Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day 120 back to spring skiing and the Powder Pedal Paddle

Only two days to go and it's all change. It was cold overnight with starting temps of -3 at the base and -8 at the top. However it was a bluebird day and temps in the direct sunlight rose quickly but the air temp never ever got really warm so that the softened south facing surfaces were always on the point of setting up again with an ice crust.

We went to the Old side and skied around Lizard bowl and Cedar bowl finding fresh tracks but with the snow becoming heavier. Kangaroo was particularly ugly even for Kangaroo and we only skied it once. The reason we were on the old side was to watch the start of the PPP.

The Powder Pedal Paddle is a relay race (although you can do it as an individual) were the first leg is a downhill ski to the base followed by a bike race into town then a canoe leg back to the base of the hill then finally a run back up to the base lodge via Timberline Drive. It started at 11 and after we had watched the start we went to the New side,

With only time for a couple of loops before lunch and started with a Knot chute, Anaconda, Bootleg glades run which was like yesterday but just a bit softer and heavier in the warming temps. I then tried Skydive hoping that the lower crunch had softened - big mistake. The upper parts were great soft snow which then slushed up a bit in the mid section but the lower hill having frozen overnight was just ugly.

After lunch back to the New side and hit out along the County line to Easter (Currie chutes on the way seemed super slushy) which was great skiing in soft snow as you would expect from a north facing slope. Next 1-2-3s and then Bootleg which were both good skiing even if Bootleg was a bit chunky. Far side of 3s was particularly nice.

Took a quick run back down White Pass via Knot chutes which was just starting to set up and wasn't the easiest line on the hill. Last run was through 1-2-3s and found a new line via the patrol hut and gun tower at the top of White Pass, amazing that even with one day to go you can still find new lines.

Beer in the Griz, hot tub then buddies round for beer. Bring on the last day which is supposed to be a return to winter.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Day 119 back to another full on winters day skiing

And I really mean winter. When we got to the hill today it was -2 at the base and -8 at the top with 7 cms of fresh snow - yes, yet another powder day. During the day the temps didn't change much, at the base they rose to just about plus temps but nothing really melted and even at midday the temp at the top of White Pass was -7. We had some flurries and then a little sun late in the day but all in all not a lot happemed to change conditions.

We headed to the New side and found that yesterday's wind had packed in the snow in a form of wind grooming on some slopes, swept the snow off others, deposited deep soft on others and produced wind crust and slab on others. In other words there was excellent to really crap skiing to be had depending on the choices of run you made.

Lift line was good wind blown styrofoam. First run was back through White Pass and good untracked powder. We next hit out a few loops through Anaconda which was deep, soft blown in snow and then dropped Bootleg Glades which was soft but a little chunky at the bottom. Next few trips were along the County Line. I was tempted into High Saddle and it is the first time that I have skied High Saddle in the second week in April. Skiing under the Saddle and into Easter was excellent. Lone Fir as always was steep and deep into Easter with face shots. Stag Leap was not so good as the first two thirds were untracked free riding but the last third was ugly refrozen crud - not sure the juice was worth the squeeze. Final run down 1-2-3s before lunch was tracked but soft wind blown and very nice.

In the afternoon we went to the new side again. For the first time this year I decided to access the Knot chutes by traversing the Gun bowl and ducking the fence. All year I have played it straight by hiking but by this time I figure the traverse won't damage the snow pack so all's fair. Spent the afternoon working my way across the Knot chutes dropping one furthe each time followed by dropping Anaconda going one further each time then Bootleg Glades taking a new and tougher line each time. The result was some amazing steep and deep skiing as no one else seemed to have thought of this - not that there was really many people on the hill.

By the end of the afternoon I had worked my way across to Gotta Go so dropped that which was all that could have been hoped for. Finished with a hike up Lone Fir which was rather skied but still had plently of soft and the bowl below still provided some fresh tracks.

A great day with beers with buddies afterwards. Went out for a meal to try the Picnic which has been recommended. Give it 10/10 for food quality but 0/10 for speed of service. a good place to go if you aren't in a hurry.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Day 118 wild, wild weather

And when I say wild, wild weather I mean wild, wild weather.

We woke up this morning to rain and deck temps of about +1. While we were getting ready to go to the hill the rain turned to snow and covered the whole valley floor with a white carpet. By the time we got in the car to set off it was back to rain again.

They were calling 6 cms of fresh overnight when we got to the hill and as it was raining quite hard at the base we headed for the new side. We anticipated a day a bit like two Mondays ago when the snow/rain line moved up the hill until it got above the White Pass base and we all abandoned the hill at 1 o'clock. We were wrong. The snow continued at the top all morning quite heavey and on one of our trips to the base we noticed that the snow line was moving down the hill not up. By lunch time it was snowing off and on at the base and all over the hill and the wind had got up to a point where a couple of trees came down and Timber lift was stopped for a short time. As I said wild, wild weather.

Obviously we weren't going to run to the base in the rain so spent all morning looping White Pass on Surprise Trees and Anaconda glades. It may seem surprising that just two runs would keep up happy all morning but those who know them know that there must be 20 different ways down each of these and in the conditions we had this meant deep untracked snow every run, particularly when we headed right out into the boonies. It is also worth mentioning to the uninitiated that tree skiing in Fernie is not like Europe where it just means a run cut through trees - in Fernie you just ski the ridge line and drop into trees wherever it looks good then ride it hard finding your own line through the trees.

Final run of the morning was Lone Fir. All the chutes on the way there were closed for avi control and even Lone Fir Mandatory had the sign down. Lone Fir itself was the first chute open and hardly anyone had taken the trouble to get out there. The run through the chute and down into Easter was awesome over the head face shots all the way.

The afternoon was a replay except that the winds were sweeping all the snow off Surprise and over the ridge into Anaconda giving the best steep and deep tree skiing of the year. The snow berm on the ridge caused by the wind had grown to chest height which made for some pretty spectacular break throughs.

Last run was Skydive which was again awsome with masses of blow in flattening out the first two thirds of the run. The final third had melted in the morning rain and was setting up in the cooling wing and blowing snow - much more challenging but great fun.

So more on the way, cooler temps and flurries/ showers through to closing day on Sunday, what an end to the season.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Day 117 Happy Hot Dog Day

Ok, lets deal with Hot Dog Day. In 1984 a movie was released called Hot Dog. This was a mixture of skiing and soft pornography and would have quite rightly been consigned to the dustbin of history were it not for a few die hard fans in Fernie who decided to comemerate the movie. Every year on a Wednesday near the end of the season we all dress up in 1980's ski gear, rip all over the hill pulling stupid tricks, drink loads of beer, go to the Griz bar and watch the young guys and girls do nude table sliding then go to the Pub and watch the movie. Today was no exception but that the weather provided unusually good skiing (fresh snow instead of slush) so that it was more of a normal powder day than a Hot Dog Day.

It was about +2 at the base when we arrived, -2 at the top and with another 7 cms of fresh providing a fresh base and the base itself rising to over 270 cms. During the day it remained overcast with pretty well continual flurries which must have added at least another 5 cms to the base during the day.

We went to the Old side this being Hot Dog Day and found great skiing on all north facing slopes, with many different ways down Cedar ridge and always back to Boom chair via Kangaroo (4 times). Up and down Boom bowl a couple of times which was a bit scratchy underneath but like everywhere else good soft powder on top.

Switched to the New Side and did two County Line Loops, first up Lone Fir which was just awesome all the way down into Easter bowl and then Secret chutes which were untracked and then Spinal Tap which did get a bit challenging in the lower sections and provided a surprise where the stream bed broke through. Time for lunch.

In the afternoon we went back to the New side which was strange for Hot Dog Day as we would normally spend the afternoon drinking on Wallaby and joining in the stunts but today was so good skiing that we wanted to carry on skiing. Up and down White Pass was good and as the light improved there was excellent skiing under the lift. Surprise Trees was also very good.

We finished with loops in Anaconda/ Bootleg glades ( great deep untracked skiing) Cougar Glades (untracked once you moved left in the trees) and finally a rip down Skydive ( great powder at the top and a little chunky in the lower section ) to finish a great day.

Loads of good Hot Dog fun in the Griz bar after skiing. Possibly more snow tonight, this is just getting better and better.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Day 116 another great days powder skiing

Last nights reports were of about 3 cms of fresh which seemed a bit under reported to me. We arrived at the hill in temps of zero at the base and overcast so that almost as soon as we started skiing it started snowing yet again. The snow persisted until around 1 and was so hard that all tracks were being filled in so that first tracks were to be had all morning even if you weren't the first one there. Later in the day the snow stopped (although it came back off and on in showers) and the sun came out giving soft snow from about three quarters of the way down Skydive (and all the front runs) to the bottom.

I guess that in all we had another 8 cms of fresh which had a great effect on the hill. We went to the New side and had fresh tracks up and down White Pass in many areas although the light made things a bit tough. After that we headed out and did Easter bowl, Anaconda/Bootleg glades, Lone fir, 1-2-3s High Saddle/Easter and Skydive before lunch. All were excellent powder mostly untracked or at least filled in to the point that they might as well have been.

In the afternoon we did much the same in Decline, Cougar Glades, Anaconda (again) Surprise Trees and Lone Fir (again). Finished with a hike up Knot chutes and a traverse in to Gotta Go which only had a couple of tracks and was just awesome face shots all the way down - Bootleg glades then home.

Beers, wings night at the pub then home. Tomorrows report could be non existant as tommorrow is Hot dog day and I am not sure I will be reporting after spending all day drinking on the hill in 1980's retro gear then drinking some more in the Griz bar.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Day 115 winter left overs then spring skiing

Hard to think that one week from today the season will be over except for the Furnival weekend that follows on a week later. Today started with temps on the deck of -6 so I guess it was colder up the hill. We were keen to find out if the slight warm up later yesterday had any adverse effect on the snow.

We went to the New side which has become our default setting and discovered straight away from Lift Line and the whole White Pass area that the snow had not been adversely effected at all. In fact what we had was yesterdays powder a bit tracked up but soft everywhere and if you knew where to look for it there were still some untracked stashes. Later in the day as the sun warmed up the south facing and lower slopes did soften quite a bit and then set up slightly as the sun hazed over. This gave great if rather varied skiing all day.

We poked around the White Pass area enjoying the soft snow, the best bits of which were probably in and around Surprise Trees. We then hit out on the County Line with the intention of trying Skydive but it became a day of distractions.

First off skiing past Corner Pocket we saw the tires (Canadian spelling) exposed but the cling-on rope was there and the ski out underneath looked good. Dropped it and had good soft snow under the chutes then cut into Easter bowl for more good soft stuff. Next -High Saddle which had been scraped out down the middle by boarders so you had to enter skiers right and bang out about 5 turns on the steep slope before you could jump into the main chute. Same exit as for Corner Pocket.

We intended to do Low Saddle next to complete the set but as it looked a bit rocky and we deserved a treat we hiked Lone Fir and found it just as good as yesterday and particularly the drop into Easter was good. Next Low Saddle with some jumps over the rocks then a right turn into the deep and out via Easter. Final run of the morning was another hike up Cornice ridge and then down the chute beyond Lone Fir ( Trap Meadow ?) which was steep, tight and very soft, and then again into Easter.

After lunch Lynda went to the gym for leg strengthening and I just toured the County Line dropping The Brain, Decline (decided not to go for Window chutes as they looked very tracked), Stag Leap and finally Skydive. All were the same with great soft snow at the top that you could really freeride with lots of air and the bottom third going rather soft and required a bit of attention and jumping round to get you down.

A great day but with a worrying trend but with 6 days to go who cares. Maybe flurries tonight which could work wonders.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day 114 a great half day

As explained yesterday we had booked the legendary Lizard Creek Lodge brunch today ( all you can eat from a breakfast buffet, seafood buffet, roast Sunday lunch and dessert table with choccy fountain) so we had to get all our skiing in during the morning.

It had snowed a bit overnight putting about an extra 5 cms on top of the deep fresh that came down yesterday. Overnight temps of -3 kept the snow in good shape and we went to the New side to trash everything we could see.

Lift Line down to White Pass was just the start and was mostly untracked. We then took the usual first couple of runs down White Pass which was excellent particularly in the Gun bowl although there was plenty of untracked everywhere as there were no real crowds on the hill. Even where people were there was some funny behaviour such as people hiking Knot chutes when there was loads of lift accessable deep untracked or people hocking off jumps which is something you can do in almost any snow conditions - ah well all the more fresh for us.

After that it was out along the County Line to Concussion then Skydive then Decline then Stag Leap and finish with rip down Lone Fir and Easter bowl. All were excellent fresh snow and lightly tracked but the best of all was the last run which was face shots top to bottom as soon as you pulled the trigger just under the chute.

Far too much food and drink to ski again so an early finish with fingers crossed that conditions hold up for tomorrow.