Blog: April 2011

valley of the chutes

i think between the photos and the video you get a good sense from rob fagan's and my trip to the "valley of the chutes". named after the valley of the kings as there's an egyptian theme to some of the peaks in the area. we spent 3 days camping and splitboarding in the mountains around squamish. it was super awesome.

in summer you have to climb 9-10 feet of stairs to get into this outhouse! and it's below treeline...

it was pretty nice out


getting there..

a couple teaser shots while i get everything together from the mission to the 'valley of the chutes'. see the photo from my last post.


fresh-ish wolverine tracks (from the previous afternoon)

2 days and 2 seconds

it's festivus time! i mean festival time. the world ski and snowboard festival in whistler is on again. and that means a few more spring comps in the form of Monster's "The Show"
I wasn't really feeling the need to ride moguls this year (there's been a lot of powder) so i skipped the first event and went in for the boarderstyle and halfpipe comps.
Boarderstyle consisted of a very short (and really easy) boardecross track, but with a park jump at the bottom and involved mandatory spinning. I put in a good qualifying time and was the top seed through all my heats and also was going in the first heat.
I hadn't raced BX in a very long time and it was pretty fun to be in the start gate waiting for it to drop. some riders were about ready to pass out from nervousness. The gate dropped and it was on. Being such a short course there wasn't much passing going on, but your spin on the last kicker really counted. if you came in third a good spin could put you into the next round. I was going to try to avoid being bumped by that method. So as we came around the final gate, i was in the lead and gave a quick check back to see where everyone else was. Little bit of a lead, sweet, so i flipped around and went switch into the last jump with a cab 540. The next round was a little tighter and i went cab 720 while in the lead, jon versteeg went back 900 and will jackways went frontside 540 right behind us (snowboard canada jon scarth's photo of this action is below)

The finals were jon, travis williams, yan devo (he'd bumped his way through with a cab 540 on the oakley O) and myself. The prize money was winner take all, and all of us having had a fun day, agreed to split the cash prior to the final run.

Travis and i were grappling right out of the gates. boards hitting, grabbing each other and jon managed to grab the lead. Close to the final corner jon lost his edge a little bit and both travis and i tried to pass on opposite sides on the outside lanes. unfortunately the outside lanes were slower. I was just able to get about even with jon and travis got squeezed out of the course. Jon boosted anothe back 900 for the win and me right behind with another cab 720.

there's a couple good posts up with some cool photos to check from the event..

the next day was the halfpipe 'contest'. It's not really a contest, but it is, and it's not really about the pipe, but it takes place in the pipe. This year there was a bell hanging above the lip to smash and a log positioned on the other side. With the pipe being good finally, i was pretty happy just to ride pipe. But to do well in this 'contest' you need to play by their rules, which aren't much, but they want to see you hit the rails and stuff. So i tried to get the bell with some air to fakies. i tried a bunch of times, and i missed the damn bell by centimeters a bunch of times. getting bored of missing repeatedly, i went for a few pipe runs. then over to the log. I thought a frontside alley oop 360 with some log action mid way through would be cool. however after a few triesi only kinda got it once, and then the nice pipe took my attention again and i went back to doing whatever runs popped into my head. I ended up in second place for the day. Guillaume morrissete took first and brad martin took second. I think guillaume's alley oop bell ringer got the prize for him. it was pretty sick.

snowboard canada and push write ups are here...
couple really fun days on the hill, and now we've got a few nights of festival-ing ahead of us. Going to watch the intersection movies tonight and then the pro photo showdown tomorrow night, which is the hottest ticket in town and always an awesome show.

then I'm off to try and get these little lines with the splitboard...

quickie vid from today

so much good snow lately. i'm still trying to catch up on everything and get some posts up about a few trips i've done lately, but the snow keeps me riding!
video is from today on whistler blackcomb.

chute-ing gallery

Since i first saw this zone over 5 years ago it's bugged me about how to access it and when the snow would be good. finally with my splitboard i cracked the code and spent 2 days up there this week. First day was with my buddy kyle, then next with my girl kimmie.

Kyle and i made it up fairly quickly to the bottom as the snow had a crust on it and made for some quick traveling. After spending some time scoping the zone, we settled on our first obvious line. Off the peak and straight down. It was the simplest line and a good chance to really get a feel for the zone. Now we just had to get up there. a few hours of breaking trail later, we were standing on the peak and enjoying the view. As we sat eating our lunch i called out "fly by" as a bald eagle glided by just about 100 feet horizontally off the ridge line from us. 20 minutes later, a juvenile baldy fly by on the same line. Later in the day, we saw a third eagle fly by!

Feeling good after seeing the eagles we dropped into a first run. The snow was blower (especially for april). Kyle dropped first and we leapfrogged each other a few times from safe spot to safe spot, Kyle filming and me shooting photos (trying anyways). Our first run went great, and we were feeling good about the snow.

as we were switching over to split mode to climb back up, we heard a rumble. we both quickly looked up to see an avalanche blasting off a big cliff and coming down the slope towards us! even having picked a safe spot way out in the flats, it gave us no comfort seeing a huge dust cloud coming at us. we ran like hell until we realized the slide wasn't going to get us. Upon inspection afterward, we guess that a huge tree bomb (snow piled up in the trees) dropped onto a shelf and started a slide in the recent storm snow and the huge dust cloud was a result of the slide airing over the big cliff. We still felt confident in our assesment of the snowpack in the chutes and headed up for another run.

Our next pick was a tight chute that we were able to see from the bottom. finding it from the top would be another story. The ridgeline drops off very quickly into all the lines so it's difficult to see which entrance goes or which entrance goes off a cliff. So as we poked around the ridge, found a little drop for us to hit along the way, and eventually found our entrance.

We noticed from the bottom of the chute that the exit may hold some chunder (icy chunks, avalanche debris, etc) and decided that full speed was not the way to go. And we couldn't see the whole chute from above, so safety prevailed as i dropped in first, made a turn and pulled aside to let the sluff go by before riding the rest of the line (being only 2 guys way back there, you need to make sure you make it home).
As i exited the chute just ahead of my sluff, i wondered in the chunder was hard or soft so i decided to check it out. turns out it was pure ice and i lost my edge with my sluff barreling down after me as everything slid down the little gully that was there. I managed to pull it together, get out of harms way (there's a mandatory left turn in front of a cliff near the bottom) and enjoy a some more nice turns down the lip of the gully. Not finding any safe spots on the way down i radioed kyle from the bottom and passed along the snow conditions. main chute was great, main exit was not so great.

We wondered about getting a third line for the day but may have been pushing our luck with the amount of sunlight left, so we called it a good day and left.

The next day, kimmie wasn't working and we debated about riding whistler or heading out for another mission. Kimmie hadn't ridden in a few weeks and wanted some pow turns. With our skin tracks already into the gallery, i figured going back to it was the easiest zone to get into. The weather was closing in as we made our way up there and enjoyed lunch in a whiteout on the peak. We'd decided on one of the main chutes to see what was in that part of the zone. I just needed to find the entrance in a whiteout, in a zone i barely knew. But i was able to find it easy enough. The snow had warmed up a little from the day before, but the turns were still quite good as kimmie and i leapfrogged our way down the chute.

With it starting snow we left the zone with full intentions to head back up there whenever it's good. So stoked i finally made it up there and it was everything and more i thought it would be.


the chute-ing gallery

me climbing up to the summit

kyle getting some turns. snow was pretty good...

kyle again. i have more photos but kyle is just buried in all his turns in them

kyle poking around. the advantage of going second and having somebody down low with a radio to talk you into lines

left over dust cloud from the tree bomb avalanche

kyle riding our second line. he's the little dot way up there

second days line

kimmie with her lunch enjoying the view

march in 3 parts...

couple videos made up from march. third one coming, as well as photos and some background stories..

justin lamoureux - march part 2 - splitboardin' from justin lamoureux on Vimeo.

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