Monday 9 December 2013

AST 1 Course (Avalanche Skills Training)

My first time to Singing Pass (Whistler) on skis
After I started nordic skiing 3 winters ago, the wintertime changed from something to just get through to something to really look forward to. Last year when I was out at Callgahan I started to imagine traveling on some of "brown" ski touring trails on the map, but obviously with my skinny skate skis I was limited to the groomed trails. The interest in exploring these areas lingered and the motivation to try backcountry skiing took root.

I know many mountain bikers and cyclists here in Vancouver who have been backcountry skiing for years and finally I decided it was time also to enjoy the mountains more in the winter on some fatter skis too.
Climbing back up Flute Mtn. at the end of the day
The first thing I did was to register for an avalanche course. With the course date now decided on my calendar I quickly set out to get the gear I needed. With the instigation of another friend we visited the offices of G3 here in North Vancouver and got set up with all the gear (skis and safety) we needed. I ended up with a pair of very pretty Cake 100 skis with Ruby bindings. Chris at 3G mounted my bindings for me and gave me a quick clinic on how not to get tangled up in, or stuck onto my skins. And off I went for a few afternoon runs at Cypress mountain. The mostly manmande snow was a bit scarce in patches, but certainly good enough to get some first runs done on the new skis.

It's been over 20 years since I was last on skis. The first couple runs I had to figure out how I liked my boots buckled etc, but it was not long before I felt pretty comfortable on my new skis. It was a long time ago, but I certainly don't remember my last set of skis being this easy and fun to ski on. I left the mountain feeling like I would be at least able to ski well enough to take my course now ;-)

There is an awful lot to learn about winter travel in the mountains with route finding, navigation, avalanche safety etc - and taking the AST 1 + that I did over a weeknight session and 2 days over the past weekend was great, but only just scratched the surface. I am really looking forward to continuing my learning and ski development this winter, and of course to experience more of the special beauty that one enjoys in the mountains during wintertime.

Digging snow pits to look at the layers and do some tests
 More photos from the weekend here


Tuesday 3 December 2013

Cross Nationals

Guess those socks are a write-off!
This past weekend I was in Vancouver and made the trip out to watch the Cyclocross National Championships in S. Surrey. It was a nasty rainy Novemeber day - but for 'cross racing I guess you could say the conditions were 'perfect'! Coffee in hand, looking out the window from the warm and dry of my kitchen lead to a delay in my departure and I only made it out to watch the elites and U23's race. But after just over a couple of hours out in the driving rain I was suitably wet and cold. I had my camera with me, but it was not a day to learn and play with any settings. I just pushed the shutter button and hoped for the best. I had fun regardless of the soaking, and it was great also getting to catch up with quite a few familiar faces.

The course looked like an excellent test of cross skills and no big surprise that in the end a couple of mountain bikers slipped and slid their way to take both the elite titles.
Photo Gallery here
Catherine in control
Kabush takes on the muddy staircase

Monday 28 October 2013

A sunny fall day at Gowland Todd

Swimming into Fall
Well the fog finally lifted and we enjoyed a fine fall weekend here in Victoria. I managed to get out with my pup to the Gowland Todd Provincial park for a nice Sunday hike. We left a bit late and completed the outward walk on the Rabbity trail in the daylight and came back on the more defined ridgetop trails by headlamp in the dark. I only noticed the parking lot gate closing time on my way out...lucky for me they did not lock the gate on time sunday night!

Monday 30 September 2013

Vanier Park 'Cross

Well the first big storm of the fall hit Vancouver hard this weekend with high winds and loads of rain...and go figure, the Vanier Park Cyclocross race had probably it's biggest turnout ever! Really...what's the point of doing a cross race on a warm sunny day ;-)

I only raced 'cross the final three years of my career and it quickly became my favorite cycling discipline.

I enjoyed it a lot the few times I raced the Vanier circuit. As I'm not into racing myself these days, I was happy to volunteer at the event and snap a few pictures. It was pretty challenging with the rain, but 'cross is a pretty photogenic sport, there were lots of willing subjects, and atmosphere at cross races is always fun to be a part of. It was great also to see so many kids and newbies out here!

My Vanier Park Cyclocross photo album HERE

Welcome to Fall!

Well it's officially Fall. I have to say I am definitely sorry to say goodbye to our (glorious) summer. But as I have now been bit by the nordic ski bug, fall is good as it means winter and snowy trails are coming soon. The past two years my fall-time has been filled with many wonderful day hikes. This is not really anything different from my racing days - I always used to hike a lot at the end of the season. Those hikes, though, were much shorter than what I do now. Cyclist legs don't always enjoy doing a lot of walking!

As when I raced, I am always watching the weather and trying to maximize getting out in good conditions whenever possible. I was checking out the long term forecasts and the only nice days for at least a week looked like this past Wednesday and Thursday. With this in mind I dreamed up a little plan....

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Are the best things in life free?

Good morning North Shore!
Last week in Vancouver turned out to be the hottest one of the summer - or at least we recorded the hottest single day of the year. With the acceptance that summer is coming soon to a close, I was motivated to take advantage of this great weather. Maybe the last of the year?

It's something that's been in the back of my mind for a couple years since reading this comment on the Internet. "Everyone should sleep one night on Unnecessary Mountain".

So on Thursday afternoon Laddie, Daisy Dog and I departed from the Cypress Mountain parking lot down the Howe Sound Crest trail - destination Unnecessary Mountain.

Friday 16 August 2013

The Howe Sound Crest Trail

Kilometer after kilometer this trail will overwhelm your eyeballs!
Howe Sound Crest Trail photos HERE

It's been on my "to do" list for a couple years, and I promised myself to do it this summer.With the realization that the end of summer is fast approaching I did some final internet research on the Howe Sound Crest Trail, packed my day hike kit and the night before my hike I drove my vehicle to the Porteau Rd. trailhead and rode my bike back to the city.