Sunday, December 21, 2014

Day 17 not quite as awesome as yesterday but still pretty good

Actually in the bar tonight there was some debate as to whether or not today was better than yesterday and there was a strong opinion that it was. My own view is that it was not quite so good and as I am judge and jury on this blog that is the decision. That having been said we are debating degrees of awesomeness so who really cares.

Overnight we had another 20 cms of fresh on top of all that we have had over the past couple of days. The base is way up over 110 cms but as I have said so often this is a measure at the snow plot and has nothing much to do with what we are skiing on. On the way to the hill we had zero degrees and very wet snow which turned to rain low down during the morning. On top we had wet snow but this ceased top and bottom before lunch after which it was overcast but dry.

Temps crept up during the day so that the base temps must have got to +3 and we had softening snow most of the way to the top. By evening the temps were dropping again so as we drove away it was about zero and the lower surfaces which had got quite heavy during the day were setting very firm by last run.

Timber Chair was not open at opening time due to snow stability problems. This was no real surprise as this was the shortest day of the year so patrol had very little daylight to work with before the hill opened and we had some very heavy and wet snow overnight - these things happen. We went to the Old Side as this was the only option and dropped in to Cedar Ridge which was good untracked lines in the top but very heavy and wet low down. Next was Boomerang which was surprisingly good and with the exit on the Goat Trail ok. We thought Boom Ridge looked ok , which it was, but with quite a lot of undergrowth to dodge on the way down and some super heavy stuff at the bottom. Finally we took Boomerang again which was just as good as before with hero snow that you could fall line ski before heading over the New Side.

Things were now open and we dropped from Timber top to White Pass base via Puff trees/ lower Lift Line just as it opened in deep fresh snow - that was the way we dropped all day. White Pass core was open but second loop round they dropped the fence at the zig zag and we had first tracks under Pillow Talk which were pretty good. After that we just looped Surprise Trees heading for Anaconda which was not open. After about 3 loops which were all good in the deep snow the fence on Currie Bowl dropped.

Only the low traverse was open and we worked our way out to Skydive which had a couple of tracks in front of us but was still very untracked. It was fantastic skiing in the top and rather claggy lower down. Last run before lunch was Cougar Glades which had a few tracks in the top but offered untracked lines once we were in, all the way down to the cat track. We bailed and exited via the Bear Connector which was bit sketchy and went for a late lunch.

After lunch I hiked up to Lone Fir on the suggestion of a patroller buddy who said he thought it was open - wrong, I had a pretty good run down an untracked Cornice Chute as a consolation prize. I tracked out to Decline and found it only lightly tracked but starting to set up in the bottom section as temps were falling. Next I tried Anaconda as I thought it would have been over looked when the fence on Currie dropped. I was partially right and the first chute over the hump was good lightly tracked but very heavy powder. I ran to base through Bootleg Glades which were very good deep snow at the top but very twiggy low down, surprisingly the exit in Gilmar Trail was no where near as bad as I thought it would be.

Last time up White Pass and I just has time for a Highline loop to bleed off some time. Naturally as last run of the day we went to Skydive - regular readers will know that this can now be cut and pasted for the rest of the season. The first two sections were very mellow still with some untracked lines and some very deep snow hugging the contours which made for great freeriding. The last pitch was some rather inelegant physical skiing in re frozen mush and lots of undergrowth. Just hunkering down and smashing through worked fine for me but it was not the most beautiful skiing you will have seen.

Beers in the bar with lots of buddies who are starting to emerge for the season - I do love Fernie. Lying in the hot tub tonight drinking beer I noticed that the skies were clear and I could see the stars. This has to mean a big drop in temps, but what it means for the hill I am not so sure.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Day 16 an awesome day

Yes, it has taken 16 days and we now have our first officially declared (declared by me) awesome day's skiing and it has been a long time coming. As I said last night it was raining in the valley and puking snow up top as I left the hill. Well, the rain in the valley stopped but the snow on top continued well into the night.

We woke this morning to find 12 cms of fresh on top of all that we had already had. On the way to the hill it was about -1 and on top about -3. Things may have warmed a bit during the day but cooled down so that the temp gauge on the truck was showing -1 as I put it in the garage. Conditions were great powder on top but rather sketchy down below where the rain had been last night. During the day it was overcast and pretty socked in at the top of White Pass and we had quite strong flurries adding maybe another 5 cms to the snow during the day. The base was reported at 105 cms.

Sorry if this is just becoming a bit of a New Side report but we went up to White Pass and the basis that it wold be a good day to get up high and we were dead right. Puff was fully open and great powder on broken terrain as the only good way to get from Timber Top to White Pass base all day. White Pass was open but Currie bowl and Anaconda remained closed.

We had a great time looping the Gun Bowl (deep but poor viz) Pillow Talk (lots of good lines to take and logs to jump off) and Highline (nice soft snow). I kept looping out to Surprise Trees hoping to find Anaconda open but without luck although Surprise was now filled in and deep and skiing very mellow on my DPS Wailers which I was giving only their second outing of the season. By late morning we had tracked most of White Pass which was still filling in as pretty good powder but then we took a short break.

When we got back the fence on Currie had just dropped and I headed out to Skydive. There were three tracks in front of me and all three headed on round to Easter so I had first tracks into Skydive and Decline. A terrible decision as to which one to ski (I wanted to ski both) but in the event I took Skydive down to the Megasaurus Trail and it was just awesome deep untracked snow. Even the exit was ok.

After that, discovering that the closed signs in the big three had been turned round ( whether by patrol or not I don't know) I ripped Decline top to bottom. In the lower section there was only one track in front of me and he stayed left so I skied right. Fantastic deep powder with some twigs. Last loop before a very late lunch was Cougar Glades which had a few tracks but as anyone knows in Cougar Glades you can always find untracked lines and I certainly did. All the way down to the lower cat track in untracked powder before bailing to the right for the final section.

After lunch I was back up the New Side and went out looking for stuff. The sidestep up to Lone Fir was open so I took it only to discover that the chutes were closed and I had to drop back down onto the traverse which was pretty tight skiing between the trees - I guess this was just Patrol's little joke.
I cut into Stag Leap which had a few tracks in but was great free riding in deep snow on some very lively terrain. The final pitch was very twiggy but as we were getting pretty confident at bushwhacking we just smashed through.

After such a late lunch I was running out of time and decided to try Anaconda Glades. Very often when the Glades open at the same time as Currie they get neglected and today was no exception. The first chute over the hump was deep soft snow and we just ripped it all the way to the bottom. Last run was Skydive and we took it all the way down. The top two sections were great deep snow but the bottom section was a little twiggy. The good news was that the twigs were soft and easy to smash through.

So there you have it a full on powder day when you could ski all of the big three and Cougar Glades top to bottom in some great but testing conditions. No wonder we drank so much in the bar tonight. The outlook is for more snow so fingers crossed.