Saturday, March 21, 2009

21st March

Day 89 and in my opinion the worst day of the season so far but I am sure there will be others who disagree. With the forecast calling for wet snow turning to rain it was no surprise that we headed to the hill in a mix of sun and cloud and no sign of precip until half way through the afternoon.
Just like yesterday the temps soon hit +12 at the base and even managed +3 at Whitepass, the highest point of the hill. With these sort of temps we headed high to the new side as quick as possible to ski what we could before it went to mush. The Gun bowl and Surprise trees was just about ok and a trip down 123's was ok at the top but sloppy at the bottom. After playing around up top for a while the next attempt to get to the bottom was via Concussion which was again ok at the top but pretty quickly turned to mush and after that the whole thing became a bit of a waste of time. The final run down Decline was so heavy at the bottom that I could hardy lift the skis to turn.
To be fair if you are an intermediated skier just looking for fun on the groomers (on piste in UK speak) then today was fine with groomers staying firm under a soft surface which made skiing quite easy. Even if you want to go off the groomers as long as you stuck to high traffic areas then the hard packed base still made the soft surface quite good fun. However if you were looking to ski the low traffic, steep and in other circumstances deep areas then the mush was all but unskiable, or at least very hard work. The only guys having fun were those on the fat pontoons with maximum rocker who could handle the mush - my own bases are 95mm and I blew a ski off twice when it broke through and dived.
Just to test things I tried the old side to see how it was and the answer was very very soft although it didn`t seem quite as warm as the new side. By 1 o`clock I had enough and judging by the large number of empty chairs I could see going up the hill as I walked to the parking lot so had a lot of other people.
Went down town and took advantage of some of the fantastic end of season bargains to buy a new ski jacket and ski pants as the old ones have done about 500 days and are more duck tape than material in places.
Forecast is calling for a cool down and snow. If we get the one without the other then we are in for some pretty awful skiing before it gets better - fingers crossed. Temp on the deck is +10 and looks like it is about to rain.

Friday, March 20, 2009

20th March

Day 88 and the first day of spring. Quick apology for the rather brief remarks on yesterday's blog, I spent some time crafting a very erudite post only to lose it into hyperspace before I could post it so what you got was a brief recall of what I could remember.
As befits the first day of spring the forecast was for temps of +5 on the hill with a chance of rain showers. In the event the high at the base got to +12 with +6 even at quite high elevations. Seeing how things were developing we hit the new side early with a view to skiing some of the high altitude snow before the warmth did too much damage. Managed to get Anaconda/Bootleg, Mitchys, Surprise trees/Diamond Back and a rather nice run through the trees from the split in Skydive and Decline all in before it got too mushy. Last run before lunch was down Stag Leap which was just about ok at the top but at the bottom where it had been soft snow it turned to elephant snot and it was touch and go to keep the skis moving even on the steeper pitches.
After a much needed rest at lunch I hit the old side to see if it was any better - it wasn't, it was worse. With the whole hill becoming a rather unstable mush of melted snow the best places to ski were what had previously been high traffic areas, anything that had old fresh snow on was just hard work. Nice skiing in Boomerang, Kangaroo and Buckshot was the order of the day.
About 3 it started to rain so it was time to head high again into White Pass to get above the rain line. You could just about do that half way up the White Pass chair but the snow was very wet and the viz at the top was so bad you could hardly see your skis. I took this as sign that the day was over and had a last run down Skydive which was so heavy I had to stop 3 times on the way down to get my breath,
A few beers in the Griz soon restored me although if tomorrows forecast of warm and rain comes true it will be a half day at best just to check out that there is nothing up there worth missing. As I sit here typing it is light rain with a temp of +5 on the deck so for the next few days at least it looks like a pretty bloody time on the hill.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

19th March

Day 87 and a forecast for plus temps and flurries turning to rain which in the event turned out to be about right.
Lynda decided that with several days hard skiing under her belt and still carrying a steel plate and 6 screws in her leg as a result of last years break she would have the day off.
Despite what the official site said the Bear chair was not running first thing but to be fair it did get going by 11 o'clock. I decided to hit the old side and got good snow off Boomerang and Cedar ridges in all the usual places.
As the weather closed in I headed out to Gorby bowl with a view to taking it from top to bottom which I did twice. Not too many people ski the mid section of Gorby because of the gnarly mid section so the snow in that section is untracked as it was today. The trick is to take a little left then right shuffle just above the rock band which allows you to miss to worse of the rock band and finish up in lower Gorby.
In the afternoon I picked up my Thursday group where the objective is to have some adventurous skiing and took them to the new side. We found good snow in Siberia ridge and the Brain (twice) but encountered sun crust in Cougar glades and Surprise trees. As always we finished with a rip down Skydive which was nice and soft at the top but a bit rubbery towards the bottom.
By the end of the day we had light rain at the base of the hill and light snow from about half height to the top. Tomorrow could be a good day to start in Whitepass as the fresh snow line may just hold there. Still +2 on the deck.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

18th March

Day 86 and a very good if not totally awesome day. The forecast called for flurries this morning turning to sun this afternoon so it came as no surprise to anyone that the morning turned into a bluebird day with flurries all afternoon. The 5cms overnight had restored most of the hill to pretty good conditions and with this in mind we went searching for fun.
Another old side start found us at the meat hook when it opened quite early and several cycles through the meat hook found good powder in the upper sections and not much traffic in the rest of Lizard bowl. Later we checked out Steep and Deep and Gorby which were starting to get heavy in the lower sections under the sun but still powder if a bit hard work. Kangaroo was nice in softening snow but will be ugly, ugly tomorrow when the tufted snow will have frozen over night but what ever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
After lunch Lynda headed to the gym to work on her leg, I headed to the new side and RCR shut down the Bear chair all afternoon for unspecified reasons - after all why would you tell your paying customers what is going on. Luckily the numbers were so light that even with everyone heading for the new side things were not too bad.
With a bit of cloud cover the snow on the new side stayed in pretty acceptable conditions and just a bit heavy lower down. All the usual runs were tested and found to contain great soft snow which even when tracked skied well. The only problem was the number of bodies on the County Line traverse who think it is ok to stop on the traverse while they decide what they want to do - even managed to give me some verbal for skiing throgh them. Spinal Tap was particularly good to ski with the soft snow all sliding into the middle of the creek bed.
A few beers in the Griz then home to where it is +2 on the deck but it looks like it might be snowing on the hill. Outside the door the Aussie lads from next door are building a terrain park in the back yard so we should be getting lots of entertainment in the hot tub tonight.

17th March

Well day 85 was Paddy's day and we had the luck of the Irish with the best days skiing so far this season. About 10cms of fresh overnight had renewed most of the hill. More importantly Currie bowl and Snake ridge both opened after three nights and over 50cms of fresh untracked snow.
After yesterday we decided to hit out on the old side and grabbed first tracks in Steep and Deep and then Gorby, awesome untracked deep powder which gave over the head faceshots all the way down. Kangaroo was better than ever and after a couple of loops we headed out to the new side to check out the Currie opening.
Linked up with an instructor called Andy on his day off who was looking to see some bits of the hill that he doesn't normally experience with the groups he teaches - I don't think he was disappointed.
Cougar Glades at last lived up to it's full potential with great tree skiing. High Saddle opened and the run through it was great edge to edge chute skiing with loads of powder underneath and deep powder in the trees alongside Easter. After that we sort of got sucked into creek skiing by taking Secret Chutes in Spinal Tap, then Window Chutes off Decline which has improved no end since a couple of weeks ago when the drop off in the centre from the big tree trunk was over 6ft ( it's now only about 4ft with a soft landing). Did the usual loops off Skydive, Stag Leap and Decline and even skied The Brain most of the way down - don't look for any these on the trail maps as they aren't there.
Only downside tonight was that after a good few Paddy's night beers in the Griz and then wings night at the pub the Riders lost to the Nelson Leafs in game 3 of the play offs 3-1 ( last goal was an empty netter) so no more Hockey this season. Still, play off Champions of the division isn't a bad result for the season.
Temp on the deck -1 and the snow is falling so looks like another powder day tomorrow.

Monday, March 16, 2009

16th March

So just to prove that even after 84 days of skiing on the hill today I can still make the wrong call of where to go and look for snow although in the event we still got some pretty good stuff.
With 15 cms of fresh overnight and 46 cms in the last 48 hours I decided that the best bet was for us to hang out on the new side and wait for Currie to be opened. The logic was that even if Currie didn't open for some time the snow would be good anyway. What I had failed to take into account was the damage done by the wind last night ( Our guest Dave was leaving today so didn't take much notice of what was going on outside last night after we got out of the hot tub at about 7 in the evening) so that the snow was not in great shape. Every thing around the top of Whitepass was very slabby such that it was one of those rare days when a bit of skier traffic actually improved the conditions.
The only good snow was skiers right on Siberia ridge protected by the trees, Surprise trees after the first two turns so under the protection of the trees and Anaconda Glades which was both wind protected and North facing. Spent the whole morning taking Anaconda one chute further each lap which gave some very steep and deep technical skiing.
About 1:30 the notice was posted that Currie wouldn't open today due to avi control so we hit the old side. From the outset I could see my mistake as all the snow on the old side was fantastic and deep although well skied over by the time I got there. All the usual runs off Cedar ridge proved good as did Boom ridge and finally Bear chutes with loads of soft snow. Only time for 3 loops through Kangaroo which was actually very soft and friendly.
Temps on the deck are still around zero and the forecast is calling for more flurries tonight which should give us another powder day tomorrow. So much to look forward to with tomorrow being Paddy's day, Wings night and the 3rd game of a best of 5 series between the Riders and the Nelson Leafs in the KIJHL semi finals where the Riders are 2-0 down and fighting for survival.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

15th march

So day 83 turned out to be the best day of the season so far.
Overnight snow gave us 20cms of fresh but there seemed to be more in most of the bowls. The forecast was for the snow to turn to rain then stop. In fact it just snowed all day with base temps getting up to about +2 but most of the hill enjoying minus temps which kept the snow in good condition.
Started with good old fashioned Fernie powder chase off thr Deer and Bear chairs to ski loads of deep untracked snow off the old triangle as Cedar bowl was close down as low as Alpine Trail. Boom ridge and Linda's both provided good face shots with nice soft snow in Kangaroo. Mid morning we decided that the snow was getting a little heavy so we headed over the new side to check things out only to find that Currie bowl hadn't opened. Had lots of fun with Sib ridge, Surprise trees and Anaconda/Bootleg glades.
Took lunch at the Lost Boys cafe in the hope of a Currie opening but it was not to be. Conversations with buddies in the patrol confirmed that they were so busy dragging injured weekend warriors off the hill that they could not get the opening sorted, suits us as it means more un skied snow to trash tomorrow. Ended the day with an awesome rip down Anaconda after hiking the hump and taking the second chute. The entrance was a bit technical and as a result no one had skiied it so it was over the head face shots top to bottom once the first section had been negotiated.
Snowed hard all evening with the deck temp of about 0. The flakes hitting the hot tub whilst we drank beer were some of the largest I have seen. Tomorrow looking good as there must be getting on for 40 cms of fresh waiting for us in Currie when it opens.