Emma and Marcus' wedding, which was near Brighton, so Sheffield wasn't really on the way between Southampton and there... but it was the way I did it. As usual a fine time was had in Sheffield, starting off with an evening at the BMX track, followed by the pub, curry, Mark's birthday, Pete's band, the pub again, more curry, road biking, the pub again... and a long drive down to Brighton.

Despite growing up not far along the coast from Brighton I don't remember ever having been there before. It was all very English and pretty, with views like this:

People like this:

...and lighthouses like this:

Emma and Marcus' wedding was a lot of fun... most of Sheffield seemed to have been transplanted to the south coast and it was great to see everyone. The venue was really great too, and even had an outdoor (unheated) swimming pool, which certain people may have ended up in later in the evening. Emma and Marcus managed to say the right things at the right time, the ring didn't get lost, and now they are Mr and Mrs... congratulations and thanks for inviting us!