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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On the N side, Taiya glacier is not well covered and crevasses are still clearly visible, not good for skiing yet.froid-47

The funny snow surface…taiya jan 27-6

Let s be ready for some funny skiing…froid-48

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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taiya jan 27-7

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

taiya jan 27-9

Jan
20
2014
Français

Fraser Peak

Good weather finally at White Pass, the road was open, so we went to see the result after the passage of the warm front  with good snowfalls, warm temperatures and strong wind. It was a bit cloudy in the morning, especially in the alaskan side, temperature was close to zero but always negative with a light SW wind, so it did not affect the snow. But, no doubt, the wind did his job and the snowpack is very wind affected and variable. Ski conditions were fair sometimes close to be good in some locations. The stability was not to bad, but the frozen crust is now present from the bottom to up to 1600m in the Fraser area, there is some new fresh snow, loaded a bit by the wind in N NE aspect. That new snow was good for skiing. We tried some steeper couloirs, but the snow was hard to very hard with a thin icy layer on top of it, in one couloir it was impossible to climb without ice crampons and in the other one, skiing was very difficult, something to keep in mind for the next snowfall for sure. But, we had a nice day out and we did some good turns on that new fresh snow. Do not forget to check avalanche conditions : Avalanche bulletin

The view of Summit Creek, Feather, Cleveland SE and Carmacks.

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Snow was good for skinning up.

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Nice light in the morning

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In the East side, the wind did a very good job to remove the snow.

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One of the couloir we tried.

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In the hidden couloir

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A few good turns anyway…

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Dec
24
2013
Français

Merry christmas

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I wish you a great ski season, thousands of nice turns in a wonderful environment.

Ski safe and have fun.

 

Claude

Dec
18
2013
Français

snow conditions update December 18th

-40c, this morning in Whitehorse, cold fog ..it was not really inviting, but we decided to go to see the sun in White Pass. -30c at Fraser, a bit foggy but we could see the sun above. The plan was to go to check the Feather/Cleveland area but once on the parking lot…it was very cold and windy…the terrible cold wind, impossible to keep any part of your skin not covered, not very funny for a tour. So we went back to Log Cabin and his sunny face….very attractive for a cold day.

First thing, there is not a lot of snow in the White Pass area, and the snowpack has been very wind affected.  It is good for touring, but if you are chasing powder, just forget it. there is some pocket of powder in sheltered spots below the tree line or in some North faces but the snow does not seem to be stable there. A nice slab released on the North Face of Cleveland SE peak, and some other in the back of Fraser ridge (north aspect too). In South aspects, the snow seems to be very stable..so packed by the wind, but it could remain some hard slabs.

If you wan to ski on glaciers, be aware, it was a very dry and hot summer, the beginning of the winter is dry, it means crevasses are wide opened or partially covered (check previous post). The ski quality was poor to fair but it was a gorgeous day outside.

Sunrise over the Fraser and White Pass area.

Fraser White Pass

 

Feather peak

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Tayia

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The Saw Tooth with the cold fog flowing down the valley.

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North face of Cleveland S-E peak, a nice fracture line.

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The Knee, with still a lot of crevasses wide opened.

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Tayia, the NW peak..crevasses

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Tayia, the North face

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The funny snow, rim from the moisture coming from the ocean, not that bad for skiing, it was probably the best part.

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Wind affected snow pack…log cabin

 

The White Pass, and a new system coming from the ocean..it means more snow coming and warmer temperatures for Whitehorse, everybody will be happy.tayia-7

Dec
5
2013
Français

New press release

 

298-December-2013-site

A nice article about me and ski touring in Yukon.

Thank you Ryan and Gary for the good job.

Dec
4
2013
Français

Powder Valley

A little trip to Powder Valley, but without a lot of powder . Snow pack has been very wind affected above the tree line. So powder can just be found below the tree line.  The snowpack is still thin, ski conditions are variable from poor to good. The weather was great, it was -27 c in Whitehorse, -25c on the parking…and -12c at the top with just a  light South South East wind. A very good day outside traveling in the perfect winter light.

For avalanche , at 1350m in  East aspect, remotely triggered a size 1 hard slab  from a flat area 10 meters away. Crown between 10 to 70cm.
We  observed, sign of 2.5 size slab avalanche on East slope  of  Paddy’s Peak east summit.
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An happy skier ascending
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And what a reward on top, the view was amazing, a nice cloud sea raised the level of Bennet Lake.
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A small size one that we triggered remotely, a good remind on actual snow conditions.
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Sometimes, skiing on wind affected snow is not that bad…
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The end of a wonderful day.
Nov
30
2013
Français

Crevasses

The ski season is not completely on. The snow pack is very thin, the ground is not well covered, especially the unleveled rocky ground that we have in the White Pass area. So far, the only decent ski conditions are found on glaciers.

Now, backcountry users are very aware about avalanches,but, sometime not very aware about skiing on glacier with potential risk of fall into a crevasse.

Do you know the terrain you are skiing on? Last winter was drier than usual in the Coast Mountains, summer was drier and warmer. The result was an important melting of the snow coverage, even on glaciated area. Which means less snow covering crevasses and more crevasses uncovered than usual. The last snowfalls that occurred and the wind have created some snow bridges but not always solid enough to carry a skier.

So while skiing on your favorite spot or new terrain that you are discovering, for your safety, you have to be aware of crevasses. You need to have the proper equipment, skills and training to conduct crevasse rescue.

Plan your trip, do not rely only on maps, they are not accurate enough and they do not show crevasses. Glaciers are in constant movement, crevasses locations and shape change continuously. Never travel alone on a glacier.

Below some pictures taken late summer and in winter, of some glaciated area around White Pass..yes there are some crevasses,  large and deep enough to lead to serious consequences.

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Cleveland SE

Cleveland Southeast peak

Boundary peaksBoundary Peak 115

Nov
17
2013
Français

Nice article

Last year, I had the chance to lead a tour for some journalist. We were not so lucky with the weather and snow conditions, but Ryan Creary and Ryan Stewart are very good professional and you can see the article in the November issue of  Backcountry Magazine

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