bright shiny thing in the sky?

Sometimes it gets so cloudy and stormy around whistler that you start to forget what a bluebird day looks like. After receiving a bunch of new snow last week, the skies finally cracked and gave us 3 days of pretty perfect weather. With fairly stable avalanche conditions it was a good time to get after some lines.

Friday, my friend Dave Basterechea (owner of www.cheetachfactoryracing.com and www.getpow.com ) and I met up pretty early with 2 different options in mind. The north facing chute of Triconi peak or getting up cloudburst mountain, which icy logging roads and my wife having to get to work have thwarted 2 previous attempts at. But they’re lines I’ve wanted to get for a long time.

The day started cloudy and snowing so we opted for Cloudburst which we knew had good trees to ride. So off we went on our snowmobiles with our splitboards in tow. We had to punch into some long forgotten trails to make our way over to our drop off spot then threw the skins on and started touring up. By this point the sun was out in full force and we started to wonder if we’d made the right choice. Oh well, too deep into it right now.

dave scoping from way down low

As we made our way up the mountain, new zones started to poke out of the trees. The first sight of a new area and the possibilities it holds is one of the most exciting things about snowboarding to me. New possibilities and unkown options. Super deep powder also helps..
After a little while of poking around, looking at options, and setting a skin track we’d made our way to the peak. And the convective clouds started to build like clockwork. There goes the view, there goes the light. Maybe we did make the right choice today.
We were on a casual timeline so we leisurely ate our lunch and discussed our options for what we wanted to ride. Having picked this nice spine zone as our major focus we strapped in and made our way day.

hmm, that looks fun. and fun it was!

The light was less then epic but the snow was glorious. We ended up doing 3 good sized laps from the alpine to down below treeline as the weather constantly shifted from full sun to hard convective snow showers.

dave and his k2 panoramic splitboard

Saturday, I’d had a few options with touring around squamish or Duffey lake with several groups of friends. My wife wanted to go splitboarding and somewhere new. No problem. She’s only 6 months pregnant. So after some early morning discussions we settled on another day (for me) on cloudburst. Kimmie’s wanted to climb that mountain for a while, so with a nice track in from the previous day off we went.
The day was a beauty! I can say it was very casual for me. Normally my wife is quite fast (ok very fast) at climbing, but being pregnant she has to watch her heart rate and take her time. So I’d send her up the trail, go dig some pits, poke around and then run to catch up. Watching her climb the summit ridge was like watching someone climb everest. Step, step, pause. Step, step, pause. But it was awesome. I love touring with Kimmie.


kimmie about to top out

Eventually we made it up top, and Kimmie’s smile was ear to ear. We took some photos up top as the view was unreal. Cloudburst is one of the few stand alone mountains in the area and it offers amazing 360 degree views.


pretty self explanatory. Obviously my beautiful and pregnant wife. never mind me, that kid is going to have a hard time keeping up with mom!


family that plays together..

After soaking in the sights for a while, it was time to ride. We pretty much followed dave and my tracks from the day before. Blower turns everywhere for the whole lap. Amazing day with my wife.

little slasher for me. That wav went for a few hundred glorious meters.

That night I got a call from my long time friend and neighbor, photographer Jeff Patterson. Turns out his snowmobile broke down way in the backcountry and had the parts to fix it (hopefully). I agreed to take him out there and we had Gaeten Chanut who was going to come and meet us there as they’d spent the last 2 days shooting together.
Normally, in the mornings this spot is packed in the parking lot. As I pulled up there was nobody. Not a soul. On a bluebird day. It was kind of spooky. Jeff pulled up and we loaded all the gear onto my snowmobile. Boards, camera gear, primary and secondary clutches, tools.. My sled was loaded down, so we took our time making it out.
We made it past the normal riding area and were headed deeper to get to jeff sled as we ran into a problem. My track was spinning on a super icy technical climb. Jeff jumps off and my track is still sliding. I lose momentum and start sliding backwards towards some big trees. I’m out! I jump and a second later my sled flips and slides. Somehow it stops short of the trees. As jeff and I decide to figure out the best way to flip it back over (and not have it slide into the trees) we hear a strange sound. Hmmm..
We flip my sled over and oil comes gushing out of the belly pan. Oh no. Turns out my Yamaha snowmobile has breather on the oil pan and if the sled flips and stays in just the right position, you can drain a lot of the oil. Thankfully there’s not a lot in there. However, with no oil my sled is not going anywhere. And we’re a few miles away from jeff’s.No cell service back there aAnd there’s no one to be seen anywhere. What to do? Take my shirt off and enjoy the sunshine. We had some time so we discussed a few options as to how to deal with our situation. First thing, let’s wait for Gaeten. 30 minutes later gaeten show’s up to jeff hiding from the sun (he’s a redhead) and me shirtless lying on my sled.
We tell him our new predicament and we hatch the plan to try to fix jeff’s sled. After a few shuttles and a bit of snowboarding we’re at jeff’s broken snowmobile.
The clutches come out, the tools come out and the sled gets torn apart.


those clutches are not light to carry!

Thankfully, we get it together pretty quick. As we worked the sun had crept around and started to illuminate some pillows and spines nearby. Leaving jeff to finish gaeten and I quickly hiked up top and got ready. Braaaappppp!!! Jeff’s sled starts up and he does a quick test lap. “All good! Let’s shoot some stuff.”
We get busy jumping, riding lines and slashing turns. As we’ve hit every worthy thing in our immediate vicinity, we remember that my sled still needs oil. Off we go in that direction.
As I’m standing ontop of the next bowl over I see a rider on a Yamaha sled. Quickly yelling at jeff and Gaeten to stop that guy and ask if he has oil, they race off leaving me to strap in and enjoy another glorious lap in the pow.
Amazingly the guy has a litre of oil. He just saved a long ride out to my car to grab oil. Some cash for the oil and we’re all set to go. Get back to my sled, put the oil in, fire it up and we were off to find more stuff to jump.


my view from one of my lines shooting with jeff and geaten

Pretty awesome 3 days in the sunshine (mostly). Thanks to my kimmie, dave, geatan and jeff for the good times. Looks like the snow is coming back in this week for a reset. Can’t wait to get back out there
jl

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