Two near misses?

Well the snow has continued to fall here although it’s actually gotten a bit warmer the past couple days so it’s only been falling higher up (potentially ominous although the forecast predicts more snow over the weekend). Monday and Tuesday were absolutely amazing powder days, on Monday I went to Whistler and rode Whistler bowl off the ridge line through some trees which was beautiful, then we went to West bowl and got stuck above a cliff band because the visibility was really bad, then managed to skirt round and pick a line through some big rocks :) after that we were too late to catch the last peak chair so we hiked to the very far side of Franz’s meadow and rode through a clearing in the trees ending up by the bridge on highway 86.
Tuesday we hit Blackcomb and managed to get a bunch of fresh lines because the high winds (40mph at the top) and bad visibility must have put most people off. The glacier was in the best condition it’s been in all season, although on the first run I managed to stay too far left and again ended up above some cliffs :) had to hike back up a little way that time which was a little scary because I could feel the snow was only about 10cms thick and there was sheet ice underneath. Could have been problematic if it had broken away especially as we’d noticed a sign at the top which said avalanche hazard :o
The first run down was so good we went back and did the same again! That was even better because we headed over to the far side where no-one had been and hammered it down over these powder rollers and slashing out huuuuge turns. The snow on that run is probably the best I’ve had, although the fact you couldn’t see anything means that the hiking run was probably just better.
In the afternoon we went to do spanky’s ladder because we thought no-one would have been there yet either. As we got to the top ski patrol arrived and said they were closing the high alpine off but we could still go down if we were quick. We set off towards sapphire bowl where there was a rope across the entrance saying “entrance to sapphire closed – extremely icy”, or something like that, but we decided to go there anyway because we’d done it before and thought it would be more dangerous to try and locate the other entrance. A ski patrol guy came down after us though and said, “didn’t you see the sign?” but we told him we’d already done that run so he said, “well, as long as you know what you’re getting yourselves into”. I was kind of worried though because along with me & Tim there were Yuki and another guy Masa who I wasn’t sure would enjoy it too much. In fact if I had been leading then I would have probably made everyone walk back out, but the ski patroller said he would sweep after us and it was probably better to go down than try and get back up and go a different way.
Anyway, me & Tim had negotiated the entrance ok, and I actually believed it was in better condition than the previous time we’d been down there, when I heard an exclamation from above and turned round to see Masa sliding headfirst backwards down this ice track which was the traverse in (it’s about 1.5m wide and with a maybe 10 degree camber). There was no way he was going to stop and I knew that on the corner of the entrance there was a cliff maybe 20 feet high and plenty of steep rocks off to the side if you slip down. Fortunately I’d stopped just before the corner and was well anchored to the run, so as he came I watched his speed (because I knew that if he was going too fast he could knock us both off) and as he came past me I grabbed him under the shoulder. Masa spun round and his edge stuck and he stopped right at the edge of the traverse…
The ski patrol guy was less than impressed, I’m guessing because he shouted “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??! How the hell do you get around like that?!?” when Masa slipped, but he put a brave face on it once we were safely into the bowl and finished with, “Have fun guys”, lol. I was pretty shit up though cuz I could envisage Masa having been in some trouble if I hadn’t been able to stop him. Anyway, we all got down safe enough but I think after that Masa was done for the day! I actually hugged him at the bottom and said, “shit man, you scared me”. We felt obliged to go for a beer afterwards.

On Wednesday the snow was nowhere near as good as the previous two days because even though it had snowed 16cms overnight it had gotten warm in the morning so the snow was extremely wet and heavy which made everything very hard work. The high alpine was closed all day so we spent the whole day (or half day rather cuz I only made it up at 12 again) exploring tree runs off of the crystal chair. On our first run of the afternoon we’d found a sweet line to the far right of the crystal runs which eventually brings you out on the traverse back from the glacier. On the way down me & Paul had found a maybe 60ft cliff that needed riding around, but we thought everyone else was in front of us so there was no worry of anyone else coming past that way. Actually just before that I’d eaten it hard because of not holding my edge off a jump turn, which was quite painful, although I’d nailed a couple of nice drops before that :)
Anyway, we carried on down and the run opened up into a big clearing. When we got there all but one were already there, but the one unaccounted for – Tim’s girlfriend Shannon – had come down to the left of where me & Paul stopped and was stuck on top of a 20ft cliff with a frozen waterfall about halfway down, which made the total drop maybe 30ft high. She was asking us if it was possible to come down because there was a chute to one side, but it looked pretty sketchy so we told her to go back up. Shannon took off her skis, went to step up and lost her footing. Everyone (including the 8 or so Japanese tourists who had followed us or someone else down there) fell silent as we watched her fall sideways, bounce off something then cartwheel down to a stop, skis and everything in pursuit. Time stood still for a moment but then we heard a “woohoo” from the other side of the brow she’d come to rest on then she stood up with arms raised to everyone’s applause. I can’t believe she didn’t hurt anything other than bruising her behind, I’ve got a picture of what she fell off that I’ll try to post at some point.
The rest of the day we hit another tree run which was pretty steep and hard work, then we did a big traverse off of jersey cream to an area which you usually get to by the glacier express chair. We managed to get a few fresh turns in but further down was really steep and heavy again so by the time we got to the bottom my legs were in absolute agony, but Tim made us ride to the bottom of the hill through the slush so I had to collapse upon reaching the end!

So that’s my recent news, oh yeah I bumped into Matt Wood in the village a couple of days ago – one of my friends from school. I’m actually surprised it’s taken this long before I bumped into someone I already knew!

And I just got my hair cut at a barber shop where instead of putting a towel round your neck they tie a piece of tissue, no expense spared.

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