Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sea to Sky Fat Country....



In a typical month of March I spend my week-ends charging slopes waist deep in the endless terrain B.C.'s Sea to sky cooridor has to offer. The strange winter we've been experiencing on the West coast has left the door open to explore new back-country opportunities. It's been hard to find the motivation to ski / board the icy and boilerplate conditions we have at all elevations in the Sea to Sky corridor. It has however raised a question.... "Can you ride Fat Bikes in the alpine where we typically ski"? The answer isn't a simple yes or no. The daytime temperatures have proven to be critical. Any softening of the surface has proven to slow the ride to a snails pace so very early starts have been critical. Destination consideration has also been a critical part of the answer. What makes good alpine Fat Biking terrain? We've been finding out!          


The alarm went off at 3:30am on a cold and clear Saturday morning. The idea was to beat the mid day warming and hopefully be through the crux of our traverse before noon. After an hour into the ride we had daytime light and our 1700m climb to the alpine was underway.          


The pace was steady but slow on dirt with the rolling resistance of the big 45Nrth Flow and Dunder Beists. They were still waiting to be in their arctic element.          



 It was a glorious morning as we looked back at Squamish's Tantalus Range!


We found snowmobile packed ice and snow on the road after 3 hours. 




The old-growth Doug Firs in this area are true West Coast giants.... 


As we arrived in the subalpine we turned on our avalanche beacons and made sure shovels and probed were handy. Regardless of the Avalanche forecast reporting "LOW" at all elevations we were entering complex terrain that needed to be respected.                


We had finally arrived in the alpine ready to unleash our Norco Sasquatch Fat Bikes!  


Mount Garibaldi and the Black Tusk dominated the skyline on the other side of the valley....  



This is a special area we regularly ride in the summer months that looks a lot different in March.



We dropped in to a juicy 400m flowy descent!  






 
                           
The next few hours we traversed a beautiful section of the coast mountains and found a nice piece of single-track that would guide us to Whistler Village. We had completed a 40km alpine loop in 10 hours! Our car was conveniently parked at the Whistler Brewing Co. where we spent the evening sampling some tasty local brews and celebrating our winter Fat Bike traverse!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Submitting to the drought....





By the last week of February our coastal snowpack is usually reaching it's deepest depths and the conditions are usually all time good. Not this year. After weeks and weeks of drought and high freezing levels the snowpack has been dwindling. The strangest part has been the unusually high snow line.                    


We finally gave in and decided to poke around an area we like to frequent. This year we needed to drive 15 kms further than usual and 800m higher....    


Things looked good from far but in reality were far from good....




Remnants of a big event presented itself on the approach....


My truck is seen here parked in the middle of a cut block we usually shred neck deep this month.    





Once on the glacier the views were beautiful and the "walk" began to make sense.  







We found some dust on crust that made for some fun turns....







I'm beginning to think this might actually be the end on this season.

Getting FAT this winter....


After a few weeks in Costa Rica I assumed we'd come back to Squamish in winter's grip. Quite the opposite was the case as winter took a long vacation this year. With no snow and way above average freezing levels it's been difficult to get motivated. Over the past 20 years I've developed a great routine.... 6 months of dirt.... 6 months of snow. I really prefer to get off the bikes this time of the year for body and mind health. This year we have no choice as the riding has been all time good in the Sea to Sky. One of the great benefits of working at Norco Bicycles is the opportunity to try new models and new categories of bikes. I'd been messing around with our new fat bikes in the snow since November but now it was time to take them to the steep loamy trails in our back-yard. The weapon I've been enjoying is the 2014 Sasquatch. The ultimate test would be the steep granite and dirt of Britannia Creek.