March has felt like a rebirth of sorts. The polar vortex slowly relinquished its grip on Alberta, and I’ve found myself filled with a sense of hope and optimism. Not that I was feeling particularly morose earlier in the year, it just feels like the happiness factor has ticked up a notch 🙂 As a bonus, I am pleased to say that I managed to make it through the entire month without spraining an ankle or falling down a mountain. Winning!
There are few things I love more in life than putting on a pair of shorts and jogging down a single-track trail. I spent most of February wearing two pairs of pants and I found them frustratingly restrictive. Shorts are analogous to freedom and I’ve been loving the ability to take a full stride without resistance.
There are so many highlights from the past month, but here are a few of the standouts:
- Helena Ridge ski tour followed by a run up Sulphur Mountain (Sanson’s Peak). The start of the tour up Helena Ridge was actually our coldest tour to date. The temp during the drive out dipped down to -33C, and as we bundled to head up the trail we were questioning our sanity. Thankfully, the temperature warmed throughout the day and by the time we started running up Sulphur mountain it was a balmy -11C! Almost shorts weather 🙂 I did not feel particularly strong during the tour on Helena Ridge; my confidence was shot from my fall on Delirium Dive the week before. In addition, the snow was inconsistent and full of facets, and the tree skiing was a bit dense for my liking. Still, it was a gorgeous day and the perfect way to build my confidence back up. The run afterwards was icing on the cake as it felt so good to just let my legs run free on the perfectly packed trail.
- Mount Hector. I almost didn’t go on this trip. My skiing felt so tentative on Helena Ridge that I thought I may have to spend a few days at the resort relearning how to ski before touring again. I decided to head out to the Skimo night at Norquay on Friday for some practice laps, and discovered that part of the problem was that my boot was broken. We were able to repair it at the rental shop, and then I did a few very shakey laps down the giant moguls. By the 3rd and 4th lap I felt a little bit better about myself . I could at least survival ski down the mountain. On Saturday Vlad and Arielle gave me a crash course on crevasse rescue, and on Sunday morning I found myself touring up Mt Hector. The mountain was very busy with a few other groups taking advantage of the perfect weather, as well as a guided group of about 15. I didn’t care about the relative busy-ness, because the scenery was absolutely incredible! This tour is in my top 3 mountain days of all time. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend you check it out.
3. Willoughby Ridge. On St Patrick’s day I drove down to Crowsnest Pass to tour with Ian, the owner of Spry. Spry has been very generous to me over the last few years, helping me out with this “simple and inexpensive” sport. Ian is a genuine mountain man and we have a lot of fun whenever we are able to get out for an adventure together. The weather was quite warm, and the snow turned to slush and stuck to our skins. But the pain was worth it, as we were able to find some good snow with smooth turns on north facing aspects.
4. Weekend in Revelstoke. My elevation gains and quest for a million feet took a bit of a hit with a weekend trip to Revelstoke. The training sacrifice was worth it as it was so nice for Matt and I to chill out and visit with my brother and his wife. We went to the local hockey game, skied at the resort (slushy conditions) and went touring in Roger’s Pass. This was Matt’s first ever tour, so he used my brother’s spare splitboard. The spring conditions were far from optimal but it still was a blast.
5. Moose Mountain, the fun way. Moose Mountain via Ing’s mine is becoming an annual tradition. It’s a fantastic spring scramble and a great way to kick of the peak-bagging season. This year there were 5 of us out playing in the snow; Patrick, myself, Svenja, Adrien and Justin.
Once again I am finishing the month behind on my elevation gains, but I can feel my fitness building. I’m excited for the snow-free mountain adventures that I’m sure are just around the corner!