This week the guys in Revelstoke are completing their CASI Level 1 which is a huge step toward making the mountains their office! On another note, Jamie, Mike and Alex managed to fit in a backcountry adventure to remember! Jamie tells us what went down from a cat ride to catching lines on a 40 degree slope...
It starts around 8pm the day before, gear packing, transceiver battery checks and a study of the avalanche.ca website: the most valuable resource in a backcountry rider's arsenal. The website lists snowpack problems in the regions around Revelstoke and gives you the knowledge and confidence to attempt big lines or hit from avalanche paths in the trees.
Saturday's conditions gave us "Considerable" avalanche risk in the Alpine regions, "Considerable" in the trees and "Moderate" below the tree line. A dangerous set of conditions when you realise that almost 50% of avalanche accidents occur in "Considerable" avalanche risk areas. Wind loading, storm slabs and a weak layer of snow buried in early January, all giving us something to think about as we duck the ropes.
Arriving at resort at 7:30am, the lift queue was already starting to wind back from the gondola base. Of course we manged to duck through and become the first group of riders on the lifts. Before long we are blasting down untouched runs, bounced for the next ski area boundary and backcountry.
As tough skin follows, Mike and Alex were learning the art of breaking trails through the trees, whilst avoiding shrubbery and anything too steep. The first drop provides ridiculous levels of stoke, screaming like little children on a sugar rush! We hit powder stash after powder stash, grinning hard as we rejoined the cat track at the base of our line.
At this point, as fortune had it, the Cat was rolling by picking up a group of cat skiers and whipping up to the top of Kokanee Bowl, Bob and Aaron (our guides for the day) sorted us out, a cat-ride later and we're looking down a 40 degree slope of untouched powder. Needless to say the turns were all-time with face-shots every turn...
A smooth transition followed by more hiking, more skinning and what would become the line of the day, popping off a cornice to enter. This is why we spend our winters in Revelstoke. That and the pitchers in the MacKenzie lodge at the end of the day!