Eye of the Storm: Deep In The Whistler BC
We had been waiting patiently. January was a lackluster month in the name of heavy storm season here in Whistler. Much due to the frequent warm conditions, rain, and often followed by dry spells, winter had seemed to be on an indefinite hiatus. All shadows of doubt were enlightened with the onset and arrival of one of our winter’s most awesome storms.
The backcountry had been lying dormant for a couple weeks, caked with wind and rain crust, the riding was sub par to say the least. So when the first snowfall arrived, Riley Leboe and I thought we would just go spend the first day of the storm skiing the mountain. When we approached the parking lots, my jaw nearly hit the steering wheel upon seeing that all the parking lots were full by 9 o’clock.
Riley getting chased by a huge plume of cold smoke.
It had become apparent that our snow slump had hit home hard, and everyone including their dad were itching for pow. Immediately we threw in the towel, and opted out of the crowds. Without wasting anymore time, we ripped back to our houses, and then gassed up our sleds. The snow had been hounding the Sea to Sky area for over twelve hours, and with horrible visibility we chose to head up the sled area Sproatt to hit up our ‘go-to’ tree runs.
Rolling up on a deserted parking lot, we didn’t really know what to expect. We fired up the sleds, and started ripping up the road amidst a slew of slush and rain. Steadily climbing and already soaked, we watched the giant snowflakes shrink in size and multiply ten fold with every corner we round. The apparent forecast had called for 20cm that day, and we were dumbfounded with our discovery, because when hit the kill switches on the sleds, they were semi-submerged under 60cm (24in) of blower powder. We dropped in, and just started laughing.
People thought this sled was was abandoned. It was only parked.
Josh Bibby sends a drop through his sluff.
Arriving back at the sleds after our first run, an additional 4 inches had fell in the time it took to ski a 600ft line. It was amazing. I even set my shovel down for five minutes, and then couldn’t find it, that’s how hard it was snowing. The snow conditions that day were unforgiving to say the least, and our gear suffered the wrath.
With soaked pants and gloves, fogged lenses, wet cameras, and helmets full of snow, we kept shredding and shooting. Reminding ourselves regularly that we could be waiting in hour long lift lines, so instead we just high fived, hit mini cliffs and tree taps, all the while scoring some of the deepest turns all season.
KC Deane gets his own in the tree pillows.
There’s nothing like starting off a storm cycle with a huge snowfall. The successive days would prevail to be some of the deepest to date, making it nearly impossible to access anything on our sleds for nearly a week. Sticking to the trees for visibility and exploring new zones, we mapped new terrain for future snowfalls. Trees were the key to a successful week caught in the eye of the storm, as we patiently awaited our favored follower of deep snow, the sun.
- Mason Mashon