Saturday, December 5, 2009

Day 3 - Awesome opening day

Of course it's a bit strange that opening day is in fact day 3 of the season but with the preview weekend that's how things are.

Last nights snow kept up all night but as it was so light there was only about 5 cms of fresh but very light powder. Starting temps were about -10 rising to -6 during the day and with flurries off and on keeping the snow base just above the 100 cm mark and the light pretty flat it was a typical early December day.

Having skied the old side last weekend and with great reports on the state of White Pass from patrol buddies we hit the new side. There was the usual opening day crowd but as the whole of the hill was open after the first two lifts there were no more lines. This is something that European skiers have trouble getting their heads round - the idea that you finish your run, ski up to the lift and get straight on. With the exception of a couple of holidays that is how it will be for the rest of the season.

The whole White Pass area was open and the hill had only groomed the main runs out of the bowls so it was wall to wall powder. They tend to do this early season and I am not sure if it is the fact that early season skiers are locals and don't like grooming or that they need a bit of skier traffic over the snow before they can groom that makes them do this but as it results in the maximum area of ungroomed snow who cares.

Great skiing by cycling White Pass chair any way you wanted from Milky Way trees to Surprise trees and all points in between meant you could find untracked snow all morning. The Idiot traverse out to Surprise trees was in better shape than it was all year but Anaconda Glades were closed at first.

As Currie bowl was open we dropped 1-2-3's and I expected it the be good at the top and rain crust at the bottom. In the event it was wind crust at the top and just got better as you went down which just goes to show how much I know. There was a warning about conditions on Gilmar Trail but all in all it was no worse than I have seen it mid season.

From Timber we tried Lazy Locals traverse and found it a bit scratchy having to jump some rocks. Sib ridge and Michy Chutes were fenced off but with signs of poaching. With no choice we dropped Big Bang which was fun but with quite a few hazards. On the next trip out to Surprise we found Anaconda had opened and dropped in. Anaconda was ,well, Anaconda - steep, tight trees, hardly skied and deep deep powder which flew back over your head on the up draft as you skied, just awesome.

Finished off the new side with an attempt to take the County Line which was frustrated as it was closed. Cut left as soon as the sign line would let us and skied Alpha Centauri / Concussion which was all deep and only lightly skied. Did think about seeing if we could get out to Skydive traverse but I am not sure we would have made it and looking back up I don't think the juice would have been worth the squeeze.

After a late lunch tried the old side with not much time left. Like last week there was very little groomed ( hooray) and hardly anyone there. Went out to Snake and found some good untracked shots. Poached the bottom of Kangaroo although technically as there were no closed signs perhaps I didn't. Tried Boom ridge to see if a little extra snow had improved it and it had but it was still a bit technical. Skied out through Boom and the goat trail which was a bit tight then finshed with a run through mid Lizard which was a nice way to finish.

All in all excellent powder for early December and a great way to start the season. Talk in the bar was of the official web site which was claiming this as the most snow for 34 years. This is nonsense as we have opened with more snow than this is the last 4 years and everyone has stories of many better years - for the record snowfall to date it about average. This is dumb as all it means is that no one will believe the official site when the snow really is at record levels. It is particularly dumb as there is no need to bend the truth - we have average snowfall and the opening day was just awesome.

On the way back from the hill encountered a police roadside check for drink driving. Looks like they are clamping down on this again this year so everyone make sure you have a designated driver in your group.

Forecast still to get cold (-25) then warm and wet with all the possibilities that brings, lets see how it works out.

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