Saturday, February 6, 2010

Day 66 Happy Waitangi Day

Waitangi Day is of course the Kiwi answer the Australia day and the Kiwis go out of their way to show that they can drink just as much as the Aussies. Result - lack of sober kiwi lifties around the hill all day.

Today was also the junior freeski competition on Big Bang ( completing tomorrow on Concussion) so as I didn't want to share the hill with about 100 park rats plus their supporters I decided to have a good old fashioned Old Side day.

The base stayed at about 210 cms with no new snow, temps were about zero ar the base and -4 at the top and conditions were overcast with a promise of light snow which never really materialised. The result was socked in conditions at the top of Bear which only lifted by late afternoon. Even if I had wanted to ski the New side I doubt that the the juice would have been worth the squeeze for a Polar Peak hike today.

Started with a trip down the Sunnyside should and straight away it was apparent that things had changed. The chunky snow of the last two days had been dried out and was now quite light so that in the high skier traffic areas you had soft bumps and in the more untracked areas something that felt like ( but wasn't quite) powder. This set the pattern for the whole day where the snow was much better than we had a right to expect everywhere we went and so we had a very nice day's skiing despite the lack of new snow.

We tried Cedar Ridge several ways the best of which was left then straight down through the trees. This gave some great terrain for hocking ( see I have the new school jargon) off the bumps and drop offs. King Fir and Linda's were both much better than we expected and the tracked snow in both felt like pow at times.

Deciding to go further afield we took Boomerang and Bear chutes several times back to Bear chair then hit out onto Snake Ridge trying Redtree, Steep and Deep and Gorby bowl all of which were much improved and very nice if not awesome skiing. Of course return was always through Kangaroo which we hit 6 times. Interestingly 3 out of the 6 times Kangaroo was cluttered up by some skiers having the worst day of their life having been lured in there by the single black diamond status given to what is now ( with the big icey bumps) probably one of the toughest runs on the hill.

Somewhere in there we took a trip down Boomerang Ridge which hasn't been groomed for several days and is now starting to look a bit more like it's normal self with steep icey bumps, lets hope it stays that way.

Very late lunch to avoid the lunch time crowds in the day lodge left only time for a couple of runs out to Snake in the afternoon. Steep and Deep both times was pretty good and at the end of the day there was just time for a final loop in King Fir followed by a rip down Boomerang then Buck shot and out along the Cedar trail.

As it was a Saturday night the Griz bar was too crowded and noisy for civilised conversation so we went to Corner Pocket which is rapidly becoming my favourite Saturday night drinking spot. Now a quiet night in.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Day 65 and another Polar Expedition

Yes, it happened today, Polar Peak opened for hiking and the snow in Polar chutes was pretty good, about 20 cms in the best spots but back to the start.

Overnight things cleared and cooled down so that it was about -7 when we got up this morning. Arriving at the hill it was nearer -5 with valley cloud and as the temps rose we saw the cloud burn off and we were left with high cloud, overcast conditions but generally ok snow. Of course no new snow but there is some snow/rain mix in the out look.

Spent the morning looping on Whitepass waiting for Polar Peak to open which from all the signs was on the cards. The snow seemed to have dried out and got a bit lighter so we had some good runs through Surprise, Anaconda, Concussion and Cougar Glades while waiting.

Just before midday Polar Peak opened and the race was on. No one seemed to be much interested in hiking so we were about 6th up the boot pack and had fresh 20 cms of pow all the way down the Polar chutes to the County line followed by arather ambitious ski out through Stag Leap which seemed a bit chunky but that my just have been tired legs. A final loop round through Easter ( still rather chunky) followed by a late lunch.

In the afternoon had another couple of runs through Surprise just to get the legs in shape then another hike up Polar Peak. from the top you could see weather coming in from some way off hence the optimism regarding more snow. As before the run through Polar chutes, number 1 this time, were pretty good.

By the time this was all over there was only time for a traverse out to Cornice chute, drop down to Skydive traverse then a final rip through Skydive which is getting pretty tracked out but still very good skiing.

After two hikes up the peak were were too tired to go to hockey so a quiet night in with some Jamesons whiskey.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day 64 hopefully a more sensible report

Yesterday the report was a bit patchy as we were entertaining Bobby from the ski club of GB and by the time I came to doing the blog we were several bottles of wine to the bad (or good depending on how you look at it). Tonight isn't a whole lot better as our guest this week Dave insisted on taking us out to the ever excellent Lizard Creek for a thank you meal.

Today started overcast with temps at about -1. during the day base temps rose to about +3 while the upper mountain temps stayed just below zero. We had light flurries in the morning which faded during the day so that by the end we had quite clear skies which means tonights temps should drop to around -5 but no real snow in the offing.

Hit the new side and found odd snow conditions in that the snow that had been on the ground became very heavy and chunky whilst in places it was very hard and slick and running much quicker than you would anticipate. Did several loops in Surprise which was ok but tougher than before while we waited for Polar peak to open. By late morning it became apparent that the viz wasn't going to allow the peak to open so we started to move out into Currie having good runs in Concussion, Anaconda, 1-2-3s and Cougar Glades - all ok but harder work in the harder snow.

In the afternoon we gave the old side a test and found exactly the same conditions. Cedar ridge and King Fir were fine in the top and loops out to Steep and Deep and Gorby bowl were good but hard work. Gorby was particularly good by hitting the alders left found some knee deep untracked all the way down to the gnarly section.

Finished through Boom and Buckshot which while not really signature runs were nice bump skiing. The Kangaroo count was 5 times with the lower section getting a bit soft so when it re freezes it's back the hard times.

Currently -3 and no sign of new snow but the hope of a Polar Peak opening tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Day 63 Heavy but good

Overnight it seemed to me we had a wet snow rain mix ( at least that's what it looked like when I got up to have a pee in the middle of the night) but by the morning there wasn't much new snow. The report from the hill said 9 new cms but that was over the last 24 hours and there didn't seem to be much new over night.

Got to the hill and it was ok with a bit of new snow. Because of the suspicion of rain low down we hit the new side and went high. Had a couple of real nice runs through Surprise which had been filled in ok then decided to hike Knot chutes. Two runs through knot showed that it was good new powder but the bottom was a bit scrappy.

After yesterday tried Anaconda quite a few times and found it was as good as I thought it would be. As always exited through Bootleg and the creek to the right of Gilmar and it was all good with the snow a bit heavy at the bottom.

In the afternoon had a County Line day hitting Stag Leap, Cougar Glades, Decline/Window chutes ( drop off only 5 ft) Decline, The Brain twice, etc. Withe yesterday's and the fresh snow it was all pretty acceptable and in many places untracked.

Finished the day with a spectacular drop of the chute one beyond Lone Fir ( very steep and great fun) then a traverse across Easter to Spinal Tap and a run through the creek bed to finish - awesome.

Day 63 Heavybut good

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day 62 and happy Groundhog day to everyone

Those of you who have only seen the movie may be surprised to find that this is a genuine event and today across Canada and America the little brutes were dragged out of their burrows and an assessement was made as to whether or not they could see their shadow. The result was that they saw their shadow so we have 6 more weeks of winter so awesome snow has to be on the way.

It may be that the groundhogs know something. When we woke up this morning it was snowing but clearly it hadn't been all night as there was only about 5 cms of fresh but it snowed all day. The temps got up to plus figs at the bottom during the day so the lower snow became heavy but at the top it stayed at minus figs and in pretty good shape all day. Total accumulation during the day may have been 10 cms on the new side with a bit more drifting in the bowls so all in all good conditions.

Started the day with good old fashioned old side powder chase down Boom, Buck Shot, Cedar ridge, Kangaroo etc. the snow was good covering on what we had and getting better all the time. King Fir was mostly untracked as was Linda's run with an exit through Linda's private parts also untracked. We sensed that Snake would not be open for long so got a couple of great runs through Steep and Deep ( which was) and Gorby bowl which were filling up fast - later I heard Snake was closed around lunch time due to avi risks.

In the afternoon I linked up with a buddy of mine, Andy, who is ski instructor and also a pretty good skier and we just ripped the new side in what was now very acceptable powder. Cougar glades, the Brain ( awesome) Secret chutes with a right hook into Spinal Tap and a top to bottom through Stag Leap gave some great deep stuff with big jumps off the buddas on the way down.

Later ran through Surprise trees several different ways which were very sweet in the deeper snow - only regret was I didn't have time to try Anaconda which I suspect would have been spectacular. Finished by hiking Cornice chute and dropping it the the traverse then taking Skydive top to bottom without a break. A little tracked but soft deep snow all the way down so great free riding with the skis in the air more than they were on the ground.

Even with no more snow there is another days great skiing to be had so an early night called for.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Day 61 more snow but more needed

Overnight there was just a dusting of new stuff but with more promised. As the day wore on the snow continued to come down very light but by the afternoon it became quite heavy for a while and has gone back to light snow fall as we were drinking beer in the hot tub tonight.

The day was overcast with light snow all day and the base temps getting up to plus figures with most of the hill staying at about minus and light snow coming down which if it didn't add much to the base at least it didn't take anything away.

Started on the Old side and did all the usual close stuff down Cedar ridge, King Fir, Lynda's, Boomerang etc and back through Kangaroo ( 5 times). The new snow had improved things although not as much as the official site would have you believe and everywhere with almost no one around was untracked on the light covering over the tracked snow.

During the morning hit out to Steep and Deep a couple of times and then went all the way into the Fish bowl (out of bounds) but only as far as the the Poppa chutes and back through the Redtree road as the lower slopes looked like dust on crust and not worth the hike out. As the snow built things got better but by no means great.

In the afternoon hit the New side and having lost my guests just looped Stag Leap, Cougar Glades, Decline and Skydive ( last run) which were all getting better in the new snow and as a challenge I skied each one top to bottom without stopping. A good full on afternoon as only you can have when you are on your own ( or with Steve).

As usual beer, hot tub early night etc. Still snowing - just - so hope for fresh tomorow.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 60 more than dust on crust but not much more

Having got completely wrecked last night on Jamesons it was amazing that we actually got to the hill before 9 and ready to ski at first turn. The buzz when we got to the hill was that the whole of the Old side lift system was down due to a high voltage fuse blowing. This proved to be right and although they hoped to get things running during the morning it was almost 1 before the Elk chair started to run. Of course there were refunds on the day tickets because of this - only joking of course, the ski hill is the only business I know that can't see anything odd in the fact that when they offer less than half the facilities that you have paid for they just go right on charging you the full price - nice work if you can get it.

There had been 5 cms of fresh overnight ( the first new snow in ages) and during the day we had continuing flurrries. This amounted to just a little more than dust on crust but not much more. The base hung in at about 210 cms and the temps hovered just below zero all day so the snow we had did at least stay in ok shape. Flurries all day added to the base and with the Old side not available we headed to the New Side.

Crowds were ugly as you can imagine with weekend crowds just on the one side. To be fair my buddy visiting from Europe thought that the crowds were pretty light for a weekend so I guess it just depends on what you are used to.

Usual stuff through Surprise Trees, Anaconda ( far chute) Bootleg ( trees), Cougar Glades , Mitchy chutes, Concussion all proved ok with the new snow improving conditions if not exactly providing awesome powder. Finished with a run down Decline followed by a drop into Window chutes where the log drop was only about 5 ft and the lower chute was much improved with the new snow.

I the afternoon we returned to the New side which was now deserted as the Old side was open. All the Currie chutes were acceptable but well skied. About 2:30 stuck our nose in the Brain and were amazed to find it untrscked top top bottom which was surprising at the top but given the scratchy conditions at the bottom maybe less so. A short trip into Surprise boonies resulted in me finding a very expensive Canon camera which I handed in to gust services.

Last run top to bottom without stopping down Skydive was nice soft bumps getting a bit harder near the bottom. In summary a nice day but no more snow in the out look. Quiet night called for.