Saturday, December 18, 2010

Day 15 Last Saturday before Christmas and still no crowds

The day started at -19 on the deck, clear blue skis and the fear of Saturday crowds. Whether it was the cold weather or the crazy prices of lift tickets puting people off I don't know but the crowds never really showed up and we never found more than one or two people in front of us in the lift line all day - Europe eat your heart out.

With extra layers and hot bags in the mitts we headed up the old side to try our luck. Even in the sun it felt much colder than the recorded temp and we had to make regular checks of exposed skin the watch for frostbite. We warmed up with a run down the immaculatly groomed Bear then spread across all of the old triangle between Bear and Boom testing the conditions.

In summary most places had enough traffic so that there was no untracked powder but not enough traffic to piste the surface. What was left was very chunky chopped up ex powder which varied from light dust to heavy refrozen crud in density. Where the base was visible you either landed on soft snow taking a good edge or boilerplate and just by looking it was hard to tell what it was before you hit it. Add to this a rolling pillow of hard ice base covered by variable depths of snow and you get the picture. It was a day when you could never relax, you were always fighting your balance and control was always trying to get away from you - I enjoyed it but it was tough.

We spent the morning heading out along Cedar High Traverse and dropping in a bit further each time ending up just before a late lunch in Steep and Deep. The whole face skied a bit tougher than yesterday as described above, but in my opinion the scratchy ski outs (particularly bottom of Snake) didn't seem so bad - as Lynda said she thought they were worse it could just be me getting used to them.

Three more runs through Kangaroo confirmed that it is back to it's ugly, stumpy, icey best (worst?) particularly on the drop off onto the cat track half way down. An extra run into King Fir found some good powder but by the time you realised it was good you were back to the chunky, hard packed norm. Final run before lunch was to take Boom ridge and come out along Cedar trail. Funnily enough Boom ridge was better than most places probably because the narrowness had pisted the centre of the ridge and it was at least consistant hard pack.

In the afternoon things began to cloud over in anticipation of tonights forecast snow, temps flattened out at about - 10 and we hit the New side. Conditions in White Pass were much the same as on the old side but with some soft stuff in the Gun bowl and Highline trees.

After a while we dropped over into Currie bowl and along the County Line only to find that the Saddles had been opened earlier in the day for the first time this season. I dropped Corner Pocket which was a hard rain crust fron the rain earlier in the week - tough edge to edge jumping but ok powder with some avi debris in the bowl below. Next time round I went in High Saddle which was the same as Corner Pocket for about three quarters of the way then became a real scraped out trench which was a bit of a slither. Talking to a patrol buddy later he mentioned that everyone had been on about opening the Saddles but he couldn't see why as he knew it would be down to hard rain crust after a couple of runs and really no fun at all. He was right but I guess there are bragging rights involved in dropping steep double black diamond chutes.

Linked up with a buddy towards the end of the day a went right out into the boonies beyond Surprise trees and did find some untracked powder but as everywhere else there was the scratchy base. Of course final run down Skydive which is a little more skied but still very nice if you like terrain park like skiing - I do.

As I am typing after a hot tub and beer (not going to tonights hockey game as we went last night and saw the Riders win 11-1) it is -12 on the deck and light snow. It would only take about 5 cms of fresh (well ok a bit more if it came down cold and hence light) to restore the hill to great conditions so here's hoping.

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