It Starts

February 16, 2011

So today we started the first day of guide school on a lovely clear day, mountains surrounding the fire hall where our wilderness first aid section of the course is happening, on Mosquito Lake road. In fact the mountains here surround everything, and as they only pop there faces out of the clouds every few days or so it is massively overwhelming to see these monoliths, in the knowledge that in the not so distant future we will be stepping out of helicopters on to the top of them.  Pretty intense amount of learning, but once again I am finding you can teach old dogs new tricks which is great because this old dog loves new tricks!!

Oh and for those of you wanting a lovely sunny winter holiday, here is the place to be, sunny, blue skies………………..-20 degrees at sea level.  Come and hang out on the beach !!!

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At Haines, 26 mile, staring at some big arse Alaskan mountains without a lift in sight…………..

I’m Here…….

February 3, 2011

After  a 36 hour straight through drive from Haines, I have arrived.  Home base for the next few months, and a place that should create a massive learning curve in my skiing.  At the moment I am staring out the window over the bay, staring at the most beautiful mountains that reach from sea to sky. For that exact reason this post is gonna be short, I can’t take my eyes way from a view like that. A photo journal of the drive should be up soon but until then I will just leave you with a taste of what the drive is like.

http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&client=safari&q=Pemberton+BC+to+Haines+AK+maps&ie=UTF8&z=5&saddr=Pemberton+BC&daddr=Haines+AK+maps&geocode=FXbW_wIdrDiu-Ck1oD9GojWHVDGy0zO5fmD5RA%3BFfndhwMd-EXt9ymNuVEolx8AVDGOEf3qYJrxtA

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.