Monday, November 30, 2009

RIP The Meat Hook

This was a really weird day. Usually once the hill is open that is it - skiing every day. This year because the hill has opened a week early just for the weekend we are now faced with 5 days of kicking our heels waiting for the next dose of white powder.

Not all bad as having only had 24 hours between arriving and skiing we had a load of jobs to do. Started by going back to Extra Foods to stock up with the stuff we forgot on Friday. I have to say that they are making a real effort selling us reusable bags so they are supplying only a fraction of the plastic bags we used to get. Of course we used to use the plastic bags as bin liners in our small kitchen garbage bin so now we don't get any we have had to buy a supply of 50 small bin bags - not sure whether the overall effect is a plus or minus for mother earth.

The weather has been really warm ( up to 6 degrees) but overcast with showers. In the breaks looking up the hill it looked as if the snow line was about half way up so White Pass still looks a good bet when we get there. The good news is that it is supposed to go down to -11 tonight and stay cold all week so the lower mountain should get some good snow making between here and opening day.

The rest of the day was spent going to Canadian Tire to order some winter tires ( that is how you spell it here guys) for the Explorer and some rust paint to cover up some patches on the rear fender. Also managed to find time for a quick beer or two with Rob who was on his split shift at the mine today.

On the way down town heard that the reason for all the heli-bombing of the headwall last week was because it was part of the new Leonardo Di Caprio movie coming out next year. What with that and the John Cusack Time Machine Hot Tub movie shot here last year ( several buddies starring as extras) Fernie really is becoming the Hollywood of the North.

Sitting here now getting high on the fumes from the spraying of the rust paint onto the fender in the garage below. Have opened the garage doors but it doesn't seemto help much - a hot tub and beer is called for.

The reason for todays title is that yesterday in the Griz bar it was confirmed to me by a patroller buddy that the Face Lift will not be opening this year. For those who don't know this is a short rope tow with hooks to the highest point in Lizard bowl hence the nick name The Meat Hook.

The reasons for closing it down are safety and cost. The Meat Hook takes you up into the avi run out areas of the Lizard head wall and a huge amount of safety work has to be done to keep the area clear. This combined with the large amount of Cat time required to profile the drag and keep the traverses open makes it very expensive. Snow Cats ( Piste Bashers to you Europeans) don't come cheap.

Whilst I never like to see the lift serviced ski area reduced I can't get very excited about this - at least not as excited as some I have heard hold forth on the subject. The lift was never open very often, it was slow and as a result when open on a good day had such a long line that it was only worth skiing once or twice at the most. I probably didn't do it more than a dozen times last year.

The terrain off the two traverses either side isn't that intersting and it is only a short run down to the lower traverses. It does mean that the long traverse to Easter isn't really worth it but then it never was. If I was going to Easter I would always go via White Pass, Currie bowl, the County Line and then step up to take Easter from the very top which is much better. Going the other way it does mean that you will have the hike a little longer to get into Fish bowl or the very top of Snake. On the other hand the lower traverse across Snake means you only miss a couple of good turns at the top and if you are heading out to Redtree/Steep and Deep etc then all you lose is a hundred metres or so of cat track skiing.

In summary, sorry to see the Meat Hook go but it is no big deal and if it frees resources to get better bits of the hill open quicker in difficult conditions it's a price worth paying.

Hot Tub here I come.

1 comment:

  1. Dude, Keep up the blog - will be in touch to book my place soon.