Posts Tagged ‘Steep’

As a geographer, I’d always been fascinated about skiing locations. People generally don’t realize that you can ski at many places in the World which aren’t associated with snow. Although Baffin Island is cold and white, the last thing they think about is skiing steeps couloirs.

For summer reading I picked up at the library Mark Synnott’s Climbing, Trekking & Skiing Baffin Island Guide book. I had seen beautiful pictures of the Baffin Island’s Auyuittuq National Park and know friends that have been, it just shows what is possible. There is also incredible skiing on the north part of the island near Clyde River.

Part of the ski descents sections are written by ski mountaineer Andrew McLean. McLean and his partner Brad Barlage did the many first descents and named them including Polar Star Couloir in April 2002. He defines the couloir off the Beluga Spin as

possibly the best skiing couloir on earth (…) long narrow, turnable, steep, sheltered, straight and stunning 1100 m (3,640′) of 45-50 degrees.

Since then McLean has returned to Baffin Island. This month I featured an episode from “A Skier’s Journey”. Getting there is part of the adventure. Jamie Bond, Chad Sayers, Tobin Seagel, Marcus Waring and Chad & Jordan Manley collaborate to ski, film, narrate and edited in this excellent episode on Baffin Island. You get a glimpse of the PSC neat the 2 minute mark and see the descent at 8:15.

High in the Canadian Arctic, five friends venture to the frozen fjords of Northwest Baffin Island during spring time. Ancient and colossal, these branching hallways of rock are the domain of seals and polar bears, and relied upon by local Inuit hunters. For visiting skiers, the fjords are nothing short of a dream. In every direction, giant couloirs ascend thousands of feet above the sea ice, weaving in between some of the tallest and cliffs on the planet.

Skin Track : Interview with Andrew McLean – Icon of North American ski mountaineering

The following posts are written by Andrew McLean and taken from his sites.

Baffin Island Ski Mountaineering Primer

Going Down Big – Baffin Island
Love At First Flight

Expeditions & Adventures :
Baffin Island 2002
Baffin Island 2004

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Saturday May 1 : Sunday River

Ski Mania!
May Mania!!
Ski Maynia!!!

Not exactly sure if it has always been called that Ski Mania? Sunday River has been offering free skiing to all on this day for years. In the last few years, Sunday River has had Ski Mania on their last day of operations towards the end of April. In 2013, the Ski Mania was on April 21. Ski Mania wasn’t always on the last day of operations, it would just coincided with May 1 or/and the Sunday next to it. Les Otten bought Sunday River in 1980 and started to build the resort to compete with his old employer, Killington. He would start applying the same formula that made Killington’s reputation: extension on various peaks, snowmaking, grooming and long ski seasons.

Towards the end of my university years, MadPat was always on lookout for bargain skiing. I was definitely present if there was a free ticket within a 3-hour drive from Montreal. Free tickets for all had become a rare sight in 1999. For example, Killington no longer offered free skiing on June 1, let alone make it to June, they hadn’t the previous season in 1998 and weren’t going to make it this year either. Actually two ski areas were offering free skiing on May 1st: Sugarbush and Sunday River. The Maine area won out for its combo skiing potential – more later.

After having attended the 1995 and 1996 Ski Maynia, I had missed the two following years due to work and illness. I was back on track in Maine and would return to event annually until 2002 making it 6 years out of 8 in Maine for a free lift ticket.

Being only two weeks since our return from a ski trip to Banff, Mrs. MadPat didn’t make the trip this time; she stayed back in Canada with our 1 1/2 year old daughter. This was my second weekend in Maine, having skied Sugarloaf the previous weekend. I was joined for the drive this week by SuperNat who had been with us on the last Sunday River May 1st in 1996 and we had planned for a weekend of skiing. My good friend Lucky Luke and his friend Eric were meeting us in Maine. It was a real warm day with temperature in the mid 70s: a real Spring skiing day with little clothing, sun glasses and sun screen. Great snow left. The bonus was that the lift ticket was free.

The Barker Quad was running and passing over the snowmaking pond. I vaguely remember odd folks diving in it. A stretch of snow had been pushed to reach the bottom of the chair. Main trails on Barker were open or at least skiable which could stretch out to the lower slope of Locke and Spruce Mountain. We had our old skis for the occasion, so the odd skiing over dirt to access untouched corn didn’t bother us.I’m known to have a good memory, but I can’t recall if we made out to White Heat that year or they were other lifts open like the Spruce Triple like on a previous Maynia day.

At the end of the day, we soaked in the sun. Like during my first visit at Sunday River on May 27, 1994, I decided to combine the drive to this part of Maine with a visit to Tuckerman Ravine. It had been almost 5 years since that last visit, plus the last time, I didn’t take my skis to the Ravine. My last skiing visit was back with Lucky Luke back in early May 1992: Luke had returned since. Eric and myself had talked about going, but I can’t remember why they bailed? So we parted ways, SuperNat and I only had a short drive ahead of us to make it to Gorham NH and Hikers’ Paradise.

Picture by SuperNat : MadPat pointing at the duct tape on Lucky’s skis.

Picture by SuperNat : MadPat, Lucky and Eric

Picture by SuperNat : Group pic

Picture by SuperNat : SuperNat next to the snowmaking pond with Barker Mountain in the background


Sunday May 2 : Tuckerman Ravine

Another warm morning, but we only had a short drive. Nevertheless we didn’t manage to get an early start. We were in the first parking lot at Pinkham Notch, but it took us a long time to get going. Eat breakfast and took time to get organized. What to bring; what to leave at the car? How warm is it going to be? Once we finally got going, I was feeling the previous day skiing in my legs and back as we began the hike. Similar to the previous hike up on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, I opted to carry on skis on my shoulder instead of having the long Rossignol 4S 207cm skis hitting the back of my legs or tripping me up. We arrived at Hojo in late morning to find many people gathered. Hikers and skiers alike – it was probably going to be a zoo up in the Bowl. We took a break, eat and looked around. We noticed someone skiing Duchess which is right above the HoJo deck it would seem. The line is serious terrain, on May 2, the line was even sketchyer.

Picture by SuperNat : Hiking on Snow on Tuckerman Ravice trail

Picture by SuperNat : Hojo and Hillman’s Highway. Also great view of Dodge and Duchess (just above Hojo)

Picture by SuperNat : MadPat and his beloved 4Ss

Picture by SuperNat : Hiking towards Hillman’s

Having never skied Hillman’s Highway, we opted to ski it as the fact that it was already late and the closest slope plus it looked real sweet. HH is the longest run in the Tuckerman area; a nice 1500’ vertical with a constant pitch at 30-35 degrees which gets progressively steeper at the top to reach a maximum 40 degrees.

It’s a long hike to the top and it took us a long time. Not everyone hiked the entire slope. We hiked a bit at the top to looked at the view of Tuckerman Ravine and Mount Washington summit beyond. We also meet fellow Quebecers that had just skied Tremblant. They would take the right entrance, we took the left. Not sure which one was steepest.

I remember we only did one run from the top, but I think we did a half-run also. Snow was real soft and in deep corn snow mode with the warm temperature. At the end of our day which was dictated by our fatigue and the drive ahead, we skied onto Shelburne Trail. The trail was open only 1/3 of the way down before we had to move back to a busy Tuckerman Ravine Trail. At that time, a skier we had seen earlier had rebooted on the trail slaloming through the crowd which we shouting at him “No skiing on the hiking trail”. He didn’t understand; he was visiting from Colorado and didn’t know it was forbidden to ski on TRT.

I was beat once at the bottom and a very long drive ahead. It’s going to be hard getting into work on Monday morning, but I’ll be smiling about a great weekend of skiing. It was a great day. Real warm and sunny. As we driving through Lancaster NH, I noticed an ice cream stand. I suddenly stopped to a screeching halt. A hot day of skiing wouldn’t be complete without an ice cream. That is what Spring Skiing in all about. Next ski destination: Killington.

Picture by SuperNat

Picture by SuperNat

Picture by SuperNat : Random skier hiking the steeps

Picture by SuperNat : MadPat reaching the top. View of Sherburne on the top corner

Picture by SuperNat : SuperNat, Tuckerman and the summit of Mt. Washington

Picture by SuperNat : Ants in Tuckerman Ravine

Picture by SuperNat : Quebec skiers dropping in the left

Picture by SuperNat : Random skier in short – view of left entrance to HH in the background

Picture by SuperNat : Random skier spraying corn

Picture by SuperNat

Picture by SuperNat

Picture by SuperNat

Picture by SuperNat : One last look up before we leave

Picture by SuperNat : Hiking out

Picture by SuperNat : Buds on the trees, Spring is definitely here

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It has already been twenty years since that memorable May trip at Tuckerman Ravine. A trip significantly edged in my brain due to the new friendship, love and commandery.

It was my 7th season of racing with Les Carabins de l’Université de Montréal, after another season of skiing small hills and race courses, training two-nights a week and racing and training on alternating weekends, it was time to ski bigger hills and verticals. Between time on the ski team, my thesis and dealing with students and papers, I had little time or money to escape from the Laurentians and ski on my own time and dime during the Winter. I didn’t mind the routine, but my university days as a student and racer were coming to an end.

A number of fellow racers generally had enough once the gates were gone, however I always looked for some May turns after a busy April on campus. This year’s team included a group of younger racers which, like myself, didn’t spend their youth ski racing and were motivated on getting any type of turns. Skiing at Whiteface and Tremblant late April turns was great.

One of those skiers was someone who would eventually be known as Lucky Luke. We had skied together at Whiteface and Tremblant. I believe it might have been at the Ski Circuit party at Chez Swan (I believe it’s now the location of Café Campus on Prince Arthur which used to be at the corner Queen Mary where the Second Cup is and next to the university back then), a few of us got talking making it to Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington. In the end, only three of us would make the trip. After looking at the weather and avalanche forecast, we circled on Thursday on the calendar with a departure from Montreal that Wednesday night.

Party Music heard in parties during my university years. Ski team parties were sometimes out of control – RIP MCA

The group consisted of JF, Luc and myself. I was the only one that had skied Tuckerman before, back in late May 1990 on the Victoria Day weekend. At that time I had stayed in the shelters at Hermit Lake. This time we drove overnight to Gorham to sleep at the Hikers’ Paradise. Driving in the dark, we talked about stuff, skiing, plus I had a girl on my mind.

Once in Gorham, we went to a now lost local bar. A fun evening mixed with brews and stoked about the following day. Forecast was warm and bluebird skies. At one point Lucky went to the washroom and didn’t come back, JF and I hadn’t really noticed as people were talking, playing pool and listening to music. All of sudden we heard Lucky yelling and banging on the washroom door. The washroom door was jammed – as someone let him out, we were all laughing.

Cool and bright the next morning. It was still fairly cold when we started the hike. I had my old yellow ski team jacket on and was carrying my skis on my shoulders. I had found the hike up the TRT with 205cm skis on my backpack to be a pain in the calves calfs hiking steeper part of trail or over boulders. Lucky was also carrying his skis on his shoulders. I believe he had created shoulders pads with foam that he ducktaped directly on his shoulders. JF was the only that used the conventional way with ski mounted on his backpack.

The Skis:
Madpat: 207cm long Rossignol 4S.
Lucky Luke: K2’s KVC 200cm strait as a 2X4.
JF: probably some 205 or 210cm Kneissl White Star.

Picture by Lucky Luke – JF and Pat

Picture by Lucky Luke – Pat looking at the Bowl

Picture by Lucky Luke – Hillman May 1992

Picture by Lucky Luke – Snow advisory

The stoke level increase as we started getting a glimpse of Boot Spur and Lion’s Head and a cool breeze. The excitement raised a notch once we arrived at Hermit Lake, I was having a stomach cramps and wasn’t feeling too good. It might have been the excitement, but probably more to do with the breakfast. After a short break at Hojo’s and continued on to the Bowl. Once we reached the amphitheatre, we had the places almost to ourselves. I was feeling a bit woozy. I told JF and Lucky to take one run without me. They climbed straight up the Lip until I lost sight of them. After a long wait, they weren’t coming down, I started up as I wanted to ski. Stomach was still unset, but not enough to stop me from skiing. I climbed the lip. Although this wasn’t my first visit, this was my definitely the steepest climb. The slope was steep enough to have the tips of my skis hit the slope. At one point I had to take them off my shoulder and dig them horizontally as I climb every step of the steep bootpack, especially when a few steps didn’t have much snow and was more on less on ice near the crux of the slope.

Picture by Lucky Luke – Luke and the Bowl

Picture by Lucky Luke – Tuckerman ahead, Wildcat behind

This was my second climb out of Tuckerman Ravine, however the previous visit was during on a snowy white out day on Canadian Thanksgiving in mid-October 1991. Looking toward the summit, I could see two small dots, I wasn’t sure that if it was JF and Lucky. I waited until I managed to recognized them. We traversed above Tuckerman Ravine to drop into Left Gully. Lucky and I were somewhat impressed by the intimidating entry, although I had been out to West and skied Saudan Couloir (now named Couloir Extreme) at Blackcomb in June 1988. JF who had spent a Summer in New Zealand charged in if he was entry an intermediate slope.

One thing about JF, not much got him stressed even when his backwindshield shattered on the Autoroute at -25c, he continued on after asking the backpassenger with was myself, to clear the window at 70 mph. I had known him a few years on the ski team. He wasn’t part of the ‘A’ team and also they didn’t take himself too seriously. He left the team for a few years with the plan to drive down to South America with no itinerary or timeline in a beaten up Toyota Corrosion. This seemed to be an issue at one US border crossing and he was refused entry. On that trip, after an odd job in California, he bordered a plane for NZ where he thought skiing down under. When he came back a few months later, he found his car where he left it. Got in and continued his way south until he had everything in his car stolen in front of a police station somewhere in Mexico or Central America. He also mentioned that odd jobs weren’t enough to continue on his drive. Eventually started driving back and we back to the University and the ski team after being done for maybe one year or two?

Picture by Lucky Luke – JF and Pat

Picture by Lucky Luke – Summit

So after JF dropped in, Lucky and I looked at ourselves and said ”Hell, we’re better skiers, we can do this”. After dropping in the 45-50 degree steep entrance, the rest seemed pretty mellow even if it was steeper than anything I had skied at a ski area. We stopped at the exit of LG in order to climb back up The Chute. I clicked off my skis on the steep slope and started going up the bootpack. Luke wasn’t so Lucky. I could hear a huge “Tabarn@k” echoing in the Bowl. As he clicked out of one ski to get set to climb, he lost control of his ski at it slide down the entire Bowl, so instead of climbing he had to ski down on one ski to fetch his other ski.

Picture by Lucky Luke – Our turns

Picture by Lucky Luke – Bootlatter

I just climbed the bottom half of Chute and skied towards Lunch Rocks as we decided to eat lunch. At this time, there were maybe two dozen skiers and hikers in Tuckerman Ravine. We were relaxing, eating, enjoying the scenery, the skiing, ours and the others making turns. I remember being in “ahhh” with our day and this place. A perfect bluebird and warm weather, the White Bowl and Sun increased the sun warmth. We heard ice falls crashing echoing the Bowl. All of sudden, someone yell “ICE” as rocks came crashing down towards Lunch Rocks. I remember leaping down onto the snow, piece of sandwich in my hand or the side and almost cartwheeling down. Lucky and JF had taken cover in the boulders. As I looked at my peanut butter sandwich, half of it had torn off when I ran away. A 12-18” rock landed we were having lunch. Note to self, Lunch rocks!!! 😕

Picture by Lucky Luke – JF about to disappear in Chute

After lunch, we climbed back the Lip and we decided to traverse towards Left Gully again. I wasn’t the easier way of going it, but we didn’t know any better back then as we didn’t see anyone climbing LG. Most of the skiers were skiing the bottom of the lower Bowl and climbing the bootpack all the way to the tiny crevasse. As we traversing, JF wanted to turn down before LG, in what is called “Chute”. We couldn’t see the bottom. We could see him skiing away as it was getting steeper and steeper. After that run, JF mentioned that it was really really steep. “Like skiing on the edge on a pool cue”. Lucky and I charged Left Gully, taking pictures at the same time with Luc’s camera. He was the only that hadn’t forgotten it.

Picture by Lucky Luke – MadPat in LG

Picture by Lucky Luke – MadPat in LG

Picture by Lucky Luke – Lucky Kickass jumpturn in LG

Picture by Lucky Luke

We climbed up our backpacked at Lunch Rock for one last run out. We decided only to climb the bottom of the Bowl. As JF was coming down fast, he was slightly out of balance with his centre of gravity near one of the tips of his 205cm long skis. All of sudden, he just went over his skis and cartwheeled with his backpack. We could see this coming so much. After he got back up, we managed to ski down out of the Bowl via the Little Headwall. Skiing down the Sherburne Trail was a faster way down than hiking back down the TRT, however it didn’t make it easy as it was bumped out and my legs would have been toasted like my face and top of my head. A Sunscreen didn’t have the PSF level they do know…if I used some. There was snow 3/4 down. We rejoined the TRT hiking trail near the bottom switch backs.

Picture by Lucky Luke

You could stick a fork in us, we were done. A long drive to Montreal, once I got back home and left on a date with that girl. That was twenty years ago and JF is the only one I haven’t seem in years.

MadPat’s Gallery:
Tuckerman – 7 mai 1992

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Days of a few firsts.

First time at this ski area. I’m pretty sure the following was a first. Daytrip where the distance in kilometers (one way or both) was greater than the vertical of the ski area. 250km vs 130m approximately. Leaving the locals which have greater vertical than this Tug I’ve been hearing about for years. The local scene was white, but wasn’t happening.

If it wouldn’t been for the snow that he had all week, but the storm brewing south of the border… then I saw skimore’s post last Friday. This got me thinking:

Tug got 18 last night and

This Afternoon: Snow showers and areas of blowing snow. The snow could be heavy at times. High near 21. West wind around 16 mph, with gusts as high as 36 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Total daytime snow accumulation of 32 to 38 inches possible.

Tonight: Snow and widespread blowing snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Low around 12. Wind chill values as low as zero. West wind between 10 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 32 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 15 to 21 inches possible.

Saturday: Snow showers, mainly before 10am. High near 27. Wind chill values as low as -3. West wind between 10 and 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.

I decided to PM skimore, he had invited me down a couple years ago and I was always curious. I could only afford being away for one day, daytrip destination only. As I was giving 40-60 odds of me actually making the trip, I kept staring at the computer screen that showed a strong lake effect instead of working. Too busy, but I had to get out. Then I was pretty much decided, skimore mentioned a friend that what part of his Chic Choc party last April and that he lived somewhere in Eastern Ontario. The friend in question was Taiga from TTips which lives in Ottawa only 2 miles from my home.

Taiga and I agreed at a 5am pickup time. The distance from Ottawa to Tug is something like 220km. The snow level was pretty low at the border which is the St.Lawrence River. Across the border, I had no idea where I was going, lucky Taiga had been to Tug before. After a few minutes, he tells me that he might have missed the turnoff…back we go, heading back from where we came from then we turned. Again, we turned too early and we are heading in the right direction, but the road would then turn west…back on our steps. #-o Looking on a Blackberry and trying to find the proper route…we found a interconnecting road and rejoined Highway 812, where we were suppose to be in the first place. Great, I was lost, no maps will travel.

As we are driving, the snow banks were getting higher. Wow…then in Lowville we made the wrong turn at the Fork in the road. 🙄 We weren’t too far that there was a huge sign mentioned the ski area was 2 miles to the right. 8-[ The plan had been to meet skimore as we wanted to skin up before the lifts opened, however we got there only 20 minutes before the scheduled opening of the lift. We hurried indoor, got changed and heading to wait in line. It would seem all these people know each other. Waiting for the lift to open, I was looking at the main run…not one track. Wow, it was beautiful. :drool: Taiga noticed skimore toward the top of the hill skinning. The lift took a while to get going, so skimore managed a first tracks before the people started arriving on the top. Most of the people assault that wide run next to the liftline. It was fun, however the pitch was a bit flat for this amount of new snow. We repeated this one more time and then saw skimore at the top. He said that this was too flat and that we needed to follow him. I don’t know where he brought us? Faceshots, pillows, not sure if this was an official trail or if we turned away from the ski area. At one point, there was this drop, the slope wasn’t getting steeper, it was a sharp drop. I was somewhat concern with all the trees and branches around, but it didn’t seem to be much of a problem as skimore and friends charged down. This terrain is steep and intense (although short), not many place this small have terrain like this in their off-piste. We headed back further and further skiing through some nasty prickly branches, like skiing through bard wire, you don’t want a face shot here. 😕 At the bottom of the drop, we were to negotiate a creek crossing. Back on top, back in the woods. I thought we were back at the same place, but skimore mentioned that this place wasn’t. I didn’t know where we were. Lost again, no maps, will travel.

A well deserved lunch at the bar, we headed back up with some skins as we were going to head toward a closed part of the hill. Trackless in the woods and on the trails, but not as steep. We decided to headback to where we were in the morning. We were a fairly big group, but we started to split up. Taiga and I got loss with skimore one more time. For the next run, I was toasted and wanted to ski the official trails. This is a fun local area, not much of a challenge…until you get lost.

Thanks to skimore for being a wonderful guide and lending a set of skis and skins. Not a ton of vertical and a lot of pushing, but I was done.

Powderqueen wrote:

I hope they got some pix to post.

It’s been my experience, when the skiing is real good, you don’t stop for pics. This is the only thing that skimore got (posted in the other FTO TR):

This is what some of the terrain looks like (taken last year by skimore): short and sick…sweet. :mrgreen:

Don’t ask me where this place is, because I don’t know, I was lost the whole time. O:)

Finally to end this TR, this quote from the ski area’s snow report says it all:

This report is effective 5pm Saturday, December 12, 2009.

It looks like winter is finally here. [b]We received a total of 38″ of snow on Friday and the skiing and riding today were absolutely fantastic. If you weren’t here today you don’t know what you missed.


Originally posted on Thu Dec 17, 2009 12:34 am on firsttracksonline

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Okay, the good news for camping is that the night was pretty warm. Éric played guitar/harmonica and going through the repertoire of Neil Young, Pink Floyd, etc. According to Lucky, this brings the girls out, but the only girls around our tents would have been female moose. Look at your feet when you walk, moose crap is everywhere. 😮

So we head in our tent shortly before 11pm as the rain started falling. Wind howled during the night and at one point Luc’s tent collapsed on us. Everything was wet inside. Pete said that he felt something on the edge of their tent, I felt something too!!! MMMhh!!! :-k

We had to get everything out and try to get it dry. The rain was still falling, but not as hard. After many minutes of hesitating, Lucky, Pete and Éric decided to head out and ski. It was Pete and Éric’s last day and they only had one day under their belt. I had already gotten 2 days and maybe another day on Monday, so I decided to pass. Extremeskiboy from Zoneski fame joined them later. I stayed around with the others Zoneskiers, did some little hiking and checked out the exhibit at the Information Centre. Once Pete and Éric were back, they started packing their stuff and drove back to Western Québec. Éric said that he didn’t like the snow. Lucky had a different opinion, but he was getting really wet skiing and hiking. Lucky and I had the same idea, we left…and drove into town. The temps were going below 0c and some our stuff was humid. One of the ZSki pairs left also while the others stayed at the campground.

Picture by MadPat : Pete, Lucky and Éric thinking about options

Picture by MadPat : Rivière Sainte-Anne next to campground raging

Picture by MadPat : River might be good for kayaking, but there is the odd waterfall

Picture by MadPat : Pete and Éric are tearing down the site

Picture by MadPat : Group picture like the ones you see in Beer Ads

Picture by MadPat : Ste-Anne-des-Monts at the end of the day

Picture by MadPat : Driving and looking for the Sea-shack for another day of skiing

Picture by Éric
Picture by Éric : Éric and Pete heading West and not skiing tomorrow

Picture by MadPat : Beautiful part of Quebec. Mountain meets the sea or super large St.Lawrence river steroids

We headed to stay at the Hostel we stayed the previous winter, however prices listed aren’t what we had in mind. On the Friday, Vincent mentioned that we was going to stay at the Sea-shack. That sounded interesting, so we headed that way. We had beds in a type of wooden tent on the beach, definitely sounded like a cool setting. Girls and a spa, a few of them we’re curious when we started getting our ski gear out. “There is still snow?”

Lucky and I eat on the beach and enjoyed the sunset on the sea. Lucky mentioned that he would prefer being next to his girlfriend, I agreed, I would also prefer being next to his girlfriend. 8-[ 😆 😉

Picture by MadPat : Lucky’s looking for cash for his car ads setting. This is where we eat (well Lucky did) and the hostel is 500 ft behind us

Picture by MadPat : Lucky’s girlfriend isn’t in this picture. He had to settle for a bearded guy … and me, him. lol

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Nice sunset on the St.Lawrence

Picture by MadPat : Lucky’s perfect romantic setting wasted on Pat

Picture by MadPat : Sea-shack. Comfortable settings, hoping for a good night sleep



That Sunday night the Sea-Shack hostel was packed with foreign exchange students from France plus the odd travelers. The only place available was in the yurt (like a tee-pee) which had about 5 bunk beds (slept 10-15). After a few beers inside, next to the fireplace outside and listening to the music playing, we eventually called it a night. Lucky got tired or maybe he was tired of the locals which had just arrived to impress the female tourists. A few minutes later, I decided to get to bed also. MMhh….nice, dry and warm bed.

We are now comfortable in our beds in our yurt next to the beach as a girl was putting logs on the stove; it was actually too hot. That’s when someone cranked the volume outside to maximum. Some of drunken locals were loud as they were trying to impress. Someone had a loud and very annoying big long red horns that you see drunken idiots used at the Grey Cup games or Québec’s Winter Carnival. Needless to say, it was probably the worst night I’ve had in a hostel noise wise. I guess we shoud have checked their website, but we were going according to what we heard. For that Sunday, it might have been a great place to party, but not necessarily to sleep. The website might have clued us off, especially when they mentioned bar on the beach and pictures on drunk people on their website.

Ok, it might have been a bad night. I remember know why I check into the hostel reviews when I travel. Funny, I was sure that Lucky would lose it, but it was a girl in our dorm that steeped out and told them to cut it out and turn the off the *?&*?&* music at 4:30am: the sun was already up.

Two hours later, Lucky woke me up and we left the sea toward the mountains. Last day, cold temps and rain the previous day made for an interesting surface. As we observed the different white ribbons on the surrounding mountain as we moved in land, we wondered if we would be lucky to get the soft conditions we had on Friday or the frozen surface I expected at the beginning of this trip?

Picture by MadPat : Heading back towards the mountains

We made it to the campground to join the 2 remaining ZSkiers. After a breakfast near freezing temps, we headed up the familiar road. Lucky was hoping to explore different locations, however the uncertainty of the snow surfaces made us decide on the familiar and easier access terrain.

The snow on the road toward Saturday location had melted enough for us to use it. After finding the route to the apron of the mountain, the surface was what we had feared: it was frozen solid. ExtremeSkiBoy and Lucky got their crampons on and I got the ice axe. Yannick from ZSki had decided that he wasn’t going to try riding if the conditions would be firm and leave his board in the car. We didn’t head toward the longer no-fall couloir, but the bottom of the other couloir. I had a hard time getting the ice axe into the slope. Booting up required a few kicks only to get one, maybe two inches in. Extremeskiboy mentioned that it was crazy to climb without crampons. They were seeing my slow climbing technique. It was a fun experience, definitely crazy enough that you needed crampons or an ice axe. The snow was ppprrreeeettttty firm.
We made two short runs (100-120m vert) each before heading back through the bushes, around the pond, branches toward the car.

Picture by Yannick : Pat making his way through the bushes

Picture by Yannick : Skis back on

Picture by Yannick : Lucky skiing frozen solid slope

Picture by MadPat : MadPat making it up without crampons (taken by Yannick)

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Extremeskiboy with the crampons and MadPat with the axe. Where going to ski this??? We are mad

Picture by MadPat : MadPat on edge (taken by Yannick)

Picture by MadPat : Lucky, Yannick and Extreme at the bottom heading home.

Picture by MadPat : A real maze to get and from this place. Trees

Picture by MadPat : Water…

Picture by MadPat : Extremeskiboy thinks it’s worth the trouble getting to

At the car Lucky and I decided to make one last call and skied the dyke where the car was parked. Yeah…the snow was pretty dirty and corny. So much fun that Lucky and I decided to do it again. The dyke was about 35 meter high (you could ski lower), an extremely fun 35 meter. Great way to finished our trip as Lucky and I high-five each other after out last run. What a fun trip to a great place.

As we started driving back to civilization shortly before 2pm, we were already thinking about our next time. Definitely will comeback, so many lines to ski. So many freaking lines.

That’s it folks (now I can repost some really dated TRs)!!! 😉

Picture by MadPat : Lucky skiing the dyke

Picture by MadPat : Going back up

Picture by Yannick : MadPat’s turn

Picture by Yannick : End of last run…Lucky and MadPat

Skilog for the Day

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Another try for Lucky to find a car sponsorship. Car on the dyke with terrain in the background

Picture by MadPat : Heading out

Picture by MadPat : Looking back. Saturday and today terrain with Dyke in foreground (white horizontal patch)

Picture by MadPat : Turn left at the river to head home

MadPat’s Galleries:
Mines Madeleine : 17 mai 2009
Mines Madeleine : 18 mai 2009

Originally posted on Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:22 pm on firsttracksonline

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After a good day, it was time to set up the small tent in the campground. Pete the Pete and Éric were leaving work many hours away on Friday and we supposed to join us at the campground. They made it, but never found our spot. When they woke up, they found that a moose gave them a welcoming gift next to their tent.

Temperature dropped below freezing that night and it was still pretty cold when we got out of the tent. I needed to get my winter coat on for breakfast. Lucky had some awful coffee, so he decided to add something to it to make it taste better. :mrgreen:

Picture by Éric
Picture by Éric : Moose welcome gift next to Pete and Éric’s tent

Picture by Éric
Picture by Éric : Cold night for camping

Picture by MadPat : Morning breakfast with coffee and Lucky’s special ingredient

Prior and after the previous day’s skiing, Lucky tested a different road with his girlfriend’s car. The road still had a lot of snow and he couldn’t make it to the other spot in order to access different terrain with similar steeps and couloirs.

Saturday morning we parked next that same road and started getting our gear ready for the hike on that road. As we finished organizing our backpack with all our gear, a group of locals showed up with a pickup truck. Not sure who joked around about getting a ride, but the guys offered to carry our gear at the end of the road. He also asked how much he could receive on ebay for all of our stuff. 😮

So we started hiking along the road without our backpacks, crossing water and snow in some parts. The pickup made it, we were starting looking at some new freaking lines.

Picture by Éric
Picture by Éric : Pete getting his stuff ready

Picture by Éric
Picture by Éric : Happy Lucky

Picture by MadPat : Drop off point and destination in the background

The approach wasn’t clear cut. The first part involved a serious bushwhack in hiking boots and the odd above knee snow. The rest was a route finding skinning. As we gather at the bottom of the apron, crowd was making it through the woods. Okay, this is Tuckerman, a crowd here would involve 10-15 people.

Although the temps moved below freezing that night, temps we definitely felt warmer. Blue sky and no wind. I didn’t forget to put sunscreen on my burnt face today.

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Éric skinning trees

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Pete and Lucky in the bush

Picture by MadPat : Éric, Pete and Lucky still in the trees.

All Lucky’s ski buddies plus the many locals that he meet were all there. There was two main couloirs on this face, the one called Trois mousquetaires on the left had a ice fall at 1/3 up and a crevasse lower down and the couloir de l’aigle was still frozen solid. The couloir’s funnels into the shade for a few hundreds feet (see previous day pic).

We started off skiing to the left, at first everyone climb to the crevasse while Lucky stopped at the ice fall higher up. This place felt definitely steeper than the previous day’s low 40s degrees slope.

Snow had a soft topping, but the cover was still pretty solid. We eat as the others started up the Eagle chute.

Picture by Éric
Picture by Éric : MadPat climbing up the bottom of the first couloir

Picture by MadPat : Pete the Pete in action

Picture by Éric : Lucky after his run talking to François from Vertigo Aventures

This climb was definitely nerve racking. Lucky did it on a frozen surface a couple years ago. YIKES!!! 8-[ The choke/funnel is pretty long. At one point we stopped to let a telemarker down. She definitely seemed intimated by the choke and our group looking up at her. She nailed it and started relaxing once passed the choke. Once on top, you forget all about it. Enjoy the view, eat a bit and look at the extra couloirs on the next ridge. Wish list for the next day?

Picture by MadPat : On the way up couloir de l’aigle. Steep!!!

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Chilling on top

Picture by Éric
Picture by Éric : Enjoying the view

Picture by Éric
Picture by Éric : More couloirs on another ridge… next destination?

Picture by MadPat : Lucky getting minded to go

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : François testing out the mini-skis

We started skiing before everything ended up in the shade and started freezing. Definitely a fun run. We skied the bottom of the other couloir when we noticed locals that Lucky knew skiing from top of the icefall and down climb. Snow was apparently great above, but the downclimb wasn’t for the lighthearted. These locals would climb back up and hike on the ridge and dive into Couloir en S that we skied yesterday. Of course, I believe that the 2 of the 3 were leaving to Bolivia. It included the guide from Vertigo that gave us the Avy course the previous winter.

Picture by MadPat : Lucky kicking it off

Picture by MadPat : Pete entering the choke/funnel

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Éric heading down

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Pete’s turn. MadPat checking him out.

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Local Colin on teles. Pat on the right and climbers on the right. Great steep perspective on this picture.

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : MadPat dropping in

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : MadPat further down the funnel…

Picture by MadPat : Gathering at the bottom

Picture by Éric
Picture by Éric : Pete the Pete and local all smiles

Clouds started moving in. The forecast called for 70% chance of rain on Sunday. Followed a local out of woods and he gave a ride to Éric and Pete + our gear. Lucky and I walked along the road.

Picture by MadPat : Saying goodbye…

As we got back to Lucky’s car. There was a gathering, drinking beer and munching. Talking and laughing. We finally meet up with the bunch from Zoneski. We hadn’t seen them in the morning, but they were skiing next to where we parked the previous day.

Great day…again. Terrain was steeper (probably 45-48 degrees) and gnarly on this day.

What will we do with the rain in the forecast. Will we leave and cut our trip short? We wouldn’t lose anything, Lucky and I just passed two amazing days on amazing terrain.

Skilog of Day Two

MadPat’s Gallery:
Mines Madeleine : 16 mai 2009


Originally posted on Tue May 26, 2009 11:15 pm on firsttracksonline

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Part 1

A freaking trip to the land of the freaking lines. :drool:

After seeing Lucky’s Freaking Lines FTO’s Trip Report a few years ago and speaking to him; this trip was definitely in the cards.

With the long weekend in May coming up, Lucky got the ball rolling, lining up his skiing buddies: :mrgreen:

Pete The Pete from Trois-Rivières, buddy on his last two expeditions to Terrace BC.

Éric from Laval, skiing friend dating back to High School and partner to last season trips to MSA, Sunday, Bush and Tuck.

Madpat from Ottawa, ski team days, powder days or late season trips.

“ALL IN” for this trip.

There are no fancy amenities on trips like these. It’s all about the skiing and you need to work hard, drive long hours, hike, skin and even bushwhack to get the freaking lines.

There are a few things that sucked during this trip.

The skiing (being in the East 😆 ), the views, the weather, the parties, the beer, the food, the lack of sleep, the gnarly steeps, the locals, the company, the moose shit, the bushwhacking from hell, camping in the rain or sleeping in a tent below freezing and the company… it was great!!!

Lucky, where do we sign up for next year’s trip???



After a long drive in a powerful windstorm, we crashed into what seemed to be the only open Motel in this sleepy coastal town at 1am. It was pricey for out-of-season, even if the guy behind the counter said he gave us a deal.

Woke out at 6:30 am, eat breakfast in the room after finding out that even at that price, the breakfast wasn’t included. I guess that is why it was called the “Monaco”.

Looking at the forecast and TV for the last time. A great deal of rain had fallen overnight, the wind is still blowing hard. Temps outside is around 4c, so it would definitely be colder in the mountains. The forecast temps around +8c with cloud cover, not a great prospect for a great day. 😦

So we drive, look around and get to the end of this old road. This is where we see the lines that Lucky has in mind. We noticed a few lines to choose from, but Lucky has the “Couloir en S” in mind. Man, pretty cold for mid-May, clouds, I decide to put on my winter pants, what are the surfaces going to be like? Are they going to soften up? 8-[

Picture by MadPat : Cloud cover and destination. Will it soften up?

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Getting the ski ready

Picture by MadPat : Lucky looking to get to the snow

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Zooming in

We start off at 9:30am and try to find a way to get to the bottom of the Bowl, first we need to negotiate around a stream and then we put on the skis and skin through the forest.

It’s not Tuckerman. At the bottom of the bowl, we are alone. I start bootpacking while Lucky is still skinning higher. I start eating before the climbing in the couloir, Lucky starts off right away. The route that were eyeing has definitely a tight choke. After seeing that Lucky isn’t coming down, I start my own climb, the sun is coming out and I realized that I didn’t put any sunscreen. The surface is soft, but get a bit thin crust of ice toward the top.

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Steep Couloir from the woods

Picture by MadPat : Lucky’s heading up

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : MadPat climbing the last part

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Made it

Picture by MadPat : High plateau

Picture by MadPat : Lucky stoke to go

Lucky eat on the plateau on top, the wind is blowing hard. Great views of the surrounding. From up high, we notice a second car is park next to ours.

Luc is the first one down, ice crust particles fly uphill and hit me in the face while I’m taking pictures. This is a long steep descent, the snow is great. We waited for each other before turning towards the choke. As we get to the bottom, we see someone else at the bottom of the bowl.

Picture by MadPat : Lucky dropping in

Picture by MadPat : Turning at the elbow above the choke

Picture by MadPat : Lucky negotiating the choke

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Pat below the choke

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Soft snow and picking up speed

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Home free…

Vincent is at his first visit here. He rented the AT equipment in Montreal and was only passing through. He wanted to hire a guide, however the guide wasn’t available, so he showed up alone. We brought him around on a second climb. We choose to climb a different couloir. At one point, Lucky asks him if he’s okay with the steep terrain. The couloir didn’t go as high and the snow was iffy in around bushes near the top. We continued along the ridge back to the same spot as top of the couloir we did on our first run.

As we headed toward that spot, Vincent and I noticed a small caribou bone with very little meat left on it. Lucky never noticed, we was just climbing too fast.

Second, still great. Vincent and Lucky climb part of the other couloir, I decide to rest up. I was amazed that I was actually here after being sick earlier in the week. I was just happy.

We skied down through the woods all the way to the road. Opened a few beers and savoured our day.

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Climbing the other couloir

Picture by MadPat : Caribou bone on high traverse

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Vincent and mountain with other freaking lines in the background

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Couloir de l’aigle in the shade. Tomorrow’s destination?

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Couloir and Tram line. It was on windhold today

Picture by MadPat : Lucky and Vincent back at the road

Picture by MadPat : Group picture in front of playground

Skilog of First Day

MadPat’s Gallery:
Mines Madeleine : 15 mai 2009


Originally posted on Sun May 24, 2009 10:01 am on firsttracksonline

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