Garibaldi Névé Traverse, Lessons in Hope, 2010.05.01

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Garibaldi Névé Traverse, Lessons in Hope, 2010.05.01

Postby skykilo » Sun May 02, 2010 4:31 pm

Responsibilities have been keeping me in the city. I managed to go skiing all of twice in April while it snowed something like four meters. Let's just say I've been going through some "growing pains."

Friday afternoon, Alex suggests the Garibaldi Névé Traverse. The forecast: mostly cloud with a 60% chance of showers. To me this means: whiteout, jour blanc, isotropic radiation bath in a cold place. Alex is couting on "clearing late in the day," a five-word siren song if I've ever seen one. How often do they get the timing just right around here?

Regardless, I agree to go, even feigning enthusiasm, because I really need to take my medicine.

There is a trace of fresh snow at the Paul Ridge parking lot above Squamish.
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There is a fair amount of snow at the Red Heather Meadows Shelter.
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This sign explains a few things about snow.
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"Snow covers one half of the earth's surface at some time during the year." One half means Russia and Canada.

Skiing to Paul Ridge, the situation looks grim.
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This does not bode well for the Névé, kilometer after kilometer of nothing but snow and the occasional crevasse. It also occurs to me that my equipment is not really right for a traverse like this. What good are these stiff boots with tall cuffs for schlepping along low-angled slopes all day? Perhaps this is just a way for me to reinforce my disdain for traverses.

The snowpack at the Elfin Shelter is also impressive.
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We play cards for two hours at the Elfin Shelter, waiting for signs of hope from the clouds. Alex insists that we'll just climb above them. I know better. I teach him to play Gin and he wins the first four hands. Then the tables turn and I dominate. There is a break in the clouds. I know it's a sucker hole, but let's go.

Alex commits to Rubble Creek.
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Alex skis along Rubble Creek.
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As the radiation bath becomes more intense, Alex realizes that he forgot his sunglasses. After a few clicks in goggles, while he stops to madly shake them in the air to alleviate the condensation every few minutes, I have an idea. One scratched set of Oakley Blade lenses and some styling yellow duct tape later, Alex has transformed his headlamp into a steezy pair of glacier glasses.

Mad steeze above Rubble Creek.
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We're feeling really lucky and hopeful as we ski onto the Névé. Then a cloud engulfs us and we stop to take a nap because we can't see anything. Snowflakes wake me with a large, cold wet spot on my back. It's possible to see a vague horizon in the distance, so let's ski toward that.

Tantalizing views of the Mamquam Massif accompany a section of steeper ascent.
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Soon we're on a more active portion of the glacier. Ominous signs of crevasses are all around us. The wind switches to the south again and the clouds return. Alex says, "This is hardly a cloud." I guess he's right. It's more like a scenario where two idiots without any warm clothes perish on a glacier.

Another involuntary break.
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Eventually the clouds break again.

Alex, looking stoked and steezy.
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We gain the high point for the standard traverse, just below the Tent. The clouds break for a minute and I can see the summit. That's it. Now it's summit or death.
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It's cold and wintry and windy. There's a large settlement as I slide my left ski forward. I poke my pole through a thinly-bridged crevasse. Alex apologetically asks to use the rope. I agree that it's the right thing to do, no need for apology. The clouds are making another move. Alex explains "I'm not sure I want to go up there if it's going to be like this."

"Sorry Alex, I can't stop now."

I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but we've changed roles. For all his bravado, enthusiasm and hope, Alex was ready to descend the standard traverse and call it good. I can't blame him; I understand. But the traverse was not a big draw for me; now that we're here, the summit is the sine qua non of this whole thing for me.

The visibility varies as we skin toward the summit slope, but it's never more than a few tens of meters. Somehow we manage the ideal route, to the right of the seracs and crevasses, and put ourselves below the final steep slope in perfect position. The snow is getting deep; there's more than half a meter of fresh powder. I see where some other skiers stopped and retreated. I can't blame them; there's some windloading from over a steep, rocky ridge there. Just a few steps later, the aspect changes a little onto the final summit slope and the snow feels fabulous. I remove my skis to bootpack, which makes me feel more confident in my ongoing assessments of the stability.

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Bootpacking into the clouds, past rocks, it seems that we're finally at the summit. I see features below me in every direction, including a dramatic drop to the south. We both prepare to ski without visibility, happy to have made the summit, but a bit wary about descending the glacier. Then it happens. It's a miracle. The heavens open as Alex makes his first turns from the summit.

Alex skis from the summit of Garibaldi.
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Who called for that? When does this happen?
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The only thing that would be more miraculous would be for Alex to make a telemark turn on the steep summit slope.

And just like that, a whole month of frustration has vanished in a cloud of powder.
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OMG LOOK AT THOSE TELE STEEZE
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Now this is the way to start May!
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A parting shot.
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Shortly thereafter, clouds swarm the summit. We won't see Garibaldi again. I can't understand it. Another hand of cards at the Elfin Shelter, or one hand less, and we might have missed it.

After that, I actually enjoy the walk across the lake.
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Attitude adjustment complete. Thanks, Alex.
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skykilo
olikyks
 
from Santa Fe

Re: Garibaldi Névé Traverse, Lessons in Hope, 2010.05.01

Postby Jason Hummel » Sun May 02, 2010 6:42 pm

Thank you Sky. Now that is stoke. Way to stack the deck with some blind luck and share a hand of frustrated physicist with us.
Jason Hummel
 

Re: Garibaldi Névé Traverse, Lessons in Hope, 2010.05.01

Postby Diamond Dachshund » Sun May 02, 2010 11:37 pm

It spat you out at the lake. Very good. My god there is a lot of snow.

Even though you never ski, you are lucky to have those mountains nearby. They are special.

Way to battle through the shit weather, I would've needed some of this:

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Diamond Dachshund
 
from The Future

Re: Garibaldi Névé Traverse, Lessons in Hope, 2010.05.01

Postby Alex » Mon May 03, 2010 9:51 am

4 hands?
More like the first 10 hands. You are just upset that I am the Gin master.

That shot looking back at Garibaldi makes the day seem so bright and sunny,when I mostly remember it as a big white-out.
Alex
 

Re: Garibaldi Névé Traverse, Lessons in Hope, 2010.05.01

Postby ryanl » Mon May 03, 2010 2:11 pm

skykilo wrote:And just like that, a whole month of frustration has vanished in a cloud of powder.



That's all it takes, eh, is one massively good trip? I'll keep my fingers crossed. Happy for you guys...
ryanl
 

Re: Garibaldi Névé Traverse, Lessons in Hope, 2010.05.01

Postby skykilo » Mon May 03, 2010 2:53 pm

Yes, but, I'll let you know how long it lasts. That's another question!
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skykilo
olikyks
 
from Santa Fe


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