Early Season Skiing in South Western BC – November to Dec 2015

Well so much for El Nino hurting the snowpack. We’re off to a pretty decent start. Above average in the alpine and average in the valleys in most locations. Some early season pictures and video. A nice turnaround from the debacle of last year’s 2014-5 season. Here’s some random and representative pictures of what it was like in November and December of 2015 in the Coast Mountains.

November 27th and our first touring day since getting back from Ecuador

Some soft snow on Nov 27th with Seb. Probably 50 – 70cms of snow depth. Still lots of sharks

Dec 4 and our second touring day. Started off wintery and blustery in Whistler. Last evening and during the day temps were +2 at Roundhouse and precip took the form of liquid. It changed today with patches of sunshine amidst variable weather with temps dropping to -2 at Pig Alley and Catskinner at Whistler and Blackcomb. Winds were initially 30-40 from the SW at the alpine.

First runs were in Whistler. We switched over to Blackcomb around 11am and toured over to the 7th/Bodybag/Xhiggys area. HS was still only 70 – 90 but inexplicably the SW and S slopes were creamy snow with as much as 40cm of windloaded legitimate powder overlaying the previous snowpack.

Sharon on 7th laying down lines. These tracks are all ours

Dan Cudlip getting it done

Sharon inbounds on Dec 5th – nice base building dump of snow

Kept snowing big heavy flakes to the valley for Dec 6th

Off to Blackcomb’s Chuting Gallery on Dec 7th

Tons of snow milkable to the melt-freeze interface at about 1600m

Sharon milking it

Blackcomb slackcountry on December 11. 7th cracked and everyone stayed inbounds. We escaped the resort quickly and found ourselves with first tracks into Don’t Swill, East Col and Corona. Here I am on top of the Don’t Swill entry to the Spearhead

Seb – Dec 11th. Don’t Swill

A rare Don’t Swill in neck deep blower pow pic

Creamy Corona Bowl on Dec 11th

Shar on Corona on Dec 11th. Just below this we hit the melt-free from the past week’s pineapple

Our first Duffey tour of the season on Dec 12th was to Chief Pascall. 75cms at road/valley. 185 cms at 1920m on N facing slopes in Joffre area.

Winds light. Temps -6 at subalpine. N Nw and NE slopes got nicely windloaded but with nonreactive slab. 40-45 cms of storm snow at subalpine. Raincrust and lack of snow makes skinning very sporty and character building below 1600m.

Type 1 Duffey fun

Payback in the zone from 1950m to 1650m in blower Duffey pow

Feels good




Duffey ski Dec 12 2015 from Lee Lau on Vimeo.

Back to inbounds on December 13th after a huge 47cms dump of snow. Wondered how that bridged over the last week’s pineapple which had upped freezing levels to 2100m. Seems the damage is repaired. Lee in the Gray Zone

Dec 15 and Singing Pass is a go! Some creek crossings at the bottom. Oboe and Flute skied beautifully. Snowing lightly all day, -7 temps. Good stability and quality in the trees. Snow 140cm at the top of Oboe. 

Another bluebird day and were out along with a hundred other people to Blackcomb’s backcountry on December 16th to hit up Husume and Corona. Here’s Mack Rankin, Somehow I managed to skin up to Husume! That’s probably the first and last time I’ll do that

Probed 250cms of snow on the bridges of the Spearhead Glacier. A good start to the healing process

Mack on Corona

James C on Corona

Adam Francis on a day off

December 18th and the snow keeps coming. 45cms of light champagne storm snow on Flute-Oboe. We made our way through the Apostles and up and down Cowboy Ridge.

Sharon on Oboe

Seb on Oboe

We had to break trail down Singing Pass. Creeks are even more filled in

Back to the Duffey – Steep Creek on Dec 19th. The theme of champagne powder continued. Don’t think one can ever get tired of triple overhead blower pow.

Bony still at bottom of skiout from road of Chute 56 but definitely not impassable.

HS just 135 at 1750m (compared to couple of drainages further west where HS is 180 at 1920m but that’s just normal). Winds light; moderate SW at ridgeline. Surface sluffing on steeper slopes. 40 – 55cms of storm snow on melt-freeze crust at treeline. Facets on the MF interface in the alpine where there’s only 10-15cms of storm snow



Kevin and Summit


Down a V-Chute and through the clearcut for even more blower

Duffey ski Dec 20 ,2015 from Lee Lau on Vimeo.


Back to the Duffey near Melissas for December 27th – Meg

Shar on one of our laps

Lap 2

A high pressure came in and we skied SW slopes off the N Cayoosh Creek drainage on December 28th. Rare to get these in champagne pow

Lap 1

Jason on lap 1

Jesse on lap 1 – pure S facing

Sharon with Joffre Group in the backdrop

Exiting with the sunset

The high pressure was still on for December 30th. We headed to Phalanx to avoid crowds and were successful. Toby straighlines the man line past Don’t Swill

Quite the views. Still clear and cold

Time to drop into Foon Alley untracked

Toby dropping

Sharon exiting

Jameson on the Phalanx Glacier

Styrofoam blower down the Poop Chutes to end the day

The high pressure gave way to a mild inversion so we headed off to the Duffey again for pure N faces. First we found 3cm facets growing in the cold valley floor

Up to Joffre’s Shoulder. The big ramp at the top is where we’re headed

Sunny ridgelines to look at views on the way to the top

Up we go

Then down

and more down

and a requisite splitboard in your face shot


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