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More Backcountry Adventures

Super Bowl & Terminator 2

semi-overcast 0 °C

Another backcountry adventure this time without the guiding expertise of Lisa so time to really utilise the avalanche & backcountry training. The destination this time Super Bowl and on to the imaginatively named Terminator 2 (T2), which is nestled between the in-bounds Terminator Ridge and the very out-of-bounds (would you believe it) Terminator 3 (T3), just north of KHMR on the Dogtooth Range.

Day One was shared with Megz who had safely navigated the same hike with friends the week before; Day Two led by yours truly with Matt, Olly, Travis T and John in tow which is where this story follows in most part. Day two started with a melodrama with Olly dropping his helmet at the peak of Terminator. We all watched as it bobbed and rolled towards the impending cliff and to our terror Olly decided to put life before expense and (literally) dived after it, just managing to catch it before plummeting off the edge. We all shared a minor coronary and agreed if sh*t falls down (as it always does) to let it go.

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Now in the backcountry, the hike to the peak of T2 involved a short traverse across Super Bowl and onto the ridge which would eventually lead to our destination. The back-side looked so tempting to drop in to with the promise of fresh powder lines - the only thing that held us back was the same as any other sane person would rationalise - a 15km hike out of the valley or a virtually unassailable scramble back up to the ridge. Nonetheless, some gnarly looking lines to fantasise about.

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Our dreams were rudely interrupted by the sheer magnitude of the hike ahead, requiring a careful traverse along a narrow and winding ridge which at points narrows to only 1m with a sheer drop to certain death either side - with a force 10 gale blowing and a snowboard/sail strapped to your back this is no mean feat. Add to that the fact that the route winds around huge rock boulders with death’s jaws awaiting below and you start to get the picture.

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What else do we need to settle our nerves? How about some almost vertical steps up the final push to the summit? That’ll do nicely sir. I think Olly’s quote at the top of one particularly steep pitch was ’f*ck that for a game of soldiers’ - an oldie but appropriate in the circumstances. Maximum respect to Megz who lead this section of the hike on day one without a visible boot-pack - you is truly hardcore!

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Finally the summit appears, and we’ve made it safe and sound. The weather suddenly closes in and it’s time to make the final push to the cornice which marks the start of our descent, which invites us with open arms to drop from it’s bosom into the soft powder beneath. Right on cue, Mother Nature whips up the strongest winds of the day turning what should be a well deserved rest spot into an artic blizzard. No time to hang around, though I chuffed the obligatory cigarette first.

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Onto the ride down. Day One I dropped this a couple of times - the first a straight air onto a surprisingly hard-packed wind blown section; the second a two-stage drop managing a 180 on the first ridge and half-cab to ride out, nice! Day two, all but one of the crew dropped the highest point of the cornice (a good 15ft) and this time the powder beneath did not disappoint, the ride out with lots of space to lay some big power turns on a fairly gentle face.

The group gathers at the first meeting point to drop the next ridge - the real meat in the sandwich! I was first down and hammered it down the base. Some super light snow and fun rocks to drop and small trees to jib. Pictured is Matt stood silhouetted on the ridge with Travis T beginning his descent.

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Rip down through some evenly spaced trees and find an open powder chute, clearly a result of continual battering through repeated avalanches but given the stability of the snow pack, a good day to ride it and ride with style we did. At the base, the snow lacked quality with cruddy, icy stuff awaiting and we all dreamed of returning here after a huge dump. With haste we raced to the Day Lodge for a well deserved luncheon.

After much debate, we could not call it a day on this note, so decided to re-visit Super Bowl, this time requiring only a hike up T1. At the peak, the cloud clears to reveal a stunning view back over to KHMR and an other opportunity to capture this magnificent landscape.

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Beyond the safety of T1 and the Truth & Dare chutes which lead in-bounds, this was my first venture into Super Bowl so I had no real idea of where to head, apart from scanning the bowl from the previous hike for possible routes. I liken this to parrying laser blasts with a lightsaber with the blast-shield down. Opting for the safer option of following the boundary rope down, we picked a chute with fresh lines awaiting, with a sharp left turn immediately at the bottom to return to the rope. Matt dropped first throwing all powder etiquette out of the window, laying out huge powder turns across the entire width of the bowl - we forgave him as all agreed it would be hard to resist such temptations. Olly, John & Travis (pictured) dropped next and I pick up the rear to lead the way to the final descent.

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It turns out the decision to veer left to the rope was a good one as below the chute lay a 60ft + cliff, thankfully we all made it down the safety channel. Last dibs now as approach the top of the run ‘Terminator’ and we are overjoyed to find that just out of bounds awaits our last powder stash of the day - a 6m wide gulley/natural half-pipe with almost knee deep light fluffy powder, superb!

A race to the base for a well deserved beer and chin-wag about the days events. How lucky we’ve been for Spring skiing to find such great snow and how privileged we are to share this experience in the mountains - another super-awesome day at the Dogtooth.

Posted by phileas 19:09 Archived in Canada

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