The winds backed off from the howling SE gales that tried to blow us off Phalanx Glacier yesterday but the weather otherwise was the same. Cold and clear in the alpine and then warming up on sunny aspects later in the day. With the wind having further scoured most slopes we weren’t planning on finding chest-deep powder stashes. Still, its always a good day to be out in the mountains – this time we headed south from the Blackcomb glacier to Decker.
Here’s Nick, the token telemarker leading down to the Decker Glacier. The cornices overhanging 9th Hole/Y - Chutes are getting pretty big now. Looks like some naturals or cornicefall has run out off the rock band in the middle of 9th Hole.
Ron skiing down to the Decker Glacier traverse with the Spearhead NE ridge in the backdrop successfully avoiding dropping down to Circle Lake and the Circle Glacier where conditions looked generally lousy. We were just there yesterday trying to punch a route through the rocks to get some icy chute skiing.
Another group (Rob from Whistler Ski Guides and another guy) were going for 2 day Spearhead traverse so we kindly let them go ahead. The cornices overhead are about 1500 ft above us - perspective is always so deceiving. This wouldn’t be the best place to hang out and skin up if conditions weren’t so bomber.
Ski crampons made the sidehill traverses navigable and a snap. Even on the sun-sheltered north face of Decker there’s a good size 10 cms of slab – probably wind and not sun-crust. However, this bus – sized crevasse on the Decker Glacier would make for a lousy surprise for anyone straight-lining the face.
We get up to the Decker platform just east of the entry off the main corniced slope and head over to the heli-pad. No-one seems in too much of a rush so I grab my favourite girl for a picture.
Our initial plan was to head over to Pattison and look at the north face and maybe give Trorey’s north face a whirl too. Even my best attempts at self-deception and optimism couldn’t convince anyone to go for it; honestly though – it would have been a nice walk and bag a few summits but pretty crummy skiing. We change plans and decide to circumnavigate Decker. This view shows us at the Decker – Trorey Col looking down on the Trorey glacier – still a few open slots here later in the year.
After looking around for a bit; Ron finds some nice slab skiing on wind-crust heading down to the south toe of Decker.
Love the way the plume of snow here highlights his tracks.
Nick dropping the knee with Trorey providing the conversation piece in the background.
Sharon skiing her first wind – groomer in a long long while. Truly we’ve been spoiled for powder and snow this year.
I’m showing my CSIA form steeze; hands forward; knees driving; independant leg motion; everything except the pack, ice-axe and flexy AT skis are textbook.
I took this as Nick, Ron and Sharon came over a rise on Decker West – it shows the Overlord Glacier and due to a trick of the lens – Fitzsimmons creek can’t be seen.
After getting to the shoulder where you have the option of going up to get the Finger Chutes or heading down the ridge to Decker Main we decide to go down the ridge. I can’t convince anyone that going over to Blackcomb Peak and bagging DOA would be a good idea. Everyone’s way way too mellow.
Trying a few different shots with a sepia theme; this looks down Decker Main to the mousetrap. Although heavily corniced there’s a few ways to drop in. I can’t convince anyone that I know what I’m talking about so we continue down the ridge a ways.
Side view of Decker Main – steep entry which mellows out to 40 degrees or so and 30 at the base.
Continuing down the ridge we find a chute further down the ridge of Decker Main with a nice entrance. Ron drops in.
I drop in; nice dust on crust and possibly the best skiing of the day as the wind has transported most of the snow on to the steeps. This view here shows the entire chute – we skied the left side – from the bottom of the Mousetrap; perhaps an 800 ft shot.
From there we managed to traverse high and didn’t have to put on skins to reach the lower part of Disease Ridge. Here’s a rare sight – the Tantalus range behind Black Tusk. Usually there’s too much cloud or dust for this view.
View of the South Western Spearhead from one of our many lunch spots on Decker West. You might think this was from a long time ago if not for all the new-fangled gear strewn all over the place.
Old – school Ron!
Nick contemplating serenity of the mountains – below to picture left ants congregate on 7th Heaven.
Down Disease Ridge to civilization.