Saturday, March 14, 2009

14th March

So day 82 was much warmer starting at about +1 and staying that way at the base for pretty much all of the day. Temps at the top of the hill were highs of -5 so the snow stayed in good shape all day. With flurries turning to rain in the forecast things were a bit worrying but in the event whilst the snow at the lower levels got a bit wet by the end of the day it could never be described as the R word.
The official RCR site announced this morning that the White pass chair had passed it's test yesterday and was running today which was true. It also said that the meat hook (Face Lift) was open today which was a "bonus". Perhaps it's just me but I don't really see the fact that all the lifts are open as being some kind of bonus to me as a customer, I rather think it is something that should be normal.
Off and on it snowed all day with a steady accumulation making the runs better as the day went on. Spent all morning off Cedar Ridge and Boomerang enjoying the wind sift and filling in. Of course this involved 5 trips through Kangaroo wiich for some reason had acquired a Marginal Conditions warning sign despite it skiing easier than it has done for 7 days.
Afternoon on the new side looping the county line and the front runs with a particularly nice run down Secret chutes with a right turn into Spinal Tap. The Anaconda/Bootleg run off the hill was getting some great untracked snow by second to last run and of course we finished off with a rip down Skydive which was free riding in what was by then quite deep snow.
Highlight in the bar was Dan throwing his beer all over everyone sat at the table, it must be the thought of 20 days off work that has got to him. Temp on the deck is 0and puking snow so tomorrow looks like it could be an old fashioned Ferni powder day.

Friday, March 13, 2009

13th March

I hadn't realised this was Friday the 13th but I did know it was day 81 on the hill. Luck seems to be with us as last night the Riders beat the Nitros 5-1 to take the divisional title. KIJHL semi final play offs start in Nelson on Saturday against the Leafs so we will have some more play off hockey back in town next week. Also - surprise surprise Whitepass reopened today even if it was 11:30 before the chair was running. A good buddy of mine has a meeting with RCR management over the question of refunds and I will publish the result as soon as it is know.
The temps were much warmer today starting at -10 and getting up to +5 at the base ( about 0 at the summit) as the day wore on. The forecast was for some flurries but in the event it was a bluebird day from start to finish.
We hung out on the new side all morning waiting for news of Whitepass during which time we tried Sib ridge, Lift Line ( all the way down) Mitchy chutes, Black Cloud and Diamond Back. Mitchy's were particularly nice with fresh blow in but Diamond Back had been vandalised by groomers so the only good snow was skiers right in the chopped up powder all the way down.
As soon as Whitepass opened we hit the County Line and were a little disappointed to find the Saddles closed. Out beyond that everything was good but as the day worn on the more South facing slopes got heavier. Decline, Stag Leap, Skydive, Cougar Glades were all untracked at the top with some signs of wear lower down where the area had been hiked in the last 7 days. Runs of the day were Secret Chutes into Spinal Tap and Anaconda Glades then the tree Chutes of Bootleg glades.
Great day of skiing from 9-4 with no breaks and a lot of semi fresh powder to trash. About 6 skiing partners dropped out during the course of the day so that by the end of the day I was on my own skiing Skydive - awesome.
Best gag of the last 24 hours was this weeks guest Dave being asked by some UK visitors how his mother was ( she's dead) turned out they were talking about Ellen his sister that they skied with last year. Sorry Ellen we couldn't make this stuff up.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

12th March

Day 80 and yipee the average cost of skiing drops below $12.50 per day.
Starting conditions were about -20 rising to -2 during the day in a perfect bluebird day. Forecast is for warmer still, but lets see.
After a quick rip down Bear we played up above the Meat Hook and eventually traversed out into Spinal Tap for a bit of a challenge. All the snow is chopped up powder but in pretty good condition due to the low temps. With no one else to play with Lynda and I skied all over the old side having some good second hand powder with the best skiing still out in Gorby bowl.
After lunch skied with Rob (buy you boat trailers from Hayling Trailers) and we checked out the new side as we had heard a whisper that Whitepass would be opening. Fact was that after one run straight back under Timber which was quite good fun they close the lift so that they could finish the repair to Whitepass with all the power off from the new side. Latest report is that the patrol are staffing for a Whitepass opening tomorrow so we have to be optimistic.
The rest of the afternoon was spent out in Gorby which was great in quite deep snow except for an encounter with some alders. We also had fun in Boom ridge which is a bit bumpy but quite soft either left or right. The Kangaroo count today was also 5 times and as it is now skiing quite hard ice bumps this is becoming something of a personal choice.
Ghostriders 3-1 up in the series for the division champs so just off to so if we can finish it tonight.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

11th March

Day 79 and it's a case of same old same old. No new snow but some wind sift to fill in yesterdays tracks giving tracked up powder as the order of the day, The official site describes it as packed powder which has always had me wondering as that sounds like a piste to me.
Again the day started at -25 with some windchill but as a bluebird day the temps got to -8 by mid afternoon. Whitepass chair still not open (and no reduced ticket price - don`t get me started) so didn`t even try the new side. We have now started a sweep in the bar on when the Whitepass will reopen, I`ve gone for 2011.
Good skiing off the meat hook although you are having to cut nearer and nearer to the death cookies in the avi debris to get untracked snow. Spinal Tap can just about be accessed with a hard traverse across Easter bowl and was great fun if a bit technical in the mid section. Most of the day was spent kicking out to Snake, Redtree, Steep and Deep etc where you could still find powder that was only a bit tracked. Another 5 times through Kangaroo just to keep warm.
Thanks to the visitors from Sunshine who didn`t eat all their afternoon cakes so we could have them with our beer in the bar later. Last night the Riders beat the Nitros 5-0 in their barn so tommorow could take the series if we win at home, already got the tickets.
Warming up a bit so they say !!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

10th March

Well, here we are at day 78 and another interesting day. The morning kicked off at -25 with the windchill down to -35 so again a day for being well covered up and with no exposed skin unless you were really into frostbite. The report from the hill said only 1 cm of new snow which was probably right having fallen at the end of yesterday afternoon. There was some good wind sift blown in which was quite heavy but ok if you worked at it, temps never got much above -15 even at the base.
About 10 in the morning the Meat Hook ( the Face lift) opened for the first time in several days giving us access to the unskied powder in the top of Lizard bowl. The crowds quickly built up not only because the meat hook has limited capacity but mainly because many of the skier don't know how to grab and ride a rope tow and as a result spend lots of time falling off the tow line and taking several tows to sort themselves out before loading can start again. The sign at the bottom of the tow says experts only so it is hard to work out why these idiots try and ride a lift they can't handle to ski some powder that they can't manage.
This set the pattern for the day skiing knee deep powder above the meat hook and moving out further on the traverse every time to get untracked snow. By the last run we were round as far as the pitch under Corner Pocket but still finding untracked snow - just. Last run of the day traversed all the way across Easter bowl and found the tight way into Spinal Tap which made for an interesting finish to the day.
The Whitepass debacle continued with the lift remaining shut all day and it's opening still uncertain despite an expert being brought in form Edmunton ( why they know about chair lifts there who knows). I don't have a problem with the lift breaking down, accidents happen. I do have a big problem with the response of RCR which is to do nothing. This weeks guest Dave enquired today asking that as 20% of the hill was not accessable by lift (30% of the tougher skiing) could he have a refund on his ticket. The answer was no refund, no price reduction, no chance of any movement. The ski hill industry has to be the only one where they take your money for the service, don't provide the service then expect to still charge you the same.
I have heard many comments from vacation skiers that they will never come back to Fernie because of this. I have to agree if I were thinking of coming to Fernie now I wouldn't unless I either knew that Whitepass was open or I would get a reduced lift ticket. This is such a dumb decision as it saves a few hundred bucks in refunds now and cost thousands in future lost income - another example of RCR not understanding their own business. On the bright side the more vacation skiers don't come to the hill the better for us.
Good wings night at the Pub and too much beer - a little warmer in the morning perhaps but temp on the deck is -18 and falling

Monday, March 9, 2009

9th March

Day 77 and a tough day on the hiil. The day started at -20 with a forecast of periods of snow during the day and continuing into tonight. In the event the periods of snow did not materialise to any great extent so fingers crossed for tonight with early signs looking promising. The highs got to about -8 before falling back to -16 by the time we left the hill. With the wind chill things were a lot colder and it was a day to cover all flesh or risk frostbite.
With no significant new snow the hill was starting to get a little worn so that you hit the icy base in most places if you didn't pick your route pretty carefully. The low traffic areas like Snake Ridge and Steep and Deep were still in great shape with a lot of powder to be found if you knew where to look. Run of the day was the steep pitch at the top of Gorby in a hidden chute through the alders whicn hadn't been skied due to the steepness and was thigh deep in the fluffy stuff. Four times through Kangaroo brought us down the earth with a bit of a bump.
In the afternoon we went to check if Whitepass was repaired and if we could ski Currie bowl. It wasn't ( 5 days down and still no sign of repair) so we kicked aroound the new side all afternoon where the best terrain was in Siberia Ridge which apart from the gnarly middle section was great skiing in a bit of left over powder.
In summary the hill stays in ok shape considering the high traffic on the limited terrain due to the closure of Whitepass. The cold overnight temps left the runs with chunky skied over snow with icy parts in between making it tough conditions for anyone not wanting to stick to groomers ( if so why come to Fernie)
Bad news from the Griz bar tonight was getting dragged into agreeing to run the New York marathon in 2011 with Rob ( he of Hayling Trailers) due to drinking too much beer.
Temp on deck is -17 and falling with wind and snow so lets see what tomorrow brings.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

8th March

And for me day 76 on the hill. After a bit of confusion over daylight saving time starting we headed off to the hill in temps of -12 and a forecast for a high of -2 and more flurries. In the event we did hit -2 around noon but then the temps started falling and by late afternoon the readings over most of the hill were around -10 plus windchill.
The official site said 6 cms in the last 24 hours and again I think they sold themselves a bit short as there certainly seemed to be much more than that in the places we looked. The bad news was that the flurries never materialised so we spent all day trashing yesterday's snow but in a thin season that was still pretty good.
Dave's rib appeared to have recovered but the rest of him hadn't so he had a quiet morning on the groomers and took the afternoon off. Lynda's leg goes from strength to strength and it was half past 2 before she had to leave the hill.
Crowds weren't too bad but made worse by the continued closure of Whitepass chair (no reduction in ticket prices to reflect this) despite promises that it would open around noon. The true story on the problem is that it was a rat but it didn't gnaw through the cable, it got into the works and for a few short seconds it shorted out the system. Sadly the rat was not tested to 800 amps and the result was one very fried rat and a power surge which has damaged so much of the system that the chair may not even open on Monday.
We skied the old side all morning kicking out to Snake Ridge doing Steep and Deep, Redtree, Gorby Bowl, etc. Each time back we looped through Kangaroo making 6 runs down there in all - the roo was as always tricky icey bumps but great fun even allowing for the vandalism undertaken in the summer of cutting a cat track across the middle of the run making a steep drop off half way down. Around lunch we checked out the new side to see if Whitepass was open ( it wasn't) but had a great time in Mitchy Chutes where the summer glading has worked real well. After watching the Dummy Downhill spent the rest of the afternoon hitting out again across Cedar bowl and majoring on Steep and Deep which even late in the day lived up to it's name. In all a pretty good days skiing in powder which got more tracked as the day went on but with plenty of good stuff if you were prepared to go looking for it. When they open Whitepass and Currie bowl it should be awesome.
In the Griz bar the entertainment for us was an RCR employee having a real go at Ruth over who had reserved a chair ( Ruth had taken it for Lynda) No names but the employee concerned would do well to remember that Ruth, Dan, Lynda and I are customers ( with our personal spend and that of our visitors Lynda and I are worth an income stream of $25k alone) and the role of an employee is to make sure we are happy rather than insult us - nice one RCR.
Final word on the hockey. After 2 games in Fernie the Roders and the Nitros are tied at one game all as the series moves to Kimberly, watch this space.
Temp on the deck is -9 and due to go a lot lower with a chance of snow so time for a hot tub and a quiet night in.