Saturday, April 3, 2010

Day 113 winter at last with awesome powder

Well perhaps in normal circumstances we wouldn't be calling today an awesome powder day but it this year maybe our views have been shaped by what else we have had. Perhaps it is an indication that for only the 5th time this year I started at 9 and skied through to last lift at 4 without any kind of break, that says something.

The hill were calling only 3 cms overnight but the temp was was zero on the deck, -1 at the base and -7 at the top of White Pass and when we got to the hill it started to snow. It snowed all day, sometimes harder, sometimes lighter but always snow right down to the base. The result was that by the end of the day we had 10-15 cms of of fresh snow in all areas on top of the very good snow that we had yesterday. Even the lower mountain ski outs were restored to winter conditions and now should last to the end of the season.

We went to the New side and there is little point in commenting on the conditions as they all started good and got better as the day went on. Whilst the parking lot was fairly busy, it being a holiday weekend, there didn't seem to be many people on the hill and particularly not in the areas we skied. The Uk tour company Inghams had taken a bus load of guests to Kimberly to join in the party for their final weekend which they chose to do rather than ski some of the best Fernie powder of the season - this tells you more about the average Brit vacation skiers view of skiing than I ever could.

First tracks in Gun bowl and Highline trees followed by first tracks in Skydive, Decline and Cougar Glades. Decided to try for the full set with first tracks in Stag Leap but two tracks had beaten me to it but it was still pretty good. Continued in Secret chutes, Concussion, Lone fir, 1-2-3s and Anaconda which were all deep and fresh.

Finished off with another run down Skydive and just time for a final loop into Lone fir which was getting really deep and a great rip down Easter bowl.

Fantastic days skiing in ever improving powder. It was even snowing a little tonight as we sat in the hot tub so tomorrow might be good early on.

Tomorrows blog may be curtailed or even non existant. It is the final Lizard Creek all you can eat brunch of the season after which most people can't move, let alone ski. Watch this space.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Day 112 and in fact it was a very good Friday indeed

This morning dawned at -2 and overcast with apparently only 1 cm of fresh snow on the hill although it looked a bit more than that in many places. All day was overcast in anticipation of what is supposed to be a new weather system so the snow stayed in pretty good condition. The result from yesterday was that on the south facing slopes affected by the sun there had been a little softening which had set up over night but the new snow tended to neutralise the effect so that soft snow with a firm base was the worst you were going to get as long as you stayed high.

We went to the New side as is the norm this year. Poking around off White Pass we found pretty well eveything was soft winter snow taking and edge so we spent some time going up and down and jumping off various bits.

Decided to hit out into Currie and found the runs a bit varied - Cougar Glades ( soft at the top but getting a bit firm down the bottom) 1-2-3s ( pretty good soft snow all the way down) Cornice Chute ( firmer than yesterday in the top then great soft snow all the way down until lower Barracuda which was firm) High Saddle ( hard edge to edge jumps through the chute then awesome soft snow) Lone Fir ( great soft snow all the way through the chute and even better below into the top of Easter bowl). After High Saddle and Lone Fir dropped Easter both times which was excellent winter skiing on tracked powder and soft bumps.

As usual late lunch. In the afternoon met up with friends and continued to loop out doing Lone Fir, High Saddle, Anaconda Glades and then finally Lone Fir a third and final time. Again the lower runs into Lizard bowl were all through the excellent Easter which remained in great shape all day. A really good days skiing in soft winter conditions and the snow staying in good shape with the relatively low temps.

Celebrated an exceptionally good late season day with loads of beer in the Griz bar with one of their super sized jugs. More snow called for tonight.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Day 111 Nelsons

For those not familiar with cricket the term Nelsons refers to the score of 111. It apparently refers to Admiral Lord Nelson ( all the ones, one arm one eye one ball) which is strange because while he undoubtably only had one each of the two former there is no evidence to suggest that he was at all lacking in the genitalia department. However the story sticks so there you go.

Today started at -2 with no new snow over night. All day we had a sun/cloud mix with very occasional flurries. As a result of the cloud cover temps didn't start to rise until the afternon and even then only getting to about +3 at the base.

The result was that the snow stayed in good winter conditions just like yesterday until about 2 in the afternoon then there was some softening in the direct sun light but no real slush or corn snow of the type we experienced last week. In summary a good winters day skiing condidering that today was the first of April.

We went to the New side again showing a lack of imagination and confidence that would allow us to risk the unknown properties of the Old side. Once again White Pass was good soft winter snow most of the way down so we had a few runs up and down in such areas as Gun bowl, Highline Trees, I bowl under the lift, Heartland etc.

Taking over from yesterday we headed out along the County Line, skied past Low Saddle, shuffled round the rocks and turned right. Just like yesterday this was excellent untracked powder in the top getting a little firm underneath by the time you reached Gilmar Trail. That was how the morning was spent in various Currie Chutes such as Barracuda, Cornice Chute, Currie Creek, Toms etc and several others. All good, hardly tracked and great fresh snow even if you did have to be careful to slalom the death cookies which at least were easily visible all the way down.

Late lunch and with the offer of a deck party at Corner Pocket we had a quite short but very interesting afternoon. On the way out to Currie chutes we got tempted by Low Saddle and dropped in. As always it was steep and a bit tight but after a few tight turns we turned right and had a great run down in soft snow under the Saddles. A turn into Easter bowl also proved good if tracked up snow.

Next was trip up Knot chutes and then down the second tight chute which was good soft snow getting a little heavy in the direct sun light. Last run was another hike up Knot chutes followed by a traverse and then ridge line ski into Gotta Go. The skiing into the Gotta Go chutes and then down into 3s of 1-2-3s was very good soft snow with only about 4 tracks in front of me. This was and excellent last run with the ski out down a very sketchy Diamond Back.

Plenty of beer at Corner Pocket and now a quiet night in and early night. More flurries about so lets see.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day 110 and the average cost of skiing drops to 8 bucks a day

Yup, it doesn't look like we will quite get the average cost of a days skiing down to $7 but we won't be that far short by the end of the season.

Overnight we had 3 cms of fresh and temps down in town dropped to about - 2 so I guess it got a whole lot colder on the hill and the base was up around 259 cms. We decided to stick to the New side again although reports I got later in the day indicated that the Old side was ok particularly out on Snake ridge.

We ran up and down White Pass several times where taking over from last night the snow was good soft real winter snow particularly up in Gun bowl. We worked our way backwards and forwards between Surprise Trees and Highline trees and found many ways down all of which were good winter skiing.

Going further afield we tried Anaconda which was excellent at the top and bit chunky at the bottom. This decided us on not trying Bootleg which looked like a mess of ugly death cookies and worked our way back down Trespass Trail. Next was 1-2-3s which was great skiing all the way down but in view of what we knew the trip to Timber was via Diamond Back which was just about ok.

I decided to take a risk and hit out to Skydive hoping that the snow flurries that had then started and the colder temps had firmed up yesterday's breakable crust. This proved right and it was pretty good untracked skiing on a rather hard base. Looped Decline with much the same results then did some more in White Pass before having a final run down Stag Leap before lunch in the same conditions as Skydive/Decline.

In the afternoon we looped out along the County Line usually finding out way down from Timber to White Pass via Mitchy's chutes or Lift Line which were both soft at the top and a bit ugly low down.

Most times we traversed high into Cornice chute above Skydive traverse and then having some great untracked turns above the main traverse. We dropped Barracuda, Currie creek and Cougar Glades all of which were mostly untracked and getting better in the flurries. To finish off we did Anaconda, back to White Pass and the final traditional run down Skydive. By this time the snow had stopped but there was plenty of fresh to rip up although it was a little slick on the base at the bottom.

Hot tub, beer and early night. With the snow having got down low the whole hill is looking in much better shape and just maybe we will make it to the closing day in 11 days time without having to resort to down loading. Flurries called for tonight.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 109 and awhole lot better but limited

Ok lets do weather followed by what conditions that gave followed by what we did with them.

Overnight I guess that the snow/rain on the hill started to work it's way down the hill during the night although when I got up for a pee at about 2 o'clock it was still raining. By morning the snow had worked it's way down to the valley floor so we had snow all over the house and garden. The hill was calling about 16 cms overnight which seemed about right with the base starting to get up to 259 cms. During the day systems kept coming through dropping snow/ice ball bearings topping up what we had and best of all there was not rain, not even at the base.

The effect was to cover some of what had happened yesterday but not enough to do the job where heavy snow had been pushed up leaving heavy death cookies. The main results were dust on good soft snow very high, dust on death cookies lower down and breakable crust going to variable below that. This meant that the higher you went the better the conditions were and with that in mind we headed to the New side.

As with yesterday the warning signs were there on the run down from Timber on lift Line but this time it was the lower turns becoming hard and full of death cookies in the refrozen crud. As Currie bowl was open we tried 1-2-3s which were in pretty good shape with two days snow in there and looped back to White Pass on Trespass Trail. That was our last good decision in Currie as our excursions along the County Line to the Currie Chutes, Cougar Glades and Skydive all proved a bit trying.

Perhaps it is best to describe Cougar Glades which were a typical example. On the way out the traverse was testing with lots of fill in snow. The first few turns were untracked powder then you hit the unskied stuff from yesterday. This had set up on top with a soft covering but no real substance so you were skiing breakable crust with a depth of about 15 cms, sometimes both skis on top, sometimes both broken through and sometimes one and not the other, probably the most testing surface of the season. In the lower part of the run yesterdays snow had melted to the point where it formed a firm base so you were skiing dust on crust which was hard but at least you knew where you were. After a morning like that lunch was called for.

In the afternoon we worked out that all the best snow was in the top of White Pass so all you had to do was to drop the gun bowl and stay between Heartland and Surprise chutes and you had really good, and I do mean good, skiing on real winter snow with some areas untracked and all deep. To extend the limited range we hiked Knot chutes which like all the rest of that face was great soft snow.

To finish we dropped Anaconda ( had done so earlier but can't quite remember when) and found it soft and deep in the top getting a little chunky on the ski out. Ignored Bootleg and took the easy way out on Gilmar Trail which considering the earlier work didn't seem unreasonable.

All in all a pretty good day which would have been excellent if we could have curbed or inclination to go further afield and have been contentented just to run up and down White Pass in what was the best winter snow we have seen for some time.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Day 108 and we get 25 cms of fresh something ?

It rained all night so we hoped it was snowing on the hill. The temp on the deck was only +3 in the morning so we hoped that the rain/snow line would be quite low so we were very disappointed to see that it was quite far up the hill. The official web site was calling 25 cms of fresh powder over night so we headed up early to get first tracks.

It was still raining at the base as we got the Timber chair on the grounds that higher was going to be better. This was confirmed by a conversation I had later in the day with a ticket checker who said that the Old side sort of sucked all day.

First run down Lift Line to White Pass just showed how high the rain had gone so that the final couple of turns into White Pass chair was really heavy wet snow. Fair enough, the call of 25 cms was probably right but powder ? well I suppose in some places it may count as powder just because it was untracked but not in Fernie.

After a short delay for avi control which we whiled away with a snowball fight in the lift line up we went up White Pass chair. At the top and up to about half way down the snow was ok but the second half was wet chunky snow and got more so as the morning went on. Off and on it was snowing all morning and by lunch the rain line was above White Pass base and even at the top it was getting heavy in not very good light.

Currie bowl remained closed so we spent all morning up and down White Pass not able to go further than Falling Star to the right and Surprise Trees to the left. By lunch time everywhere was heavy and wet. We skied out down Summer Road and found the bottom of the hill pretty much destroyed around the base with a 50:50 mix of slush and bare earth.

With rain tipping down and confirmation from patrol that the rain line would continue to rise even higher up White Pass we decided to call it a day, the first time we have come off the hill early this year - that's how bad it was. To be fair the first couple of hours were ok but after that ......

We are promised more precip, falling temps and another 15 cms overnight but this time coming down low - we will see.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day 107 more spring skiing

Today was a sort of mirror image but opposite of yesterday. It started bluebird but then hazed over, followed by cloud, eventually followed by rain at the base and snow showers at the top. As an example, whilst temps were much the same, the thermometer at the top of Bear read zero in the shade yesterday morning and +11 in the sun today. The effect on the snow was totally predictable.

The sun brought soft snow on all south facing slopes and we poked around the Old side to see what was getting soft. Sunny side shoulder was the first to soften which was ok but second time through it was turning to slush. Very different on Cedar ridge ( several times) which like yesterday wa soft at the top but chunky further down - today not many turns in from the top.

Boom ridge was going soft pretty quick so we did it twice in good spring conditions. Next time down we tried Linda's which because of the trees was a bit more set up although lower down it became rather slushy. Every trip to Boom was via Kangaroo (4 times) which was melted bumps taking a good edge and again ok spring skiing.

Last run before lunch we hit out to Snake ridge but found we had left it a bit late and each turn was throwing out slush slides of a surprising size. An avi sign line had been put in at the bottom of Snake so the ski out had to be over the right side of KC chutes which was soft but not too much so. Looking back there seemed to be another sign line beyond Gorby bowl facing the other way so I guess the result was to close upper and lower Gorby which makes sense as the lower bowl usually cracks up and slides about this time of year.

After lunch we went to the New side to see what the snow was like. By this time it had clouded over, all the south facing stuff was starting to set up and some new icey snow was starting to fall. A quick run back under White Pass proved just how quick gun bowl could set up out of the sun - very chunky but the lower part of the runs was taking a nice edge.

Playing the same card as yesterday I hit out on the County Line to find that all the Currie chutes were getting pretty firm and did not bode well for what Skydive etc would be like. Actually Decline was soft at the top and softening all the way down with the surface setting up so that it skied quite nicely and not too soft at the bottom. Tried Stag Leap and found it a bit softer having been in the sun for some time so much harder work jumping turns top to bottom.

There was just time for a loop into Anaconda which was just starting to get heavy and required some slough management to get through. Final run down Skydive was a nice balance of soft at the top, set up surface in the mid section and real soft at the bottom, not a bad mix for spring skiing.

A few beers, a hot tub and an early night. The hill is calling for up to 25 cms of fresh in the next 24 hours but at the moment it is coming down as rain - lets see.