Saturday, February 1, 2014 was a very interesting day here at citizenclass.ca. I had decided, no matter the ski conditions or available ski partners, that I was going to Mt. Cain and I was going to do some touring. What ended up happening far exceeded what even my demented imagination could have predicted!
Snow coverage is pretty sparse at Mt. Cain so far this season. I would estimate they need a solid 2-3 feet of snow before they could consider opening...
Now, I didn't head up to Mt. Cain (180 km from home) with absolutely no plan. I knew my buddy Pete would be up there, and I knew that people had indeed done some skiing up there this year. I also knew Island Alpine Guides were running an AST-2 course up there over the weekend, so I wouldn't be alone.
What I didn't know is that the operations guys, Dean and James, had just finished mounting the new tees on the upper tee bar, and could use some people to test them. I also didn't know that pretty much everyone taking the AST-2 course was a good friend of mine! What luck!
What ended up happening was one of those magical days - one of those days when everything just goes your way, and you realize how magical life can be sometimes.
Since they were heading up to the top of the mountain, which was also my goal, I got a tow behind a snow mobile to L3. When everyone else was up, we got to ride the tee-bar to the top of the mountain. Talk about time savings! The only tricky part was the fact that the tee line hadn't been groomed yet all season. There were a few holes to dodge on the way up!
After that, I spent some time with the AST-2 course, and was happy to participate and learn. We examined terrain in the East Bowl and discussed trip planning. After that, lunch in the liftee shack where we traded stories and the occasional jibe!
Jan Neuspiel questions us about trip planning and terrain analysis in the East Bowl at Mt. Cain. Jan is an excellent guide and teacher, and probably the only person I know who can use the words "propensity'", "propagation", and "metamorphosis" correctly in connecting sentences!
After lunch, we went to look into the West Bowl and have another talk about the hazards and risks involved in skiing it. Once Jan was satisfied everyone knew what they were talking about, we made a plan, and skied the bowl!
Now, I'm not going to try and convince you that the skiing was anything other than, well, terrible. It had snowed in the days before Saturday, but at most 3 cm. The base below the fresh snow consisted of a very hard freeze/thaw crust that had softened a little... So - dust on crust - the sort of condition you get used to on the west coast, but not something you enjoy. Add to that the fact that there is maybe a metre of snow everywhere....and you don't get ideal skiing.
All that being said, it was still fun. It was fun to be out, to be making turns, and to be having an adventure!
Gotta love it when things come together, and magic happens.
Note: Mount Cain is currently closed, so anyone skiing there should be prepared for self rescue and any emergencies that can arise.