Cloudburst: not yet

Hoping that a recent road report on was corrrect (that you could drive to the Roe Creek turoff), Myself, Tom and the two dogs tried to get up Cloudburst via Chance Creek on Friday. This is my second attempt at this mountain, at the very south end of the Squamish Cheakamus Divide.

Well, I chickened out at the first sign of trouble, and, not wanting to spend the rest of the day digging out the car, we skiied from very close to the Powder Mountain base.

Use of the four wheel drive vehicle to access mountaineering and backcountry skiing terrain in BC has a long history. You see, we’ve got a lot of logging in this province and my taxes help pay for the construction of may miles of logging roads. The first part of any backcountry tip around here is access. What’s the best road, what condition is it in, where is the snowline, and will I wreck my vehicle on the way in. There is a break even point in the process of navigating the road where you’ll spend more time in the car trying to drive the road, or dig your way out of trouble, that it would have taken to walk in the first place. So I usually chicken out and walk/ride/ski. 

Hence, rock hard thighs!

Thanks to Powder Mountain, the road has a huge cat track which makes easy going for the dogs and us, but it’s still a two hour ski. Following tracks through the lower trees-with-random-cliff-bands, we reach sub-alpine by 13:00 and have lunch. A thousand or so more feet and both dogs are looking at us and wondering when the fun will start. I have to say that the snow on the shady north side of Cloudburst was some of the best I’ve seen all year; 15-20cm of cold, soft powder. Reluctantly we turned around short of the lake and skied out.

At the beginning of the snowmobile tracks I had a dipsy-doodle-induced* wipeout and broke my telemark binding — the first one I’ve broken since I started using stainless. Luckily it was the cable, and thanks to the engineers at G3 it’s field serviceable and I had a spare which has been lying at the bottom of my pack since 1995. Some quick work with a Leatherman (highly reccomended to help push the cable through the routing gromets) and I’m ready to go. You don’t even have to remove the toe plate!

* dipsy-doodle is the backcountry term for the mogul-like waves of snow built up on a logging road by the action of snowmobiles. What could be an easy ski out can be made quite wretched by these bumps. Depending on the speed of the machine and the grade they’re ascending or descneding these can be 1-2 metres apart and up to 60cm deep.

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