Saturday, April 11, 2009

11th April

So we arrived at day 110 and the day of the PPP ( of which more later) and it was another bluebird day clouding over in the afternoon and even giving up some light rain.
As usual for a late season Saturday we went for one long session coming off the hill early at about 2 o'clock. This means only 5 hours skiing rather than the usual 6 you get from skiing 9-4 with an hour for lunch but at this end of the season and in the current conditions who cares.
We started on the old side and stayed mainly on groomers in Lizard and Cedar bowls waiting for the softening which started just before 11 which was the start of the PPP. This is the Powder Peddle Paddle which is a four legged relay race. It starts with a down hill ski leg from the top of Cedar to the base. The next leg is a bike section down into the town ending by the river bridge. Third leg is a canoe race down the Elk river back to the base of the hill then a running leg up through Timberline Crescent to the day lodge. Some do it as a team while others do all 4 legs themselves (respect Wade) and there are various categories for prizes. We watched the start which is a mass start run up about 100 metres then get the skis on and get going. After the start we skied down the race track behind the competitors and turned into Boomerang bowl and ridge which we skied several times in ideal softening conditions as big hard bumps with soft surfaces.
As the old side softened we moved over to the new side to try and take advantage of what we hoped would be cooler conditions. Things were warmer than yesterday and it wasn't lomg before gun bowl was slush and even Highline and Heartand were getting soft underneath as well as on top. Just like yesterday I went out along the County Line to Skydive and found it softer than yesterday but skiable - a bit like Stag Leap was yesterday. Decline was more like yesterday's Skydive so I did it twice.
Went for a late lunch on the deck at Rip'n'Richard's but it clouded over so just spending the early evening chilling out with a few beers and a hot tub.

Friday, April 10, 2009

10th April

Day 109 and a very very Good Friday it was as well but first another pic from hotdog day by popular request giving a good feel of what it was like on Wallaby.
Today was an amazingly good day due to a stroke of luck but more of that later. We headed to the hill this morning with temps at -2 with a forecast for a bluebird day turning to plus teens which is more or less what it worked out to be.
This being the first day of the holiday weekend things were a bit busier. Of course when we say busy we don't mean European busy - we didn't have to line up for lifts or anything like that ( I love Canadian skiing) but there were more people on the hill.
As with most of the last week we started on the old side with a few runs down the groomers in Bear and Cedar waiting for the hill to soften. Temps rose pretty quick and it wasn't long before we were doing loops off Cedar ridge and Kangaroo and then Boom ridge and Boom bowl then back to Bear again. The off piste was turning to slush but we managed to get some good runs, once or twice a little early so we got kicked around a bit by the refrozen crud and sometimes a bit late so it was heavy, but overall pretty good.
Around midday we headed to the new side to check things out before lunch. A couple of runs through White pass in Highline/Heartland/Gun bowl were good but there was some evidence of a colder feel with the surface setting up rather more than usual. With this in mind I took the risk on the last run before lunch and headed out along the County Line to Skydive which is normally my favourite run although I haven't risked going out ther for the past few days. The result was outstanding - the top of Skydive was steep icy bumps but then if you can't ski those then you shouldn't be up there in the first place. After that it was great with a firm base and soft snow surface in the sun and nice crisp stuff that was taking a good edge in the shade.
After lunch encouraged by the great result of the morning I just cycled Stag Leap, Skydive, and Decline twice each ( three hours skiing) with all of them giving excellent "real" skiing on a firm base with a slightly variablr surface on great undulating terrain. Last run down Skydive just like normal skiing - the best skiing we have had for at least 7 days.
Hope this holds out for tomorow but the way things go it could be all change. On the deck tonight a couple of buddies confirmed that they had been on Skydive 2 days ago and it really sucked and that today they tried Bootleg which was excellent yesterday and today it was no good. So today I had a lucky day, couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

9th April

Day 108 and another bluebird day, but before that a few words on hotdog day.
Yesterday was an awesome Hotdog day which was cool at first with some high level cloud but this quickly dispersed and we had a scorcher with highs of +16. When we arrived at the hill everyone was turning up in retro gear. Signs at the base of the lifts reminded us that alcohol was banned from the hill which as we had either stashed huge supplies up the hill or had plenty of hiding places about our persons did not seem to have too much effect. We started with a traditional European start of 2 beers at 11 o'clock on the deck of the Lost Boys cafe. By the afternoon we had a gathering of about 200 in full retro gear on Wallaby drinking beer and doing crazy jumps off a kicker that had been built there.
After skiing we gathered in the Griz bar first for more beer and then headed down to the Corner Pocket for more fun. Best entertainment was couple who did not realise that they could be seen by all in the bar and headed into the snow banks by Lizard Creek to get to know each other better. The whole bar was treated to the view of these two humping unaware that they were being cheered on by about 300 drunks in the bar. Jug of beer to anyone who can provide the names of the couple concerned. More beer then home.
Things were a bit quiet on the hill today for obvious reasons. The old side started hard but softened quickly in the sun and was almost slushy in Boomerang, Boom ridge and Kangaroo. For some reasoon Cruiser was boiler plate ice with some pretty random grooming which stayed hard all morning. Once again a day for staying on the groomers and then timing your run onto to the off piste to get the corn snow before it becomes slush.
The new side didn't seem to have softened so much perhaps due to a cold wind that sprung up and usually indicates a change in the weather. Lift Line was quite icy annd not easy skiing. After lunch we tried the 123 - Bootleg glade ski off the hill 3 or 4 times and the surface was crust which softened in the parts where it was sunny. The rest of the afternoon was spent surfing the liquid snow in Gun bowl and finding a variety of ways to run back to White pass.
Quiet night tonight even if Lynda is celebrating day 80 today ( that broken leg has taken a bit of a toll this year) back on the hill tomorrow.

8th April

Day 107 - Hotdog day - every picture tells a story

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

7th April

Day 106 and an interesting day for all sorts of reasons that haven't got a whole lot to do with skiing or ski conditions.
On the way to the hill for another summer bluebird day ( highs of +14) we picked up some guys hitching in fancy dress. They were skiers with the Non-Stop programme (a uk based programme which brings skiers out here for extended holidays) and it was their last day after 12 weeks. When we got to the hill there were quite a lot of guys and girls dressed in fancy dress and they seemed to be having a great party ripping round the hill - a bit like hot dog day but one day early.
When we got to the hill we found that the Timber chair and therefore the whole of the new side wasn't working. The reason for this was that a tipper truck delivering rubble for the film set (see later comments) tipped and managed to hit the power cables for the Timber chair with the top of the tipper. This killed the power to the lift and if reports are to be believed scorched the ground all round the truck where it had earthed. The driver was by some miracle unharmed but he had to go home for a clean pair of pants for obvious reasons.
The Movie - we are having a movie shot here in Fernie, It is going to star John Cusack and a few others who probably should know better. The plot synopsis is that a bunch of guys go off on a guys weekend and discuss their mid life crisis and decide that they wanted to go back to the early 1980's which was when they were at their best. They then get into a hot tub which turns into a time machine and takes them back to a ski resort in the 1980's. Sounds like a complete turkey to me but everyone is getting very excited and signing up as extras. When we left the hill tonight they were building an artificial front for some 1980s condos annd I expect we will all be filmed tomorrow during hotdog day and used as background for the movie.
Oh - today old side as it melted and new side in the afternoon just as they got the Timber chair going to chase the melt line round the hill. Best of the old side was twice through Boom ridge as it melted and twice through Kangaroo which was tough but fun.
In the afternoon the new side went to slush in all areas facing direct sunlight and just to prove it a run through gun bowl was more like waterskiing that snow skiing. Best run again was through 1-2-3 with the run off the hill alternating between Bootleg glades and Diamond Back. This was probably the only faces that represented skiing in any meaningful sense of the word.
Ready for tomorrow which is hotdog day. For the uninitiated hotdog day is our tribute to the 1980's skiing and soft porn movie Hotdog. We dress in retro gear, ski round the hill drinking beer and doing stupid stunts, go to the Griz bar where the kids do nude table sliding then we all head to the Pub where they show the movie which is truely dreadful. A very large amount of beer is involved so it is quite possible that reports of tomorrow may be a little late in appearing - like about 24 hours.

Monday, April 6, 2009

6th April

And for day 105 you can pretty well read yesterday's blog. Super spring skiing on a bluebird day where the temps started at -5 and got up to +15 by mid afternoon. With dejavu being the order of the day Lynda decided to take the day off so I found myself thrown onto the hill with all day to amuse myself.
Just as yesterday I rolled round the old side on groomers waiting for the sun to soften the off piste so it could be skied. Lower North ridge got soft before 10 which was even earlier than yesterday. Boomerang was the first to be tested and it proved ok on the high traffic right side. Boom ridge was a bit challenging and I was surprised to see, after I had skied it, 4 guys skiing down as I was riding up making a half way decent job of it - I later discovered that they were visiting German ski instructors which accounts for why they could handle the situation. Meeting up with some buddies we did Boom ridge one more time by which time it was just perfect. Managed to find about 6 powder turns in Cedar ridge on a couple of trips down there And of course Kangaroo was challenging but fun both times through - no one came in with me.
In the afternoon we teamed up with a few more and hit the new side. Snow was more mushed up than ever and serious off piste skiing in the usual terrain wasn't much of an option although I guess we could have done it to prove a point even if the fun factor would have been low. In the event we looped several times on 1-2-3 which I thought was ok but to be fair this was a minority view. Ski out was either by the Gilmar trail, the gully to the left of the trail or Diamond Back ridge which was getting a bit scratchy a the bottom.
In summary the hill is starting to fall apart a bit with Snake ridge closed due to instability and every thing else is turning to deep deep slush if exposed to the sun in the afternoon. Even though things set up each morning there is a lot less snow to go round each day and stumps, rocks and other junk is starting to show through. The season end looks like it is going to be coming next week at just about the right time.
The day ended with a very pleasent day spell on the locals deck drinking beer and chatting about skiing with my buddies. Tomorrow looks like groundhog day to me.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

5th April

Day 104 was a typical blue bird spring day and exactly the type of skiing that you would expect at this time of year. I decided to try out my new skis and found that although the new skis matched the old ones exactly in shape and length the datum point for mounting the bindings were about 10 cms further forwaed than on the old skis. Interestingly enough this didn't seem to make the slightest difference to the way they skied which was just like the old ones but with a bit of life. Having proved them to be more than ok I switched back to the old skis for the afternoon.
We got to the hill and as expected found that everything had frozen hard overnight so again we had to stick to the groomers until things started to soften. On the old side this started earlier than we expected and by 10 o'clock the groomed part of lower North Ridge was already turning to slush. A couple of trips in and out of Cedar on the groomers with even the gulch having been groomed convinced us that things were getting softer and a vistit to Kangaroo confirmed this although contending with the soft in the sun and the crunch in the shade was very interesting. It wasn't long befoore Boomerang and Boomerang ridge were skiable although yet again after skiing the ridge in view of the chair the skiers that had been encouraged to follow didn't seem to be enjoying it that much. Cedar ridge proved to be a fairly undamaged nice surprise in the circumstances. Yet again Sunny Side shoulder hadn't softened as quick as the rest which is odd as it gets more direct sunlight and I must find out the reason for this.
The new side again had slightly better snow although an attempt at Surprise trees found some very slushy conditions. Last run before lunch was a quick trip down Skydive which was good at the top but variable in and out of the sunlight as you got to the bottom.
In the afternoon I hooked up with some buddies and we tried to find good off piste skiing not too damaged by the sun with not much success. I suppose 1-2-3's was about the best with the run out on a groomed Diamond Back a good way of avoiding lower hill elephant's snot. Concussion was so slushy that a life jacket had to be a serious consideration to avoid drowning while skiing it. A trip to Easter bowl had variable results with the best skiing on corn snow in the more tracked areas. We returned to the old side for some late groomer skiing and a call from me to try the Meat Hook as last run of the day proved to a disaster as access to the groomed runs was excluded by avi control signs and the run from the top was the worst kind of refrozen semi tracked crud.
Perfect end to the day sitting on the locals deck drinking beer in the sun and chatting about skiing with buddies like lawyer John who wants me to mention the word creamy in the blog. Another sunny day called for tomorrow.