Monday, January 3, 2011

Sunshine Meadows touring

Up too early after all that skiing & hardly sleeping, I picked up Alex & we were back out at Sunshine by nine o'clock.  This time we took the gondola up, one lift & then went out of bounds on to the Sunshine Meadows for my first decent ski-tour this winter.  It was slightly warmer than the previous day, & the still-rising sun slowly warmed us as we skinned across the meadows.  This was a similar route to that which Alex, Megan & I hiked at the start of July to kick off our three-day hike to Mt Assiniboine & Mt Shark.
It all looks a little different to what it did in the summer (but just as beautiful):

Anyway - back to the snow.  We were aiming for Citadel Pass & slowly worked our way towards it picking whatever route looked good - it was difficult to see any previous skin tracks to follow.  This made some of the climbing a little difficult as all of a sudden whoever was trail breaking would fall an unexpected foot or so in to a void.  Well, it was difficult for me at times being unused to such occurrences.
Alex skinning across another flat patch.

We had a few downhill runs here & there.  I think these were just to show me that I can't really ski all that well off-piste.  I took a few more dives - at least landing in soft snow doesn't hurt.  We veered off from our path to the Citadel (that's that big hunk of rock in the centre of these pictures) & headed up another ridge that looked nice.

The route we chose didn't look so inviting half way up, so we turned again & skied back to Howard Douglas Lake (which we had skinned across no so long before) before skinning up to our lunch spot.  The skin on my left ski managed to frustrate me no end as it managed to come off five times, even after I'd tightened the fastening mechanism.  At half past one, I was fair starving so pleased to sit in the sun & mostly out of the wind that had picked up here.  It didn't seem too cold, but at -10ºC it turns out your sandwiches freeze to the bottom of your lunchbox.  After I made a few more rookie errors on the small run down we had, we turned & headed back to the meadows & the ski resort.  Most of this was skinning, but there was a little cruising downhill.

Here are a few pictures, courtesy of Alex (I can't keep writing 'shamelessly stolen', even if it's true).
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That's me taking it easy & not falling over for a change.

Oh look, I'm putting my skins on again.

Eventually, we were back across the meadows & heading in to the resort boundaries (that's that blue sign there).  
After six of so hours of this excursion, I was exhausted & my feet were starting to hurt.  When I found the small blisters on the inside of my feet (above the arches) I learnt the importance of loosening my boots while skinning.  For a pretty busy day as Sunshine (the beauty of where we were was that we didn't see another soul for five hours), we managed to time it right & missed chaos on the ski-out.  So tired, I couldn't really be bothered making turns so snow-ploughed most of the way back to the car.  Another great day here in the Bow Valley & 2011 doesn't seem to have slowed down yet.  Thanks Alex for taking me back-country & not having to put my shoulder back in.

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