Nick Sutcliffe riding SPLITN2 split in Canada!

April 28, 2012

Here is a bit of Nicks latest travels up in Canada, he needed some time out and he's right in his element! after having a pretty hectic summer of biking -  building the course for the Lyttelton Urban Dh, building the Vic Park pumptrack and generally trying to get fit for the Queenstown Enduro i decided it was time for a quick break from the bike - time to swap the wheels for the board and head out for some end of season snow. Canada seemed to be getting the goods, and with the chance of catching up with some good friends was the obvious choice. With a Splitn2 board sorted (thanks heaps once again!) i met Dom at Calgary and we headed to her place in Golden. The first couple of days weather wasn't great, so we filled the time checking the maps, eating, drinking and generally lazing around. (Nicks post continued below pics)    [gallery link="file" orderby="rand"]   With good weather finally predicted we headed out early on Thursday (with slightly sore heads) and aimed for Rogers Pass. The plan for the day was to aim for Sapphire Col, a trip of about 15km, with about 1400m of climbing. The local guide book for the area describes this as abit of a classic so it seemed like a good starting point! The routes starts mellow enough for the first hour or so, cruising up the Asulkan Brook, before beginning the climb up to the Col,  steepish at first before climbing onto the glacier and up over the Col. A slight map reading error in bad light meant that we pioneered a new route variation to the Col, but it was all fun and no stress. Over the back side is a 700m decent on the Lily glacier before a mellow decent down to the flats and the Trans Canada highway. A great first day altho the legs were feeling it   After another day relaxing and stretching out early season legs i got put in touch with friends of friends who were heading out the following day to a peak called White Pyramid. Another 1500m climbing day which sounded worthy. A 3.30am wake up had me abit dazed as usual and i contemplated going back to sleep but i got myself some breakfast, chatted with my housemates who had just got back from the bar and set off to meet Maria and Ralph. This trip provided another long mellow approach before ramping up gradually to the ridgeline. It was then boards off for the final 500m to the summit, where we shared bootpacking with some guys from Canmore, who were equally stoked to be up there on a clear day. A quick stop for food and pictures then it was back down to the boards for the slidding part. The descent was mellow but heaps of fun, laying down long turns and generally whooping our way down, altho the snow was abit sun effected towards the bottom. The flattish bottom provided abit of entertainment for the others, as i'm not the greatest at skiing the splitboard, altho rapidly improving through necessity!   With the weather looking abit iffy, we decided to head back to Rogers Pass a day or 2 later to climb and ski/board Youngs Peak,  another classic traverse by all accounts. We headed back up part of the Asulkan Brook again before branching off to climb up to the Illecillewaet Icefield. This provided a solid climb up for a few hours before reaching the main icefield where the gradient leveled off. The weather continued to be a pain in the ass and was getting worse so we decided to pull the pin before getting whited out on the ridge to the peak. Never really one for bailing out, but it proved to be a good choice and the descent back down eased the pain of turning around.    Next up was a quick trip onto the Wapta Icefields - mellow terrain, but a spectacular place to visit. We approached via Peyto Lake - i'm not sure if i will ever get comfortable crossing large frozen lakes, especially ones where the surface is showing signs of melting. After a slightly uncomfortable 5-10 mins, moving at twice my usual pace, we were across to the other side to follow the valley up to the Peyto Glacier. Along the way we met one of the researchers from the glaciology research station, which is positioned at the base of the glacier. Had a quick chat about conditions and the state of the regions glaciers. Surprisingly rapid recession, as seems the case most other places. Shame. We continued on and climbed up the glacier, heading clear of a large crevassed area, and before long realised that Peyto Hut was just around the corner. We dumped our gear, ate and contemplated what to do as the weather was once again crapping out. The hut was warm and dry, so it was a fairly easy decision to wait and see! With just less than 2 hours of daylight left the weather broke and we decided to go for Rhonnda Peak North, a 6 Km round trip from the hut and a great looking ridgeline descent. With good conditions we made the peak in no time, before boarding up and heading back down to the hut. Good turns!! The next morning we headed up, along, and then down to Bow Hut, and with conditions once again worsening we headed on out via Bow Lake, not before another splitboard in ski mode descent through the trees, and the obligatory slightly uncomfortable feeling crossing Bow Lake!

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