Whistler/Blackcomb, BC 4/15-19/2018

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Whistler/Blackcomb, BC 4/15-19/2018

Postby tseeb » Fri Apr 20, 2018 7:49 am

The days are beginning to blur together so I'll try to write something before I forget more details from the last five days although EpicMix does remember most of the lifts I have ridden this week. While crowds went way down after Saturday, we did not see much sun until Thursday when it was totally clear in the morning although some clouds appeared by noon. The first few mornings, it was drizzling at Creekside base, but gondola cars that go from 2100 to 4000' usually had snow on them and there has been new snow in trees above 3200'. Visibility has been marginal at times; many times it has been good at top of lifts in Alpine and poor at base of same lift. Most afternoons, it snowed again.

4/15 Whistler
It seemed like some of the 2 cm new today skied as well as the nearly 20 cm on the previous day or maybe it was just the much smaller crowds and I was sharing it with my wife and our son. We got on Creekside gondola at 8:35 and did a lot of laps on Symphony, a few on Peak and a couple on T-bars, the only day I think they were running, and Emerald and Big Red. The demos from World Ski and Snowboard festival were still being given out although many of the vendors were packing up in early PM. Skevik, a locally made ski stayed until the end and let me try a pair of 102 waist Antons. The skis were too short for me at 175 cm which meant I had to stay centered and the tips were narrower than what I'm used to skiing so I did not get much float in the little remaining softer snow. Too bad the 185s were out and conditions in the PM were not that great for trying their wider powder skis. My son and I skied one lap returning to Peak chair, then one from top of Peak down to Red Chair before meeting my wife who took an extended lunch break.

I think my only real highlight run was skiing McConkey's as visibility had deteriorated enough in PM that our son declined it and continued down the ridge with my wife. I had spotted Low Roll from chair, but entrance into left side of McConkey's was not that difficult and snow below cornice was good. Visibility was bad enough leaving Harmony after our next ride up that I had to lead my wife down Pika's Traverse to Roundhouse area and she later thanked me for not leaving her. Our son skied down to 2140' elevation Creekside base little earlier as he had to work a couple of hours each afternoon the first three days he was there to finish an online programming class he is taking. My wife wanted to ski Peak to Creek without large group that got slow that she (and I until they got too slow) did during Gathering last year. So after I returned demos, she and I rode Peak chair where we had decent visibility. We skied the 11 Km (or 13 depending on source) long run with minimal stops. The top half was good, the next quarter got a little tedious and last quarter had some obstacles to avoid. The last 500 or so vertical feet got very soft and there was a lot of dirt showing. We quit at 2:45 with 26K.

4/16 Whistler and Blackcomb
We'd thought about driving up above Blackcomb base for free parking and going up that side, but local friend said Peak to Peak gondola at only 11 minutes was a much faster way. We warmed up with a couple of runs on Emerald before using Peak to Peak to move to Blackcomb. Visibility was marginal at 6K elevation at Whistler end of gondola, but improved as it drops to above 4500' crossing the valley over 1400' below. Visibility stayed good at Blackcomb for a while, even though my notes say it snowed most of the day. We skied Jersey Cream, then Glacier runs a couple of times each. My wife mostly stayed on the main intermediate routes while my son and I took some nearby steeper alternatives including some of Dakine.

Next time up Glacier, we nxt rode Horstman T-bar to the top of 7th Heaven chair where we had fair to good visibility so we all skied 7th Heavan a couple of times. My wife was comfortable on the soft groomed run to the left of the chair while our son and I skied powder under and to skier's right of the chair. Even though they only reported 1 cm new, it was snowing hard and my son reported at the bottom that he had just skied the (powder) tree run of his life. We tried to repeat it, but did not find exact same area. My wife skied back to Rendezvous Lodge while Sean and I skied two more 7th Heaven laps as new snow in trees skied well and not getting skied out. I think after riding Peak to Peak back to Roundhouse (and wishing I had a beer for the ride), we may have just skied to Creekside base by skiing Crossroads and Lower Franz's. Snow was very soft and wet below 3K, but was in better shape and had better coverage than Peak to Creek. My notes say we quit at 3:15 with 27K.

Whistler/Blackcomb 4/17 8 cm new reported and we loaded gondola at 854.
After two warmup runs on Big Red chair, my wife gave my son and I the OK to go get some as it was his last day. We skied down the Whistler side, a little too early as was still firm towards bottom where not getting a lot of sun. We rode up the Blackcomb side at 10, sharing my pocket beer on the Excalibur gondola. We rode up two more chairs, then the T-bar where we skied untracked snow to lookers left of T-bar that was so good we did it twice before doing the short but steep hike into Blackcomb Glacier area. We skied past the top of the Blowhole, then dropped into the bottom half of it and skied some deep untracked before taking lightly used, slightly climbing traverse into Ruby Bowl. I don't think we found the steep shoulder Extremely Canadian got me into a couple of years ago (and I may have found and repeated on my own the next day). We had some powder turns up high, then got first tracks into a steep chute that dropped into a long wide apron that only had a track or two. Snow skied like it was at least 6" deep, if not more as Whistler had received 49 cm in the last week. Picture is our son in Sapphire Bowl.

After a stop on exit where we were too early to have birds take food out of our hands, we rode up the two chairs (with a short steep run in between), before hiking Spanky's Ladder. My son was not sure about my navigation as I led him up to row of cliff area signs getting into Ruby Bowl,
but it was only a cornice that was easily skied off with very steep slopes below and huge, nearly unskied bowl to the left that we came down.
We cut to the right into Playland, where my son got a little surprised that steeps included some cliffs. We then skied untracked into runout and after feeding a little bread to birds, we had to Glacier Run to ourselves and did it at high speed.

We also skied Colouir Extreme from the top (my first time as I always used Big Bang entrance in the past). Snow was excellent in the Couloir and got even better to right of the moraine that splits the lower, flatter part of the run where it skied like 6-12" of untracked. Below there the steep little trees around the corner were also great.

They ran the Saudan Couloir race for the first time in many years on Saturday (after being weathered-out on Friday). I did not watch it, but did see Sylvain Saudan on Friday night when he was interviewed during Skier Big Air competition held in a cold ran outside GLC. They had signs warning about deep and icy track left from the race (that was almost covered with new snow) and there were about four people thinking about skiing it that ended up not doing it AFAIK. I saw deep soft snow with enough room to the left of the track that we thought we were poaching it ahead of the guys standing there that we skied. We dropped into skiers left side of a rock band that is even steeper and I always liked as it held the best snow, even when conditions were marginal elsewhere. The Big Bang entrance did not look as good as it must have gotten the strong sun from the W at some time. My son and I were very happy we did it and it would have been harder to get to an into an hour later as visibility went down fast. Note that the Couloir has been renamed to Saudan's Couloir after a deal was made with now 80 year-old Sylvain. The trail maps I got this week show the Big Bang entrance as Sylvain and main, higher entrance is shown as Sudan Couloir. Yes, they misspelled his name on the map which I hope I did not anywhere here. We met Lucia for lunch at Rendezvous. It started snowing hard in the PM.

After lunch, we took Glacier lift and Horstman T-bar into 7th Heaven for a couple of laps with varying and sometimes very marginal visibility. Our son and I skied the open lightly tracked powder above the return to Rendezvous Lodge that I spotted my wife missing. While my son continued and was surprised by some huge unmarked cliffs that he avoided, I tried to re-route my wife towards the exit. But she is not good at keeping up speed or a high-line on a traverse and we were too low for her to make it to Rendezvous/Peak2Peak without for her would be a long hike or back to groomed run. So she had to suffer a trial by powder, including sliding down a short steep but very soft area before getting to more open slope above 7th Avenue road that returns to chair base. Next time, she found the return to Peak to Peak and I got to repeat the powder fields above it.

Our son had almost waited long enough for us before catching one of the two glass bottom cars on Peak to Peak. He went over us on Big Red as we were skiing and caught up with us before my wife down-loaded gondola. We went up Big Red and shared the beer I had him carry for our Peak to Peak return. By staying high next to Roundhouse lodge, we skied down some steeper slopes including Jimmy's Joker and found some steep nearly untracked trees in a couple of place. We quit after 3:45 with over 31K vertical.

Wednesday 4/18 Whistler reported 1 cm new and temps in the alpine stayed below freezing all day. I skied 2-4" of untracked and lightly tracked snow from 9:15 until 3:30 PM. (We had our latest start of the week as we waited for bus to take our son to YVR. He had to move his YVR-PHX flight up a day to catch his ride to Coachella as friends wanted to get into camping area Thursday. But high winds in So. CA desert kept it camping closed until Friday.) Snow skied deeper in many places as crusty layer from previous week has been buried by all the new snow that has not been skied out with such a large area and low crowds on weekdays. It was so good in Whistler's Alpine and visibility looked a little worse in Blackcomb that we skied only Whistler only for the 1st time since Sunday.

Highlight runs include powder next to Saddle early, Sun Bowl later in morning and Cockalorum entrance into West Bowl twice in PM. The first time into Cockalorum, I came in high from skiing powder to right of Peak to Creek and got into steep chute to skiers right of main Cockalorum. The second time, I started a little lower, but got into same steep chute to skiers right, then skied a narrow slot between rocks to get back to main Cockalorum. Snow in the bowl and trees on edge of and below it was still deep and soft and there were places I could make turns in untracked. On my second run, I crossed Highway 86 run and continued into nearly untracked face with small trees that was good to below 5K, then continued down to Peak to Creek run. It was better in middle part due to cold temps, but it looked they may have to abandon the bottom as it was getting hard to get through. Almost 31K.

Thursday 4/19/2018 Whistler and Blackcomb
Our last day, my 6th in a row and my wife's 5th. We warmed up by skiing from Big Red into Harmony on GS run where grooming was excellent. We took a couple of laps on Harmony Ridge with me getting some day+ old powder in Low Roll and Kaleidoscope while directing my wife into soft groomed and nearly un-skied Krummholz. We exited Harmony area and rode Emerald to Roundhouse where I got a coffee/hot chocolate that we shared on the Peak to Peak ride to Blackcomb. We skied to Glacier Creek and rode Glacier, then Showcase T-bar to the top of Blackcomb. With me carrying her skis and mine and my poles on the hike to the short steep, I got Lucia into Blackcomb Glacier where she had a bad experience due to whiteout during Gathering last year.
This year may also have been a bad experience as I had to yell at her to keep her from traversing too far to skiers right, way past the poles marking the edge of run, where snow was new was deep and cut up, then also lost my patience trying to get her to traverse over to see the Blowhole from the bottom.
While waiting for her on way down, I spotted a steep line into Sapphire Bowl (that may have been the one Extremely Canadian got us into 2 years ago) that I later skied. After lunch, I also got through a steep keyhole between rocks in Ruby Bowl that I always wanted to try.

My wife downloaded the Creekside gondola the last three days as she did not want to ski the soft snow with tired legs. I found a good route for my last run after 4 PM skiing Franz's Meadow where there was still a lot of soft snow, then Upper and Lowers Franz where I found an untracked face below Pony Run and better snow than route that goes past Big Red base. Since I had averaged 31K the previous two days, I had thought about trying to get 38K on my last day to get a three-day total of 100K, but only got to 34K. We are leaving early today to drive to Bend, with a stop to visit 91 year-old uncle in Vancouver, WA. We plan to ski Bachelor on Sat. Sorry, but no time to better organized pictures.
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Re: Whistler/Blackcomb, BC 4/15-19/2018

Postby tseeb » Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:57 am

I've been home for nearly a week and this is the first time I could find time to do some cleaning up of my post above and tried to move pictures around to where they made more sense. Following are a few more pictures.
The Pony run coming down just right of center is the only? Green/beginner way to Whistler's Creekside base. It may be their answer to Snowbird's Big Emma.
Finally got it together to have a beer on Peak2Peak on way back from Blackcomb to Whistler on last day.
The guys behind my wife, who sounded like the were from Eastern Europe, also had beers
That is the end of Peak to Creek run behind us at Creekside base. They had signs not recommending it. From where we stayed it was about a 3 minutes walk to here.
The keyhole between rocks I skied in Ruby Bowl on my last day. That is row of Cliff Area signs at top that my son was not sure about going past when I got him into the Bowl earlier in week.
Saudan's Couloir at upper right. I've always found good snow to left of lateral moraine that is right of center and even better in little trees left of center.
The two chutes I skied in Sapphire Bowl. The one I did with my son when is was untracked is at right below the highest peak and the one I did solo on my last day is below peak on left
GS run near base of Harmony chair. Sign says four days left, but other places it said three as it was already Thursday.
The last day was totally clear early at top of Whistler Peak, but there were still some clouds in mountains by Black Tusk.
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