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


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