May
30
2013
Français

Kluane icefields, Saint Elias range

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Ski season is not over in the Yukon. May was probably the best month of the 2013-13 ski season with the best conditions. The snow was good, better stability and quality and the weather was not too bad…with a lot of fresh snow and temperatures cold enough to keep it good. End of may we decided to check the possibilities for ski touring in the Kluane Icefield. Just during the flight to get there I was amazed by the diversity of this playground. By chance I could use the camp from Icefield Discovery as a base camp. The camp location is just perfect with diverse kind of terrain, it is easy to find what you are looking for, steep couloirs or gentle slopes….and the environment is amazing. Everywhere you go you are attracted by the stunning view of the Mont Logan, it attract your eyes like magnets. Late spring is a very good period because it is one of the driest, there is no night , temperatures are just perfect, not too cold to be very comfortable at the camp but not too warm to affect the snow conditions. Snow was just a affected by the sun on the very exposed slopes oriented to the southwest, otherwise it was still a cold and dry snow just a little wind affected in some places. nothing better than going for an evening ride to enjoy the sunset.

We were there for skiing, but even if the place just worth the view, it is also perfect for others activities, what a place for kiting with a vast area free of crevasses.

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View from the camp, the Mont logan, the highest peak in Canada at 5959 meters of elevation.

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The icefield discovery camp with left the sub peak of Mont Queen Mary and right the Mont Logan…nice location.

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Late in the evening, after 22.00, it is time for an evening tour with the Mont logan in sight.

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Mont Vancouver, 4785 meters, not as high as the Mont logan but a huge mountain between the Hubbard and Seward glaciers.

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Mont Augusta 4289 meters, a nice video from the team of the GMHM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBQsSA5V3t4

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Nice little peaks, perfect for some day trips from the camp, look for the two skiers, little dots at the base of the peak on the left, it will give you an idea of the scale.

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Sian in her backyard.

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Every where you go you can see the Mont Logan and his kind of magical attraction.

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Ski conditions were still very good.

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Enjoying a nice evening, you cannot be tired of the scenery.

With the long boreal days, you can do whatever you want whenever you want and enjoy the super long sunsets.

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1.30am no night at this time of the year, a very long sunset followed by a long sunrise and with the full moon rising.

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A last view of the Logan before going to bed, already 23.00, the sun is still high un the sky and the tent is warm…perfect.

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A big thank to Sian from Icefield Discovery

Apr
15
2013
Français

good skiing…

A warm front brought a bit of new fresh and wet snow and a lot of wind. So we got approx 20cm of new snow near the Summit, but we also had close to 70km/h of SW wind shifting for SE, temp was close to 0 on monday then dropped to -15c on wednesday. A bit of unusual situation, White Pass got more snow than Haines Pass.

In Haines Pass area, during and just after the storm, some big natural avalanches happened in different expositions, the entire north face of Three Guardsmen went down producing a good size 3. Then the temperatures dropped and the wind has dried the snow but also has brought a bit od new fresh snow, but forming some new wind slabs, especially in NE and NW.
For skiing, ski conditions were variable because of the wind that has affected the snow differently from slope to slope. Best conditions were found often in north,north-east but it is also where the rick to trigger a big avalanche is, so caution is required. Everywhere else, it is a mix of more or less wind affected snow, sometimes with sastrugis not very inviting but sometimes not that bad and where it was possible to have some acceptable ski conditions, but best spots where in sheltered area.

In White Pass area, the last snowstorm has dropped more snow than in the Haines Pass area. In some sheltered area, it was possible to find close 40cm of new fresh snow, but due to the wind skiers need to be careful of new wind slabs formed in very different expositions ( we saw some little slab avalanche triggered by cornices collapse in NE but also in SW). But it is always possible to find some good gentle slopes with very nice snow where skiing is very good.

After  the storm
Evening tour after the storm

a big avalanche on the Parton area
A big avalanche that occurred during the storm in the Mt Parton area.

I love it like that
Nice snow sculpture.

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And the sun was back again

telemark is good
a happy telemarked

a meteor impact
It seems like a meteor have hit the snow

after the storm
changing weather

slope testing
We have tried to test some steeper slopes, still have to wait to hit big lines.

a nice little chute
But with caution it was possible to ski some nice little chutes

snowboard

signatures
When we have a nice slope like that with a very good untracked snow, we need to treat it very good and leave a very nice signature.

above the Chilkoot Pass
Heading up after a nice run, behind the Chilkoot Pass.

an happy telemarked

Mar
23
2013
Français

spring celebration

claude-h

 

Spring is here,
So far it did not bring new snow or warm temperature, but some nice sunny days, so it was enough to go to Haines Pass for a couple of days. Sun was shining, days are getting longer but temperature did not rise up to -15c during the day and close to -30c during the night with a light wind. Snow pack has been very wind affected since last week. Actually there is less snow than a week ago, the strong wind did a very good job to remove and pack the snow. Not a lot of evidences of new avalanches around. Noticed some wind slabs released, mostly in NW aspects. The snowpack now is formed by a very strong wind crust on top of a facets layer variable in depth and thickness…very hard to very hard slabs on top of a variable facets layers is a concern. The only very good news is that the wind has removed the important surface hoar that we had….it could be possible to find some pockets in very sheltered area but the wind was so strong, probably close to 90km/h.
Ski conditions are not great….sometimes very bad with big sastrugis where it is impossible to make a turn. You need to have a very sharp skier eye if you want to find some decent snow but it is possible.
haines pass

Kusawak

track snow pack So you said wind affected…a ski track from last week….now standing 10cm on top of the surface….where is the snow ?

 

Haines Pass spring day

spring day Haines Pass

haines pass Anyway, it was nice to be out and possible to find some decent snow.

zag-couloir

Mar
7
2013
Français

Haines Pass

Haines Pass, what a nice play ground for skiers. There are diverse kind of slopes, from gentle large, steep couloirs or nice ridge line.
Just like in White Pass area, the winter so far, is a bit different of what we are expecting. But last week, the weather finally gets better and gave us a bit of spring overview.

Just like in White Pass area, winter has been dry: low precipitations, a lot of windy days…even very windy, some cold snap and the result is a very variable and shallow snow pack. A very wind affected snow pack, add one or two weak layers of facets or depth hoar, a bit of wind slabs on top of it and you have the perfect cocktail for big slab avalanches. The problem is the snowpack is so variable that it is sometime very difficult to evaluate how safe a slope is. For the next weeks, we might have to be aware again, because of the nice clear nights that we had, surface hoar is now present and if it is not going to be removed by the wind or melted by the sun, it will be a thing to keep in mind after the next snowfall.
Sad news from Haines, a guide has been killed in an avalanche last week and 2 others member of the group has been injured.

But it is possible to do some nice tours and to find some good snow on safe slopes.
And do not forget to check last bulletins here http://www.avalanche.ca/cac/bulletins/latest/yukon and check for conditions reports there http://avalanche.ca/Forums/forums/default.aspx?GroupID=3 and you could add some comments too.

Ski safe and have fun.

Jan
25
2013
Français

Into the frozen Yukon Wild

Paul Karchut, a very good telemarked and a journalist from Alberta was in the Yukon to see how people are enjoying the winter up here. He wrote a nice article and check is blog, you will find some good ideas there.

Go there : http://toqueandcanoe.com/2013/01/23/intothefrozenyukonwild/

Jan
9
2013
Français

Halcyon

Finally a very good day of skiing. Ski season has been starting slowly this winter. We were waiting weeks for new fresh snow. It is not perfect, but is becoming better with the last snowfall. The White Pass area has received approximatively 60 centimetres of new fresh snow since last week, and the wind calm down. So conditions are getting way better, even if the snow pack is still variable and thin for this time of year ( probably half that it suppose to be). So you can get there expecting some decent ski conditions, but be aware about avalanche conditions, there are still some instabilities. You can check for last updates on the CAC forum ( you can also leave yours) and do not forget to check the avalanche forecast, the Avi tec guys are doing some good job out there to provide good informations.

Today was a very good day for the weather and the quality of the snow. Temperature at Fraser was around -11c.

As you can see, a good ski penetration, about 40cm but easy to break the trail.

And very good ski conditions…

And sometimes, with a bit of tape you can fix everything…even a broken binding ;-0

Have fun and ski safe.

Claude

Dec
24
2012
Français

Merry Christmas


I wish you a Merry Christmas and an Happy New Year.
May 2013 lead your skis to some nice powder field and allow you to ride safe.

Nov
27
2012
Français

wind at White Pass

A small overview of snow conditions at White Pass: watch the video

Nov
24
2012
Français

beginning of the ski season

Ski season is starting slowly. For now, the snowpack seems to be a bit below average for this time of the year and it is really wind affected.
It is possible to ski but at low elevation the ski is not great, rocks and trees are not well buried and there is a risk to have your ski or leg trapped in holes, risk to be injured is real.
However, it is possible to ski correctly in gullies where the snow has been accumulated by the wind but be aware this kind of terrain can be a perfect terrain trap in case of avalanche that often occur in this kind of feature.
In higher elevation, ski conditions are a bit better, especially on glacier but access could be tricky.
More information about snow conditions here : http://avalanche.ca/Forums/forums/t/5630.aspx

sunrise on Caribou Mountain

Sunrise on Caribou Mountain

A bit later sunrise on White Pass, the Boundary Peaks.

From left to right: The Knee and the two peaks of Carmack, Cleveland South-East summit and Feather peak.

The Knee and the two peaks of Carmack.

Out house hill and the South Klondike highway.

Looking South toward Laughton and Sawtooth.

Wind at work transporting snow.

 

Even if snow conditions are not great, it is however possible to make some good turns in decent snow.

So season is starting slowly but snow is on his way … be ready, pretty soon we will have good conditions.

Have fun and play safe.

Claude

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