Apr
15
2014
Français

New snow

Finally, we got some new snow. Conditions are getting better. Easter week-end is closer than ever, time for skiers to go out.

Another week spent skiing in the Chilkat pass area. Snowpack is still very thin for the season but we got some new snow. Haines Pass area received between 20 and 40cm of new fresh snow , falling with a light to moderate South wind. The day after, a strong North wind chased the clouds away. So it means the snowpack is wind affected again. Be prepared to deal with wind slabs in North but also South aspects.  Ski conditions are getting better. Snow quality, just like the snowpack, is very variable, from bad wind crust to nice and light powder. Use your experience to identify the good terrain. You can find most of the good conditions in north aspect slopes. We still have to deal with the consequences of the last dry winter and hot summer. Glacier are not well covered, crevasses are visible where they were covered  sometimes even in summer. Be aware and prepared if you plan to ski on glacier

We have spent some good time at the Stellar cabin which is a perfect base camp.See the pictures below. For more info, go to   http://icefielddiscovery.com/stellar-hut

The Haines road

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Yes it was windy

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When it is windy, it is time to do some kitting or speed riding.

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Testing the snow

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Finally some good turns

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The Stellar hut, a perfect base camp

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Apr
8
2014
Français

Good skiing

Few pictures from last week in Haines Pass area. Weather was great then slowly getting warmer, cloudy and eventually  the snow came. Conditions were not as good as they should be at that time of the year, but we found some nice slopes with correct and sometime good snow. It was not necessary to go very far, some common routes were in good conditions. But sometimes the snow was also still wind affected and not that easy to ski. Snow stability was just like snow conditions, still very variable but mostly stable with no signs of natural activity.

 

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Flo, happy to discover some of the most known routes in the area without anybody around….sometime sunny, sometime in the middle of the clouds.

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Good snow to make some easy turns.

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Some less known routes , with a changing weather, just before the snow.

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A bit of speed riding for Guillaume, enjoying the large open slopes.

 

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Apr
1
2014
Français

Spring

Spring is in the air. Days are getting longer and longer, temperatures are climbing up to 0c, snow starts melting a bit down in the valley.  I started the day with nice northern light dancing in the clear sky, followed by a nice sunrise. At Haines Pass I met with 2 skiers from Austria, Mark and Beate. Mark and Beate are doing a wonderful trip, skiing all around the pacific Ocean, thousands of kilometres, thousands of turns, hundreds of people met everywhere. You can have a good overview of their adventure here : Ring of fire. It was a nice day, warm, with a perfect blue sky. Snow conditions are not great. The wind made is job again, the snow pack is very wind affected,  in some places the surface snow is the old rain crust from january, and in some other places it is a mix of ice, sastrugis and crust of diverse density. But it is still possible to find some correct snow, but we need to be aware, it is mostly on North slopes, and stability is just like the snowpack..variable. Be aware, ski safe and have fun.

I like when a days start like that:

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A good group, Beate, Mark and Andrew

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A bit windy at the top, but a wonderful view.

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And let’s go for a ride.

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The snow is not great but the slope was very nice and the view amazing. In background, from right to left, 3 Guardsmen, Glave Peak and Seltat.

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Andrew and the snow waves.

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The kind of snowpack that we have now is very variable, yes mostly , the snowpack is variable, but actually, with the kind of weather that we have had, it make it particularly variable. Very solid in some place but with pocket of instability. I you have time to spend to make some snow profiles or test, you will probably fns some results like the following exemple.

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good luck to Beate and Mark for their adventure…

Mar
25
2014
Français

Ski conditions and a quick skins review.

Weather this winter is definitively dry and sunny. Last week-end, it was sunny again but the wind was the trouble maker. Turning a nice bue bird day in a chilly day. The North wind was very present in the White Pass area. With the windchill, in the morning temperatures were close to -30c. With gusts up to 50km/h, the wind moved a bit of snow too. Snow conditions are not too bad, it is still possible to find some good soft and cold snow. It is not deep, but enough to have some good sensations. Snowpack stability is very variable, from very good to very touchy, all the snow we got after the january warm up and rain, is set up above a nice rain crust, in some places it bonds very well, in some other places, it is just waiting for the little addition of energy (a skier) to produce a nice big avalanche. This rain crust is our most important problem for snow stability, and it is going to be worst when the temperatures will really rise. So if you want to have some good trips, you need to ski smartly, finding a sheltered area from the cold wind, good snow and good stability. But with a bit of reflexion, it is possible to find a good area, and with good route finding you can have a lot of fun.

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Snow was a bit wind affected, but with a good reading it was possible to find areas with still soft enough to make some nice turns.

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Skins are a very important pieces of equipment. Bad skins or skins in bad shape and it can ruin your day.A couple of years ago, I have been very disappointed by the new glue-less climbing skins (Gecko). It was promising, but they had some serious  lack of efficiency, especially  when it came to use them in our real cold winter, the adherence was far less efficient than the glue. So I was a bit reluctant to use some of them again, but  I tried another model from High Trails the Swiss brand. The glue or what works like a glue feels smooth and rubbery to the touch, not gooey and tacky.Now I have been using them  for about 20 times and I am very happy. It works good and it really makes things easier. It is way  easier to peel off, put on or take off your skins. When it is cold, I really appreciate to do not have to remove my gloves to manipulate the skins. I am using the Mix model, 50% mohair/50% nylon. The tip, is a classic plastic and wire system, but it works good and keep the skin well in place. On the tail, the system is easy to use and seems to work well.They have a very good compromise between grip and glide for a very competitive weight. Glide is very good, not as good as 100% mohair from Coll-tex but way better than G3 or Black D. They weigh less than most of the G3 and Black D skins.Dirt and  other gunk are not adhering too well and the adhesive side seems to be easy to clean up, just with clear water.Compared to the Gecko, they works good even in very cold temperatures. I let my skis and my skins out for a night with temperature less than -30c, in the morning it was still -31c and I had no problem to put the skins on and they stayed very well.They only thing I do not know  is how long they will last. So far after  a bit more than 15 days on them, I did not see any change.So far I really like them, so easy to set up, to remove and to store. I also like light skins with good glide and they are very good for  that.

So far they are not easy to find in North America, but it will come. But not get lured by poor imitations.

Mar
18
2014
Français

Snowy day

We have new fresh snow…finally. I woke up early..very early, the full moon  was high in the sky, I guessed the weather should not be very good in the mountains but I tried anyway….let’s go to White Pass for a solo trip. At the summit, there was no visibility, a bit of SW wind  but 5 cm of new fresh snow…. Closer to Fraser the weather was a bit better…but I was too early anyway….it was still dark…I waited  a bit.  I did some nice skiing, the snow is very good now. The last weather system brought around 50cm of new snow, and it is still snowing a bit. But be aware of stability, the snowpack is very variable with a lot of weak spot but even in conservative terrain it is possible to make nice turns.

Good start with the moon rising

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And then snow on the road

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But not too bad too ski below the treeline.

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A small break…and the tracks of the day

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Mar
8
2014
Français

Before the snow

Just on time before some new snow coming in, we went for a couple of turn in Haines Pass area. Weather was mostly good except the wind. It was a bit tricky to find a good location with no wind and good snow. The wind was mostly from the northwest, but in some places from the northeast. The snow was very wind affected, most of the good places for the snow were in North aspect, but it was also a bit difficult to find some stable snowpack.  But we eventually found some good places around Kusawak. Sheltered from the cold wind, we had great time skinning up without gloves and tuque. On the way down, some sheltered gullies gave us the opportunity to make some nice turns in an nice old powder…not very fresh but good enough to make some smooth turns. But it was not good everywhere, in some places the snowpack was very wind affected and the rain crust with ice on the top of the snowpack…not very easy to ski on and something to keep in mind after the current snowfall.

Snow drifted by the wind

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Old tracks, yes it shows that the snowpack has been wind affected. froid-200

Ice pieces on the top of the snowpack…not great for skiing.

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But nice days out with a pure blue sky.

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See you soon with fresh snow…yes it is snowing finally.

Feb
22
2014
Français

Haines Pass, ski and Northern Lights

Yes, we got some fresh snow, finally. Not a big dump, but enough to make some nice turns. I decided to head up to Haines Pass. The area received between 20 and 30 cm of new snow. Some areas were a bit wind affected, especially on the alaskan side. Be aware about north slopes, avalanche bulletin was right, some slides happened, sledder triggered a good size 2. The weather was great, a pure blue sky, cold temperature in the morning at -30C but warming up during the day. It is possible to find some good ski conditions,  even in avoiding the tempting north slopes, and you have a wide choice of terrain around here. The ski was good, but the most exciting was the wonderful night that I spent, with an amazing northern lights display, the sky was in fire most of the night.

Alaska Highway The Alaska highway, the road to the mountains.

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And then, the night show:

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Feb
12
2014
Français

Haines Pass, between Alaska and Yukon

It has been while since I skied at Haines Summit. Weather forecast was still “good”, sunny anyway but cold and windy…so very cold. Temperature was around -20c but with a moderate North wind, the windchill was around -40c sometimes. Snow pack is not so different than White Pass. Not a lot of snow, so dry, it seems like the end of May. The supportive rain crust is present everywhere up to 2000 m at least. Crevasses are not well covered, something to be aware of after the next snowfall. The snowpack seems to be mostly stable, but be aware , there is still some layers of facets and/or hoar, and in some shallow area it could produce some interesting slides. Ski conditions are not that bad, snow is hard but provide a good grip and the surface is mostly smooth. If you have good skis with good edges you can carve like crazy… not so common but funny. It was cold and windy, but the sky was clear and the night very clear with an amazing moon, if it would not have been so windy and cold I would like to go for a night tour. The second day was less windy,  but still very sunny. We are still waiting for new fresh snow, according to the forecast, it should come soon.

The Haines road

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Haines Summit

A bit windy, interesting , even with this hard snowpack how the wind manage to transport some loose snow.

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Avalanche on the Northwest slope on Glave Peak shoulder.

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The wind

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Nice view anyway

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The Klehini river

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A starry night with a bright moon.

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On the way back to Whitehorse

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Feb
4
2014
Français

on the South side

Weather conditions are getting back to the normal with cold, a bit windy and unfortunately no snow. We got a bit of fresh snow last week…just a bit between 1 and 3 cm but everywhere now the snowpack is frozen solid with a important and supportive frozen crust. Not too funny if you are looking for powder… I will pay a pack of beer to the first one who find some powder in the White Pass area before the end of the week. The good thing is, travelling in throughout the mountains is fast but you need good skins, maybe ski crampons and of course ice crampons if you want to  go in steeper slopes, if you have just fat powder skis or a split board…I think you can just pass. For this time of the year, the snowpack is pretty stable and gives the opportunity  to ski some steep lines…if you like hard and icy snow. Wearing an helmet is not useless, snow is hard to very hard, slippery and there are a lot of rocks, falling is not an options anyway but a helmet is something you could think of.

Yesterday, we went on the Alaskan side, it seems like spring but not for temperatures, do not expect a warm up during the day , now we are back in winter and the sun is not warm enough to have soft snow in the afternoon. It was -10c at the car and around -20c with the windchill, wind was from the North, light to moderate but constant  so we were happy to find some sheltered areas and we were attracted by sunny faces. Ski conditions were not that bad, it was possible to make doe nice turns all the way, but you need to like to ski on hard snow. But it was nice and sunny day spent with friends in the mountains. Now we are waiting for new snow, just keep in mind that some hard and frozen  slopes are waiting for new snow too, and they will provide a perfect sipper base for the next snow, and we should have some tricky conditions.The-Knee-21

Where is the snow, just like spring…amazing how it is dry out there….

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But a bit higher,  the temperature was not like spring…

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Climbing to the top

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Some North faces seems like in good shape, but in reality it is hard snow and sometimes an unsupportive crust very bad for skiing, especially when it is steep.

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And yes, the shiny little spot on the right is the Lynn Canal, a tiny part of the Ocean close to Haines AK.ZAG-alaskaBut some South slopes are not that bad.

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If you do not believe that we had some spring conditions, even some green stuff has been fooled by the weather.

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Jan
27
2014
Français

After the rain storm…

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After the crazy weather that we had, the weather is nice again, but the snow pack has been very affected. The storm with rain, strong wind affected the entire region apparently and it rained above 2000 meters of elevation. White Pass looks like the end of may now with not a lot of snow left. But lets find the positive things. After an important avalanche cycle, now the snowpack is well set up, covered by a hard and mostly supportive crust of ice snow and/or ice. According to the weather forecast for today, it supposed to be warm again, close to 5c. It was warm for the season but not that warm and the snow was just affected in just sheltered area facing SE….where the snow was good ;-) So we decided to go for a South Face, and I wanted to go high to check the conditions there…and to enjoy the view, so we headed up to Taiya Mountain, one of the highest peak in the area. Our plan was to ski the South-west face, but because of the snow conditions we decided to go down by the easiest way.

The fog was present from Carcross cut-off to Fraser, but after a few minutes we were above the thin layer of clouds.

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The snow pack, well affected by the rain, easy too see with those typical drainage lines…so good for skiing, especially when the snow is frozen hard….Taiya jan 27

So yes, this morning and most of the day, the snow was frozen hard..and supportive, easy to travel on with good skins (snow crampons mandatory if you are not very experienced)

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Another general view  of the snowpack well affected by the rain and with tracks of old avalanches.Taiya peak

A bit of boot packing, campons mandatory, the snow is sometimes covered by pure ice, helmet useful because of falling ice balls.

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Close to the top, on the summit plateau, the snow is covered by ice balls, sometimes bigger than a tennis ball.

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The funny snow surface…taiya jan 27-6

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The upper part was very bad for skiing…but once on the East side, we encountered a very nice corn snow…our legs were happy too.

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Now lets do the snow dance or whatever could bring some new fresh snow.

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