"have you ridden this chute? it's called Grand Daddy Couloir and it's located around Banff somewhere.." one of my friends asked me a few weeks ago seeing a photo in a magazine (I lived in Banff for a while).
I said no and quickly found out where it was and had it on the hit list. Being located in Alberta I didn't really think the avalanche conditions would allow for a lucky one off mission, but it's good to have a list just in case. I was heading to Alberta for the Burton Canadian Open halfpipe contest so I planned an extra day just in case..
Friday, feb 3 6-930pm...
Burton Canadian Open halfpipe finals. I fell every run. it was awesome.
I'm quite sure this is my second run of the night in practise. how do I know? My first run I just did ollies and didn't grab, and my 3rd run I started dropping in switch on the other wall. So I only did 1 normal method all night, during my second warm up run. So this is it. photo:jeff patterson
Grand Daddy Chute
Previously in the week, I'd talked with my good friend Scott Gaffney about riding Grand Daddy Chute on Saturday following the contest. Seems I ate some horseshoes. They didn't work for the contest but for the couloir it sure did.
I was able to borrow a friend's splitboard and touring gear for the mission, which was great. Just had to put a little bit of time in to set up everything correctly and hope that I liked the board since the first turns on it were going to be in at the top of a 50 degree chute!
After the contest I got back to the hotel at 11pm and was in bed by 12 and ready for my 6am pick up.
Not having all my usual equipment (or kitchen) meant a few random stops for food and parking lot fixes that needed to be done. I felt like a one man gong show. Usually i'm really organized and quick to go touring, but having borrowed everything...
scott gaffney, headband stylist.
thankfully scott is one of my testers and had his k2 Panoramic that i could pose with.
Finally having gotten my stuff together we were off for the few hours of touring to get to the chute. Having been absolutely beautiful and the avalanche conditions being perfect for a few days, we weren't really surprised to see tracks coming out of the chute. But half the chute was totally fresh and the previous group hadn't made it past the crux of the climb so we pressed onwards.
Can't really blame the previous crew for not making it past the crux as it got fairly steep and well, you wouldn't want to fall. Let's just say you'd hit a lot of rocks on the way down.
part way up, looking down. It's around here that I started to dislike my broken poles with their plastic tips and was really missing my ice axes.
our little switch over platform
After making our way past the crux we were confronted with the true size of the cornice that loomed above the top of the chute. Now having the sun beating on it's backside, and with it stretching from side to side of the couloir with no good way around it, and well, it was fairly big, we decided that the last 20 meters weren't quite worth it. So we dug a little platform in a safe corner and switched over to ride down.
Scott won the rock, paper, scissors and dropped in first. I was a touch nervous being on a board I'd never ridden before, but it was all good. No k2 Panoramic but it was pretty good. The rest, you can see on the video below. I wish I could have stayed in Alberta, 'cause man, it's really good right now. Fairly rare to see good avalanche conditions and perfect weather in February in Alberta. If you're in Alberta, get after it!