Saturday, February 13, 2010

Day 73 and not so busy as I thought it would be

As today was the first day of the Alberta weekend family holiday and also America's Presidents day weekend so we expected the hill to have it's busiest day. As it was it was busy but not crazy busy and we ( us and our Irish guests on their first day) were able to ski all day without too much interuption from the crowds - when we skied out into the more interesting areas it was just as deserted as it had been all week.

We had about 8 cms overnight which had raised the base to 233 cms. Unlike yesterday the precipitation held off so we had a mix of overcast and some sun all day with warm temps which softened up the bottom of the hill for the last third and kept the top in good shape. The rain line from overnight was only just above the base so there was plenty of fresh to play with.

We hit the new side with the idea that high was good in the rain affected conditions even though this would mean more crowds on White Pass where the best snow was. Overall conditions on top were good powder ( knee deep in places) getting a bit heavy and scratchy towards the bottom.

After a quick trip through Surprise Trees which was good powder, we just kept looping the County line on Cougar Glades, Concussion, Window chutes, Cornice chute, Stag Leap Secret chutes and Spinal Tap. This kind of programme lead to a late lunch after which there was only time for a few runs.

After lunch we dropped Siberia Ridge ( very good) Cougar Glades ( just as good as before) Surprise Trees ( excellent powder on the far side) the Brain ( almost totally untracked) and a final rip down Skydive where we all had to work hard to try and keep up with one of my hard core miner buddies who was leading the way.

As it was Saturday we drank in Corner Pocket and had much too much beer before having a quiet night in.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Day 72 Heavy, heavy, heavy

Although there didn't seem to be much fresh snow in the drive the hill was reporting 14 cms of fresh on top of the 11 cms we got yesterday. This proved to be about right but the snow low down was heavy and became heavier during the day as about another 10 cms of mid mountain snow fell but on the lower slopes it was coming down as wet snow/rain. By the end of the day I guess the base had to be up to 230 cms with good powder up top and very chunky soft down low.

With most of the hill socked in we decided to go to the old side which we thought would be good for a few runs before the conditions down low became too heavy. Most of the crowds went to the new side so we had first tracks in Boomerang, Cedar ridge and the part of Bear chutes that we tried. Amazingly there were one set of tracks in Kangaroo which skied soft and heavy and we found Linda's very tracked out and very heavy - time to go to the new side.

By this time it was light rain at the bottom and snow at the top so a few loops in Surprise Trees were called for which were deep and mostly untracked I guess because the drop through the Gun Bowl was so "white". Sooner or later we had to bite the bullet and drop to the base and risk the rain, so we did.

Having been tipped off by Patrol that the saddles had opened we hit Corner Pocket where enough tires were covered to make some careful edge to edge jumping possible. Under the pocket we had early tracks in the bowl with some awesome over the head face shots all the way down and into Easter bowl. Next time round hike Cornice ridge and dropped the chute beyond Lone Fir which was more or less unskied and then deep powder to the bottom.

Didn't stop for lunch and just looped out to Stag Leap, Cougar Glades, Anaconda/Bootleg Skydive, Window chutes, the Brain and of course finished with one more down Skydive. All were tracked but not so much that there wasn't fresh to be found (particularly Window chutes and the Brain) with the lower parts heavy wet snow but still lots of fun if you paid attention.

All in all a very good powder day where you just had to watch what you were doing in the heavy stuff and could enjoy yourself in the deep stuff up top. Hoping for a bit more but it is very warm, +2 on the deck this evening. The flip side of that is that if temps drop the lower sections of all the challenging runs will be refrozen crud and real nighmare, ah well, whatever comes we will ski it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 71 powder, yes don't faint real powder

Yes we woke up this morning and found 11 cms of fresh and continuing mountain snow. It petered out by the afternoon by which it had probably added 3 or so more cms of pow. Temps were around zero, obviously it was overcast and the snow was a nice consistancy, light but able to support a ski. My guess was the overnight snow had been mountain snow so the higher you went the more there was and so we went new side big time.

Viz was socked in at the top of White Pass but the snow was great and skied more like 20 cms than the recorded depth. We decided to give White Pass loop a miss and just hit out on the County Line as many times as we could all day. First off I had to cut the Skydive traverse which is always a good sign. Put first tracks in Cougar Glades which was very good indeed. Next time round put first tracks in Stag Leap and the time after that second tracks in Decline - where are all the people.

Spent the rest of the morning hiking Lone Fir which by a strange irony was probably the most skied part of the hill we found with the bottom of the chute still pretty slick from previous scrapings. Easter and Spinal Tap provided plenty of fresh although I was beaten into the latter by two snow boards who to be fair did ride it properly with no side slipping so not too much damage. For a change cut back into Anaconda which was tracked but deep and Bootleg near trees which only had one board track in them. Finished off before lunch with a rip down Skydive which had been skied but had plenty of untracked if you were prepared to navigate around a bit on the way down.

After lunch we tried one of those short stop drops with me taking Barracuda and Lynda taking Currie creek. Both had tracks but the snow seemed to have folded into the gullies more than in other parts of the hill so we had what could only be described as deep powder. Ran out the rest of the afternoon on Window chutes ( log drop off still 6 ft but at least a soft landing) Secret chutes (untracked) the Brain ( mostly untracked and loads of fun in the tight trees in the lower sections) and the a couple of loops through Surprise Trees which still had plenty of fresh.

As always finished off with the traditional rip down Skydive without another sole in sight. beers in the Griz bar followed by stocking up booze for our irish visitors arriving tomorrow. Flurries called for tonight.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 70 where was everyone ?

As always the day dawned overcast with no snow overnight and temps just above zero at the base and below up top. Where it differed from every other day in living memory was that when it got to the hill it started to snow, not much but enough. A quick assessment of the situation led me to believe ( correctly as it turned out) that this was mountain snow which would just get heavier as you went higher and with this in mind we hit the new side and stayed there all day.

The forecast had called for sun and cloud in the morning turning to snow in the afternoon so it came as no surprise to anyone that it snowed in the morning and went to sun and cloud in the afternoon. Snow was steady but not heavy so it accumulated about 5 cms during the day which wasn't fantastic but just enough to give the hill a fresh look and feel.

What was strange about today was that whilst there seemed to be the usual number of people about ( maybe a few more) everywhere you went the snow was untracked - even allowing for the fact that it was filling in. The only explanation is that whilst people were here, for reasons known only to themselves, they decided not to ski any of the good stuff. Let me explain .....

Took Timber chair only to find that White pass chair was broken down for an hour, again !! Looped waiting and put first tracks in Black Cloud and Siberia ridge. When WP opened put first tracks in the Gun bowl then first tracks back under the lift line. After that it was Highline Trees, Idiot traverse, Surprise Trees near side, Surprise Trees far side, Anaconda and Bootleg Glades all first track. Lets not get carried away this wasn't deep powder but it was better than we had been having and no one else was there.

After that on to the County Line with Concussion far side, Cougar Glades, Cornice chute and Barracuda all untracked or at worst with one other track down the side. A late lunch followed.

In the afternoon did the county line with Stag Leap (untracked) Decline and Window chutes (untracked after the shoulder on Decline) Secret chutes and Spinal Tap ( both untracked) and a final run down the Brain ( untracked).

A good day but I am still puzzled that with that many people on the hill ( the Day Lodge was packed at lunch time) how come no one had skied the good stuff. Can't work it out but just grateful they didn't and fingers crossed for more flurries in the next 24.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 69 more of the same

As I said yesterday the weather doesn't seem to show any sign of changing soon. Today, like yesterday (and the day before, and before, and before etc.) it was overcast, no new snow, temps hovering around zero, hill in ok shape etc.

With all this in mind we went to the old side to see if anything had changed which it hadn't really. The Sunny side shoulder showed that the bumps were still firm but taking an edge. We were testing our skis which we had put in last night for a wax and edge ( minus the 10 bucks voucher) to see what sort of job they had made and actually they had made a pretty good job.

All the usual places on the old side were tested, Cedar ridge all ways, Boomerang, Linda's and further out into Steep and Deep, Gorby, Snake Ridge and the deep gully in KC chutes. The skiing everywhere was firm and tracked with bumps but good challenging stuff. About 6 trips through Kangaroo proved that either the skiing was getting easier or we were geting better.

After lunch we went to the new side and found conditions much the same. Trips through Stag Leap, Cougar Glades and the Brain all of which were good but tracked at the top and a bit firm at the bottom. Just for a change I hiked Knot Chutes, then dropped one, traversed into two, a quick turn then traversed across three and finally a long traverse on the ridge line into Gotta Go for the first time this season. Dropped over the ridge line into Gotta Go and stayed right to find fresh tracks and deciding not to take the easy way out with the left traverse I dropped the chute to the right and found more fresh in the steep pitches above 3 of the 1-2-3 pitch.

Finished up with a loop through Surprise Trees then a rip down Skydive at the end of the day which was firm bumps but really nice skiing.

Wings night at the pub and an early night in anticipation of Irish sailing buddies arriving on Friday.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Day 68 feels like Groundhog Day

Actual Groundhog day was last week but just lately it has felt like Groundhog day every day. It always dawns overcast and stays that way all day without actually snowing. Temps are always at or about zero at the base and a little below at the top. The snow base stays at about 210 cms and the hill is always deserted - today we didn't have to share a chair lift even once. Despite the lack of new snow ( hardly any for 5 weeks) the hill stays in remarkable good shape, why wouldn't it as the three things that damage a hill ( sun, rain and skier traffic) are all absent. If all this wasn't bad enough the outlook for the next 14 days indicates that this is just going to go on and on.

The only thing to show that each day is different is where we ski as in yesterday when we tried the trees to the left of Gorby bowl and the deep gully in KC chutes for the first time this season. Today we hit the New Side as we hadn't been there for a couple of days due to the junior freeski competition being held there at the weekend.

As soon as we hit the new side in lift line it was apparent that the snow had been hardened up by the overnight temps and we were going to be dealing with bumps which were firm, but taking a nice edge so easy to ski - yesterday I heard an old Fernie local refering to the conditions as "icey bumps" and it occured to me (not for the first time) that some of these guys should get out and ski some of the crappy European conditions that I was brought up on, then they would know what icey bumps really are.

A few loops through Surprise confirmed the conditions and the ok skiing that followed. Spent the morning doing alternate loops through Surprise Trees hitting further left each time ( actually found a few turns of fresh in the really steep sections) and then going out into Currie via Anaconda/Bootleg ( as always good) Concussion ( ok if you hit the far chutes) Toms ( nice all the way down) Cougar Glades ( still plenty of life in the left trees) and finally Skydive ( steep bumps at the top getting less steep lower down but softish) then lunch.

In the afternoon just looped some of the tougher stuff at the end of the County Line, Stag Leap (trees on the left still had some fresh) Window chutes ( log drop off back to about 6 ft and scratchy at the bottom) the Brain ( still very nice if a bit tracked at the top but getting a bit technical in dust on crust in tight trees in the lower section) and a final rip down Skydive. Somewhere in there I had a couple of fill in loops through Surprise far left which were still giving up some fresh turns on the way down to Trespass Trail.

A few beers in the Griz and home for an early night. Still ok skiing but how long can the hill hold up and when will we get some more snow .

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Day 67 Superbowl Sunday

As always on Superbowl Sunday things are a little quieter on the hill as folks head off for tailgate parties, game parties etc. You could pretty well read yesterdays report and it would have been good for today as the conditions were much the same, the reason for staying on the Old side was much the same (junior freeski on the New side on Concussion) and as a result the areas of the hill skied didn't differ much.

The day was overcast and threatening flurries which never materialised. Temps were a bit warmer than yesterday rising to +1 at the base ( turning the lower snow a bit rubbery) and staying at about -2 at the top. Cedar Knob was open for hiking but the snow with all the avi trails never really looked worth the hike but if we don't get any new snow who knows how desperate I will get.

The snow had lost some of it's lightness and was heading back towards chunky but no where near as heavy as it was a couple of days ago. The result was everthing on the old side was skiable with a bit of care and the snow moved well under the skis as long as you skied the hill and didn't let the hill ski you.

Just like yesterday we worked Cedar ridge then hit out on Snake to get the "fresh' snow. Steep and Deep a couple of times but with the exit on the left proved very enjoyable. Just for a change we took the nearside of Snake and then dropped into KC chutes for the first time this season through the deep central gully. The way in was a bit tight but then it was just edge to edge jumping all the way down in soft snow. A good heart and lung work out which was so much fun that we did it again.

After a late lunch lunch just kept looping through Gorby bowl trying to find different ways down and track down some untracked snow. Found it by hitting left into the trees between Gorby and Steep and Deep which was tight, steep but untracked. Great skiing even if the ski out into the lower bowl was a bit technical and not for the faint hearted.

The Kangaroo count today was 10 times and perhaps word is getting out as I didn't see anyone else in there all day. Finished yet again with Boom and Buckshot so tomorrow has to be a New side day just to keep things in balance.

Back in the Griz bar tonight for a few beers with some guys from New Brunswick who are off heliskiing this week. Early night at home watching Superbowl, the best bit of which was The Who at half time. Hot tub, beer, and bed.