Jan 21-22, 2017
The South Coast was hammered by the mango express between Jan 16-19, 2017, with a series of warm and wet storms originating from the Philippines. Over four days, there was over a metre of new snow above 1500m. If you look at the Tenquille Lake snow pillow, the snow water equivalent line is basically vertical for this period. The storm started off wet, with freezing levels going up to 2000m in the Whistler area. The freezing level stayed lower on the Duffey. The storm snow ended up right-side up, meaning warmer snow fell first, followed by colder snow. However, it was not a good storm for the North Shore Mountains though. My usual Tuesday night adaptive ski night with VASS on Cypress Mountain was canceled due to the heavy rainfall, forcing Cypress Resort to close for the day. And then on Thursday up at Grouse Mountain, the new snow was 15cm of mashed potatoes with a small gravy bowl of rain on the side.
Instead of doing more swimming on the North Shore, I decided to enjoy some easy access ski touring up at the Duffey Lake Resort with Mylene and Jason. Given the conditions, we stuck with a modest ski plan and went searching for powder in the moderate angle open slopes and trees on the north side of Mount Chief Pascall. You can either take the winter trail or the summer trail from Cerise Creek to get here. The summer trail is more direct to get to the cut block on the northeast side of area, but low branches and tighter trees make it a more unpleasant route for the exit out.
The route up goes along the edge of the cutblock and then through tight to open trees onto the ridge top. I find the route up the east side of Chief Pascall, as I did this weekend, more pleasant and straightforward than going up the west side, from the Cayoosh parking lot. The west side is steeper, but does have more pillows to ski in the trees, and also gives better access to the Equinox slide path. Both sides are good for skiing!
Without a question, this is a popular place to ski, which can get a little busy when options are limited and everybody is looking for an easy access ski destination below treeline, but what do you expect when there is good wifi and a nice cafe at the top to grab a sandwich for lunch. This is not one of the quieter areas of the Duffey Lake Ski Resort.
We skied out through a creek, and then survival skied through a brief section of tight trees to reach the big cutblock. Snow quality was hilariously bad through the cutblock, which was 10cm of powder over top of not quite frozen, wet snow. The icy road and winter trail out was way better in comparison. This snow froze up the next day into a nice firm base. We headed back to Pemberton, where Jason’s parents graciously hosted us, feeding us all with delicious dinner and giving us a warm dry place to sleep. If only I had a photograph of our dinner – venison tourtiere and lemon meringue pie. Pie and skiing, the best things in the world.
Did I tell you I like to eat sandwiches in the mountains, and also document them. Did you know there’s a guy who has a website, where mountain enthuisasts can submit photos of their sandwiches in the mountains? True fact, it’s called AlpineSandwiches.com