Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 45 I am a line man for the county

Of course I am not a line man for the county at all but as I spent most of the day on the County Line I thought it was appropriate.

Overnight they claimed 10 cms of fresh but it looked more than that to me. The rain line was in about the same place about half way up the hill but as the temps had falled to -2 overnight at the bottom the lower runs that had been all mush yesterday had frozen to hard rain crust.

Waited at Timber Chair for the 15 minute delay in opening and got the second chair up. Put first tracks down Lift Line then up White Pass and put first tracks in the Gun bowl and all the way down under the chair. Next time round put first tracks through Surprise by which time the crowds were starting to gather.

Currie bowl had been open from the outset but I had chosen to cut back to get the early fresh track runs to White Pass. Now I hit out on the County Line looking to drop the Saddles but they were closed. Going on I hiked to Lone Fir and next time round Trap Meadow ( or whatever it's called) where the only problem was getting nailed by your own slough from the very lightly skied chutes. Next time through I noticed the Saddles were open too late to drop Corner Pocket but went through high Saddle which accessed some great powder below. The next couple of times round were Corner Pocket (tires getting exposed already) and Low Saddle ( a couple of rocks showing by great untracked pow after you tracked right. Every loop traversed into Easter bowl in some form or other and had great soft snow skiing.

For the rest of the afternoon kept looping to the end of the County Line dropping Stag Leap, Cougar Glades, Skydive, and Decline. On the last loop had some time to spare so cut back to White Pass by hitting Surprise Trees far side and was amazed to find that there were still fresh tracks out in the boonies. Last rip through Skydive was just like all the other runs had been off the front, great skiing for the first two thirds then very sketchy rain crust all the way down that was a good work out - what ever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Special mention must go the the guy (it had to be a guy) who got stuck on the top of the Cheese Grater (cliff face at the bottom of the first Knot Chute) and had to be pulled off by rope by the patrol - good job guys. In order to get to the Cheese Grater the guy has to ski down to a face that he can see from the chair on the way up and then ski between two signs that say "cliff". As Albert Einstein said " There are only two things that are infinate, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the universe".

Riders won last night 7-1 but with two 9 minute majors for fighting so it could have been more if we had played a little less 5 on 4 hockey, next home game Friday.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Day 44 not quite awesome but not far off

Today was supposed to be the warm spike with valley temps of +7 and then a long cooling period. Only a little rain in the town overnight giving 5 cms of fresh on the hill and temps at the hill getting up to about +5 at the base but below zero (just) at the top.

Pretty well everyone in the know headed to the new side as with not too much new snow there had to be good chance of Currie bowl opening with about 30 cms of new stuff since it was last opened. The day startedwith the bowl closed but hopful sounds of explosions coming from the general direction of 1-2-3s.

Ripped up Surprise Trees getting first tracks about 4 times by going further each time. The snow was untracked but not paricularly deep and quite firm underneath. Next stop was Knot chutes for a couple of hikes which were much better with deep soft snow top to bottom and enough new to create some slough problems. Then they opened Currie.....

That was pretty much it for the day, no lunch, no stopping, no friends, just loop after loop into mostly untracked powder which got a bit soggy at the bottom. Ran Concussion ( the steep way) hiked Cornice chute to see if Lone Fir was open (it wasn't) so dropped Cornice bowl then short traversed and put first tracks in Cougar Glades. Stag Leap, Skydive and Decline all followed and all were only lightly used.

Another trip into Decline opened up the chance of dropping into Window Chutes that were totally untracked and with the drop off over the log now only about 5ft it was easy except for the last few turns in the soft.

Tried Lone Fir one more time and was rewarded to see only one track in belonging to the patroller who had just opened the chute. An awesome run in deep powder surfing your own slough followed by a hard cut right to take in Spinal Tap which was also fine except for the last few turns. Headed back up the ridge and dropped the chute one beyond Loan Fir ( Trap Meadow I think) and after cutting right through the trees hit left into the steep tight chute at the bottom which was untracked and, yes, awesome - just beat my massive slough down which was just as well as it would have taken me and several others out.

Last run of the day was a traditional rip down Skydive which as it had started to snow quite hard at the top had filled in nicely. Raining at the bottom which contributed to me breaking through in the last turn and stacking it big time as a finish to the day.

About + 2 and raining with cooling temps called for and possibly quite a snow event on the hill tonight. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 43 Knot Chutes 5 Kangaroo 4

No, the title isn't a hockey score (although it sounds like it), it is the tally of the mornings workout on the new side verses the afternoons workout on the old side - but I am getting ahead of myself.

Today was very much a rerun of yesterday. It rained all night in town (again) but the temps were only just plus so we weren't without hope when we headed for the hill (again). The differences were that temps at the hill were a little lower (+3 at the base, -1 at the top), we had a little more fresh (?) at 14 cms, the rain/snow line was a bit further down the hill ( just above the Bears Den on the old side and at the foot of the Black Cloud cold sink on the new side) and last but not least the base had set up rather more firmly so that under the 14 cms it was quite firm. For the record the base had increased to 214 cms.

The result was very much like yesterday which was some really good skiing in places and in any event much better than we expected. Hit the new side and found Currie and Anaconda closed. Currie stayed shut all day so the opening is very well anticipated tomorrow. I am told that Anaconda opened about 3 and was very good powder if a bit heavy.

Put some early loops through Surprise Trees which were very acceptable and having trashed all the near parts they opened Knot Chutes. Spent the rest of the morning hiking Knot Chutes (5 times), dropping them several different ways which were all awesome powder and the only problem was slough management. Each loop included heading further out into Surprise until just before lunch we were really out in the boonies near the top of Diamond back - all untracked. Problem here was the number of people wanting to hike the chutes so I always had some young fit guys and girls pushing me so that I had to do the hike in one every time - I'm getting too old for this.

After lunch hit the old side and was surprised and pleased at what I found. Lizard high traverse was cut off just beyond Arrow and Cedar was only open from Alpine way to just this side of Snake ridge. The obvious choice was to try many differnt ways down Cedar ridge/King Fir where the snow was ok powder at the top and a bit heavy at the bottom. Each loop came back through Kangaroo which because of it's low altitude was mushy to say the least.

Last run was down through Boom bowl which still had some untracked areas, a long the Goat track and then down Buck Shot to ski out on Cedar Trail.

Just like yesterday not fantastic powder ( except Knot Chutes) but a very nice day skiing mostly fresh snow with a slightly varied surface. Best memory was dropping the second Knot Chute and the down hill ski throwing out waves of powder which was picked up by the strong up draft and blown back in my face and over my head - I love that. Be preparared for a curtailed report tomorrow due to hockey ( v Creston Valley Thunder Cats) go Riders go.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 42 a whole lot better than you might expect

The hill was a mess yesterday and last night it rained in town, boy did it rain. It hammered down all night so that the streets were running with a sort of watery ice sludge by morning. The only glimmer of hope was that it was coming down at +1/+2 so there was a hope that it was snowing up top although because the rain was coming out of a warm air mass the snow line was going to be high.

Getting to the hill it looked like the snow line was well up the mountain and conversations confirmed that it had been moving up and down all night. The snow report claimed 8 cms of fresh ( advisedly didn't say fresh what) but the same snow report claimed great skiing "all over the resort" which was clearly a nonsense. We went high into White Pass with a view to getting the best of whatever was available - actually not we, just I as Lynda headed back to the UK today for a week to check out stuff there.

Right from the top of the Timber Chair things seemed ok. We probably had about 8 cms of Jersey cream overnight which had filled in the dips and gave nice if a little heavy untracked skiing. The top of White Pass was very socked in even for White Pass and Currie bowl was closed and remained so all day for avi risk so should be good when it opens tomorrow. Best of all was that the precip stopped and held off all day so at least we remained dry.

Temps rose a little during the day with about +5 at the bottom and zero at the top so the point at which the snow started to feel a bit heavy and rubbery crept up to about half way up White Pass by the end of the day. With Currie closed and the Old side rain affected we only had limited terrain to play on but made the most of Surprise Trees ( about 6 different ways), Highline Tree, Milky Way Trees and anything else we could find up there.

As the light improved the Gun bowl proved good fun with a nice covering and all the bumps taken out by the new snow. Knot Chutes opened and a hike to the top to ski the near shoulder proved very rewading in yet more untracked cream. Just before lunch Anaconda opened and again was heavy and untracked and requiring a lot of attention to avoid your own wet snow sloughs.

Spent the afternoon hiking Knot Chutes (I do miss the low traverse in at my age) and skiing the various tight far chutes, then dropping Anaconda by a further chute each time ( lightly tracked) and getting to the Gilmar trail via Bootleg Glade which by this stage was good old fashioned spring elephant snot.

Finished the day by dropping the very far side of Surprise Trees (again pretty well untracked) and coming out on the trail not far from the top of Diamond Back. DB was a lot of fun on the right where it hadn't been groomed and the snow was so heavy you could put your skis in the fall line and hardly move.

In summary, not a great day but really quite acceptable conditions high up and a very nice surprise considering what we thought we might get. Who knows what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 41 What a bloody mess

And for a change what I am talking about in the heading is the state of the hill and not RCR's latest effort in customer relations.

Actually it started pretty well, the temps rose so that it was about +5 at the bottom of the hill and zero/+1 at the top. Ther was no precip until about 1 o'clock so in the morning we were just skiing what basically was an early introduction to Spring sking. For obvious reasons we went as high as possible into White Pass and stayed there dropping down through Ananconda and Cougar Glades a few times when the temptation got too much.

No point in going over all the runs off the New side as they haven't changed in the last few days but the conditions had. Even up top the snow was going soft so that at best you were sking very soft blow in and as you got lower you skied mulch which eventually became good old fashioned elephants snot by the lower sections.

I know it's strange but I actually enjoy this stuff. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't like to ski it every day and if there was a chance of powder it's a no brainer but on a warm damp day on the hill skiing stuff that is just slow and heavy does have it's appeal - its hard work but at least it's easy.

By the end of the day the precip had really turned on and it was raining almost to the top of the hill. The viz had socked in so that by 3 I felt that without a break I had done enough and headed for the Griz bar. This was promted by meeting both Dan ( first day skiing on his days off from the mine) and Rob ( first day back from a vacation in Vegas) both of whom said they were heading for the bar. The last run down Skydive was not without it's challenges as it just got heavier all the way down so that by the bottom you were almost stopped on each turn unless you kept the skis pretty much in the fall line - spring skiing at its best.

Still raining now after a good wings night at the Pub. Everyone was saying how bad the conditions were today, I pointed out that this was nothing compared with what it would be like when it starts to freeze at the weekend, it all went a bit quiet.

In summary a bad day which could have been made worse if the rain had started earlier, or if there had been more skier traffic to damage the hill or if the rain had started earlier.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 40 and a pineapple express on the way

So for the uninitiated what's a pineapple express. The weather systems in BC form out in the Pacific where they pick up moisture and then move in from the west loosing the precip in the form of rain or snow. If the system moves slowly by the time the system has reached the interior it has cooled so that everything comes down as snow. Occasionally a system forms out by Hawaii ( hence the name) which is very warm and therefore picks up loads of moisture. It then moves in very quick so it never really cools and we get hit by very warm temps +5 and a mass of rain. The good news ( if there is any) is that because air cools at the rate of 2 degrees for every thousand foot gained then perhaps up in White Pass this could all come down as snow. Tomorrow could be a great day up top or a horrible mess.

Whilst on the subject who is the joker who added over 2000 hits to my site last night, this might open financial opportunities.

Today with temps rising so that it was + 2 at opening and got up to +4 up top during the day we decided to stay high on the new side. The weather front was moving in so the top of the hill was socked in very close so that you could hardly see at all in the Gun bowl and off and on we got icey snow and winds.

Just like yesterday there was a lot of wind sift blown in giving smooth wind groomed snow and a nice soft surface. The underlying snow was taking a good edge so we really had a rerun of yesterday. Loops included Surprise Trees, Ananconda Glades, Bootleg Glades, Cougar Glades, Secret Chutes, Spinal Tap, Decline, Skydive etc. Conditions were the same all the way through with nice blow in, good base and great skiing. As with yesterday run of the day was Cougar Glades which are still in good shape if you are prepared to take the trees close enough to get the soft.

Everyone watching the thermometer and the precip forecast for the next 24 hours.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 39 and really nice everywhere

Well when we say really nice everywhere we can only really speak for the New side as that was where we were all day. Overnight the blow in continued and there was a light dusting of snow. Temps rose to about -3 at the start and continued to rise to plus temps at the base and zero at the top during the day.

The result was that the surface was soft blow in, the bumps had flattened out to something quite tame and the underlying base was firm but not hard and good to take an edge, in other words really easy skiing. Most amazing was that this was true everywhere you went, usually different places offer different conditions but today you just had to put one head on a rip it.

We spent the morning looping White Pass in different places like Surprise Trees, Highline Trees amd Milky Way Trees. On the Currie end of the Loop we tried Cougar Glades ( several times), Stag Leap, Skydive and a great run through the top of Decline then into Window Chutes. The drop off in Window Chutes is still about 7 ft but with the soft snow gone the landing was a good filling shaker.

In the afternoon went back up the New side then looped out through Cougar Glades again, rapidly becoming my favourite part of the hill, and Skydive. Hit the Brain for the first time in several days which has to be the tightest tree skiing on the hill and finished off with yet one more rip through Skydive. Throughout all the skiing was nice soft ( but not to soft) skiing on a covered base, a good day.

Had a few beers in the Griz and came home. Decided not to go to the Hockey tonight (home to Golden) as we had gone on Friday and seen the Riders win so a quiet night in.

Worried about the warm up that's forecast during the next few days but more about that when it happens tomorrow.