About to drive from Pemberton to Haines, a drive that encompasses the beauty of interior BC all the way to the Yukon…………

Leaving For Haines

January 31, 2011

So, we are off in the Van today or tomorrow en-route to Haines. Total drive time via White Horse 25+ hours, there should be some spectacular scenery and interesting stops and people, I will try to document these to the best of my ability, but I can’t promise much as I am constantly forgetting to take my camera places.

On arrival in Haines, it looks as if there will be plenty of work preparing the customer accomodation and cooking which is good as it is all labour towards discount heli-time, also being there early will give me a good chance to be the first one with my foot in the door for the best accomodation for Mark, Kate and I.

Good times ahead, following the good times already had so far this winter……..

Is like nothing I’ve ever experienced in Europe. Firstly, being less than 150km from the coast, when the snow comes in it tends to be a little bit heavy and wet at first. This also means, as it dries out, it has amazing stability. Thats not to say it’s totally safe but it is a little more predictable than most places.  The  annual average snowfall here is around 33 feet (about 10 meters), but having said that it has been almost double that the past two seasons according to my current room-mate and Blackcomb local, Mike.

Onto the terrain, well that is quite simply mind blowing. As a skiable domain, it has nothing on the size of the Portes de Soleil where I live in France. Having said that, from the top lifts at around 2600m elevation, it is not uncommon to ski all the way down to around 8-900m elevation, for those who don’t ski, thats a real long vertical drop for any resort worldwide. There is alot of options when skiing off piste, in-bounds. This means that being off piste is still patrolled and reasonably safe, but the terrain is still steep, many couloirs, cliff drops etc. On my first two days we did 6 laps of a face which was heavily loaded with at least 20-30cm of fresh even thought the snow report only suggested 5-10cm, it was accessed by a 15 minute hike through a narrow chimney up to an open face. This is how accessible alot of untouched stuff is, especially if you have a good local guide, and there is definitely more than what I’ve skied so far and a whole lot more steeper and more exposed stuff which I look forward to seeing more of ASAP!!

There is also un-patrolled, out of resort boundary skiing, and this stuff is unbelievable, quite a few crew spend weeks camping out in back bowls and skiing insane lines everyday. This even more so, I want to see some of, it really is another world out there and the skiing is something that has to be seen to be believed.

Anyways thats enough jabbering on for now, it looks like a snowy, stormy day on the mountain tomorrow and I’ll be up first lifts so we’re first into the alpine area for freshies if it is snowing……….  I’ve taken some photos and will post them soon, however none of them are on the mountain cause there is no time wasting in the race to get the first of the new snow with the crew I am riding with…….

Paddy Morris Isn’t……..

January 28, 2011

without some gigantic K2 Hellbent powder skis, but he is without a place to use them……….

In Canada……

Arrival in Canada…….

January 24, 2011

So I have arrived in Canada and am now, after 20 more hours in transit, one step away from getting to Alaska.  I am staying with Mike and Al in Pemberton and it’s a beautiful little village outside the hustle and bustle of Whistler, but with 10-15cm of powder set to arrive tomorrow, I will probably spend most of this week getting familiar with the back country around Whistler and Blackcomb.

It was sad to leave Morzine, as you can imagine, after 5 seasons and the making of many great friends, it’s always sad to say goodbye, even if it is only for a couple of years. To all the friends I missed before I went I am sorry and for those that I did see, it was great to see you all.

Well thats really all for now until I get to start rubbing in how good the snow here is………

I seem to crash a bit so ski insurance is not such a bad idea, that is, if you can find someone to insure you.  I am an Australian citizen, with a British passport who lives in France and this my friends, makes the gaining of the neccesary insurance, a massive complication. You must be more than a citizen of a country to qualify for their insurance policies, apperently you must live there aswell. If you are a resident though, you must be in the country to get the insurance and if your not, well, good day to you and good luck!! 

I have spent now three nights and three days tirelessly researching insurers who may or may not cover all the things I need. Some policies cover off piste skiing but only with a guide, others heli skiing but no off piste. Can anyone explain why I would want to spend hundreds of dollars on a helicopter to get dropped on top of a piste? Why is it so hard for them to insure me, In all honesty these companies must make millions and millions of dollars out of people who pay and never need to claim. We pay you to help us if we are in trouble end of story, thats what you offer, please do what you say on the packet.

After three horrible days, I think I finally found someone who would cover everything I need  today, but let me tell you, it was not without that horible feeling of being kicked in the balls several times by a number of other insurers. Fuck you all very much as I have now missed a valuable day of skiing, there is also now a  slight tinge of grey in my hair and that’s only in the parts that it’s not begun to recede.

ESF stupidity…..

January 17, 2011

Why do some ESF instructors have no idea when it comes to the skiing ability of their group? I know this is a grosse generalisation but I really find it hard to swallow when I see an instructor take his group of approximately 20 down a sheer face of moguls, glazed with ice followed by  a ten foot drop onto a rock hard piste at the bottom.

After seeing the plight of the first victim who proceeded to slide, then flip then tumble from the top to the bottom before falling the ten foot onto the piste at the bottom, most of the other potential victims decided wisely to ignore the advice of their massively incompetent instructor and take the long way around.  The instructor however, proceded to swiftly confirm his groups brave decision by following the plight of victim number one himself.  I wonder if it was purely through guilt…….. Anyone for a helicopter ride to Thonon?

So, the snow in France is epically shite at the moment and what else to do with a day of thin icy conditions??  Race skis, carving and feeling massively useless whilst enjoying every minute of it.

The thing with skiing is not to be limited to a certain type of ski or riding style, just like surfboards there is a ski for every condition, and todays conditions dictated riding something I have avoided for far too long. Whoever thought turning on skiis would be so fun and as for a workout, well my legs ache in a good way however bruised my ego may be.

So lesson learned for today is go up the mountain regardless, the sun is shining, your friends still make amazing company and learning something new is as fun as it always was……..

Oh and also just for a last minute note….. Mark and Kate shred on these skis, thank you two for another great day on the mountain!!

2am Perth Time 06/01/2011  So I departed Australia after an amazing 2 months spent with family and friends and once again embarked on a journey with an uncertain future. Now don’t get me wrong I love flying, on skis that is, but when it comes to flying with an airline of competitively priced choice, thats a different story.  We would all love the convenience of first-class upgrades, fresh oysters and celebratory champagne on arrival but to the economy traveller the only thing that comes to mind is sardines, in a tin roughly proportioned in the shape of an Airbus A380. 

As with all flights, the shape and size of the counterparts on your aisle is of utmost importance, for example a young attractive female with an honest smile or a big, fat snoring bastard who drools and smells, I know which one I would choose. Unfortunately this time I didn’t have the choice and was lumped with both for an arduous 6 hour flight. Thankfully the attractive young female was the cushion between me and the fat guy and though he snored from before take-off till after landing and my headphones which pumped my music at full pelt, were barely audible above his dulsit drones her smiles where worth the painful snoring.  Who am I kidding, no smiles are worth having to listen to someone snore for six full hours, and although she was beautiful, it was just lucky that she was between me and the fat guy as to stop me from strangling him.

09am Singapore Time 06/01/2011 After enduring this painful experience I arrived at my stopover destination of Singapore. A lovely airport indeed but also a place designed to allow you to spend your six hour stopover walking from one end to the other with a massive array of mind numbing entertainment options such as an indoor butterfly garden, smoking rooms, perfumeries and a TV lounge. I decided to sleep, and then walk and then sleep in a different location and then walk. finally after six hours this sleep, walk pattern was broken by a 15 hour flight to London.

1pm Singapore Time 06/01/2011  Fortunately for whoever is reading, this flight was fairly uneventful, asides from the initial fear of being sat next to a couple with an 11 month old child but in all fairness he never wept, screamed, cried or pooed as far as I could smell.  I sleep, I watch TV, I sleep.

07pm London Time 06/01/2011 Winner, winner, chicken dinner!! I arrive in London withought a hitch, was unable to exchange money at a place that said Money Exchange, withdraw more cash than I needed and headed for my overnight hotel.

09am 07/01/2011 I got up, Blah blah blah, I got my flight to Geneva, blah blah blah,

05pm Morzine Time 07/01/2011  I arrived in Switzerland, spent 2 and half hours on a one hour drive and  I was back in France………….THANK FUCK for that, 48 hours in transit and as usual treated to a lovely warm welcome by the people I love in the place I love….. It’s good to be home, even if it is only for a couple of weeks….. now all I need to do is psyche myself up for work tomorrow.