Thursday, March 26, 2015

Day 112 from hero to zero in 24 hours

Well. of course the heading isn't entirely accurate in that yesterdays snow wasn't exactly hero although it was pretty good, and today's wasn't exactly zero, although it did suck quite significantly in comparison with yesterday's conditions. So let me try and explain what happened to the hill in the last 24 hours.

At the close yesterday we had cold conditions and good winter snow over the whole hill. Overnight we appeared to have had some more snow to the extent of about 4 cms, or if not we had some good blow in. Somewhere overnight things warmed up so that the new snow just mushed back into itself giving some very sticky skiing and because conditions were overcast all day we didn't even get spring skiing as a result of direct sunlight. The overall result was that everywhere except the groomers (and even there where the grooming had taken place early) we had soft sticky snow which grabbed you, twisted you round where the skis hit a different surface, and either had you coming out of each turn going head first over the tips where the snow was soft or struggling in the back seat if you found some soft icy surface swept clean by skier traffic. If that sounds pretty crappy then there you have it as a summary of todays skiing, in my opinion. To be fair it got better as the day went on.

We arrived at the hill with temps of +6 and the +5 temps continued over all the upper hill all day and from the skiing surface seemed to have been there for most of the night. The sock in line was at the top of Bear on the Old Side and about half way up White Pass on the New Side until late afternoon when things started to lift. There was no new precip and as we drove away tonight it was +12 in the valley which at least accounts for why everything on the hill was so soft.

We went to the Old Side and after a quick run back down Bear we started to loop Cedar Ridge and found things very soft, heavy, slow and producing big sun ball snow rolls all the way across Cedar Ridge. Haul Back T bar was still down temporarily for the day but for the reasons explored yesterday this didn't matter. The run back to Boom chair was through Cedar trail which was even sketchier than yesterday - the only track off was one ski track width wide (no, I don't mean a cat track wide I mean just the width of my skis)  and then a run down Lower Kodiak. We looped it all several times in very sticky ugly conditions and in truth the only half way acceptable run was Boom due to the pounded in snow from skier traffic, but don't kid yourselves, it was no better than ok.

We went to the New Side and found that Lift Line/Big Bang were ok in the steep sections but in the lower parts they were so sticky you could hardly move. Anywhere above mid White Pass was totally socked in so we just did a few Heartland/Quite Right loops and then ran to lunch via Easter bowl as Polar Peak was closed for the day. The traverse out to Easter was very sticky and ugly but when we got there the bowl skied surprisingly well (in comparative terms) in soft but not mushy snow. Time for lunch in the ever excellent Big Bang Bagels - Mr Fernie bagel with bacon on an onion and garlic bagel is just so sweet.

After lunch it was back to the New Side as the Old Side had just been so ugly and sticky. It was still socked in at the top so I just went straight to Easter bowl and looped it, and it was ok, just like before. Next time round things had started to lift so I looped back through Gun Bowl and Quite Right which were ok but sticky. The run to base was through Decline top and Megasauraus and it skied quite nicely but with some heavy sections. Next loop things had cleared a lot and I hit the Knot Chutes, not because I thought they would be good but because I just needed something to do - they we ok and soft as was the I bowl underneath them.

It was time for another run to base and again this was through Easter bowl which remained probably the run of the day with soft easy skiing. The Reverse Traverse  was still sticky but at least in the improving light you could see things. Final loop, and after another Knot Chute (still soft but indifferent skiing) it was time for Skydive. Ok, we could only take the top section which was tracked but some soft lines if you cut it really tight to the trees on the right. The exit via Megasaurus was slow but anything else just looked too ugly.

Good beers with buddies and then a hot tub as this has now been repaired, just what I needed after today. Looks like more of the same tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Day 111 more good skiing but only on the upper moauntain and if you looked for it

The hill reported no new snow overnight although we seemed to have had some slight dusting down in the valley by the time we got up - perhaps the snow came after the measurement was taken first thing this morning, it would certainly be out of character to under claim any snowfall, particularly in this most desperate of all years.

When we arrived at the hill it was +1 and snowing, or at least white icy stuff was coming down and settling. These conditions persisted most of the day all over the hill with temps staying at or about zero and snow coming down off and on in flurries. By my reckoning we must have had at least 5 cms of fresh snow during the day and maybe a little more. Only by late afternoon did the snow stop and things started to warm up to a temp of +7 as we drove away and by then we were getting some rain showers in the base but probably they were coming down white at some point up the hill.

We went to the Old Side to check out some of yesterday's reports and had a great morning's skiing. The viz wasn't great but the new snow was giving a good covering on yesterday's snow which was giving some quite acceptable powder in places. Surprisingly the under base was not as hard and ribby as I would have expected given the temps and the snow cover and where it remained soft (for what ever reason) the skiing was very good powder on a soft deep base.

We spent all morning looping Cedar Ridge from Cruiser on the left to King Fir on the right and it was all nice untracked soft snow with just a little crust on the last couple of turns. It seemed to me that mine were the only tracks in there which quite possibly could be true given the total lack of people on the hill, even by Fernie standards. Haul Back T bar was temporarily closed all day so the only way to get out of Cedar was along Cedar Trail which was no great problem as this was the only way out even if you got to the top of the T bar. To get to Boom chair you had to trail all the way across to lower Kodiak and take a pretty sketchy run down to the Boom load. This took way more time than usual resulting in fewer laps than we might have hope for.

We started running out into Cedar to ski the Cedar Centre Trees and had a couple of very nice runs down through those in deep powder, particularly in the places that were not opened yesterday. All returns to Bear Chair to complete the loop were through Boomerang which skied ok with a rather scratchy base but more soft snow accumulating all the time. I think it was 6 times we ran back through Boom and whilst it never was awesome, it never sucked either. Somewhere in there we did run down Linda's which was ok but with the tracks from yesterday proving very icy and bumpy. We went for a very late lunch.

After lunch my buddy Brad and I hit the New Side and found that Lift Line had lots of blow in at the top which skied easily but got tougher towards the bottom as the chunky skied up snow was setting up a bit. Brad dragged me to Cobra Rock which I hadn't skied before - you traverse above the Knot Chutes and drop over into Currie in the chute after Gotta Go. It was hardly tracked and great steep soft snow although we did have to slow a bit in the choke - the only thing that sucked was getting back to White Pass along Trespass Trail.

My turn to lead Brad astray so we hiked Cornice Ridge and hit Lone Fir. It was ok in most of the chute but with a few icy turns in the tight sections. Below the fan was as good as I can remember with soft deep untracked snow and we carried our speed all the way through lower Easter Bowl - even Freeway skied soft and easy at the end. Getting back to White Pass we just had time for a quick loop out through Anaconda via the Gun Bowl which was good soft snow but poor viz. Anaconda over the hump was just like yesterday - untracked but with today the added bonus of some serious blow in, do I need to say how good it was.

Last run and we headed out to the Big 3 and had spectacular run through the trees on the very far right of Skydive which were deep and untracked but rather twiggy towards the end. We traversed out along the Megasarus Trail respecting the closure signs at that level and ran to base off the trail via Freeway which was still skiing well.

So all in all some very mellow skiing in the morning and some quite spectacular tougher skiing in the afternoon but all in new snow and a number of good untracked runs obtained by sheer hard work and not just by paying for it - don't get me started.

Beers and good ski banter followed by a hot tub and a quiet night in, a very good day. There still seems to be some off and on precip in the valley so maybe we will be getting another slight covering of snow overnight just to freshen things up - we can but hope,