Cerise Creek: Anniversary Glacier

Nov 27, 2004

This was my first day trip to Cerise Creek from Vancouver. Stephen Ziff, being the super keen and super fast guy that he is regularly puts in a day at cerise from Vancouver. Though the idea seemed a bit zany to me at first, especially given the short days and limited snow in November, it actually turned out amazingly well, and I would say that I’ve developed a new appreciation for this style of day trip.

Stephen picked me up at the shockingly early time of 4:30 am. Even nuttier then this is that fact the stephen will actually do day trips like this from Vancouver BACK TO BACK on a weekend. wow, I thought I was keen.

The two of us zipped up to whistler. Stephen had planned to go with Chris Geisler as well, but hadn’t heard from him the nigh before. As we speeded through a sleepy, early morning whistler we passed a guy and a pick up on the side of the road. Somehow in the darkness ziff recognized chris, who had parked his car on the shoulder hoping we would see him. We packed into ziff’s car and sped on towards cerise.

There wasn’t much snow at the trailhead, so we started by bootpacking. I was impressed that the old “treacherous log across the first creek” was no longer a long but now a bridge. A second creek (usually covered by snow) was quickly crossed on a log and we based up though the cut.

At the logging road above the cut we skied past a group of VOCer’s who were emerging form their tent. Just goes to show that an early departure from van can outpace a trailhead camp. We decided to take the winter trail in despite the low snow. I was actually quite shocked at how bad the second half of the hut approach was. Uncovered logs were everywhere and we had to weave our way through a maze of slide alder. Eventually we reached the moraine below the glacier.

Looking up at the anniversary, we could see many exposed crevasses and Vantage was looking a bit thin on snow. We decided the best bet would be the snow field off the south ridge of joffre, above the joffre-matier col. We started climbing and eventually we reached the upper slope, which sported a fine cover of ultra light powder. Chris stopped at the bottom of the slope and I dragged my butt up to the top.

From the south ridge of joffre I managed to take my only picture of the trip looking out to slalok. Normally I’m pretty into taking picts, but we were moving so fast there was no time for anything but keeping up. We stripped the skins and started down.

The skiing was phenomenal. Steep, light and fast, we zipped back to chris, who was pretty cold by now. We continued down a nice chute below the snowfield and skied more good snow. Eventually we reached the prominent rain crust at about 6000ft and the skiing deteriorated.

Once the skiing went bad we decided to either head for home or go for another run elsewhere. Ziff was keen to do the wide north facing slope above the hut on joffre, but we were a bit pressed for time. Chris had some of the items needed for the mountain soiree auction in whistler and had to be there by 6 pm. We decided to go up for another run despite the time. As we bootpacked up a bit of a wind slab started to become apparent and the skiing wasn’t looking so good. We decided to head down. We got some more fun turns before we reached the bottom of the slope and decided to take the summer trail out bootpack style. This was a good choice in the end; it is much easier when the snow is shallow.

At this point we were getting pretty pressed for time. It was just after 4 pm, getting dark and we were just below the cabin. If we could get to the car in an hour, we might get the items to the auction in time. We started hammering back to the car. The one slight complication was that ziff had forgotten his headlamp and it was going to be slow going without a light.

We based down and got to the clearcut near the highway just was it got dark. I had the only headlamp that was handy (chris’s headlamp batteries were in ziffs beacon), so I went in the middle and we continued through the trees by the light of one headlamp. All was well until we got to the log over the creek, a couple minutes from the highway. Ziff was ahead of me on the log without a light, I was on the log behind him wearing the light, and chris was following me, also without a light. When I was mid way across the log I heard a kafuffle behind me followed by a shout and splash. Chris had fallen in the creek! I quickly turned to see if he was ok, leaving stephen without light in the middle of the creek balanced on a log. He shouted and I saw chris literally treading water with all his gear on. Ouch!

Chris splashed out of the creek, collected his gear, got his batteries from ziff and put on his headlamp. We were now getting desperately tight for time. We hammered up to the car, chris sopping wet and fired everything in. We raced back to whistler and arrived just after the auction had started. It didn’t take long to get the items in place and we breathed a sigh of relief. The highlight for me was walking into the auction and running into the organizer Graeme White who immediately thrust a free beer into my hand. A couple beers later and I was smiling away, chatting to many friends and acquaintances milling about. It was fun! I felt a little silly walking around in my tele boots, goretex and bright yellow down jacket, but I’ve never been good at bringing regular clothes for the post trip. We watched half of peter croft’s slide show and then bombed back to Vancouver. It had been a great day trip.