The weirdness of this winter’s weather has become a total cliché. People are just blown away that they’re riding their bikes in January, or getting overhead faceshots at the beginning of April. But really, the freezing level gives zero fucks about what month it is.
It just does what it does, man.
So when it stays nice and low, as it did for the majority of late March and early April, it’s best to pack as much powder-filled mountain time as you can into your humble existence.
I was lucky enough to travel across many worlds within BC’s mountain culture over the course of roughly three weeks. And I was even luckier to see the joyous effects that the cold, snowy weather had on the people within those worlds.
No matter where you are or what you’re doing, the stoke a true wintery day is a beautiful thing. Even if you were expecting it a few months earlier.
Here’s a handful of iphone shots from Whistler to the Koots, and Whistler again…
March 31st: The Coast was already well into a legitimate reset but then BAM: a frosty dump with zero winds and zero crowds on Whistler Blackcomb. Patty McKinnon nailed this soulful slasher right before I rode down, hopped in my car and drove to the Kootenays.
The Koots were experiencing summer in the valleys and pow turns at the height of those convective clouds…
And within those clouds I got to hang out with Josh Dueck, one of the more inspirational characters out there…
Case in point: Karen Osak, an intermediate sit-skier with Multiple Sclerosis. I had a chance to watch these guys shred together at Selkirk Wilderness Cat-Skiing.
Andrew Pool, whose name evolved into “Mandrew Pool-boy” as the trip evolved, was charged with the task of making sure Karen didn’t fly off the mountain. This shot was taken on the run before he let go entirely and Karen was able to link five or six unassisted pow turns through the Selkirk Silk.
Josh learned how to do that a long time ago. And HOLY SHIT is it ever a treat to watch.
Josher, right after he came out of a 2000 foot-long barrel.
Our guide Kevin blazes a trail down Glory, one of SWS’s home runs on our last run of the trip. Between seeing Karen progress and the amount of pow we all got to shred together in those three days, descending back into the valley felt as surreal as it gets.
But then I headed to Nelson and did my best to distract an old friend from his Easter Morning parenting duties.
After all the eggs were found, we pinned it to Whitewater for their closing day…
….and scored some of the best pow of the year.
Which is one of the reasons Eric Crosland was so keen to climb straight back up for another lap.
Back in Whistler shortly thereafter, I met up with “The Acadian John Baldwin” (Matty Richard) and we explored the Coast Mountains on skis.
Matty would go on to explore this line off Ripsaw (on the lookers’ left) with Eric Hjorleifson and JD Hare.
Ripsaw looked a little hairball for my delicate sensibilities, so I kicked steps up Mount Quiver while this Raven and Shane Treat (photo) kept an eye out for trouble.
Shane caught this shot through his glacier glasses a couple minutes before the boys came safe and sound up from the bottom of Ripsaw.
For JD Hare, putting tracks down Ripsaw saw completion of what he calls his “Spearhead Project”, a mission to ski off the summits of every significant peak in the horseshoe of radness that connects behind Whistler and Blackcomb. Here, he takes five at the top of Mount Tremor…
The crew had split ways at this point. Everyone else carried on and completed the rest of the Spearhead Traverse while JD and I made our way back through some facemeltingly fun terrain on the Blackcomb side of things.
At this point in time, I’d accepted the fact that I was gonna miss Jeopardy. We got back to the car at 8:15pm. The other boys, who had actually nabbed the NE face of The Fissile along the way, went straight to Sushi Village, arriving around 8:35pm.
A few storms and a couple sunny days later, I saw the remnants of Matty Richard and Austin Ross getting rad on a Blackcomb classic.
…right after I caught this cool buzz and tasty wave in Spanky’s Ladder at around one in the afternoon. Photo: Pat McKinnon
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I’ll consistently remember this winter as being the most interesting one I’ve had to date. The shitty photos I take with my phone don’t do justice to the times that I’ve had, but I use them to remind myself that I need to make the most of every day that I spend in the mountains.
The Freezing Level can be a bit of a dick sometimes, but that just makes the good days even more enjoyable….as if that was even possible.