Once again historic Bralorne and it's surrounding mountains would be our playground to bring in the New Year. Jonathan and Lila made the long journey from Prince George to check out what all the fuss was about. After a death gripped drive over the Duffey and along Carpenter lake with the trailer in tow we arrived at the Mines Motel. The temperature was hovering around 0degC with rain thundering down turning everything into a skating rink. Later we learned we must have just squeaked by a massive rockslide that took out Highway 40 just beside the Lajoie Dam. A couple of our friends were the first to come across it and had to retreat back to a motel in Lillooet until it was cleared the next day. Photos....
Some of our other friends from the city and Squamish were staying upstairs so we joined them for a few pints and got the mountain report. Stories of waist deep snow and epic sled stucks awaited our future.
We awoke to a fair weather day with lower temps and decided to make Sunshine Mountain near town our days destination. Unfortunately the Sunshine Mountain Ski Lodge and rope tow weren't running so we had to make it up on our own power.
As we approached tree-line it was evident this trip would require light treading. The new snow was stupid deep and sitting on a combination of rain / sun crusts, facets and hoar frost depending on the aspect. Just as we entered a flat and open meadow I heard one of the largest whumps of all time. Time to stick to the trees!
Jonathan seemed to like the first line of the trip!
The evening was filled with beer, changing trailer flats and porn.
The next morning we sledded deep into the Bendor range along the Cadwallader and were greeted with some of the deepest sled trail-breaking imaginable. We made our way into the forest and quickly realized the current avalanche conditions were way too high to gamble with. It was time to retreat.
On the way back Danielle and I decided to take in some Bridge River Valley history and check out an ancient Limestone kiln located in the base of Mount Fergusson. It turned out to be a very cool site.
That evening at the motel we learned of the tragic accident on the Duffey. It hit Danielle very hard as Duncan was a work companion of her brothers who she had known and skied with. Our thoughts were with his family and friends. It brought back strong memories and feelings of my accident that occurred almost two years ago and the one year rebuilding process both physically and mentally. I could picture that group of guys after the accident and all the emotions and feelings of helplessness that would follow. I often wonder what my life would be like if our results were different that day and we all didn't make it out. Every day since has been richer and I feel incredibly fortunate to know my friends who made everything happen that day.
The next morning was the first day the snow stopped flying and the weather started to improve. Jonathan and Lila packed up and headed home so Danielle and I were on our own and decided to head into the headwaters of Noel Creek. The snow depth was ridiculous as we emerged into the alpine and buried the new sled into it's first good stuck. We parked the machine and set off onto a good looking set of low angle trees.
The gods were shining on us!
The last day of the year was off to a great start with an amazing and memorable day in the alpine. Noel always frustrates me as I realize how much there is to explore back there. It's such a far away valley from home! The anticipation of another Mine Shaft pub New Years eve was growing. After the long sled ride back we arrived just before dark to re lubricate the sled and start lubricating myself!
Where have you been all my life Yellow Snow 5 Litre keg!
Just before dinner, local internet provider, future No-Splitter inventor and master of Bralorneopoly, PJ Hunton took pitty on us and invited us to his place for dinner and some beers before heading over to the Pub.
After a great dinner presented by Crystal, Danielle and Jordan we were off to the festivities. It would have been considered rude not to show up with a sled so we headed over Bralorne style!
New pub owners Carolanne and Chris Shiner put on a great show with Chris showing off his DJ skills and taking the party up a big notch for 2012. Impressive!
The next morning I was surprised to find myself and Danielle in reasonable enough shape to get out of bed and head out for some turns. We made our way back up Sunshine Mountain and into President Creek's steep trees. After a couple of sweet runs we noticed the temps changing rapidly as an inversion was building. Time to exit!
The next day we learned that some skiers were involved in a size 2.5 avalanche on the other side of the valley in the trees in this photo. This was among 2 other accidents in the area that day alone. The mountains were speaking very loudly. Info on these accidents here....
The next morning we played a little Hockey and lounged around town until making our way back to the city. It felt like a victory that we stayed safe and still managed to enjoy the valley. Until next year....