Spring in the Sea-to-Sky means a stable corn harvest. May 2013 started with almost two weeks of soaring high pressure and freezing levels leaving Whistler-Blackcomb looking like near-August conditions at lower-mid elevations and the beginnings of the spring melt-freeze cycle in the alpine. As the snowpack settles out and corn snow takes the place of powder, skiers can aim for bigger and longer objectives. Melting logging roads mean easier access to areas out of the question all winter long. Long sunny days make the race against sundown less of a competition.
All the while, summer arrives full swing in the valley and this means shorts, flip-flops, and BBQs. The trails dry up quickly and mountain bikers climb the hills in huffing packs. It is finally warm enough to run in just shorts and a t-shirt – hot in the open with the slightest chill under cover of the trees. The creeks run high making crossings exciting and cold! The lakes are warm enough for a post-run recovery dip.
Choosing a climbing route this time of year is less about finding a route in the sun to stay warm and more avoiding those that bake climbers, beating down the entire day. Options open as the last of winter drains off the upper slopes of the Chief. Slabs that run with water dry start to emerge dry and seeping cracks are waiting for climbers to brush out the dust and crud accumulated over the winter.
My spring started off with a back injury on Easter weekend. Just an easy day of touring but the next morning, I couldn’t sit up out of bed. I saw a chiropractor, sports medicine doc, and a physiotherapist and each had a different opinion on the cause of my pain but the physio suggested the most logical plan of action. Several years of running and ski racing have led to a serious lack of flexibility throughout my body. The plan of action involves resting to heal, stretching and strengthening my back to improve flexibility and reduce the muscle imbalances that have become so prominent, threatening my ability to ski (let alone my technique).
Now, over a month later, I can ski without pain and even drive the car! Mixing up my activities has likely helped and the time off was a nice relief from an intense season of travel and racing. As I ramp up my activity again (in the form of trail runs more than skiing) I am excited to get back into the mountains. Even though skimo season is not completely over, my summer racing schedule is starting to take shape. I have picked out an exciting series of events that hopefully mix well with the rest of my goals in the mountains.
For a few more weeks though, my eyes will be in the mountains, on freezing levels and pressure, waiting for the sweet spot for one last big mission (well – hopefully two).