Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy (nearly) New Year

2009 is nearly here and I'm in Nelson with Paul, Suzanne, Krista, Kala, Jasmin, Claire, Meaghan, Dave, and Geraldine... playing in the snow and enjoying the quaint and quirky delights of the place.

Paul and I drove over on Boxing Day and got a shot ski tour in on Hummingbird Ridge before the others arrived. The snow was cold and light, but resting on top of not a lot... making skiing a little treacherous. We ran into some locals out there and got to share the trail breaking.

Once the whole gang were together we skied a day at the Whitewater ski area just outside town, then yesterday headed up onto Kootenay Pass and toured into the Ripple Ridge cabin. It was a great little place and gave us a spot to practice beacon searches and make cups of tea. We hiked up onto the ridge and skied back down through the forest. Breaking trail through the deep and increasingly heavy snow was tough going, but it's rewarding to look back and see everyone skiing up the foot deep trench you plowed up the hill. We finished of the night with a game of "Poopy Cat"... a Japanese game which seems to have an unfortunate translation in English. You have to draw pictures, pass them on and then the next person writes what they think is going on... then the next person sees that description and draws another picture, and so on. "A fox in the popcorn breaks hearts". Apparently.

Today we had a slow start and plentiful faff then got ourselves to the non-massive town of Salmo to ski on their tiny ski hill. I love these places, really cheap, really friendly, great snow... and loads of fun. Paul had his camera out and caught me off the ground.

The snow is still falling and 2009 is only a day way. Have a great time, whatever you do, and wherever you're doing it!

New Year's eve update... Paul and I had a bit of an epic day of sking, which he's put great photos of here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone

Well, here it is. Merry Christmas. Throw your yule log on the fire, tinsel your tree, and nail your sock to the wall.

It's festively snowy here in Vancouver and I'm preparing for a marathon of eating and general yule-tide cheer. I'll raise a glass of something to you all... though it won't have any alcohol in it for me at the moment. Bah humbug. Marc, Nikki, and Mathilda are coming to stay and ski, we have Polish Christmas at Jacek and Gail's place tomorrow, skiing on the North Shore on Christmas day, and Irish Christmas at Dave and Geraldine's afterwards. Then a bunch of us are off to Nelson to ski, eat, play scrabble, and welcome the new year. We're going to meet up with TransRockies Chris (of Winthrop fame) too... so it'll be like a family gathering of unrelated people... or something.

To all of you in the UK, Peru, and anywhere else, who I won't see this year... Happy Christmas! Have a great time, and eat that one extra sprout for me.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

White Christmas?

A load of us are off to Nelson for New Year, thinking we would escape the grey rain of Vancouver and see some real winter weather... however Vancouver is providing it's own real winter this year. Normally the North Shore gets a lot of snow, but it's often of the sloppy "schmoo" kind. But... after over a week of weather consistently below freezing it's still very crisp indeed out there. In fact, there's a lot of snow falling past my window right now down here at sea level. We've also had blue skies and sunshine, which has been great. 

On a cold clear Saturday afternoon, lots of Vancouverites head for the mountains... so did we. After a monumental faff involving boots being taken home by the wrong person, forgotten, left, presumed lost, searched for, and eventually found... Suzanne, Krista and I headed up Mt Seymour in pursuit of Jacek, Paul, and Angie. There were lots of other people up there to choose from.

Vancouver dwellers invade Mt Seymour.

On a collection of slightly dubious borrwed gear, Krista is picking up telemark skiing at a frightening rate. I think we might have a new member of the backcountry skiing collective. 

Krista getting to grips with backcountry skiing.

Krista and Suzanne on the first summit.

The usual suspects have photos too: Suzanne, Jacek, and Paul

Friday, December 19, 2008

Dawn Patrol

It's been a good week for doing stuff. Starting off with a very cold and crunchy frozen nightride at SFU on Tuesday... ice crystals floating in the air and glinting off my headlamp. This time I didn't have any run-ins with the Burnaby wildlife on the trail home. I'm sure they were wolves stalking me last time, or possibly lions. 

Then the snow came... cold and fluffy, not the usual ice-cream that we get on the North Shore. A big gang of us went up to Cypress to night ski on Wednesday and I rode my first ski lift of the season. I think I prefer the human-powered approach these days, but it was a fun night ending with cheese and broccoli soup. YUM.

Yesterday Angie and I ran up the valley from Lynn Headwaters in more cold, light snow. It was beautiful... pillows of snow on all the rocks in the river and hanging in the trees. The best part was my feet didn't get wet until the snow thawed in the cafe at the end! Of course I forgot my camera... so you'll just have to believe me that the forest looks very pretty with it's winter coat on. Then I finally got to try out my new climbing shoes at the indoor gym with Paul in the evening. So comfortable. I might actually be able to wear these for longer than 15 minutes when the summer comes back and we climb real rocks again.

Then this morning Paul and I climbed up for a dawn raid on Mt Seymour before work. This time I remembered my camera. 

Blue skies and cold, light snow on the North Shore. Wow.

Paul takes up wildlife photography.

The wildlife in question.

Paul skiing back to Vancouver (with his heels reluctantly fixed down).

Of course Paul took some (rather good) photos too, which have me in them. There are more words and pictures on Paul's blog here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Very, very, cold.

This weekend I finally got out into the snow on skis. The snow has been slow in coming and is still very thin compared to this time last year but a big storm last Friday improved things enough to coax us out. Paul, Angie, Dan, Meeko, Suzanne, and I headed up north of Pemberton in search of snow, driving into -25 degree temperatures. That's very cold for the coast!

We skied into a really fantastic cabin and found we had the place to ourselves. We fired up the log burning stove and went of a quick ski up on the other side of the valley. Paul found every rock on the slope, but he was on borrowed skis... so that's ok. The snow was patchy, but we got glimpses of good skiing in the deep patches and I found I could still ski after all these months off. We spent the evening eating, drinking hot chocolate, playing Trivial Pursuit, and enjoying the 45 degree temperature difference between the inside and outside of the cabin.

Very cold indeed (outside)

After a great night's sleep, we headed out for a quick ski behind the cabin and found some deeper snow. In between the rocks and trees there was some good skiing to be found, and great views.

Me, dodging invisible rocks

It was so cold my camera wouldn't wake up, Suzanne had to warm hers in her armpit and Paul's developed strange ideas about exposure times... but we still got some photos. Suzanne has pictures here. Paul's photos are here. More snow is forecast for this week and the cold is set to continue. Winter is here!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

In appreciation of the North Shore

It's been an overwhelming week all in all... but at the end of every week comes the weekend. This weekend I felt a lot of fondness for the North Shore mountains being right there for me to go and play on. The weather was really very "Vancouver" (wet) but that didn't stop Suzanne, Kala, Krista, Luisa and I riding up Fromme to do a wet and slippery run down the Seventh Secret and Pipeline trails. There's no snow at all up there, which is very different to this time last year and a little upsetting for skiing... but it will come. All in all it was a great, muddy, wet, and cold winter ride. Just the way it should be! We finished off the ride with a (rather late) Hippy Breakfast in Tommy's Cafe. YUM.

After a day in the rain, what could be better than making jelly and cake? To be honest, I have no idea what might be better... but jelly and cake were pretty good. Krista's housewarming had a jelly moulding competition and I went for points in the creativity category by putting a flashing bike light inside mine. The idea was to make a kind of lighthouse, but the collapse of my jelly coming out of the mould made it more of a "traffic cone in a pile of tar" composition. I was quite pleased with it anyway. I was more pleased with my banana and apple cake... which I think I ended up eating most of. YUM (again).

Today there was more North Shore fun to be had. Jacek, Kala, and I ran from Lynn Valley to Deep Cove, along 14km of the Baden Powell Trail. We also got a bit lost and added a rather large road climb into the route. Oops. The trail was really fun... rooty, wet, muddy, with the classic North Shore mist hanging in the trees. Then at the end the sun came out! Deep Cove was looking very pretty in the evening light and we met up with Paul and Angie for famous Deep Cove doughnuts... bumping into Margaret and Tomas on the way, who had come out for a walk.

Thank you everyone who came out in the manky weather, and thank you North Shore mountains for the good times. Paul's been processing some old photos, this is what I was doing last January. Will the snow be like that 6 weeks from now? I hope so...