Friday, May 2, 2008

Whistler World Backcountry Freeride Jam

The TELUS World Ski and Snowboard Festival draws thousands of snow sliders to Whistler for 10 days and 10 nights. Events range from slopestyle contests to concerts, but the special events of the World Backcountry Freeride Jam are particularly special. With its Backcountry Village to Randonnee Tours, the Race Series, Safety Clinics and Telemark Lessons, the Backcountry Freeride Jam provides great exposure for all things backcountry. Telemark instructor Tom Gellie sent us an trip report from the event…


(Wandering through the Backcountry Village. Photos courtesy of Tom Gellie)

I didn't expect there to be great skiing at Whistler during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival but that wasn’t the reason for going. Festivals are all about meeting up with old friends, making new ones, getting amongst some of the events on offer and generally celebrating the fact we love to ski. As part of the huge Ski and Snowboard festival there is the World Backcountry Freeride Jam. The organisers of this had done a great job in organising many clinics, demos and parties as a part of this get together. People could take part in Telemark clinics, backcountry tours with qualified guides, demo the latest equipment and all of this for FREE!


(Tom goes chuting on Blackcomb.)

The first day of the Jam was exciting because I had a new pair of Karhu Spires to try. Unfortunately though the mountain had gone from being above freezing temps to -7 C overnight. A dusting of a few centimetres made it a little more enjoyable. Some friends and I managed to find some pretty fun and challenging skiing given the conditions and many a time that day did I ask myself why I telemarked?? Hitting big ugly ice cookies hidden under a skiff of powder can suck while trying to negotiate some of Blackcomb's couloirs. I also wondered why I’d ordered that last drink at the bar last night? That day we skiied past the guys setting the courses for the three randonee style races held over the weekend. These ranged from 10km jaunts inbounds to the serious Spearhead Pasage. For those looking to blast the lungs a straight uphill race (4000ft) from the Village to the Roundhouse Gondola could be done on the Saturday.


(The telemark clinic crew.)

The second day I had organised to meet up with some ripping tele gals and let them show me some of Whistler Mountain. It was really awesome to have a big crew of tele skiers. It rarely happens I find except for at festivals. Even more rare is it that they all rip!! The energy was great and we managed to find some sweet pockets of new snow. I knew exactly why I chose to telemark that particular day. The girls demoed some new equipment and talked of how to tactfully approach their other halves on why they need new boots and skis.


(Whistler rip-session.)

That evening we all headed to one of the parties where they had a fundraiser for repairs to a popular backcountry hut in the area. Lots of great prizes where given away and a good time had by all.


(What a cap to the northern session!)

The Whistler World Backcountry Freeride Jam is a great event with lots on offer. Most of it free too. It is also held at the time of year when you are winding down your ski season so is a great way to finish off. I’m now on my way south preparing for skiing again back in Australia so it was definitely a nice way for myself to tie off a great Northern Hemisphere winter.

Ski you later,
TeleTom

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2 comments:

the cat said...

we never heard what the husband's reaction to the new boots was... I hope they'll be ok, haha!
Cool article Tommy

Azamat said...

Great write up...Those pics are top shots, thumbs up to the champ you put himself on the edge to take shots like that and to put up with skiing with free heels all day!