Words by: Brent Hillier Photos by: Brent Hillier & Chad Hillier
Last week my brother, Chad, came out for a visit with his girlfriend, Katie. With springtime here on the coast of British Columbia it was a great opportunity to take advantage of all the many activities that are possible. It proved to be a great reminder for myself as to just how amazing this place really is. We explored the mountains on foot, bike and skis and toured the city, taking advantage of the food, culture and beer.
Words by: Brent Hillier Photos by: Brent Hillier and Justin Bryans
I recently celebrated 8 years of living on the west-coast of British Columbia. The move wasn't done alone, my good friend Justin and I hopped on a plane out of Hamilton, ON and flew into Abbotsford, BC back in 2006. We spent the first few days getting settled, finding a crummy rental unit on the dodgy end of town. By day four our bikes had arrived and it was time to explore. We introduced ourselves to the BC riding scene with a Fraser Valley gem known as Ledgeview.
McKee Peak, also known as Ledgeview, sits in the heart of Abbotsford. For many locals, it's quite literally in their backyard.
Type one fun is the most relatable, as well as the most common. It includes mountain bike shuttles and whistler days; it's followed by laughs and smiles. It's a good bike ride like, Is It Early or Just Really Late or a quick ski tour like, Spring is for Ski Tours. Although some might define those trips as being difficult, for the people who frequently get out there it's nothing more involved then buying a ticket to a carnival and having a great time.
It can be identified when fun is instantly had with little amounts of effort. At the end, beer tastes like beer and food tastes like food.
The second type of fun generally doesn't involved shuttles or chairlifts. Any up-hill is earned through the burning of calories, hiking, biking or skiing your way up each metre of elevation. The reward is pure fun but getting there requires a little pain. Colloquial phrases such as "no pain, no gain" are often uttered. The entire industry of organized racing comes from those who take pleasure in type two fun. Some other great examples would be: BC Parks! Tear Down This Wall and Bushy Kickturns, Coreshots and Broken Promises.
It can be identified by a fun day that may include some sore muscles. Afterwards beer is delicious and food is amazing, both of which are well earned!
The final type of fun is not for everyone; in fact I don't recommend it. It comes out of trips that are exhausting both physically and mentally. They often include at least one night of being cold and wet. Dinner is instant soup or a bowl of rice. In the moment, it's a horrible experience. The minimal portions that were in fact fun are so completely overshadowed by every other second that it takes two months to forget about the miserable parts and only remember the good parts. This is a theme that runs strong in my I'm Only Happy When I'm Miserable story.
During Type 3 fun photographs in which you try to smile result in a grimace or empty stare into the camera (examples below). Afterwards, a piss-warm can of shitty beer is suddenly the best beer of your life and that first hot meal is so unexplainably good you can't imagine ever eating a better meal again. It's for these reasons alone that I seek Type 3 fun at least once a year. But I must stress, it's not for everyone.
Words by: Brent Hillier Photos by: Brent Hillier & Jordan Drinovz
The plan was to ski one more blast of winter pow, to say goodbye to one of the most unpredictable and unstable winters I have ever skied or worked. My former patrol manager at Mount Seymour told me one day, "the thing with plan is it never goes according to plan." Those words have never been more true.
How do you feel about considerable? Are you one to stay inbounds and out of the backcountry, waiting for a lower rating to branch out? Or perhaps you're the type of person to say, "Well it's ONLY Considerable, after all it's not high." What if I told you that 51% of avalanche related deaths in Canada happen when the danger rating is at Considerable? Does that change your perspective?
Their's three reason why Considerable is such a problematic hazard rating; it's risk is subjective to each person, requires advance training to choose terrain and monitor the snowpack and finally, it often involves a low probability / high consequence scenario. These factors make navigating in the mountains during a Considerable hazard challenging.
Words & Photos by: Brent Hillier
When I first moved to the North Shore I went for a snowshoe up Mountain Highway. At the time there was lots of snow right down to the yellow gate, I thought nothing of it. Over the years I've come to realize that opportunity was rare. So when the chance to ski tour on Mount Fromme presented itself last week, I jumped on it.
Words by Brent Hillier Photos by Brent Hillier & John Kearns
Whistler is great in a lot of ways, one theme that reoccurs in my life is the benefit of learning new things on the slopes of Whistler/Blackcomb. Whether it's skiing or mountain biking I've never left the Resort without some additional skills. It's no surprise that an AST course in Whistler always delivers a fantastic learning experience. One Saturday I headed up with my friend John and introduced him to backcountry skiing, with a private AST 1.
Words by: Brent Hillier Photos by: Brent Hillier & James Dahmer
In my article A Winter of Learning, I explained this years unique problem of a Persistent Weak Layer at the bottom of our snowpack which was buried at the end of November. Up until a Melt Freeze cycle and subsequent cold snap, this layer had continued to produced avalanches. On the coast we were dealing with a major snowpack instability, one we were managing by staying out of steep and rocky terrain. It's meant a winter, not only lacking in snow, but lacking in the ability to branch off into steep, challenging terrain.
The crust that developed during the end of January did do the job of bridging the weak layer at the bottom of our snowpack. No avalanches have been reported on that layer since. My prediction of surface faceting did take shape, what it didn't do was completely deteriorate the melt-freeze crust. So our basal layer, although still producing results in Deep Tap Tests, is now unlikely to be skier triggered.
What I did see taking shape on January 29th, as I hiked into the Keith's Hut, was some very substantial surface hoar development. Shortly after we experienced some extremely cold temperatures in the -20°C range, causing faceting. Our next avalanche problem was beginning to take shape.
Surface Hoar on the approach to the Keith's Hut on January 29, 2014
Words by: Brent Hillier Photos by: Brent Hillier, Eli Relke & Cam Thorpe
With the cold snap last week I was left with few options for skiing, even fewer options locally here on the North Shore.
Dawn Patrol: To go ski or bike at an unpleasantly, perhaps even unnaturally early hour.
We loaded the Brento Wagon with four bros and gear and chugged our way up Mount Seymour at 6am. The plan was to ski up the resort for sunrise, and down the groomed trail. No pow, means no reason to go anywhere else; especially out of bounds.
Word by: Brent Hillier Photos by: Brent Hillier & Kelli Sherbinin
This past week I got together with the Endless Biking team for a fun lap in our backyard. It was Darren's birthday, it was sunny and the trails were prime. What other reasons do you need? Darren, Kelli, Eli and myself grabbed some bikes and went for a pedal, but the question was on my mind: With winter still not arriving this year, is this the latest bike season or the earliest? Will winter arrive or has it already gone?
Stories, Pictures and Video of all my adventures, on skis and bike.