Our motivation was about as low as the barometric pressure. Each of us exhaled a few “Old Man Sighs” on the windy road up the Duffey Lakes Highway as we made our way further into the clouds. If it weren’t for a grimey remix of The Milkshake Song blasted at high volume in the parking lot, we may not have gotten the juice we needed to carry on with our day.
Don’t get me wrong...stormriding’s the best, but sometimes—before you’ve even split your board into skis and started walking—that can be hard to keep in mind. But like I said, The Milkshake Song really pumped up our jam before we set out for a treeline objective that wouldn’t require too much f*%king around.
Like any day of touring, the drainage you choose at the beginning of the day is absolutely crucial. On account of our collective laziness, we chose one with a relatively short approach and deliciously low-hanging fruit.
We set the landmarks we needed to as we crossed the second lake and made our way towards the third one. With over a foot of ski penetration on the lake, things were feeling surprisingly tasty underfoot. Two days earlier, we’d been treated to a sunny powder day at Whistler Blackcomb that seemed to have magically reset the absolutely shit conditions that prevailed at the end of the two week inversion. Hence the decision to go touring.
My shredmate had actually gone for a Blackcomb slackcountry lap towards Phalanx Mountain the day before and found decent snow on some aspects, while most of the steeper aspects were total horseshit. He’d also been completely whited in a large alpine environment, which fueled his enthusiasm for tree-skiing. We weren’t sure what we were walking into, so the conditions on the lake really topped up the tank on our waning level of motivation.
A friend of ours had been in a small avalanche on Saturday and warned us about some tricky conditions between around 6500-8000 feet. We’re total geniuses, so we chose a steep 1000 foot couloir that sits almost directly in that elevation band. The zig-zagging ramp that we used to access it was super aesthetic, but a few of the kickturns above massive cliffs gave his warning a gravity that weighed on every single one of our ginger little steps. I was so scared I decided to turn my beacon on!
Luckily, nothing was cracking, nothing was whumphing and, most importantly, nothing was busting off into avalanches that would have cascaded off large cliffs, possibly with two humans in them. So we got to the top and dangled off trees to get a look at what we were dropping into. The entrance wasn’t quite a “gimme”, but it was good enough.
The snow was slightly firm under about a foot of blower pow, and I can honestly say it was one of my top lines this season. It had a nice, big mountain feel to it, even though it was a super cloudy day.
After that, we sought out the landmarks that we set on the way up and absolutely nailed our line out. The routefinding experience was fraught with uncertainty, so satisfaction levels were soaring as we locked into relative perfection on the way down. We were lower than we were on our first line, and the pow pow was even better at that elevation.
So we went back up for just a little bit and shredded (Ok fine: “shredded”) an absolutely filthy pillow field.
What a day!
Especially for a couple of geezers in who couldn’t stop daydreaming about their couches on the drive up.