Words By: Simon Coward
This season has been a pretty classic one for me so far. Started with summits and great snow in October and early November and now, the last couple of weeks have been, in most people’s opinions a bit of a dud. Last Monday we managed to get a few nice turns at tree line, though I certainly attained a core shot or two on my board. However, as always, it was super fun to get up into the hills and, I must say, perhaps a season highlight was the ultra sketchy, split ski descent through the thin snowpack tree run. I have not laughed that hard in a really long time.
This week, Ali and I set our sites on Pulpit Knob, knowing full well the lake may still be impassable, but, given the conditions thought it would be a great little mission. It turns out the lake was passable (only just, maybe a 50’ wide ice bridge near the south end of the lake), and there was a lot of new snow. So much new snow in fact that the two of us in 4.5 hours of touring, only made it 1/3 or more up Pulpit Knob. The day treated us to consistent knee to hip deep trail breaking, with some utterly hilarious chest deep moments and the associated wiggling, grunting and swearing to free oneself and continue on.
By the time we reached our turn around time, we were a long ways off getting to the top, so, we turned around, strapped into 50 – 70 cms of fresh powder, on a 25 degree slope and went absolutely nowhere. ‘Insert a short moment of frustration here’ followed by resigned laughter. A bunch of shameless scooching later I gained enough speed for a straight-line faceshot before coming to a dead stop in a hole chest deep snow. “Insert more laughter here!”
The ski out was outstanding, if outstanding is plowing belly button deep in ski mode through low angle terrain and then retreating via our skin track. Which, by the way is ripe for the picking now!
In the classic sense of quality of touring days, it could be concluded that it was not a good day out. For Ali and I it was quite the contrary. We returned to the vehicle pretty bagged, but strangely stoked on the day. We punched in a hilarious uptrack, got an idea of what is going on in that zone, stayed out of harms way in a pretty dicey stability period and got some valuable early season trail breaking miles in. I think, it was an overwhelming success. It isn't for everyone but finding enjoyment in these 'fails' has kept me at this splitboarding thing for the past 15+ years.
Looks like things here in the rockies are getting worse before they get better. Check out avalanche.ca for details on this upcoming weather system and warm snow. It is hopefully a short term pain for long term gain cycle for our snowpack
Simon and the Splitboard HQ Team.