Duffey – Cayoosh

Words by Lee Lau. Pictures by Lee Lau and Pat Mulrooney

It’s been a long time since a May long weekend in B.C. has seen good weather and this year proved to be no exception. I skied Blackcomb on Friday but already tiring of inbounds I had planned to head up Duffy to someplace nice and quiet. Pat and Danielle joined me.

Trailhead is a sandy beach

It looked fugly the next morning. After a litany of snoring, eating, farting and watching alternately rain turn to snow, turn to hail then turn to graupel we got going at the stroke of 2.45 pm and decided to bootpack straight up a face just outside the hut. What could possibly go wrong?

Pat – again in his natural environment

Danielle – why is it snowing so hard?

We didn’t hang around this narrow part of the couloir for very long

Bootpacking is certainly very efficient. From the hut we gained 800m into the alpine alarmingly quickly. Bootpacking was really easy and the snow was super supportive. Because it was quite cold the steep slopes we hiked up didn’t sluff and certainly didn’t feel unstable. Regardless, we didn’t hang around for very long on suspect slopes.

As we hit the alpine, gusts of between 50 – 80 kmh hit us and we switched from spring dress to full winter kit.

It got a bit windy going into the alpine

View from Pat Peak

View from a minor summit as clouds cleared to the south revealing Mt Goodlines, Chief Pascall, Joffre, Stonecrop

Clearing view to the south

Wouldn’t you know it. We got lucky and as we crested first one peak then headed for another, the clouds kept breaking and we got decent views to the north – towards Mt Marriot and Marriot Basin. We could even see visitors and a dog in front of the cabin. Luckily we could see as I didn’t fancy blundering around up high close to the humongous cornices present.

On to the next peak where we could look down into Marriot Basin – note the glide cracks on the snowpack near to the rock at Pat’s feet.

Coming back down

We bootpacked back down to where we had left our skis and proceeded to milk some decent turns down some 800 m to the cabin. This is always a pleasure but even more so in May. It might be spring in the valleys but it sure is wintery looking up here.

Now to ski some slopes

Danielle, Pat and Lee taking care of business

Expected hut visitor

Mellowing out

MAY 20, 2007

The next day it still looked rather poor weatherwise but this time we got going by the crack of noon. The inevitable bootpack ensued. Cayoosh itself had been in the weather all day yesterday and it looked pretty piss poor for visibility again today. So we headed to a nice friendly looking ridge south of the hut to go look for interesting things to ski.

Repeat bootpack the next day

Initially we had planned on traversing the ridge to look at the views. As some 5cms of snow fell as were climbing up, that idea quickly got shelved. Then we came on this little gem and took a look.

Checking out couloir entries

Actually it didn’t look that great. Wet slides had cleaned out half of it. The choke looked OK but it was hard to tell how stable the snow was in the chute. None of us had brought a rope or even cord so we couldn’t chop nice conveniant pillows of snow and drop them on the slope below. In those times of indecision there’s really only one thing that’s safe to do. … and that’s pin it right down the fall-line

Hmmm …. I think it will go

Pat making it go

Danielle shredding

While Pat and Danielle straight-lined I declined as I didn’t feel that confident in my weight-weenie setup so I took pictures. Then a binding adjustment issue rendered skiing downhill problematic so I bootpacked back down. We got back, decided that staying another day would be a bit of a waste of time – considered the possibility of eating Italian sausage burgers at Splitz grill and that pretty much tipped the scales to booking out of Cayoosh and heading back to the city.

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