Monday, March 27, 2017

Day 110 full on spring skiing

Today was the first day of this season that could be properly described as full on spring skiing all over the hill. I am no great fan of spring skiing but today we managed to get some ok runs although it got to be very heavy hard work by the end of the day.

The temps on the way to the hill was +3 and during the day the base temp rose to +8 falling only to +7 as we drove away tonight. Up the hill at the White Pass load things started at about zero but by mid afternoon they were +4 so everything was softening fast in atmospheric warming.

Overnight we had 7 cms of snow at the snow plot which raised the base to back over 3 metres again at least for a day or two. The snow line was about half way down the hill and even at the top the snow was wet and heavy and forming sun balls and pinwheels as you skied it right from the first run. As I was in the gym doing my daily 10 km run I didn't make a super early start so things might have been better then but I seriously doubt it. The top of White Pass was socked in with thick cloud which made the viz about as bad as I have ever seen it all the way down the Gun Bowl and meant that Polar Peak was not going to open today. Later in the day the cloud lifted giving some brief sunny periods which just had the effect of softening the snow even more. In the better light we could see the result of ski cutting on the Currie head wall and Polar Chutes and it was very messy with loads of slide debris and not a pretty sight.

It was always going to be a New Side day with all of us trying to get as much skiing above the snow line as possible  We went out to Skydive which skied ok in the top but just got heavier the further down you went. By the final pitch it was very mushy slow motion skiing and the ski out of the groomers below was messy stop, start skiing on a very soft patchy surface - this condition continued on the lower hill all day. Next we hit Cougar Glades which just like Skydive was ok on the top getting softer and turning to mush in the last few turns.

By way of a change we tried Gotta Go which was soft even in the choke and good spring skiing down to the cat track. Bootleg Glades were mushy and by the bottom were pure elephant snot. Last run before lunch was a drop down Corner Pocket where the tires were just starting to show. The rope in the chute was the usual pain and it's annoying to have this always in the way when a bit of shock cord on the end through a pulley block would pull it out of the way every time after use. The skiing under the chute was good but soft and the Easter/Freeway exit was soft to begin with turning to pure elephant snot by the end.

After lunch I had another run through Gotta Go and Bootleg which was just as for the morning but with the slush line further up and the lower parts even softer. Next was High Saddle which showed some signs of side slippers (don't get me started) but was still good enough to ski pretty well. Under the chute and in the Easter/Freeway exit it was also as it had been in the morning but getting softer. The next loop was perhaps not one of my best ideas when I had started with a10 km run and skied all day in heavy snow - I side stepped up to Lone Fir. It actually skied ok in the chute and was only lightly tracked but below it was an even softer Easter and Freeway exit than it had been earlier in the afternoon.

Last run of course was Skydive Which since our morning run had got way softer. The good skiing held to just about the Megasauraus Trail but after that it got mushier and mushier until the last pitch was very slow motion skiing. I just about managed to do it in one but it was a very hard call with all that had gone before in the day.

We are now torn between wanting things to stay warm to which means that we will get more spring skiing and wanting things to cool down to get more snow which may mean a few days of very ugly ice skiing. Whatever happens I will be there.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Day 109 still a pretty ok day

First of all an apology. Sunday is the one night of the week that I drink so I have had a quite a few unaccustomed beers tonight which may mean that the blog is not quite as coherent as might usually be the case.

They called no new snow overnight but when we got to the hill they revised that to 1 cm but when we got to the New Side which is where we skied all day it seemed more like 3 or 4. It was zero on the deck when I woke up and headed off to the gym for my daily 10 km treadmill run and by the time I was heading for the hill about an hour later it was nearer +2.

We had no new snow during the day and although it was forecast to be sunny, for the most part it was overcast with just a few brief sunny periods to soften the south facing slopes. Temps all over the hill rose to around +3 even at the Polar load and +6 at the base which was confirmed by the temp on the truck as we drove away tonight.

The effect on the skiing surface was that we had soft snow on top from yesterday unaffected by anything but skier traffic. Below that (but quite a long way down) we had some chunky stuff that had been tracked yesterday and set up over night. Lower down still we had softening snow in the atmospheric warming which went up the hill to about the half way point as the day progressed.

As I had my usual start of doing 10 kms on the treadmill at the gym first thing our start was delayed by about 45 mins. We went to the New Side on the basis that the snow higher up would be in better condition and stay that way longer. We did loops of Knot Chutes and Surprise Trees which confirmed our view with both the chutes and the trees skiing very soft and mellow and for the most part untracked in the new snow.

We then looped Corner Pocket ( great skiing if you got that stupid rope out of the way) High Saddle (very soft and mellow) and Low Saddle - sensational skiing in the skiers right chutes. Exits were through Easter Bowl which was soft and untracked and Freeway which was a bit chunky. We also took one trip out to Spinal Tap which was actually ok in soft tracked up snow. Last run before lunch was Gotta Go which was ok in the choke and very soft, deep and untracked below. We finished our drop with Diamond Leg Trees which were good soft skiing all the way down. Somewhere in there they opened Polar Peak but on the Coaster side only so we hit the Crusty Chute before starting one of our drops but the skiing was all a bit scratchy and not that good.

After lunch I noticed that Shale Slope had opened on Polar so we went up with the intention of cutting in to Grand Pappa at Tower 8 but found this option blocked by closures. The ski down Shale was predictably scratchy and had I known of the closures I probably would not have gone up although I don't think that Grand Pappa would have been much better than Shale Slope. We dropped Low Saddle which was easy skiing and soft and deep below with no tracks in the chute immediately to the skiers right of the main drop. Easter and Freeway were as before and ok.

We dropped Gotta Go (again, about the 6th time in three days) and found the choke was ok and the skiing below was just sensational soft deep snow. Diamond Leg Trees did not disappoint and were great skiing with many untracked lines. We had time for a White Pass loop through Knot Chutes where I hit Slim which skied very nice and deep but was just starting to set up.

Last run was Skydive which just like the rest of the hill went from winter good snow to re frozen set up to spring soft as we skied down it. Not a bad end to a great day's skiing. In the Griz tonight it was a typical Sunday with some soft live music and loads of staff chilling out after the weekend. It's my favourite day of the week and not just because it's the day of the week that I drink beer.

Forecasts are all pointing in different directions so lets see what tomorrow may hold.