Saturday, March 20, 2010

Day 99 another tough day

Just like so many other days it dawn at -4, bluebird conditions, no new snow and the whole hill frozen rock solid until the sun got to it. Even the official snow report has stopped saying "great skiing all over the hill" and has fallen back to talking about spring conditions which must mean something.

Went to the Old side not because we thought it would be any good but just because we hadn't been there for a while. Poked around the stuff just off the groomers in Lizard bowl which was all pretty hard and the decided to try some stuff.

Cedar ridge left was surprisingly good as was Cedar ridge several other ways. Boom ridge and Boomerang were very crusty and hard work. As the morning worn on we eventually went out to Snake which was softening but by the time we got down to Gorby bowl it was still icey. The return trips involved 4 drops through Kangaroo which as always in the morning was very testing icey bumps but that's how we like it.

The afternoon was spent on the New side which after a bit of up and down in White Pass to take advantage of the softening south faces came down to trips out on the County Line. Decline, Stag Leap and finally Skydive were all hard icey bumps with lots of death cookies and hard refrozen patches from the very brief softening periods that had happened earlier on. If you don't like that kind of stuff it was hell but I do and it was great fun.

Spent the evening in the Griz bar where they were having and official retro day which seems to be the authorised version of Hotdog day which will take place two weeks on Wednesday and was a pale imitation of the real thing.

Feeling really battered and in need of an early night.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Day 98 at last a binding warrenty claim

Today was much the same as yesterday in many ways. A dusting of fresh overnight, starting temps of around -4, everywhere boiler plate ruts under the surface, base sitting in at just over 2 metres etc etc. The differences were that the sun came out a little earlier and stayed out so there was some mushing on the south facing slopes which then set up later in the day and there were no snow showers.

Again we hit the New side to get the best we could. Lift line was harder than ever and later in the day even Michy chutes seemed a pretty hard way of getting down from Timber top to White Pass base. We poked around White Pass looking for fresh and for the most part just got dust on crust. The only really soft snow was dropping left off Milky Way trees towards Heartland and even then it was only half a dozen turns of what you would call soft stuff.

Ranging a bit further we tried a few Anacondas ( still ok but hard) Bootleg (hard pack) 1-2-3s (really quite ok) Concussion ( about half an hour early but starting to soften in the sun). To finish the morning we went out to Decline, then Stag Leap which were both pretty hard bumps with a few death cookies thrown in to make life interesting.

The afternoon was rather disrupted as on the first drop down Lift Line a ski flew off and it took all I had just to stay in control on one ski. After putting the ski on and going up White Pass it was clear all was not well so after duck taping the heal binding to the front I skied carefully down the groomer to the bottom to check things out. As it turned out I had broken the base plate in the heal binding on one of the skis.

Grabbed my spare skis and spent the rest of the afternoon up the New side first down Skydive which was pretty hard, then Anaconda (harder still) and finished with Skydive again which by now had set up and was very hard going but as always very enjoyable.

After a couple of beers headed down to Ski Base to register my third warrenty claim in three years on bindings and have them fit a spare heal binding which happen to have left over from last years warrenty claim - they must love me at Rossignol. Took the chance to "cash in" a free major tune which I negotiated with my last purchase of skis so left the good skis there and will ski on my second pair tomorrow althoough to be fair this afternoon they skied at least as well and the number one pair.

Heading for day 99.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day 97 and more strange weather

Last night the temps dropped to about -3 in the valley so at least -6 at the top of the hill. The result was that all of the damp snow that fell late yesterday hardened up so that most of the hill had a fairly hard base with a little soft on top. On the south facing slopes it was still all underpinned with uneven boiler plate.

The forecast was for a sun cloud mix and what actually happened was that the sun came out at the top with valley fog and by the time the fog started to burn off the sun was hazing over so that it never got really warm on the south facing slopes and conditions remained hard. Later in the day a series of weather cells rolled up the valley bringing heavy snow showers which lasted about 20 mins then some sun but with the next cell very visible coming at us. The result was fresh snow dumping on some very hard base which made for interesting skiing.

We went to the New side and stayed there. Lift Line was much harder bumps than yesterday. We spent all morning tripping around the Gun bowl and various bits of White Pass looking for soft without much success. We almost got to the point of skiing groomers - only joking. Eventually we found loops on 1-2-3s which were ok and Anaconda which were hard but ok, have to pay attention when Anaconda is hard.

Last run before lunch we hit Skydive and found a couple "looking for the easy way down" - how do these people do this considering they have to go through agate warning them of extreme terrain. Pointed them down Skydive and left them to it. In the event Sykdive seemed ok but whether that was because it was or whether it was because after some of the boiler plate we had skied anything felt good is anyone's guess.

Must have been ok as after lunch we looped Stag Leap, Decline, Cougar Glades, Anaconda and Skydive. All of these were hard bumps but skiable if you kept your mind on the job. Tough skiing that left you feeling really beaten up but that's the challenge of spring skiing.

Hot tub to soak away the pain then beers and an early night.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day 96 happy Paddy's day

And what a wierd day it was weather wise. As before because the weather was so interesting it is more important to look at that rather than just where we skied although that was also not without interest.

Yesterday we had the huge warm up which left the hill as mush from top to bottom and where it had been skied it was tracked and very rough. Overnight there was rain which some thought fell as snow on the hill but it didn't. It rained top to bottom then froze down to just above the base.

We arrived at the hill with base temps of about +3 but everything feeling a bit wild with wind damage showing and more wind blowing around the hill. Almost as soon as we started skiing it started snowing and stayed that way for over two hours. At it's height it must have been coming down at over 5 cms per hour and then around midday it stopped and the sun came out.

For the rest of the day we had some warming in the sun cloud mix at the top and a lot of warming at the bottom which quickly turned to slush. As soon as this had been settled we were into big ice pellets falling for the last hour of the day top to bottom. So all in all 4 seasons in one day with some new snow.

We decided to start on the old side as we hadn't been there for a while but found that the mixture of boiler plate refrozen uneven base, new soft snow, flat light and socked in viz made the whole thing very challenging. We drifted around for a couple of hours finding all sorts of difficult stuff and strange as it sounds the only really good skiing was in Kangaroo which had not frozen so it was soft and in the tree line so you could see - we did it several times. Time to have a go at the new side.

To be continued ............. much later as we have just got back from the Riders game which they lost 3-2 in double overtime so it's very late. This means we are out of the play offs, season over. We were here to see the first game of the season in September and the last game in March so that's kind of nice and there's always next season.

Back to skiing. The New side was just like the Old side, uneven boiler plate and wet fresh with bad light. We poked around on White pass finding that Lift Line of all places was the best snow. Eventually we tried a few runs through Anaconda/Bootleg and 1-2-3s and found something that felt a bit like soft snow then time for a late lunch.

In the afternoon I took a gamble and headed out to Decline. If I was right it would be soft snow on a firm base at the top and getting softer as you went down. If I was wrong it was going to be dust on crust boiler plate and a very long afternoon for me. In the event I was more right than I had hoped for and after a few turns in Decline it skied soft all the way down which in many ways felt like powder. Only thing to do was try Stag Leap which at a quarter past 3 was there for me to have first tracks ! Just as good as Decline, as was Sydive which was mostly untracked in the late afternoon snow storm and an ideal finish.

Toughest part of the day was the ski down from the base of Skydive which was in pure elephant snot and straight lined at walking pace and even then some polling required. Wonder what tomorrow will bring.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 95 Getting hot hot hot

What a hot day. Today it started at about -4 but was a bluebird day so temps rose very quickly to something of a record. Driving back down town it was about +14 and I can't imagine it was much cooler as a daytime high on the hill. If this isn't a record for March it has to be close.

Started a little late as everything had frozen rock solid last night and met up with a couple of Dutch friends who wanted to have a look at the hill from our perspective. We started with a drop down lift line then a run back through Highline trees just to see how things were. The answer was that Gun bowl was softening fast and everywhere else was taking an edge in the warming conditions.

Next stop was few trips out through Anaconda which remained soft and deep taking steeper chutes each time and then exiting via Bootleg glades, a different route each time. Judging the time to be right we went out to Currie chutes and dropped Tom's run thinking it would have softened. We were too late, it was soft at the top but pure elephant snot at the bottom. Final run of the morning was a trip down Skydive which was ok at the top but softening in the sun in the mid section and pretty icey at the bottom.

Late lunch. My guests then asked if Polar peak was an option and as I figured everything up there would have softened I said ok. Not a bad call but the hike up was very warm even with the jacket being carried on the back pack. After an extended photo call at the top of Polar peak we dropped the chutes only to find that even the first turns in the top were soft and as you got down it became very slushy indeed. The ski out through Currie bowl was weird as no one was there which was explained when we reached the base by finding out the White pass chair had broken down so we effectively had that part of the hill to ourselves.

Took one trip up Timber to see if Whitepass was repaired which it wasn't and came down via Siberia ridge which was very heavy but just about ok. Came off the hill about an hour early as there was nothing much left worth skiing and drank beer.

Riders lost 3-2 last night so tomorrows game is a make or break as we are 3-1 down in the series and we need 3 straight wins now to bring it home.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Day 94 and Polar Peak is back on the menu

Last night temps dropped to about -6 in town and I guess a little cooler on the hill. Forecast was for daytime highs of around +8 but the whole onset was delayed by overcast conditions so things didn't really start hotting up until well after lunch. When they did hot up things happened pretty quick and temps rose fast in what became a bluebird afternoon.

Just as I anticipated Polar Peak was open from the outset. Lynda had decided to take the day off so I decided to have a couple of loops on the New side just to get the legs in place. Last loop was down to the bottom via Anaconda and the Bootleg trees and then it was time for Polar Peak.

The hike was ok but the boot pack was very icey particularly in the avi debris near the top of the boot pack at the ridge. The thought was always there that the chutes could be the same tough conditions but trusting to luck I hiked to the top and as I had hoped the chutes were mostly blow in and fresh but with some hard patches that sounded under foot during the drop. It was ok but not enough to warrent doing it a second time.

The rest of the morning was spent going out into Anaconda extending one chute at a time and as always the snow was steep, deep and good tight tree skiing. Lunch.

In the afternoon went back to Anaconda and continued to extend even further into the chutes. Each time came out through Bootleg Glades which were ok if a bit firm in the bottom. As things had softened I went out to Currie chutes and was surprised to find very soft slow motion spring skiing all the way down.

Next went all the way out to Stag Leap where the traverse is getting very touch and go. The top of Stag Leap was great but very quickly it became crusty then very icey at the bottom. Against all odds tried Skydive for last run which for reasons I can't explain was much better than Stag leap. Soft at the top with a little crust in the middle but perhaps it was the skier traffic that left the bottom in pretty good shape.

Beers in the sun and a quiet night.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Day 93 and daylight saving causes confusion.

Of course shifting to daylight saving time usually causes confusion, but not with us, the clocks went forward as per schedule and we arrived at the hill on time. The problem was that some how you don't make the adjustment in your head. At 11 in the morning you are saying that the south facing slopes must have softened in the sun and of course they haven't because yesterday you wouldn't have been saying that at 10 in the morning. Result - too early into most of the crunchy stuff.

Overnight the temps had fallen to -6 and the day was forecast to give us sun and cloud with a plus temp. We had a bit of a mix with temps at about +3 but rising to +7 on the drive down town which it must have been off and on while we were on the hill.

The mistake of the day was to try the Old side all morning which didn't prove great but we figured (wrongly) that the New side would be no better. The only good stuff was Cedar ridge to King Fir several ways which was at least soft at the top if crunchy low down. Worst places were Sunny side shoulder (totally refrozen crud) Boomerang (mostly refrozen crud) and Kangaroo - don't even ask, far and away the worst it has been all season, so much so that even I only did it once. Looked at Snake ridge but given the lack of melting it didn't look like much fun.

In the afternoon went to the New side and found things were much better. Lift line and the surrounding chutes were all soft snow. Gun bowl had melted and was easy skiing. We hit Anaconda several times with the ski out through Boomerang near trees which were all soft and deep if a bit tracked up. I went out to try Decline while Lynda dropped 1-2-3s as she thought that would be good - score one for Lynda. Decline was actually pretty good at the top but from half way down it was yesterday's soft melt refrozen which was just hard work, so much so that a couple of rest breaks had to be called.

At the end Polar peak was opened for the last run but with such a hard day this wasn't an option. Can't see why it won't be open tomorrow for an early start with only about 3 tracks in it.

Bad news of 3 killed in an avi at Revelstoke but they were attending an un authorise snow mobile event at a hill known for it's avi danger when BC avi had called extreme risk - no comment.

Riders lost this afternoon's game in Nelson so 2-1 down in the series but playing again tomorrow in Nelson. Go riders Go.