Saturday, 13 April 2013

A look at the last 4 weeks - Part 2: No time for rest - The Bow-Yoho Traverse!

On the way into the Bow Hut
Part 2: No time for rest!

The day after the races Igor, Bob and I were off to spend 3 days skiing the Bow-Yoho traverse. After dropping a car at Emerald Lake we continued on to Num-ti-jah lodge and the start of our trip into the Bow Hut.

Just over the Whale's Back
We left the parking lot at about 3pm and dropped our packs at the Bow Hut 1 hour and 45 minutes later. After a snack, we headed out for a quick ski on the headwall above the hut. It wasn't as nice as we'd hoped and ended up being in flat light on breakable wind slab. Not the best ski quality, but fun nonetheless. We had a quick dinner and tucked ourselves into bed for the big day ahead.

A nice cold day. I'm wearing all the clothing I have with me.
The weather report was only calling for one day of relatively clear weather and this was the day we planed to make the 20km dash over the glaciers of the Wapta Icefield to the Stanley Mitchell hut. The early start and cold weather had us wearing every item of clothing we had with us as we climbed up onto the ice of the Wapta. Because we had limited time for planning, we had no beta about the coverage on the glacier at one of the cruxes of the route. Rather than taking our chances and possibly eating up valuable time navigating through thinly bridged crevasses, we opted for a route variation that would take us over a moraine called the Whale's Back.

After climbing a few steep slopes and emerging into the sun, we stopped at the location of a proposed new ACC hut for a snack. From here we could see that our detour was unnecessary, but I guess I will just have to go back another time if I want to complete the missing part of this classic traverse.

Up to Isolated col
We still had lots of ground to cover to make it to the Stanley Mitchell Hut, including climbing the steep slopes to Isolated Col and descending the south face on the other side of the col into the Little Yoho Valley. By the time we made it up Isolated col it was getting warm, and we all had the south aspect on the other side of the col in the back of our minds. In the end it was not too soft and ended up being one of the best ski runs of the trip.

Six hours after leaving the Bow Hut, we arrived at the Stanley Mitchell Hut - which we had to ourselves for the night!
Some R&R at the Stanley Mitchell Hut
As forecasted, the weather the next day took a turn for the worse. This forced us to abandon our plans of skiing out to Field over the tops of the President and Vice President. We didn't want to ski out on the Yoho Valley Road as it is 23 kms long and involves 13 kms of travel on a snow covered road.  Instead we skied out the Skyline trail. This turned out to be a great exit. Staying high above the valley gave us amazing views of the surrounding peaks and glaciers between bouts of whiteout. It was capped off with a steep run down to Emerald Lake from high above Yoho pass.

I was happy to be back at the car, but my Rockies road trip wasn't over yet!

Next up: Part 3 - Redemption!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A look at the last 4 weeks - Part 1: Pushing Through

Part 1: Pushing through
Photo courtesy of KHMR

What a busy 4 weeks it has been! It all started with a trip out to Golden for the Gore-tex Continental Championships. I was really looking forward to this race because of its great course and the opportunity to race against some of the top North American skimo athletes.

I arrived the day before the individual race and spent some time checking out the course and the new snow with my friend Michelle.  It was apparent that we were in for a great race with all the fresh snow that had accumulated during the week. Something I have always liked about this race is that it starts midday, leaving more time to sleep in! Most high level endurance athletes need to eat 3 hours before an event to provide time for digestion or there is a possibility of being slowed down by stomach cramps. So if your race starts at 8am that means a 5am (at the latest) start to the day.

The race started with its classic Le Mans start and a ski down to the first climb. This first section of the course would be the only part that I would be in the lead for. I found out as the race unfolded that I was not as well recovered from Europe and the previous weeks of hard training as I had thought or expected to. After having to dump a lot of speed on the 3rd decent to avoid some public skiers, I arrived at the transition behind Ben Parsons. On the next climb Ben was having some trouble with the skin track and I was stuck behind him until I could exploit an opening to pass. The top 3 put a gap into me that I just could not close with my sluggish legs. After this the race did not change much for me - I was stuck in no mans land, forced to battle with my mind to the end. I ended up in 4th place. It was not where I was hoping to be but I was happy to have raced hard against great competitors and friends.

The following day was a fun relay race designed to show off the sport than rather than be a hard race. I arrived early to help set the course, which really reminded me of the great races and courses in Europe. After a quick lap around the course and some fun cheering, another race was over and I had an invitation to go on a 3 day ski traverse!

Next up: Part 2 - The Bow-Yoho Traverse!