Saturday, December 25, 2010

Day 21 Merry Christmas

Predicictably a short day as it was Christmas Day and there was no new snow. It was -12 when we got to the hill and there was a massive inversion which gave us temps of about -5 at the top and a beautiful blue bird day.

Our buddies from the UK who were going to spend Christmas with us had been struck down by the same illness as I had suffered when we went to pick them up so we started a bit late on the hill.

With no new snow we decided on a quick morning and a finish. We did four loops on the New side , Currie chutes, Decline, Stag Leap and Skydive. Just after midday was time to finish with a beer in the Griz followed by a hot tub and massive Christmas dinner. Much too much to drink,

I'm out of here,

Friday, December 24, 2010

Day 20 the story so far

So sitting here on Christmas eve with old black and white movies on TCM and a beer in hand after a great hot tub and a good days skiing it's a good time to review the season so far. My cold abated enough today to go back on the hill but energy levels were way down and all the front runs had to be skied in two or three stages.

Today was about -12 on the way to the hill getting up to about -5 and overcast withy no new snow. The pre Christmas traffic has been more than usual this year because of the way the holidays fall and most of the hill is hard pack (what the publicity guys call packed powder) and forming into bumps. Where the traffic has been a bit higher the bumps can be quite icey but in most places they are taking an edge if a bit slick in the troughs.

Because of low energy levels I decided to have technical day concentrating on edge and balance and holding back on speed - it almost worked. We went to the Old side and worked our way across Lizard Bowl then into Cedar getting out as far as Steep and Deep. Three return trips through Kangaroo confirmed it was getting bumpier and icier. Best soft snow seemed to be anywhere off Cedar Ridge and the toughest bumps outside of Kangaroo was good old icey Boom Ridge. We had a fairly late lunch.

In the afternoon we went to the New side and just looped out along the County Line dropping Concussion, Decline and Stag Leap all of which had a bit more soft snow than the old side but nothing to get too excited about. Being strapped for time we put a couple of loops in of White Pass (Gun bowl/Highline Trees and Surprise Trees) before finishing off with the usual run down Skydive - a bit slower than usual due to fatigue levels, can't wait to get shot of this cold.

The season so far can be summed up as ok but let's not get carried away. We had all the hype about a La Nina winter but if we hadn't had one big dump pre season things would have been pretty scratchy. We did get the dump and the first 10 days were pretty awesome with good powder on 8 days. Then came the pineapple express with two of the worst days of rain I can remember. It then slid in many places and what was left became fairly icey but a good base, about 126 cms. Since then we have had a couple of weeks of no real snow, what has come down has been super light and dry so no real soft cover has formed on the base. With the high skier traffic the hill is in ok shape but no better and more snow is needed. Storms seems to be slipping by us to the south and we need a change in the jet stream if things are going to get better.

So there you have it. Looking forward to a short day tomorrow followed by too much to eat and drink. Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 23, 2010

No Report Today

As I feared the cold got worse overnight so that by this morning I had the shivers, streaming nose and just hurt all over. No new snow on the hill so I had a day indoors getting better.

Still far from better but should be able to get out on the hill tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Day 19 a case of perfect timing

The perfect timing was to get the mother of all colds just before Christmas. Had a little tickle in the throat yesterday evening which developed into a sore throat and chesty cough during the night. By this morning it was a full on stinking cold as we headed to the hill. I had intended hiking Polar Peak today but feeling as I do it will be a few days yet before I am up to that.

It was -12 at the hill with thick valley fog giving up some valley snow which thinned out around the top of the Bear so that the Lizard head wall was in sunshine but as soon as you descended you were back in the fog which felt particularly cold in the moist atmosphere. For the whole day it seemed colder than the mercury and I was glad of the exrata layer (4 plus the jacket) that I had put on because of my cold.

Feeling so bad I just took it easy round the old side and found it pretty well skied out with an ice base, chunky on top and mostly bump skiing. Bear bumps, Sunny side, Cedar ridge (plus gully) and of course a trip through Kangaroo (very icey bumps). After that we were mostly up and down Boomerang dipping into Linda's, Boom bowl, PS I Love You and Boom Ridge all of which were chunky on top and scratchy underneath.

The cold was getting to me and with very low energy levels we did one final run down Bear chutes (like all the rest) and went for a late morning hot choccy and cookie break. The fog had started to rise against all the expectations so after the break we went the New side where you could ski all the time off White Pass in the direct sunlight. We looped Surprise trees, Highline trees, Milky Way trees dropping the Gun bowl each time with the snow rather softer than the old side but still well skied.

We waited until the fog cleared a bit before looping into Currie bowl and taking the steep chutes into Concussion which amazingly was starting to have some surface melt in the direct sunlight. Conditions were much the same as the old side but with a bit more soft. The final run down Stag Leap convinced me that my energy levels were so low that I would hurt myself if I stayed out so at 14:00 we quit the hill.

The cold went from bad to worse during the afternoon and I am just about to head off to bed at 19:00 in the hope that this will cure me in time to ski tomorrow. Haven't felt this bad for years - might not even go to the hill tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day 18 the longest shortest day on record

Today was the shortest day of the year and on the promise of fresh snow we were in line just before 9:00 at the hill and skied through to closing bell with only a short break for lunch - certainly the longest shortest day I have ever had. Sadly the promised snow didn't materialise and we had about 4 cms of light fresh over night raising the base to about 135 cms but none the less it gave the hill a nice unskied look.

We went to the New side still taking the view that last weeks rain crust was worse the lower you went and still hadn't been entirely covered. First runs through Gun bowl, Puff and Highline trees confirmed that the new cover was more apparent than real.

We linked up with a buddy, Lee, up from Calgary for three weeks and had a few good runs - there you go Lee I promised you a mention in the Blog. We drifted out to Cougar Glades and had a very good run in dust on soft (the condition of the hill for the whole day ) and took the ski out to the left, a bit better as the undercrust was starting to take a bit of an edge.

We got to the bottom and found that Timber chair was out for maintenance so we went to the Old side. On the understanding that Timber wasn't going to be long we just traversed out to Steep and Deep off the top of Bear and had an ok run down and out through the right chute. As you would expect return was through Kangaroo and I am delighted to report that Lee confirmed that it was much better than he expected - a bit cruchy but ok. Boomerang was really quite nice then we hit back to the New side on the report that Timber had re opened.

Back up high we had a run through Decline which was as always very nice and easy. After that linked up with a buddy, Nick, and hiked the Cornice ridge to get to Lone Fir which was a bit tight and hard but beautiful soft snow underneath and great powder in the ski out through the old avi track. On a whim we crossed Easter bowl and dropped into Spinal Tap which was tight with debris in the bottom and still the only way down is to jump on and off the right shoulder.

After lunch we went back to the New side and tried Stag leap which as always was interesting but the terrain on skiers left was untracked and almost powder. Next I bumped into yet another buddy who wanted to ski Lone Fir so it was yet another hike, chute ski and powder rip - life can be hard. We returned to White Pass and had good runs through Milky Way Trees and Surprise trees (far right) before deciding to finish on , you guesed it, Skydive which was better still but with a little tight in the lower section.

Wings night at the pub was good - maybe Polar peak tomorrow morning.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 17 a day to go adventuring

Today they opened Polar Peak which is the first time I can remember it being opened before Christmas so top marks to everyone on the hill for doing all the prep work. All a bit wasted on me as the viz was bad so the view wouldn't be any good, the snow looked variable to say the least and hiking 35 minutes into that just for bragging rights somehow didn't seem worth it to me. Everything else on the hill was open so there was more than enough really tough adventuring skiing to be had with no hiking.

Overnight temps had dropped lower than anticipated so that it was -20 in the Elk valley when we woke. By the time we got to the hill it was -14, over cast and snowing lightly which it did on and off all day. Given the temps the snow was coming down with almost no moisture content but firmed up a bit during the day so that by the end we had a reasonable soft covering with great prospects for tomorrow.

We decided to stay on the New side and from reports I have had from the Old side this seems to have been a pretty good plan. We looped up and down White Pass in the Gun bowl, Highline trees, Surprise trees (twice) and a few other places. It was all good soft snow still with a bit of the rain crust underneath.

With the snow getting thicker we headed out into Currie bowl and along the County Line and just like yesterday we found that the snow up top was soft and good, not many tracks and even down below the new snow had greatly improved the scratchy ski outs. We looped Cougar Glades, Decline, Currie Creek in ever improving conditions. Final run before lunch we hiked Cornice Ridge and dropped into Lone Fir which as always was tight, steep, lightly tracked with great powder underneath all the way down into Easter bowl - the first bit of the days adventuring.

In the afternoon Lynda went to the gym so even with a curtailed afternoon I started with Window Chutes and this time hit the big double log drop dead centre with loads of air and then great soft snow through the stream bed on the way out into Lizard bowl.

Next on the agenda was a hike up to the top of Knot Chutes. The first chute was great deep powder which was so easy that I jumped the shoulder into the second chute which proved to be a real bad idea as it was hard ice where it had avied to ground earlier in the week. A quick left traverse into Anaconda gave me the chance to drop the first Anaconda shoulder which was steep, deep and mostly untracked. Finally I took a right hook into into Bootleg Glades and dropped the near trees which again were untracked. A real adventure linking three double black diamond runs to get off the hill.

Riding up on the lift a guy mentioned that Corner Pocket was still in ok shape so I tried it. He was right, only one tire exposed and the new snow covering the hard pack base so that with some good edge to edge jumping it was quite enjoyable. As always finished with rip down Skydive which was in much better shape than recently and should get better still over night.

Looking for more snow overnight to add to the 135 cm base.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day 16 and it was a lot better than expected

Just as I forecast yesterday we had overnight snow (7cms) but at very low temps (-14). We had flurries all day which may have increased the new snow to about 10 cms but still at very low temps. The result was that the new snow was so light that we would have needed about a metre of it to give us any coverage on the base but what the was did give a nice fluffy untracked look which allowed us all to at least feel that we were skiing fresh powder.

Lynda decided to take a break today but when I got to the hill I linked up with my buddy (English) Rob who was on day 4 of his season and headed up the new side to see what was what. Amazingly the crowds were even less than yesterday and the few people that were on the hill seemed to be content to ski on groomed runs much to the delight of the rest of us.

After a quick warm up run off White Pass back through Gun bowl and Highline trees ( both untracked) we headed out on the County Line to Ski the front side runs. There then followed a morning the like of which I have never had. We skied Cougar Glades, Stag Leap, Decline and Skydive all untracked although in Decline we did have to jump in just in front of a couple of guys to keep the record intact.

For a final run before lunch we dropped into Secret chutes then at the bottom cut right into Spinal Tap. The rain had done a fair bit of damage to Spinal Tap so that the stream bed was exposed in places so the only way down was to jump on and off the right hand shoulder all the way down. To no ones surprise Spinal Tap was also untracked and a bit technical in the lower sections but good fluff on top.

In the afternoon we went back to the New side and decided to be a bit adventurous on our route down to White Pass from Timber top going via Mitchy chutes, Big Bang, the chute beyound Hollywood rock and Lift Line. The new snow gave a really fresh powder feel to all the runs. Last trip down Lift Line resulted in some abuse from buddies from the Timber chair which made me glad that we were ripping it just at that moment.

First loop was down Currie creek followed by a trip into the Brain for the first time this season. The snow at the top was soft, untracked and quite deep. The alders took a bit of negotiation with a couple of jumps but even the lower part which was rain crust was untracked. The only problem was the lack of coverage on the fallen trees which called for a couple of back ups in order to complete the run.

Final run was down Skydive which was soft and fairly deep at the top and well covered scratchy stuff at the bottom. Great finish to a good day. Knot chutes did open but we took the view that with untracked skiing available from the lifts why hike - in any event the snow in Knot chutes looked no better than ok. The Saddles were also open but after skiing them yesterday it will take a bit more snow before I head back in. More snow in the forecast and temp -12 on the deck (as it was when we hot tubbed tonight) as I type this.