Saturday, December 11, 2010

Day 8 No weekend crowds and still more powder

I had been worrying about today as with the well publicised best opening week for some time I imagined and invasion of weekend worriors from Calgary and the hill being ugly busy. As it was there were a few more people around but no real crowds ( not like Christmas holiday week) and if you hit out into the boundary areas of the hill it was still pretty deserted. My own view is that the premium pricing on the hill has driven a lot of people away and as a result numbers will suffer but hey, thats great news for me and my buddies.

No new snow overnight but temps of -3 as we got to the hill with a cold wind and minus temps all day. As we hadn't been to the old side for a couple of days we decided to start there and found great snow everywhere. Powder had been skied over but there were stashes and best of all there was wind grooming (soft flat fresh snow blown in by the wind) in Boomerang, Boomerang Ridge and Linda's - all excellent. An early trip in to Sun Up found soft blow in between the bumps giving great skiing.

Dropping off the chutes at the top of Bear into Cedar bowl I found a young lady minus one ski in some quite deep powder and was able to assist in finding the missing ski. It cost me a couple of good powder turns but my experience is that when you do these good deeds the Griz usually rewards you with something really nice in the next few days - here's hoping. We went out to Snake Ridge and looped Redtree and Steep and Deep which were both excellent and only lightly tracked but a bit aldery (lots of alders) on the way out. Big thumbs up to whoever cut the traverse out to the boundary as it was spot on for avoiding having to climb but still getting you there.

Trips back were through Kangaroo which is great for this time of year. I may keep a log of how many times I ski the Roo this year, 12 to date. Bear chutes are starting to get sorted out as long as you look out for the log drops. The only part of the old side which is in need of help is the Cedar ridge/King Fir part which still looks very bushy.

Things were so good we had a very late lunch and then finished on the New side. Only time for Surprise Trees, Cornice Chute, and Big bang which were all surprisingly untracked. We then divided out strength with Lynda hiking up into Easter bowl ( great she said) and me dropping Secret Chutes and then into Spinal Tap. The chutes were good and Spinal tap was great fun but still tight due to the coverage. As always a finish down Skydive which remains an extended rolling soft snow terrain park from top to bottom.

As usual the Griz was crowded on Saturday so we came home early for a hot tub. Spent the evening putting up Christmas decorations and drinking Cornish Rattler. Forecast is for tons of precip in the next few days but rising temps ( a real Pinapple express) so it could get messy or it could be awesome. I am sure it will be snow at the top and rain in town but it is the bit in between that will decide just how the next few days will turn out.

Day 7 Socrates was wrong

Socrates said that no man could ever truely experience freedom - Socrates had never skied deep powder.

This mornings snow report from the hill gave 19 cms of fresh in the last 24 and a base of about 120 cms. To be fair most of that fell yesterday afternoon but as I reported yesterday no one was around to trash it so the starting position today was deep fresh powder. Temps were still an issue with valley highs just about plus so we decided like yesterday to stick to the new side - go high and stay high.

Can't report on the old side but buddies who were over there tell me it was every bit as good with exceptional skiing in Boomerang and Lindas. We started in White Pass with a warm up back through Highline trees which was untracked. Tried to cut the traverse out to Surprise Trees but gave up and took deep first tracks down the near chutes. Next time made it to Surprise for more first tracks - awesome.

The rest of the morning was spent trying to get out to Skydive on the low traverse in Currie - the high traverse had been taken out by an avi. Typical of big powder days in Currie I made about 6 attempts to get out to Skydive but failed each time as I was tempted into one of the untracked Currie chutes - first rule of powder skiing is never ski pass good powder looking for better.

About 12:30 finally made Skydive which was slightly tracked but if you stuck close to the vegitation on the left it was very deep untracked. Just had to go back and this time did Decline which was every bit as good. Late lunch and Lynda decided to go to the gym for the afternoon so I went adventuring to test some areas of the hill not usually open this early.

First loop was actually into Stag Leap just to complete the three front runs which was a bit twiggy in the top but great deep tree skiing in the entry. Next decided to try Siberia ridge which was ok in the mid gnarly section but still too much growth in the lower part but deep and fun none the less. Next Window Chutes which was mostly untracked and excellent deep powder - the log drop was made more difficult as there had not been enough snow to fill in between the two trees that make up the drop.

Last loop was out to Surprise Trees as far out into the boonies as you could go and this was untracked all the way down to the drop off on to the cat track. Final run off the hill was the usual rip down Skydive which was still good with significant untracked sections.

An excellent powder day with more in the forecast although temps may still be a problem. A couple of beers then to the hockey where we won 7-1. Interesting that on the way back there was a road block to check for drink drive just before our house - good job Lynda was designated driver and stone cold.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Day 6 Some awesome powder

Last night was a worrying time. Temp on the deck was +3, forecast was a mixed precip with rain and a high today of +4 so it looked like it could all go pear shaped just like 6 years ago. Things weren't improved when I woke up in the small hours to find it raining.

Come wake up time (7 in the morning) it was snowing and deck temp was about zero. The hill were calling for another 8 cms overnight and on the drive to the hill it all looked pretty encouraging.

We decided to go high and stay high making it an exclusively new side day. The snow at the base was wet (just the right side of rain) but as we went up it got better so that at the top of Timber it was acceptable light snow which kept coming until late afternoon.

White Pass was closed for avi control so we were force to make a straight run to the bottom via Black Cloud and Summer Road. The fresh snow gave good deep powder getting a bit heavy towards the base. Next time round White Pass was open and we just spent the whole morning cycling White Pass in ever deepening snow with particularly good runs in Surprise Trees which no one seemed to be skiing.

Occasionally we took a trip to the base via Anaconda Glades and Bootleg Glades which were getting well over knee deep. On one of these trips I managed to brush a small bush and put a massive three cornered tear in my ski pants which will prove expensive. I had wanted to go to base to do some repairs but they opened Currie bowl.

The funny thing about a Currie opening is that everyone tends to jump into 1-2-3s or Currie Glades leaving the rest of the bowl untracked. We went looking for the County Line which was closed but dropped down to the low traverse and put first tracks into Concussion which had been closed since yesterday lunchtime and was beautiful untracked powder. We then worked our way across the chutes going further each time first tracking Toms, Barracuada and Currie Creek before a late lunch.

After lunch two things happened - the snow started absolutely hosing down with hard grappel at the top and everyone disappeared so we more or less had the hill to ourselves ( ok so we saw a few people but not many). The traverse across Currie had been cut higher with a side step so you could get out to the Skydive traverse with a bit of work. The two cycles through Cougar Glades were just awesome, untracked steep deep tree skiing in hero snow - how good is that.

Last run we cut across Lazy Locals into Mitchy Chutes for the first time this year and were not disappointed. It was over the head face shots all the way down. Having found Skydive a bit twiggy on opening day I was not sure about heading out there but did and was rewarded. All the new snow had built up on the largely untracked base and as a result it was thigh deep hero snow mostly covering the brush but with the terrain still well defined to make it like a powder terrain park. Awesome awesome face shot powder top to bottom make it on of the top 10 runs of all time - what a finsh.

Couple of beers and a hot tub. Temps are about zero on the deck so it looks like we have got away with it on this warm front although the snow in town suffered damage. Could be a replay tomorrow but I suspect a little less precip but still looks like go high stay high.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Day 5 the heavy heavy powder show

As forecast we had snow overnight which amounted to 6 cms but further snow during the day probably gave us about another 10 cms during the day. It was -4 on the way to the hill and snow continuing from the overnight. Very quickly temps rose so that at the base for most of the day it was about zero, snow turning almost to rain but colder on top with continuing snow for most of the day.

Viz was pretty bad so we went to the old side to get some skiing in below the tree line. We got first tracks in Boom bowl and Linda's and then just early tracks in Boom ridge, Cedar ridge right, Cedar ridge left with the gully. We returned three times through Kangaroo and then just found more skiing all over the Cedar ridge area. The overnight snow produced good powder on the upper mountain and although the lower hill was good old Sierra cement it was still very nice early season conditions.

As the snow on the lower hill was verging on rain we headed over to the new side in the hope that the precip higher up would remain snow. We sort of got it right and for the rest of the day the precip on the new side remained ice/wet snow off and on until the end of the day.

White Pass did become very white with viz dropping so that on the chair you could only see three chairs ahead. Rather surprised to find the County line still open so we pushed along it a couple of times and dropped right into some untracked chutes into Currie bowl.

Later the line closed so all we could do was to get into Alpha Centauri from Currie Powder and this again was all fresh powder. Eventually Currie was closed due to avi risk so we just cycled on Anaconda/Bootleg to the bottom or back through Surprise trees. Anaconda off the humps was awesome deep powder but with a couple of rock scrapes, generally Anaconda to the bottom was the deepest powder on the hill. For the first time this year we dropped the trees just before Bootleg which was again deep, deep powder and tight trees.

For a change all afternoon off the top of Timber we tried different ways to get back to White Pass involving hitting the chutes beyond Hollywood rock which was waist deep powder all the way down. A final run off the hill through Anaconda 2 which was deeper than ever and then a couple of beers.

Temps ahve risen to +3 and it makes you wonder what will happen. Some forecasts are calling for 15 cms but at these temps who knows what will hit us.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 4 A Change in the Weather

This morning started much warmer at -13 but with low lying cloud in valley which gave up some precip all day long, light snow at first then freezing moisture in the afternoon. There was an inversion so that it was only -5 at the top and a general warming during the day so that by tonight it was a balmy -7 on the deck.

We started on the old side and had some warm ups on Bear, Bear bumps, Sunny side and Bow trees. Having neglected the new side yesterday we decided to move over there early to give it a fair go. Played around in White Pass and found that the viz was surprisingly good for being so overcast. As in previous days there had been no significant accumulation but what was left was good coverage but with some tough chunky conditions.

Highline proved a nice surprise as some blown in seemed to have occured and there was soft snow in the central gully. Lift line was as before a bit technical in the middle section due to roots and stumps. For the first time took Lazy Locals traverse out to Big Bang. The traverse is well off the usual path and will need a lot more snow and work before it is up to standard. Big Bang was skiable with care but far too many early season obstructions to make it much fun.

The county line was interesting in that there was a crust ( I guess wind as there had been no rain or sun) across the top of Concussion making the chutes pretty interesting. For the first time this year we tried Anaconda (first chute) which had good coverage but was avi debris in the bottom section. Exited via Bootleg Glades which was hard to get in and out but ok in the middle section.

Last run before lunch was a trip along the county line to Cougar Glades. I have now formed the view that the new bridge at Currie Creek is a good idea as it won't encourage any more marginally able skiers out there than already go and will at least mean you won't have to negotiate the carnage of skiiers chickening out on the creek corner when you want to go out there yourself. Cougar Glades were excellent - plenty of coverage with no growth in between the trees and only marginal hazards on the way out.

After lunch linked up with a visiting buddy from the UK and showed him Cougar Glades again which were just as good second time round. Finished the day with a drop into Anaconda (second chute) which was very bushy but with hero snow so you could fall line through the small trees - ski out was deep soft powder. Another trip through Bootleg finished the day.

Beers in the Griz bar the wing night. An interesting evening in the Pub as we met loads of friends. Big topic of discussion was the up coming weather system which looks like it may give up some serious snow over the next few days.

Sitting at home tonight the doorbell rang and it was two young french ladies who had called to introduce themselves as our new neighbours - a big improvement on their Aussie male predecessors in my view. We cracked a bottle of wine and they said they had been told to ask us if they needed help by their landlord who turned out the be a ski patroller we knew - small world.

As I am typing this it is -7 on the deck and light snow.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Day 3 When high means low

Today we had an Arctic high set in and the result was lower temperatures well below those that had been forecast.

This morning it dawned clear - the expression "not a cloud in the sky" is much over used but today it was just that, blue from horizon to horizon all day. The down side was the temp which was -21 as we arrived at the hill, getting up to about -10 mid day and down to -16 as we turned into the garage at the house at the end of the day.

Circumstances dictated a short day skiing. I haven't been all that happy at the way the car has been starting ever since we fired it up a week ago so today I phoned Fernie Ford for a check out. They could book me in at 2 so we could only ski 9-1 which was ok as there is snow in the forecast for the rest of the week and we might as well get this stuff done before the really good skiing starts.

Just like yesterday we hit the old side as we thought the snow would be best there. Although it was cold there was a bit of an in version and I would guess the temp at the top of Bear was a good 10 degrees warmer than at the bottom. It had to be cold as there was angel dust in the air at mid mountain and the snow cannons were blowing snow straight up in the air which may not yet have landed.

The whole thing was good practice for when it gets really cold (like -35) so we tried our bulk bought hand warmers from Canadian Tire, face coverings and a 4 layer strategy under the ski jackets - everything seemed to work ok so we are set for when it gets cold.

Toured round the old side just enjoying the sun. Hit Sunny side, Bow Trees, the bumps on Bear several times and just like yesterday found that the lower temps had hardened up (previously) soft snow so the skiing was pretty tough.

We started to move out into more interesting areas and skied Boom, Linda's twice (great job of de-aldering in the summer) and some great soft bumps on Boom ridge. Managed to pop a ski in Bear chutes taking some unexpected air over a log which was the first real fall of the season. Went out into Cedar bowl and tried the newly gladed area again a great job. We then went out to Snake ridge a couple of times and found very good soft snow at the top then had some pretty challenging stuff at the very bottom on the shoulder by KC chutes which was all alders and tree stumps.

Somewhere in there we managed 3 trips through Kangaroo which is still some of the best skiing even though the drop onto the cat track was a bit technical.

Early finish, starting problems on the car sorted while we had a relaxed lunch at Boston Pizza. Went back to the hill for a few beers with buddies then home for a hot tub. Forecast looks like it could be some serious snow later this week so fingers crossed.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day 2 The Going Gets Tough

The reason that things got a bit tougher today was a drop in temperature so that the skied over surfaces became a little harder, the untracked snow ( very little left) was good and dry but the tracked up snow (the majority) was very hard and resistant in places while soft in others - result quite testing conditions. The hill had decided to groom a little more terrain but luckily not too much so there was still plenty of interesting skiing without having to go too far.

Again we had some very slight over night flurries and mountain snow off and on all day but with no accumulation. The day started at -12 with the expectation that it would rise to about -3 but that never materialised. There was also supposed to be a temperature inversion that I didn't really notice. Much the same as yesterday it started cloudy but became more sunny as the day went on and ended the day with a clear night. Without much warming up temps had dropped to -17 by the time we got home.

On the strength of yesterday we went to the old side and were not disapponted. Grooming on Bear was good and all across Lizard bowl was good coverage but tough tracked snow. We even got across as far as lower Easter bowl which was also tracked and hard and not very good light.

As we moved towards Cedar via Boomerang things got much better, particularly Boom bowl and Boom ridge. Kangaroo was open today and to celebrate this we took a couple of rips from top to bottom in what was (in my opinion) the best snow on the hill.

After a choccy break we went to the new side to try out the runs off White Pass which we had rather neglected yesterday. Everything in White Pass was good with ok coverage but enough hidden rocks and tree stumps to make me glad I was still on rock skis. Came down for a late lunch through Currie bowl which had the warning (promise) that nothing had been groomed. Every year I comment on how nice Down Right is as a run before the first groomers get to it and this year is no exception - nice varied terrain with big soft bumps. Just for the crack I decided to drop into Bootleg Glades which were a bit exciting in the initial drop in but after that were very nice steep bumps if a bit twiggy at the end.

After a late lunch we managed a few runs on the old side confirming just how nice the bumps in Boomerang are even if the Goat track has some very interesting obstructions on the ski out. Looked into King Fir but the top looked too twiggy even for us so carried on to Linda's run which was excellent soft snow top to bottom and where it looks like they have done some alder weeding in the summer. Ended up with a final (still good) run down Kangaroo, back up Boom chair, the Bear chutes ( loads more fallen trees ) and home.

Just like yesterday we ended the day with a couple of beers in the Griz and a couple more in the hot tub at home. Had a thought tonight of what we would do if the back door locked while we were in the tub - imagine having to knock on the neighbours door with no clothes on to ask if we could phone a friend with a key. My theory on the hockey is holding up in that the Riders won last night when we didn't go against the Revelstoke Grizzlies who are probably the best team in the division - wonder how much they will pay us to stay away on Friday.

Nothing much forecast for the next couple of days except -20 temps then maybe some disturbed weather coming in from the coast - heres hoping.