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Delirium Dive
Monday February 9, 2015 - Email this article to a friend

The PlanetSKI Canadian road trip swings into the resort of Sunshine where we ski some of the steepest accessible terrain in North America; Delirium Dive.

Delirium Dive is more than just the signature run of Sunshine.

It is rated as one of the best and most challenging freeride areas on the continent. 

The area has only been open in its current set up since 1999.

Prior to that it was closed and declared out of bounds. 

The authorities thought it was simply too dangerous.

There are some relatively straight-forward ways down and then some lines that are total no-fall zones.

I chose the former to gain my first experience of 'The Dive'.

Delirium Main, Sugar Cubes, Sugar Bowl, Sweet & Low and then Fat Boy.  It was down the centre-right of the slope.

Delirium DiveDelirium Dive












My guide for the route was the ski patroller, Richard Weavis.

"It is some of the most exrtreme freeride terrain in North America for the exposure you can get, but don't worry we will going a safe way down," said Richard.

He has worked in Canada as a patroller for 8 years and comes from Salisbury back in the UK.

Richard WeavisRichard Weavis














"I came out here for a season and just sort of stayed and now have one of the most interesting jobs on the mountain imaginable," he said.

He is one of the guys that makes the slopes safe and is an expert in avalanche prediction and snow safety.

I wanted to enjoy the ski but also to find out about the slope.

In the patrollers hut at the top of the ridge we went through the safety checks and he explained the various routes down.

Richard WeavisRichard Weavis













I tried to visualise what lay ahead.

The inner sanctumThe inner sanctum












He checked my transceiver and that I had a shovel and probe.

No-one is allowed in to The Dive without the correct equipment and people have to ski with a buddy.

Last year a couple of people were caught in an avalanche and they were recued by others on the slope.

"We ensure the area is is safe as it can be from avalanches but we ask everyone to treat this area with the respect it deserves. It is a serious freeride area with some dangers, but done safely then people can have the best skiing and snowboarding of their lives," he said.

"It is not an area for showoffs and egos, but for people with ability and knowledge."

I was lucky enough to be the first one in after it had been bombed and declared safe - we had 20cm or so of fresh snow and no-one else was going to be allowed in for a while. 

We had the fresh powder snow of The Dive to ourselves.

Delirium DiveDelirium Dive















As we went through the gate and booted up the hill to the summit my heartbeat rose.

It wasn't just the altitude - it was the fear of the unknown.  And the fact we couldn't see very much as the cloud rolled in.

At the top the cloud became even thicker.

Delirium DiveDelirium Dive













Without Richard I would have been seriously worried, but with him I didn't have a flicker of doubt. 

I am confident enough to be able to make a turn wherever I have to on most terrain.

I was even more confident that Richard would tell me to turn in the right place and come to my assistance if needed.

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We cut deep powder turns on the first section as we dropped in and then stopped under a rock.

"You see the avalanche debris over there? That was from the bombing this morning," said Richard.

I peered into the mist and saw the slide - not big, but enough to cause a problem.

The slope to the left had also been bombed and there was a hole where the 1kg charge had detonated but it had not slid - yet.

With that Richard jumped in and put a heavy turn in with a long cut more resembling a butcher slicing a joint of meat.

He cut the slope rather than skied it.

With the end of his turn he came out of the danger area and down the small avalanche slid.

Not big, but enough to cause a problem.

Above us now were the Galaxy Shutes.

They were steep and I breathed a sigh of relief that we had opted for the easy route down.

Further down we skirted round some rocks and as I looked back up I was grateful I was with someone who really did know the area like the back of his hand.

Delirium DiveDelirium Dive













Delirium DiveDelirium Dive













After Sweet & Low we cut above the trees and looked back.

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I had not only skied The Dive I had done it with one of the men that take responsibility for its safety.

It had been a priviledge.

Delirous with deliriumDelirious with delirium













The last instalment of PlanetSKI Canadian road trip looked at the other aspects of the the resort of Sunshine (it is not all steep and deep) and we also reported from Mount Norquay and Nakiska as we popped in for a quick visit.

Oh, and we are visiting Fortress Mountain too. This is rapidly turning into our best ski trip of the season Smile.

See here for our first report from Kicking Horse and here for our journey and experiences in Lake Louise.

For the spirit of the mountains

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