Last Update : Nov 13th, 2012
November 13, 2012
We just wrapped up our fourth annual Whitefish Mountain Films event with great success. Nearly six hundred people enjoyed great films... some of which were world premiers. Thanks to the film makers, sponsors and everyone who helped make this event happen again. I also wanted to thank Kim Havell, Mark Abma, Josh Daiek, Rachael Burks, and Pip Hunt for making the trip to Whitefish.... it was a blast hanging out with you guys.
October 23rd, 2012
So another season begins with accumulated snow in the mountains that is started to add up(and staying). I just read a report of a base of 80-100 cms in the Bugaboo's with the top 30 being low density and the basal layer being strong and supportive... very good news to have those kind of base layer conditions.
We have our shorter trips for the 2012/13 season up and were taking bookings for them. We also have a few lodge trips booked this season but would be stoked to take your group out if you're thinking a classic ski touring week might be in order. Just tell us when and where you'd like to go and we'll take care of the rest. Prices vary with group size and location but range from $1600-$2200 per person which includes meals, accommodation, heli transfer and guiding. The epic good times are free!
Also for you flathead valley folks out there, were presenting our fourth season of Whitefish Mountain Films on November 9th and 10th. We have a fabulous line up of films this year... some of which will be premiering. And we'll again be bringing in athletes as special guests to talk about their films. Visit our face book page for more info... hope to see you there.
April 10th, 2012
This has probably been the longest spread in reports from us and we only have one reason: Because we're out skiing, not in the office.
So our apologies but since the last entry we've been on a few road trips, heliskiing, and a couple lodge trips. Winter has been great and its not over for us yet as we start a Bugs to Rogers Traverse next week for 10 day then into Fairy Meadow Hut again to finish things off.
If you're not out skiing then we sure hope you're enjoying spring right now.... it's been beautiful in the valleys.
March 4th, 2012
Well we're up in the Selkirks now and the mountains and snow have been unleashing its wrath. Despite the poor stability we have been getting awesome skiing done. I'm up here at Rogers Pass skiing with a group from Whitefish Montana and yesterday was fully over-the-head blower conditions skiing treeline and below. Lots of wind effect at treeline/alpine with winds pushing 100 kph and a freezing level that climbed to about 1400 metres today are producing high hazard levels with a wide spread natural activity cycle occurring. The highway is closed for a 190 km stretch between yoho park and craigellachie with no promises of an opening time..... yikes.
A cold front is supposed to come in tomorrow and possibly a day of sunshine on Tuesday. This might promise to be a stellar day touring(Tuesday) at the pass but we will be tip toeing around as I'm sure many slabs will just be waiting for a human trigger.
If you're out skiing in the next couple of days please be care full.... its touchy out there.
February 25th, 2012
Our latest trip found us skiing crazy good pow once again. We were on a road trip that started in the Kootenay's of BC working our way north hitting hot springs along the way. We stopped in Revelstoke and Rogers Pass for more epic skiing but were limited in our terrain choices due to poor stability.
There were two layers of buried surface hoar on shaded aspects and a suncrust on solar aspects that was our main concern. They were down 40-50 cms and 60-80 cms at all elevations and were very touchy. We were experiencing remote triggering of these slabs and test results were easy(sudden collapse). These layers are still there and although they are tighening up they are still going to be a concern for a while.
If you're out skiing where these weaknesses are in the snowpack now is a good time to be conservative with your decisions of where and what to ski. There have been a lot of close calls and accidents involving fatalities and there are likely to be more in the short term.
February 9th, 2012
Over the past few weeks we've been skiing at Rogers Pass frequently and trips have been going very well with continued good conditions. It seems like its been one storm stacked upon another putting down an abundant amount of snow. The persistent weak layers have for the most part become dormant and bridged over by a well settled mid pack.
We recently had our first real stretch of high pressure and stability was good so we were able to ski many of the big classics at the pass under bluebird skies. The solar aspects were all cooked but the shaded slopes were holding excellent boot top snow. Needless to say the pass looked like a ski resort with tracks everywhere(almost) and forced us to explore new areas that aren't normally skied. It has started to snow again and it will be covering a new layer of surface hoar from tree line and below. Thankfully the wind in the alpine and the sun destroyed much of this layer but it will still be something we'll be thinking about next time were out. Stay tuned...
January 23rd, 2012
The skiing in Canada has been just awesome past couple of weeks. There has been storms that have laid down 40-50 cms of blower pow that has lasted longer than normal with splitter days allowing for primo alpine tours. I have been there personally for some of those days but wish I could have been skiing full time. I truly hope some of you reading this were up there skiing somewhere in the Selkirks.
The weather is about to warm up with this storm and conditions (+ stability) are about to change for the worse temporarily. High pressure(sunshine?) should return by Thursday and we'll be on another trip at Rogers Pass then. I fully expect epic ski conditions to return by the weekend. Get out an ski!
January 3rd. 2012
Over the Holidays the Selkirks had received 100-150 cms of snow. This fell on the mid December surface hoar layer and a large avalache cycle had occured. The storm snow also came in with mod-strong winds creating windslabs in the alpine. Conditions had been touchy until recently but our confidence in skiing bigger terrain has returned as the snowpack has stabilized in many areas. The 2 layers of buried surface hoar can still be found in some areas(that hadn't slid) from treeline and below(down 80 & 150cms from the surface) and shouldn't be forgotten as they are likely to be reactive again.
The skiing has been very good recently overall but the sun was out this past weekend and has formed sun crusts on steeper solar aspects. It looks like the weather forecasts are calling for light precip with rising freezing levels(up to 2000 M) over the next couple of days then cooling and drying out a bit.
December 21, 2011
Well over the past few weeks it seems all the storms have been hitting Alaska and Canada. Unfortunately, there's still not much happening in Montana for snow.
I've been mostly ski touring in the Selkirks and a few days of heli skiing in the Monashees. We've had variable ski conditions from periods of blower pow to wind hammered snow in the alpine. And until recently, it has been dry in these ranges. The snowpack has been hovering around 2-2.5 metres at tree line. The last storm has put down up to 60 cms in the north and west parts of the columbias and about 20 cms in south east. This new snow overlies a surface hoar layer that currently is very reactive to skiers because the new snow has slabbed up due to winds and temperatures.
It looks like high pressure in the BC interior next few days so if you are heading out be conservative with your terrain choices. And be aware of where other skiers(not in your group) are in relation to you. I personally will be skiing super cautiously as buried surface hoar is a layer to never underestimate. Read the latest avalanche forecasts for the area you plan to ski as conditions will be changing daily.
November 17th, 2011
We it's already November and as I'm sure I feel the same as you reading this that time goes by way too fast. We haven't posted before today as we have been very busy building biking and hiking trails here in Montana right up until the snow came.
We've also been super busy with Whitefish Mountain Films. Its an event we have been hosting for the past 3 years now and what a season we just had. All I can say is if you've never been to it you really ought to. We packed the house at the O'Shaunessy Theatre here in Whitefish, Montana and had some great food and beer sponsors along with some sweet give-aways. Athletes Julian Carr and Chris Rubens made the journey to town to hang out with us and to view some very cool films. We started out with a big party up at the Bier Stube on Saturday night for an event we co-hosted with The White Room mountain shop. That night set the pace and by the time Chris and Julien went home Monday everyone was pretty worn out.
So now its time to ski. I'm heading up to Roger's Pass tomorrow for a few days of touring. The reports I've been getting have been good.
Sounds like there's an average of 100-150 cms at treeline and is supportable with some strength in the mid pack. There was a surface hoar layer that was buried on Nov. 7th and was very reactive last weekend but has now become less(reactive). Its still pressent though and now with more storm snow(stiffer) overlying it its not something to forget about as when failures due occur slab propagation will be significant. Trail breaking is deep and the ski quality is great.
May 18th, 2011
I've been home for a few days now healing up from our final trip of the season and finally succumbed to sitting in front of a computer to write this report.
Myself and 7 others just recently completed the classic Bugaboos to Rogers Pass ski traverse. Our group of fun and fit people took 10 days to complete it climbing south aspects and skiing cold north aspect powder. The weather was scrappy most days... typical spring mish-mash but the snowpack was at record levels for this late in the season which benefited us greatly.
We modified "classic" only in terms of not carrying the standard huge packs requisite of such ski traverses.... all except the apprentice guides of course. We accomplished this by placing 5 food/fuel caches along the route by heli and the guides carried group equipment. This is an excellent style to pull this trip off as it allows for side trips and ski descents along the way.
Ted Mahon of the trip recently wrote an article for Powder.... check it out for more details:
Our photos will be up on our flickr site in a few days.
We'll definitely be repeating this trip in the future... maybe even next year so get in touch with us if you're interested in joining the trip.
April 11th, 2011
Last week we finished up our Salomon trip into the Selkirks at Sentry Lodge and Fairy Meadow Hut. It was a great success of a trip to say the least. Mostly good weather accompanied good stability, the athletes ripped it daily and the food was a hit. See our Face Book page for photos and an article in Powder:
This morning I flew out of Meager Creek after a few days spent on a MSP shoot. The weather has chased us out for a few days but we'll be heading back in as soon as it breaks. We're based out of a heli camp in an amazing natural hotsprings area not accessable without flying in due to a huge landslide last year which has cut this area off from the public. I won't even try to describe how perfect this place is. You'll surely see it in next years Matchstick movie with athletes Eric Hjorleifson, Ingrid Backstrom, and James Heim sending beautiful coastal lines.
Hope everyone is having an awesome time on their skis right now. Ski safe.
March 22nd, 2011
It’s been a busy winter for us here at Bluebird Guides and it’s turning into a very busy Spring. A few weeks ago, we were able to work with some of the crew from Matchstick Productions at Revelstoke. Check out some pictures we took on our facebook page www.facebook.com/bluebirdguides. Conditions were great and we can’t wait to see it (fingers crossed) in a ski flick next year.
This week we’re gearing up to meet the Salomon FreeSki TV crew for 10 days of filming in the BC backcountry. Some of Salomon’s best skiers including our pal Kim Havell, as well as Elyse Saugstad and Chris Rubens will be joining us. We’ll have a full update when we get back into town. Stay tuned.
Check out some of our favorite SalomonFreeSki TV episodes:
March 15th, 2011
So lots has happened up north in the past month in regards to weather and snowpack. The skiing has mostly been really good with the storms putting down an abundance of snow to ride. Some of these storms did come with a fair bit of wind and the sun has been slaying the solar aspects as well making some interesting layers to be concerned with.
We've been working in the Selkirks, Monashees and Purcell ranges of BC. The following link describes what is currently happening with conditions:
Ski safe out there...
February 14th, 2011
Last week gave us epic ski conditions at Rogers Pass and in the Kicking Horse slackcountry. Probably the best so far this season with 30-50 cms of super dry(blower) powder and overall good stability. We were guiding a group of Swiss folks on their first trip to Canada and considering their winter is sucking I'm certain they were fully stoked. The Revelstoke backcountry wasn't nearly as good though as they experienced a large wind event that destroyed the surface snow at treeline and in the alpine.
But as always, things have changed considerably since last Saturday at the pass. 80 cms of storm snow has fallen over the past few days and was accompanied with moderate to strong winds. Along with a resulting large natural avalanche cycle ski conditions have deteriorated too. Deep double ski penetration (upside down) and slabby snow are the word. If you go out this week be cautious.
On another note, we're booking a second week at the legendary Fairy Meadows Hut for April 23-30 and are looking to bring in a small group of 5. This is a full service trip(all inclusive) and is selling for $1475 per person(normally $1900). Late season is one of the best weeks to be in there... Long days skiing powder on the glaciers and corn on the solar aspects and ending each day with aprés on the sunny deck. Click this link to get an idea of what it looks like back there that time of year:
-give us a call or send an email with your organized group of to join the one we're putting together.
February 2nd, 2011
Rogers Pass has been under high pressure now for a few days with super cold mornings and now there is a bit of warm air mixing in ahead of a system. The stability has been good and folks are skiing committing terrain without incident. There is a bit of light wind effect in the alpine but for the most part ski quality has been really good last few days with ski penetrations of about 20-30 cms in cold loose pow. The sun has also had a little effect on steeper south aspects but remains very skiable.
Basically, if you weren't skiing up here last couple of days you missed out on a rare opportunity to ski big lines in the sun with good confidence that the snow wasn't going to rip out from under you... all this in early February to boot.
Reports of skiing the Kicking Horse Slackcountry have been rated high this week as well but the snowpack there is always a bit scary and despite having good stability a group attempting to ski one of the big dogtooth lines boot packed from repeater ridge and after a few big settlements before dropping in the whole feature went size 3 from about 7 metres away and ran full path covering tracks in the molars area. yikes!
We'll be running trips between Revelstoke and Golden for the next week so we'll post again with any significant changes.
January 18/19th, 2011
So touring at the pass today(18th) proved to give obvious good skiing conditions on grizzly shoulder and there were only a handful of skiers out touring. We were surprised to not have super deep trail breaking conditions though...maybe 35 cms or so and fast skiing. Some widespread wind effect was apparent in the alpine but not at treeline and below.
We did not see any natural activity but plenty of past activity from the recent storm. Temps were cooler hovering around -5 to -8 at treeline. The sun did feel like it could have an impact on steeper south facing slopes but thankfully did not. There was a thin soft skiable crust to about 1450 metres and the tree bombs were set up and difficult to ski in tighter trees at around that elevation. Lots of old bed surfaces were refilled in as well and had not yet slid.
Stability test at 2200 metres(south asp. 30 incline) produced moderate resistant planar results in the storm snow( down 25cm; F+ soft slab) and an easy sudden collapse at the storm snow interface(down approximate 1 metre). Storm snow settling to 1F resistance at lower half. Ski tests cutting steep rolls did not get results.
Despite no new natural activity observed where we were skiing there was a report of a size 4.5 natural avalanche today(18th) west of Rogers pass that ran across the highway on a slide path that didn't before reach the road taking out 100 year old trees leaving behind a few metres of debris.
Skiing in the Asulkan drainage today we observed mass destruction from two large avalanches. One that hit the mousetrap and ran further that I've ever seen before... about 300-400 metres down the creek filling it with about 10 metres deep of debris including large trees. Wow.
Hope Montana gets some snow...
January 14th, 2011
Crazy weather is the word this week from very cold temperatures with abundant snowfall to rising freezing levels and moderate to heavy rain over snow in NW Montana. Skiing is good up high but be aware that the storm snow is slabbing up and reactive to skiers(avalanches). Although they are thin slabs (12-20 cm) they could cause a burial or injury if there is higher consequence terrain below the slope or, if the slope itself is a larger feature(think wider propagation).
Thankfully Rogers Pass is staying cold enough through this (freezing level 1500 metres) warm front and are getting crushed by snow. 80 cms of new snow in the past 72 hours which is covering last weeks 70 cms of storm snow. But unfortunately wind has accompanied the snowfall and obviously avalanche risk is high(poor stability) and will remain elevated as the forecast is calling for another storm to arrive Sunday.
We had a BlueBird Mountain Sessions workshop this weekend but with ridiculous thigh deep trail breaking we decided to reschedule.
Both KHMR(Golden) and RMR(Revelstoke) are getting pounded so that's probably where I'll be skiing this weekend. Maybe see you there.
January 9th, 2011
Current ski/stability conditions in NW montana(Flathead) warrant conservative decision making with terrain choices following a fatality yesterday in the Swan Range(near Doris Ridge).
I've been working in the Whitefish Range the past few days and we're seeing the same instability of the recent storm snow. We've got about 35cms of higher density storm snow(soft slab) overlying a dryer/colder snow layer with a well preserved stellar dendrite(weak layer) laying in between. We were getting easy sudden shears at this interface that's within skier triggering range. So the best advice we can give via the web is to give this storm snow some time to settle and continually asses the snowpack as you travel. Don't base your decisions solely on the avalanche forecast. My guess is with the cold weather we're now seeing this instability could linger for a little while.
The skiing is really good above 4500 ft (crust below this elevation) with ski penetrations around boot top.
In the Rogers Pass area we're experiencing deep conditions....trail breaking is tough. A similar weakness to Montana is present except that it is down about 75cms from the surface. Large avalanches are possible to initial from a skiers weight. Again, conservative terrain choices are the best option especially in the alpine.
Take care out there.... and tread lightly.
january 6th, 2011
Well it's seriously dumping in the Selkirks... finally. 40 cms overnight and still going. Obviously the skiing is off the scale but unfortunately so is the stability. Guess you better hire a guide.
And with the snowfall there's some wind and warmer temps creating widespread softslab conditions so if you're heading out be care full. And if you're unsure of where to ski then better to session the resorts and wait for a bit of settlement(of the storm snow) and let the avalanche cycle do its thing. Looks like the storm should taper by Sunday into Monday.
Raining in Montana at the moment(to 5500ft).... but snow up high. Hello winter!
January 4th, 2011
The holidays are over and the skiing remains good throughout both Montana and interior BC. Skiing the Middle Fork Range (Java) the other day gave us very nice conditions. There was a bit of wind effect but you really couldn't feel the soft (4F) wind slab under about 15 cm of very light density snow. We rated stability as Fair on East to South aspects all elevations as that thin (10cm) SSL was reactive to skiers in certain terrain features.
Although the snowpack remains surprisingly thin for this time of year in the Selkirks the backcountry travel conditions are OK.
Rogers Pass had about 50 cm of storm snow hit them over the holidays which has now settled and we generally have good stability up there. Although there is a lot of power sloughing happening with skiers in steep terrain and there was one isolated skier triggered slab yesterday(Jan 3rd) at the storm interface. Surface conditions are mostly 20-30 cm of light density powder(great skiing!).
The weather forecast(for Rogers Pass) is for moderate snow and maybe some wind accompanying it so stability is likely to deteriorate.
Happy New Year.