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Pura Vida Couloir–Mount Currie Pencil Chute Link-up – March 28th, 2016

I’ll start by saying this: JT Holmes is even better-looking in person than he is the movies.

We saw him at the heli-port in the morning and our crew was so collectively starstruck that we could hardly think straight for the rest of the day.

Of course the difference between us and JT, aside from those chiseled features, is that his heli followed him around for the day whereas ours just dropped us on a peak behind Mount Currie and let us find our own way home.

bradslackphotoWe weren’t complaining though.

Well, maybe we were a little bit as we trudged through the snowless fields of talus at the bottom of Mount Currie roughly 12 hours after we got dropped off.

bradslackphoto (3)Luckily, our crew was made up of hearty splitboarders who seemed happy enough to just put one foot in front of the next and get through it all.

Mie Yamashita and Jon Burr had done their homework and had a really good sense of how the day would fit together.

They had spent a few hours on GoogleEarth the night before figuring it all out.

Brad  Slack came along with his camera and also his insane ability to remain nimble and relaxed above massive chunks of exposure.

Then there were Patty McKinnon and I, a couple hurtin’ (expat) Albertans who enjoy watching Flames games and plowing our boards through powdery snow.

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bradslackphoto (5)Anyways, the day was healthy mix of Class One and Class Two fun that all started from the drop-off point on Pura Vida ridge.

bradslackphoto (8)The ridgewalk to the top of the Pura Vida couloir was “just spicy enough” with manageable exposure tugging away on either side.

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bradslackphoto (10)Eventually we found the entrance and coordinated our movements down the 3000+ foot line.

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bradslackphoto (12)It’s such a sick piece of terrain.

But TAKE NOTE if you find yourself heading that way: The fall-line terminates in a series of low-elevation, borderline impassable ice cliffs.

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There are a couple of clean(ish) exits on the hard left.

But our crew got a little too jazzed party shredding the last couple hundred feet of the line and dropped a little too low for said clean(ish) exits.

Luckily we were able to find a nice, haggard spine of pillows that made its way through a couple of the ice cliffs.

It involved some very careful boardin’.

But really we just had to tuck our JT Holmes-induced boners up into our waistbands and get through it all.

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After that, we started the 4000 foot climb up the south side of Mount Currie.

We’d expected that climb to be a sweat-soaked sufferfest. But it was actually a nice aesthetic walk through some old growth forest that transitioned into a nice broad ridge.

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bradslackphoto (19)The crux of the climb was a traverse under a little sub-peak that put us at the top of some big fuck-off slide paths.

But the snow was still cold and the stability was nice and tight.

At around 5:00 pm, we got to the top of Currie’s main Pencil Chute, which was really one of our only viable options for getting back down to the valley.

(The cornices on the small Pencil looked totally unmanageable, even if you set up an anchor and tried to dig your way in).

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High winds had prevented us from having a proper look at the notoriously corniced entrance of the main Pencil from the bird.

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We thought that we’d be able to roll in on the skiers’ left.

But that turned out to be a little sportier than we were comfortable with.

So Patty belayed Brad from the bomber anchor that was already in place on the skiers’ right of the chute (thanks to whomever left that there) and “The Wildcat” spent a solid 30 minutes digging out a passable line through the massive cornice.

IMG_1715Passable though it was, we still stayed roped up for the drop-in which involved a couple moments of hilarity as we figured out our own respective approaches into the couloir.


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The snow in the Pencil was amazing. But the snow on the rest of Currie was not.

It was horrible actually and the right-trending exit was a real challenge to link together.

Eventually, we got to the exit-gully towards the bottom of the mountain and promptly ran out of snow.

We’d expected to walk out—that’s always the way on Currie—but the sudden transition to snowlessness happened a lot quicker than we thought.

Oh well.

We bashed and slid our way though the slick little gully and tried not to lose heart.

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Four hours after dropping in from the summit we got to the car we’d dropped and realized that we’d forgotten the keys at the heli-port.

But we had a good friend from Pemby come pick us up and he brought Beef Jerky, so all was not lost.

bradslackphoto (27)We celebrated the day with a couple McChickens at the only restaurant that was still open in Pemberton and then got back to Whistler at around 10pm.

JT Holmes’ day was likely a little different than ours.

But I’d like to think that everybody had a nice time out there.

Did I mention how handsome that dude is?

Holy shit.



Huge thanks to the crew for an epic day out there and an even huger thanks to Bradley Slack for all the photos (except for the ones at the top of The Pencil. He was too busy getting us all in there to take photos during that whole process).




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