Friday, February 12, 2016

Day 63 a short report

The main reason for a short report is that Lynda arrived back from the UK this evening and I had to drive to Cranbrook to pick her up. I have only just got back. Another reason is that not a lot changed on the hill today so I don't really have an awful lot to say - yes, I know, very unusual for me.

Last night at 11 o'clock I checked the temp and was amazed to find that it was still +5 on my deck. This morning on the way to the hill it was -2 but I am told the temp drop took place at around 4 in the morning so the snow on the hill stayed soft for quite a long time frustrating the efforts of the groomers for their evening session. It was full on spring conditions again although the sun didn't seem to have quite the warmth of yesterday and it actually clouded over in the afternoon. This all meant that things were late to soften and early to set up.

It was typical Spring skiing and I went to the Old Side in search of some softening snow. It quickly became apparent that there was none, and I dropped the north facing Cedar Ridge which was crisp but ok and becoming a bit icy in the refrozen snow lower down. Kangaroo was hard ugly icy bumps just like always and as I said yesterday as a result was the only run that skied just as good as it always does.

I spent the morning trying to get to slopes just as they softened and generally got there a bit too early and had some very hard icy skiing for a few laps until things warmed up. Loops through Boom Ridge, Cedar Ridge, Bear Cave Chutes, New Lift Line. Boom Guts and Linda's all fell under this heading. Just in case I felt that the skiing in them was tough there was always the return through Kangaroo to remind me what really hard work was like.

Late morning I hit out to Snake Ridge in the hope that it had softened but found the sign line down on the far side of Blueberry and this was all the way down to the bottom of the KC chutes. I skied the sign line (right side of course) and the skiers right KC chute. The open terrain was just starting to take an edge but the chute which looked like it might have been soft snow was in fact hard ice and very energetic edge to edge jumping.

After lunch I headed up the New Side and after a nice run down Lift Line and a couple of loops in White Pass we headed up Polar Peak. Just like yesterday Papa Bear was an ok skiing surface with some blow in but icy in places. Also like yesterday if you fell you were not going to stop. We did a couple of loops before dropping Decline which was in pretty good shape and softening in the atmospheric warming.

Sib Ridge skied ok but was crunchy in the ice debris under the trees in the choke. Stag Leap skied a bit like Decline and was also pretty good. Some where in there we managed another loop up Polar Peak and it was just starting to set up as the cloud cover rolled in. We did more but I can't remember exactly what.

Last run was Skydive as usual which just like to other of the Big 3 was quite soft all the way down as the temps stayed well above zero. I did few temp checks during the day and saw figures ranging from +3 to +7 all over the hill by the afternoon with the possible exception of Polar Peak.

On the run to the airport temps dropped steadily so that by the time I got back it was around zero in the valley. We have precip in the forecast but it is anyone's guess as to how it will come down, I intend to follow the old maxim of hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Day 62 a great season but a short one ?

The reason I pose the question in tonight's heading is that so far we have had a very good season and no doubt of that. The problem is that we are now experiencing spring skiing conditions that I would normally expect to see late March or early April. More worrying is that as I look out into the short term forecast we just seem to be getting more of the same. Thankfully the hill is in such good shape that it can take a beating like this but let there be no mistake, if we don't see a return to winter conditions in the next couple of weeks we will be in very serious trouble. In the meanwhile we have to put up with spring skiing conditions which can be challenging to put it mildly.

On my deck this morning it was -5 and when we got to the hill there was valley fog but some sun on top. The sun clouded over for most of the morning but then cleared in the afternoon to give those spring skiing conditions. Base temps got up to +3 and it was a couple of degrees warmer on top in the sun with the forecast inversion. As I drove away tonight it was +4 in the valley and I fully expect another cold night as the skies were pretty clear as I lay in my hot tub drinking beer.

The result of these conditions was that everything that softened yesterday (quite a lot of the lower hill and anything in the direct sunlight) had refrozen to boiler plate at best and ugly refrozen crud at worst. Where the snow hadn't softened yesterday (mainly on the northern facing slopes) it all stayed in pretty ok condition but tended to soften in the atmospheric warming later in the day.

I went to the Old Side to see if the Sunny Side shoulder which is always the first place to soften was any good and it was hard boiler plate. After that I just ran loops off various parts of Cedar Ridge which all skied ok as hard north facing snow and interspersing these with runs down Boom Ridge which was really good skiing with some blow in and crisp bumps taking an edge.

Later in the morning I hit out to Snake Ridge and was worried that it might be a bit icy. The risks were all the other way and the surface was softening a bit quicker than I anticipated but was still quite hard in the Gorby Gap - all very good if challenging skiing. All exits were through Kangaroo which was the only run on the hill to be skiing just as it usually does. Kangroo was hard ugly icy bumps and it is always hard ugly icy bumps so just as good as usual - I'm not being funny here as I really do enjoy the testing conditions in the Roo. The final run before lunch was Boom Ridge which was just starting to get a bit soft.

After lunch I went to the New Side and had a very mellow run down Lift Line in firm but giving conditions - possibly the best snow on the New Side. I did a couple of White Pass loops in sun softened snow before trying the Knot Chutes. The snow was very strange and the surface was sliding on an under layer, ok but a bit disconcerting. Anaconda and Bootleg Glades skied ok as north face not too badly affected snow.

We went out to Decline which skied well again as it was facing away from the sun and even the lower section was ok. Polar Peak had been open in the morning but closed due to high winds before I arrived in the afternoon. I fully expected it to be closed for the rest of the day but it reopened late afternoon. Ski Patrol had given up any pretense in their signage that there was a possibility of self arrest if you fell and just designated the chutes as no fall area. I fully agreed as although the skiing was ok it was apparent that if you took a fall there was no way of avoiding a trip all the way to the bottom. I did a couple of Papa Bear loops which were ok but in truth not really worth the risk.

Stag Leap was very ugly through the trees where the snow and ice had fallen but for the run itself it was good soft snow and even the lower pitch was getting mellow in the warming ice surfaces. Another White Pass loop and it was time for the usual Skydive rip with 3 of us there. Just like Stag Leap it was good soft bumps in the top and the lower section was best where there had been ice faces which were now softening.

On the way back from the hill temps ranged from +3 to +7 and back and the whole valley looked in a pretty poor state. The forecasters are calling for more of the same for the next two days and all we can do is hope that they are wrong.