Pre-season shred / by Strain

I posted a while back about the pre-season jitters that overtake the snow world as the days get shorter and the snowline drops. I know many of my friends have been dying to get back on a chairlift, whether its at Whistler this weekend (opening 2 weeks early!) or Baker (which opened today with bluebird skies and 6 feet of fresh), but I'm not the kind of person who likes to wait. With word that storm after storm had hammered the local alpine, myself and several other hungover shreds dragged ourselves over 1000m up Blackcomb mountain at the crack of noon in search of our first pow turns of the Olympic season. We weren't entirely disappointed - there was a good 2 feet through the terrain park, but below that coverage started to get spotty, fast.  Luckily, none of us took any major board damage on the way back down to base 2... even after riding a snowbase that petered out to less than 2 inches where we finally unstrapped.  Theres something about straightlining a sloppy mix of wet snow, grass, mud and rock with a crew of good friends that just feels right, ya know? Probably the worst conditions I've ever ridden in, but if that wasn't fun I don't know what is.

_DSC1551

Park laps anyone? Taylor, Eric, Ryan, Sam, Taylor (theres 2 of em) and Steve strapping in at the shack:

snowmaking

Gunning up for the season:

While riding rocks may be fun, riding deep snow tends to be alot more enjoyable. With a scouting report in hand that the Elfin/Red Heather area had at least double the snowbase of Whistler and the snow continuing to fall, I busted out the snowshoes and headed out into the Squamish backcountry with a posse of skiers on Remembrance Day. We may have been an hour late, but we observed a moment of silence followed by a chorus of O Canada on top of Paul Ridge just after noon. Lest we forget.

20091111_PaulRidge_1612_1000

The site of our snowy memorial ceremony:

Last year, I opened the season in the same area - here's the post if you need a refresher. That was November 23 - snow depth, less than 2 feet. Yesterday, I probed 160cm on Paul Ridge. I don't think we hit that last season til February or March... yeah, I'm excited.

20091111_PaulRidge_1623_1000

Love the late afternoon light on this random party skinning up from a run:

20091111_PaulRidge_1646_1000

Eliel Hindert warms up for a season of sending with this deep pillow line:

I love being in the backcountry hiking around and earning turns, and I'm pretty thrilled that I've beat most of my friends to the first day of the season, but I'm super stoked to have a chairlift doing all the work again this weekend at Whistler. See you there! I'll be shooting photos of the opening madness...