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    « Unusual Suspects | Main | Makalu 2011 »

    Liquid Courage and Beer Goggles: Two New Runs at Valhalla Mountain Touring

    When she's not busy making us jealous about climbing in places like Greenland and France, Patagonia Climbing Ambassador Jasmin Caton guides folks to some of British Columbia's choicest snow-covered gems with Valhalla Mountain Touring, a business she owns and runs together with her husband. Today she brings us a delightful story about some fresh turns recently made with one of the coolest ski partners a person could ask for. - Ed

    Liquid6

    The day had gone so well, maybe that was the problem. My Mum was up at Valhalla Mountain Touring to visit and ski while I worked as the lodge custodian for a self-guided group. I had had my eye on an unskied couloir for the whole season, and stability and weather were looking good, so I figured we'd ski it together since it didn't appear steep or difficult. Just a pretty rock-lined narrow powder run in a beautiful setting. As I parked us on the exposed ridge that leads into the run, my Mum started having second thoughts. "Hey Jas, I need some liquid courage" she said, laughing. I passed her a beat up brandy-filled chocolate from the bottom of my trail mix bag and she washed it down with some black tea from her small thermos (she doesn't drink water while out ski touring) and was ready to rip.

    [First run of the day - some powder turns to warm up for the goods. All photos: Jasmin Caton]

    We dropped into the line, which had great snow and beautiful overhanging rock walls on either side of it. When we got to the bottom, I asked her what she wanted to call it, and she decided on "Liquid Courage."

    With plenty of daylight and energy left, we began touring up to ski another run in the same cirque as our newly discovered gem. To the left of Liquid Courage, a steep snow headwall loomed that looked skiable with great snow.

    Liquid5
    [Benny and Bella dropping in on Liquid Courage.]

    Liquid4
    [Jasmin's Mum. Shredding.]

    Enter the Beer Goggles. See, from the uptrack the run looked like Jake Gyllenhaal - sexy, with just the right amount of scruffiness. When we peeled our skins and I dropped in to the entry I realized it was actually Seth Rogen, all scruffy, no sexy. Way steeper than I had thought and with my first few turns I kicked off a thin windslab, leaving firmer snow beneath. Knowing that she was not psyched for the sustained mid-40 degree pitch with firm snow, my Mum skinned back to where she could access some mellower terrain, and I did the walk of shame down "Beer Goggles," partially loving the steepness of the run, but feeling bad that I had misjudged the severity of the terrain. We enjoyed a few more good runs, before heading back to the cosy staff quarters at VMT, ending our day as all good days in the mountains should end, with wine, tasty food and a warm fire.

    Liquid3
    [Just another first descent for Benny, at the bottom of Beer Goggles in flat light.]

    Liquid0
    [Jasmin's partner in crime for the day, the coolest mother ever!]

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