Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 32 Surprisingly Good

The official information gave us 8 cms in the last 24 hours of which I guess most of it was the grappel storm of yesterday afternoon. Whilst I had some hopes that the storm would make things a bit better, in the event it out performed my best expectations. The base came up to 160 cms which is pretty good. Everyone keeps going on about how poor things are compared with last year's awesome conditions but this is simply rubbish. As a matter of fact at this time last year the base was 147cms and it remained very sketchy going into January - the totally awesome conditions that everyone remembers from last year didn't start until January so as we are a head we should just chill out and wait for more snow.

Temps on the way to the hill were about -1 and during the day it probably didn't get much above zero at the base. Up top it seemed to be about -5 all day and we had light flurries off and on all day which didn't do a whole lot for the base but made us all feel a lot better. Yet again we went to the New Side and yet again reports I got later from the Old Side tended to confirm that this was a good call.

The crowds today seemed less but that may just be because everything opened pretty well straight off the bat (a slight delay on Currie) so bodies were distributed evenly over the hill. Even allowing for that crowds were down on yesterday and my guess is that we will see a steady decline over the next couple of days until we back (almost) to pre Christmas numbers.

The effect of the new snow was to create a fantastic smooth and slightly heavy (but in the best possible sense) base of soft snow that you could push around and treat almost as hero snow. The result was great skiing on the untracked blow in everywhere on the New Side.

Not a lot of point of listing the runs as they were all much the same and great grappel hero snow.

Surprise trees - wonderful snow.
Anaconda Glades - strange opening with the fence down but the signs green so we got first tracks.
Bootleg Glades - as we were first in Currie they were untracked and we had a great run if crunchy under foot.

Later in the day we started working our way out along the low traverse in Currie Bowl and just kept finding great skiing in Concussion, Tom's, Easter bowl, Cougar Glades and all other drops off the traverse.

Later we started working our way onto the front runs and did them all top to bottom for the first time this year and they were -
Cougar Glades - great untracked skiing all the way down, particularly if you kept to the left hand side. Even the lower section was ok with the new snow forming a cushion on the rain crust.
Skydive - Fantastic deep powder in the top, great skiing in the middle section and very patchy alder strewn stuff in the bottom.
Decline - Awesome powder on top and some ok, if a bit tree riddled skiing lower down, the new snow made the crust ok.
Stag Leap - Really awesome tree skiing at the top then just as for Decline for the remainder.

Looks to me like the front runs are just about starting to come into play with even the bottom sections skiable with care.

So it's New Years Eve and it looks like a quiet night and an early start tomorrow in the hope of a quiet hill and maybe even a little extra snow to play with.

Day 32 Surprisingly Good

Friday, December 30, 2011

Day 31 More snow and more crowds

Just like yesterday we had crowds and we had some pretty good snow. Overnight I noticed snow when I got up for a pee and by the morning the official figures were another 8 cms of fresh and a base of 157 cms which seemed about right to me, but the good news was that the snow line was right down to the base of the hill.

On the way to the hill the temps were around zero and when we got there it was a wet icey drizzle (if that isn't a contradiction) at the base becoming light snow on top. This stopped quite soon and we had overcast conditions and no precip except for an incredibly heavy grappel storm towards the end of the day which sent down ice chunks about the size of 1 cent pieces - great fill in material to ski on. By the end of the day it was +2 at the base but still about -2 on top.

Once again we concluded that high was going to be good and just skied the New Side, a decision confirmed by a few buddies who gave the Old Side a try. We had also concluded that the new snow up high on yesterday's snow would be great but the question would be just how much the relatively thin layer of new down low would have improved the crust from yesterday - we were not disappointed.

As has been the habit of late we had a rolling openin inWhite Pass and the snow in Lift Line down from Timber was good powder and remained so all day. Viz at the top was not great so it was a grope down Gun Bowl every time but the powder was so soft it was always easy. When the shoulder of the I bowl dropped we had a crazy powder chase to get fresh tracks back under the chair which was huge fun and well worth while with great face shots.

While waiting for Currie we looped back through Surprise Trees and Triple Trees several times both of which had great sections but also had a firm base ready to catch you out. When the fence dropped on Currie we had a fantastic run thriugh 1-2-3s with face shots all the way down and then a quick flick into Bootleg glades which were ok in the top but a little scratchy lower down. We had noticed skiers dropping in from the far side of Currie and went to investigate.

The Reverse Traverse was closed at the County Line but the low traverse was open. As this is hard work particularly for boards it protected the snow and we had a good run down Concussion and Tom's folllowed by first tracks in Currie Creek and also Cougar Glades left (right had already been taken) before a late quick lunch.

In the afternoon we spent our time in Currie tracking out on the low traverse and getting great drops in the Concussion area particularly after the heavy grappel storm. Second to last run was Cougar Glades again where a far left adventure caused me to hit some submerged hazards and have a big but harmless stack. Final run was Skydive from the top ( totally awesome powder) and then an exit through Decline which was hard work jumping in the covered rain crust.

Spent some time in the bar tonight listening to a bunch of "experts" telling me how you can't access the stuff I skied today in Currie from the low traverse - may God keep them in that way of thinking and as a result keep them out of all the good stuff. Tomorrow could be the ugliest day of the year for for crowds which were pretty bad today but not as bad as yesterday - after that things should start to get a bit quieter. The trend is for cooling with snow next week so lets see.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day 30 Crowds, and some strange conditions

Things didn't look good last night as we left the hockey game and it was raining hard, very hard and in addition the Riders had played as bad as I can ever remember and lost 5-3 to the Thunder Cats.

We headed to the hill in the morning in temps of +3 and noted that the snow line was higher up than yesterday - probably around the White Pass base. The official site claimed another 16 cms of fresh with a base of 150 cms which as I have said is probably true at the snow plot half way up Bear but not that relevant to the significant part of the hill that is below this level.

After describing yesterday's Sierra Cement as "Light fluffy powder" the official site had a reality check and described what we had as "Spring Conditions" (in December ?) - the truth is that it was ok powder down to just above the White Pass base and very ugly rain crust below that.

We went to the New Side on the grounds that anything on the Old Side would be mostly in the rain crust which was confirmed but later reports which confirmed the top half of Cedar as good but the lower parts as ugly. We had the perfect storm conditions for crowds with a busy day, the hill hyping how much powder we had and the only good skiing being in White Pass so everything was set for massive crowds at White Pass and we had huge crowds and long line ups right up to late in the day and these were the worst I can remember.

We ripped down from Timber to White Pass and found that the last couple of turns in the fresh powder turned to crust which was an indictation of where the rain transition took place. After a short break to allow the heli bombing to finish White Pass opened and we had a great run back to White Pass in unracked powder through Gun bowl and Quite Right. Next time round we found the shoulder into the I bowl open and we had many loops into Surprise Trees and out as far as Triple trees and back again. Every time we had great fresh powder in the top sections getting a bit crunchy lower down.

They opened Anaconda Glades and we got it just before the main Currie opening and it was spectacular stuff. The ski out on Gilmar Trail was very ugly as it was ungroomed rain crust and the first loop was very tough but later as it got more skied over it was hard icey death cookies but better that it was earlier. With Currie open it was a must to try 1-2-3s which were good soft deep new snow all the way down and even some untracked if you looked hard enough.

We noticed from 1-2-3s that the Reverse Traverse was open so next time round we headed out that way. This area had been closed yesterday so that there was over 30 cms of new snow to hit today. All afternoon we just worked our way out further each loop from Concussion to Currie Creek getting early tracks in very deep snow all the way across. Skier traffic beat in the lower parts so that exits were ok if a bit crunchy. Gilmar Trail remained slick and/or crunchy all day.

Only let down was a hike up to Lone Fir which I had been told was open only to find it closed. The chute back into Currie was steep and untracked and almost made the hike up worth while. While I was up there I hit Cougar Glades which were awesome for about 80% and totally untracked but as ugly as a bears ass for the other 20. This decided me that the whole Skydive area was worth avoiding until the next snow.

Last run down Currie Creek was tracked but very deep and well worth it. Skied all day today 9-4 with no break so early night.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 29 a real work out

Overnight temps rose as forecast and we heard rain beating on the tin roof of the deck. As we drove to the hill we could see that the snow/rain line was about half way up the hill and the official boards were claiming 18 cms of fresh and a base of 135 cms both of which were probably true at the measuring plot which is about half way up Bear. We concluded that most of the Old Side would have been beaten up by the rain so the best (almost only) good skiing would be off the New Side.

First problem of the day was that they seemed to be short of staff at Timber so there was no one to organise the line and chairs were going up with only 2s and 3s on when there was a huge line up - not good planning. White Pass was closed but as nobody wanted to risk a run back to the base in the light rain we all stood around until about 10 when loading started. The rip down to White Pass had confirmed that the snow was going to be heavy Jersey Cream at the best with no real powder.

We had a partial opening on White Pass which was socked in at the top and the run through Gun bowl was heavy untracked which was hard work. Quite quickly the rest of White Pass opened and we had many runs down through Surprise Trees moving further out into the boonies each time to get frsh tracks. Most of the undergrowth was now covered and we had good heavy first tracks all over the area. By late morning we had worked our way quite a long way round the shoulder and were dropping on to Trespass Trail only a little past Bootleg Glades. The combiation of the busiest day yet and the very limited good skiing meant that the crowds were huge and ugly for a while but died away quickly after lunch - the heavey snow took it's toll.

At this point they opened Anaconda and we had two good runs to the bottom through the near Anaconda chutes which were kicking out a slough that almost took you out. On the way to the bottom we ran the near chutes on Bootleg Glades nearside and had some ok stuff but very very heavy and the Gilmar Trail was no better. As I said it was a real work out.

In the afternoon we did a bit more of the same and then Currie bowl opened but was closed at the County Line so you couldn't get any further than Currie Powder except for a cut into lower Concussion just at the end. Just like everywhere else it was heavy creamy, great fun when untracked and always ready to rip your ACL if you didn't pay attention.

Later in the afternoon we moved into 1-2-3s and found the best snow of the afternoon, particularly the untracked stuff in 3s. Final run was a great rip through 1-2-3s followed by a drop of Diamond Back Ridge which was ok for the first time this season if a bit testing in the lower section.

Just off to the Hockey (go Riders go) and then an early night. Even though temps are around +4 the hill is calling for up to 20 cms tonight so who knows what we will get.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Day 28 Awesome

Yes, after 27 days skiing we get one which qualifies as awesome from bell to bell. Apparently we only had another 10 cms overnight but it seemed a lot more, the base was up around 115 cms and the temps were sitting at about zero at the base and -5 up top for most of the day. Off and on we had flurries all day and they were continuing towards the end of the day as we left the hill.

We went to the New Side and lined up well before opening to get early tracks. We were rewarded with a prompt start and a great rip in powder down Lift Line to White Pass. Even better White Pass was open although Currie was closed as was the ridge at the entrance to the I bowl. This allowed three or four runs back through the Gun Bowl and the Quite Right area to totally trash the powder before the fence dropped on the I bowl.

We headed out to Surprise Trees and got about third tracks which meant plenty of deep untracked snow which was so good we almost missed the ski out into Silver Lining. After a couple of loops going further each time to find better untracked snow they dropped the fence in Currie.

Lynda dropped early and got almost fresh tracks in Concussion but I headed out to Cougar Glades and had to cut the first tracks out there. Cougar Glades was just awesome untracked powder all the way down and even the ski out below the trail was starting to get ok. Next time round was Easter bowl which had only been lightly used and was great powder all the way down.

We spent some time on the New side trying lots of stuff -

Mitchy Chutes - mostly untracked and deep
Easter bowl again - just as good as the first time
Anaconda Glades - hike the hump and it was deep and fresh in chutes
Bootleg Glades - dropped early before the main chutes and had great skiing in the tight tree chutes.
Concussion - again, many great untracked ways down.
1-2-3s - good powder all the way down and some untracked stuff to be found round the edges.

We went for lunch and were surprised to see how crowded it was at the day lodge as the parts of the hill where we had been skiing had been pretty quiet considering this is the major holiday week.

After lunch we went to the Old Side and found Cedar high traverse was closed. With this in mind we had a few runs down Cedar Ridge which was deep and soft but fairly well tracked. Late afternoon a break down in the Haul Back lift decided us to head back to the New Side for a finish. This was not before we had dropped lower Kangaroo twice and found a lot of deep untracked snow.

On the New Side we got word that the Saddles had opened but a quick look into Corner Pocket with all the tires exposed convinced me that there was better finish. I think I was right as the top of Skydive was all of todays fresh on top of yesterdays mostly untracked deep powder that was there already. The result was the first real straight line powder rip of season in the top section of Skydive. The cut into the lower section of Decline proved that things there had improved a good deal since yesterday and it was totally skiable with care as long as you were prepared to jump round some of the small Christmas trees.

Good beers afterwards. hot tub and relax. temps are still around zero and with a lot of precip in the forecast there has to be a worry that we are going to see rain in the next 24 - hope not.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 27 the crowds start - but not too bad

You have to understand that by crowds we are talking in Fernie terms, not European. This means that whilst the numbers were up today there were no lift lines and only once did we have to share a 4 person chair, as I said crowded is a relative term.

Temps were about zero as we reached the hill and -5 on top. That might have got a degree or two warmer at the base but stayed nice and cool up high. There had been a dusting of 2 cms new and the base was 111 cms. We went to the New Side not because we thought the skiing would be great but because on a busy day the New Side is usually less congested first thing.

The new snow had just freshened things up a bit and the wind had obviously been in play as there were a few swept areas and some wind sift in the dips. We did much the same as we have been doing for the past few days and Lift Line with a right cut into Big Bang was a very nice way down to White Pass base.

We tried a loop back through Surprise trees and found that the traverse had deteriorated a bit but when you got there the Surprise Trees had improved yet again and were some nice soft snow on the old base. I only went out there one again a fair bit later in the morning and this time hiked the hump in Anaconda Glades and put first tracks in the second chute which didn't look like it had been skied at all in the new snow and was knee deep powder in places - awesome.

For the rest of the time we looped out along the reverse traverse taking whatever was on offer. There was some great stuff in the near Concussion chutes and Alpha Centauri but going further into Severe Concussion things got even better. We did this several times and it was always good.

We had two drops through Easter bowl which were both good soft snow particularly in the top if a bit hard and bumpy low down. Best snow was in Cougar Glades which had sifted in and was , as near as I could see, untracked, except by Lynda's head half way down due to a moments inattention. After all this we had a deliberatly late lunch to avoid the post Christmas crowds.

We had intended to go to the Old Side in the afternoon but we were so late we didn't want to risk finding it was no good and having to come back to the New Side and risk missing most of the afternoon particularly when we knew the New Side was so good. So we spent the afternoon doing what we had done all morning and it was just as good.

Final run was rip down the top of Skydive which was still just awesome deep powder and a little less twiggy than in the past few days. Even the bottom section of Decline had improved so it was just gnarly with some interesting pitches between the bushes.

A few beers in the bar and my buddies have arrived from Vermont. The slightly worrying thing is that after a 24 hour snow cycle that may produce up to 10 cms of fresh there is still some wet stuff in the outlook to follow - one day at a time.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Day 26 a nice Christmas present

Merry Christmas everyone. We weren't so sure last night as we turned out of a friends house quite late to find it raining. As we drove up the Cokato Road towards our house things cooled down to -1 but all night the temp was right on the edge.

We woke to a light covering of snow and got to the hill in temps of around zero at the base and reports of 8 cms of new snow. As the Old Side had been so rough and by tradition we only ski a half day on Christmas Day we decided not to take risks and went to the New Side. Later conversations in the locker room seemed to indicate that the Old Side ( particularly Cedar bowl) was ok.

The extra 8 cms made all the difference and there was almost no one on the hill. The tradition here is to ski Christmas afternoon if at all so we were able to grab first tracks pretty well any where we went.

Lift Line - first tracks and nice soft snow filling in the lower section.
Big Bang - first tracks and the new snow sitting nicely on the old soft.
Mitchy Chutes - a couple of tracks in front of us and like Big Bang
Surprise Trees - first tracks and now skiing much better and less chunky
1-2-3s - scratchy in 1's but good all the rest of the way down
Cougar Glades - had to cut the traverse out above Currie Creek but were rewarded with great first track tree skiing.
Concussion chutes - loads of untracked options with the new snow sitting on yesterday's windsift giving a smooth deep ride.
Easter bowl - first tracks first time round and Lynda reported second tracks when she went there next time. The new snow seemed deeper here with nice floating powder.
Stag Leap - the new snow has totally repaired the upper section and for the first time this year we continued through the bottom section which is still pretty twiggy and hard work.
Skydive - just awesome first tracks with the new snow on top of the great powder that was already in there. Exit via lower Decline was bit easier than yesterday but still having to jump round a lot of small trees.

By the time we were leaving the crowds were arriving (still no lift lines or anything like that) and the snow was starting to feel a little rubbery in the +2 temps. A great Christmas Day.

Temps still hovering around at the point so we can't be sure whether this precip event coming our way will come down as white or wet. Pray to the Griz.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Day 25 and I'm getting worried

What I am getting worried about is the changing weather conditions which I fear may cause problems but more of that later. My worries started last night when we got back late evening at a time when the forecasters said it should be serious minus temps only to find that it was only -1. During the night I could hear the noise of water on the tin roof by the front deck which is usually a sign that either it has been raining or the snow is melting. In the morning there was no rain but on the way to the hill the temps were +2.

When we arrived at the hill there was no new snow and the base was hanging on at 103 cms which was amazing considering the conditions over the past few days - perhaps there are good commercial reasons for keeping the base figure above 1 metre in the week before Christmas break.

Having done my bit by going to the Old Side yesterday I felt that I could spend today on the New Side with a clear consience particularly as it was Christmas Eve. The strange thing was that the crowds were still staying away, the parking lot was almost deserted this morning and the hill was just as quiet as it has been over the past few weeks.

The temps stayed a low plus temps at the base all day and about -4 on top with the top of White Pass totally socked in. The forecast had been for flurries but none really materialised so that we had some ice balls up top later on and drizzle low down.

Just like yesterday we spent all the time looping out along the Reverse Traverse and dropping off into various Currie Chutes - Concussion, Tom's Easter Bowl, Cougar Glades etc. There was less wind sift today but just like yesterday the skiing was ok on top and hard and bumpy low down. To break up to routine we did loops back to White Pass via Surprise Trees, Quite Right Trees and all points in between. The toughest bit was the Gun bowl each time because the light in there was totally socked in and it was braille skiing all the way down.

Last run before lunch and before close of play each time was a drop down the top section of Skydive then a left cut into Decline to ski out on the lower section. The top of Skydive remains awesome deep powder still mostly untracked but a bit twiggy. The lower part of Decline was a bit like a sale lot for Christmas Trees but as long as you paid attention and jumped your turns in the gaps it was actually quite good fun.

My worries relate to the forecast. For some time we have had precip in forecast for most of next week. That precip was snow with low temps but now (just as I said some time ago) the forecasters are revising their temps upwards and the precip is now called for as a rain/snow mix. My worry is that if things go as they usually do then by next week the revised forecast will be for a few degrees warmer still and we will be looking at a serious rain event. Now the hill has withstood rain before but with this low base I think the results of a major rain event would be nothing short of disasterous.

Keeping my fingers crossed for a nice Christmas present in the form of a fall in temperatures and snow next week.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 24 Saved by the afternoon wind sift

Today had the makings of a day just like the last half dozen or so. The temp on arrival at the hill was -7 and again it stayed cold on top made worse by wind and warmed to just below freezing at the base. With no new snow the base stayed at 103 cms and the 40% chance of flurries called for the afternoon disappeared as the skys cleared and we had a blue bird end to the day.

Skiing was ok up high, slick and crunchy down low with the New Side generally in much better shape than the Old Side. For everything else you could read yesterday's report and I could end things here. That would be if it wasn't for the wind sift that came in on a quite strong and very cold wind later in the day which did change things somewhat.

We went to the Old Side first to test things and found every thing pretty crunchy and difficult. All over Cedar Ridge was hard under foot and Boom Ridge was particularly hard work. Steep and Deep didn't seem to have more tracks than a couple of days ago so I concluded it was still crust and didn't even go to check it out. Having established that the Old Side remained too marginal to be fun with the possible exception of Boom Bowl which was starting to fill in with some wind grooming as we made our choice to try the New Side.

The New Side was just like yesterday with ok snow up on top but as the day went by the blow in wind sift improved the situation by the hour. We just ran out to all the Currie chutes and found that the sift in the top had created great wind grooming pretty well anywhere you went. The exits of course were still rather hard but considering the low base and just how little snow we have had it wasn't all that bad.

The steep chute into Concussion was particular fun with edge to edge jumping required to keep control. All the other stuff (Tom's. Barracuda, Concussion chutes, Cougar Glades, Easter Bowl, and Alph Centauri) were good wind sift for at least the top sections. When the action flagged we dropped back into Surprise trees which was chunky but ok.

Main downer of the day was putting a 6 inch core shot in the base of my good skis on the Reverse Traverse by hitting a submerged rock ( enough sift to hide it but not enough to protect you) and taking a high speed header as a result. Skis are now in with the excellent Gear Hub for repair so it was back to the rock skis and fingers crossed that they hold together for the next three days until the good ones are repaired.

The Polar Peak lift looks like a non starter (quite literally) for the Christmas period. I understand that the inspectors have headed off for their Christmas break and so nothing will be happening for a couple of weeks. I can't be certain as official sources are strangely quiet on the subject so let's see - perhaps they are still working out how to spin this.

In the afternoon I met a few Blog fans who made some kind comments on my poor efforts and we skied to gether for a while. Pleasure to meet you guys, spread the good word. We had a final run through Skydive and Stag Leap but to be quite honest the snow was starting to get a bit tracked up in there and there were very few good powder turns to be had. Still, it had to be tried.

This evening we had our traditional pre Christmas meal in the lounge at Lizard Creek. Most years we have to get there early to get a place, this year we were the only ones there all evening except for a family of 4 which arrived just as we left. Surely it can't stay this quiet. Loads of snow still in the forecast over the next 7 days.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 23 classic Fernie dilemma

And the classic Fernie dilemma that faced us when we got to the hill today was the usual early season one of, go to the Old Side and have poor skiing or go to the New Side and have poor viz. We went to the New Side which proved to be a good call as the ridge line cloud and mist that was the problem lifted by lunch time give some ok if not great viz.

Temps are way back down and it was -9 when we got to the hill, no new snow so the base was down to 103 cms and overcast conditions. The temperature rose a little during the day but with the fairly strong ridge line winds on the New Side (where we skied all day) it felt more like about -15 most of the day.

Just as it has been for the past few days the snow was ok up high but becoming chunky in the lower sections. The ski out on Gilmar Trail has become very icey and thin and I wasn't entirely surprised to see patrol loading a casualty on to the banana to get them off the hill half way through the morning.

Both morning and afternoon we looped out into Currie chutes trying several different ways down Concussion, Toms run, Alpha Centauri, Easter bowl and Cougar Glades. We interspersed these loops with runs down 1-2-3 or Anaconda Glades or occasionally back to White Pass via Surprise Trees. Conditions were exactly as expected with a hard but ok base with some windsift in the upper areas and slabby melt crust in the bottom.

While traversing under Polar chutes we encountered some patrollers who had been given the job of breaking up the wind crust in the chutes in anticipation of the opening of the Polar Peak lift. The comments they made confirmed my view that the skiing up there is pretty ugly at the moment and if the public only used to lift serviced skiing get up there in any significant numbers then it could get rather messy.

In any event the state of Polar peak is unlikely to worry anyone for a while as the smart money is now on the opening missing the pre Christmas deadline, we will soon know for sure.

So in summary it was a tough hard based skiing day where you had to stay on your game for the whole time if you were to avoid any major incidents. Of course if you did stay on your game and enjoy a challenge it was a pretty ok day.

The good news is that in the forecast we have snow, lots of it, starting on Christmas Eve and getting heavier over the next few days. Of course this is only a forecast and a lot can go wrong between now and then but lets keep our fingers crossed.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 22 the shortest day

It's kind of unusual for the shortest day to be a bluebird day like today, usually it's overcast and seems to get dark around 3 but with the forecasters calling for cloud and fog it couldn't come out as anything other than pure bluebird.
The temps are well on the way down with a start of -6 and I guess out of the direct sunlight it stayed that way all of the day and was -7 as we came off the hill. No new snow so the base reduced further to 103 cms which is pretty sketchy for this time of year.
Today we went to the hill with a different attitude which I think helped in us coming away with a better view of conditions than we otherwise might have done. Instead of expecting everything to be good we accepted that it wasn't and just went looking for what was good and being grateful when we found it.
We went to the New Side and found that although some of the snow had been packed in ugly by high traffic ( bottom of Lift Line, exit of Easter bowl and the lower parts of Tom's) there was still a considerable amount of ok, if well skied, snow in the upper parts of all runs. Gun bowl was very nice in the sun and runs back in White Pass through Quite Right and Surprise Trees were also good if slightly tough skiing.
Currie bowl was open all the way across as the final chair had been hung on the Polar Peak lift at 7 last night. On that subject the race is on and bets are being taken for the opening of the lift. It appears that if the inspectors can be satisfied before Friday then a pre holiday opening may be on but if not then the inspectors go off on holiday and its mid January before the lift opens - looks like this one is going to go down to the wire.
We spent the morning looping out to 1-2-3s, Concussion (3 different chutes) Tom's, Easter bowl and Anaconda Glades. All were ok skiing with a bit of blow in on a firm base on top and some more marginal stuff lower down.
At lunch I got word that the high traverse across Cedar bowl had been opened so I decided to hit out across it and give Steep and Deep a go - big mistake. As the traverse hadn't been open for several days there was no skier traffic in Steep and Deep and it had not been touched since the snowfall at the end of last week then the big melt down and refreeze. The result was some of the worst breakable crust I have even had to ride which could only be done by hard jumping all the way down which was hard work to put it mildly. We went back to the New Side.
We spent the rest of the afternoon continuing to loop the various parts of Currie bowl we had done in the morning which as there had been no change in the weather was exactly the same as the morning. Final run was a drop of Skydive from the top which from the Decline split was untracked over the knee powder down to the half way trail. The terrain was hard and it was a little twiggy but as good powder skiing as you will find all season. The hike out in to Cougar Glades (the bottom of Skydive looked like a Christmas tree farm) was a bit of hard work but well worth it.
A few beers and then completed my Christmas shopping - and it's not even Christmas Eve, I must be getting organised or something.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day 21 Really really beat up

I am not sure if am describing how the hill is at the moment or how I feel having been out skiing it all day, I guess a bit of both. Maybe a little dust on crust overnight but it might just have been some windsift. I went to the Old Side as I hadn't been there yesterday and found very much what I expected. Hard refrozen crud lower down, hard hard skiing up top and groomers that went from hard to slick bullet proof ice. As seems to be happening this year the wind was blowing much harder (and very cold) on the Old side sweeping large areas clear of any soft snow. The problem is that it didn't seem to be depositing it anywhere or at least if it was I couldn't find any. The high traverse across Cedar remains closed because of the avi risk and the poor viz on top suggests that patrol aren't going to be able to to much about it any time soon. I tried all the usual stuff - Boom, Boom Ridge, Linda's Cedar Ridge, King Fir etc and didn't find anything that wasn't hard tough skiing. Boom Ridge in particular was at it's icey, chunky, bumpy best (or worst depending on your point of view) and it wouldn't surprise me if I was the only person stupid enough to give it a go today. By 11 I had had enough and headed for the New Side. The New Side was in better shape but nothing to get excited about. The best snow probably was the drop under Timber in Lift Line cutting right into Big Bang or Lazy Locals all the way out and then Big Bang from the top. Spent the rest of the day mooching around the new Side looking for fresh snow without much luck. Surprise Trees and Anaconda Glades were about ok but hard work in chunky snow. Various Currie Chutes and Concussion were all ok in the top although the blow in was very grabby on the ski tips and the lower sections very hard. Easter bowl from the top is starting to get very tracked out and has become quite hard bumps from about half way down. The traverse out to Easter is starting to get tough after the bridge and it is my guess that it is now only a matter of time before there is a major stack there if some shovelling isn't done soon. First sign of the holiday season appeared on the last traverse where I encountered a group of 4 not just standing on the traverse (that's bad enough) but one of them was actually laying across it - I shared my thoughts with them on the subject on the way through. As with yesterday the last run was Skydive top, through the trees to Stag Leap and then out through lower Cougar Glades - still loads of fresh deep snow but twiggy. Things are not looking good with no new snow forecast for a few days and the base now down to 104cms which is the lowest it has been all season and way below opening day. The good news is that they are hanking the chairs onto the New Polar Peak lift some progress is being made there. Still sore even after a long hot tub.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Day 20 things are improving

Well maybe things are improving or maybe I am just in a more optimistic frame of mind tonight, what ever the reason it seems to me that today was rather better day.
Last night's snow didn't amount to much (about 3 cms) and the base is down to 107 cms which was pretty well what it was when we started but when we got to the hill there was snow on the trees that generally make things look a bit nicer and temps were below freezing. In fact temps at the base started at -2 and got up to +1 while up the mountain it was minus single figures all day. The conditions were slightly overcast with a cold ridgeline wind which brought the occasional flurries but overall just a firming up of what we have.
I had a feeling that the Old Side was going to be pretty poor ( a view confirmed by a few buddies who skied it) so we stayed on the New Side all day. We linked up with our good buddy Lee who has managed to blag 3 weeks off work and skied together for the morning and some of the afternoon.
The New side was in good shape. The drops to White Pass from timber via Lift Line were all good soft snow and on the couple of occasions we ventured out to Mitchy Chutes we found Lazy Locals traverse actually in better shape than it had been and Mitchy's nice and soft all the way down to the rock band which unsurprisingly you had to negotiate with some edge to edge jumps - all very nice.
The Gun bowl and Surprise trees that we did morning and afternoon were ok. Viz in the Gun bowl was poor but improved during the day and skiing the blow in was fine if you didn't get too shaken by the traverse lines. Surprise itself was a bit chunky but mostly untracked and about on the right side of ok.
The good news today was that they seem to have finished splicing the cable on the new Polar Peak lift and were getting ready to start to hank on the chairs and start running some tests. Opinion seemed to be that it would be running for Christmas week ( assuming testing goes ok) and will then be up for the rest of the season. A bye product of this was that we could ski across to the reverse traverse and whilst I don't want to be a downer I do have to say that looking up Polar chutes didn't really fill me with the desire to take the lift to the top. Let's see how it works out.
Morning and afternoon we looped out and did most runs several time which were -
Concussion - Nice if a little slabby in the top.
Cougar Glades - very nice and soft all the way down where the trees had protected the surface from the wind but the exit is even more sketchy that it has been.
Easter bowl - ok snow all the way down but the wind sift proving a little grabby in places.
Anaconda Glades - very nice blow in at the top but hard lumps of debrise in the bottom.
Decline - Varied, hardish bumps in the top, very tough windslab in the middle and nice soft deep powder down to the trail out to Easter. That trail was much enlivened by a newly fallen tree that forced a detour into some quite tricky stuff on the edge of Easter.
Stag Leap - Last run and the best of the lot. Great untracked deep powder through the trees from the top of Sykdive to the top of Stag Leap. The whole of the top section untracked but a bit twiggy in super deep powder, the best on the hill.
Beers, hot tub with friend and temps falling so at least what we have should stay in good shape. No real precip in the outlook but things can change.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Day 19 a significant reduction in quality

Now, to be fair a number of people in the Griz Bar tonight did not agree with my view that things had become pretty scratchy and thought that I was being over critical. That having been said this blog is about my views and here they are.
For the past few days I have made the point that despite deteriorating weather conditions the skiing conditions have held up quite well. Today was the day that the conditions took their toll and the skiing, particularly on the Old Side deteriorated. In summary the conditions on the hill fell back to the worst they have been all season as confirmed by the snow base reducing to 116 cms, almost 20 cms below what it was few days ago. This was further confirmed by the lower slopes showing rocks and bare earth peeking through groomed ice.
Initially when I got to the hill it looked like we had had overnight rain at least on the lower slopes due to their beat up natures. This didn't make sense as from my own observations there had been no precip over night although to be fair these observations were from my hot tub on the back deck while drinking beer and through the blinds of my bedroom window while getting up for a pee in the middle of the night so it would be hard to describe them as scientific.
The explanation was the incredibly warm temps which have been up to +7, been above zero for the past 48 hours and had the effect of melting the snow and base back to the extent described. Despite a forecast of -4 overnight temps on my deck at the start were +4 just as an example.
The Old Side was a mess of re frozen crud up top, heavy mush in the middle and groomers frozen to boiler plate lower down. I suppose the groomers might have been ok but then we don't ski groomers. Not worth listing all the runs we tried in the morning but again the high traverse across Cedar Bowl was closed so we couldn't try Snake Ridge and beyond. Some of the stuff was ok such as Boom Ridge and Boom bowl but even there it was soft to start but hard crunchy ice in the lower section.
The New Side was actually a lot better if only because it was higher. We skied it all afternoon as the temps fell so that by the end of the day even at the base temps were down to zero. The effect was that the snow that had softened during the day was re freezing fast later on. Up top things became a bit heavy and chunky but low down we were back to ice with bare patches on the ski out.
Anaconda, 1-2-3s, Concussion several ways and Easter bowl all conformed to heavy chunky stuff up top and a mixture of refrozen crud and or soft melt in the lower sections. In summary a very mixed day in difficult conditions which were just ugly on the Old side but rather better on the New.
Last run was in snow actually falling up high. By the time we got in the bar snow was falling top to bottom on the hill although it was very wet at the base. In the hot tub on the back deck it was still snowing while we drank beer and temps were down to -1 so tomorrow could hold something quite interesting and the damage to the hill could be on the way to being repaired.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Day 18 warm, wild and windy, but still pretty good fun

Let's deal with the warm first - as I suggested yesterday a warm up was on the way. For some reason the forecasters can never get a warm up in the Elk valley right. A few days off they call for temps of about -2, then about a day before they raise their sights to +1, and when it arrives as it did today the temps hit at about +5. I have no idea why their computer models should be so far off that this error margin is always the case but, it always is - it's about time those guys got their asses in gear or at the least just added about 4 degrees to whatever their computer tells them is going to be the temperature.
The wild and windy was just what it says. We arrived at the hill and found no lifts moving. The problem was the wind which was a major event prevented any lifts from working plus the fact that a dozen or so mature trees were down all over the hill and a lot of chain saw work had to be done just to make things safe. About 10:30 the New Side opened and we went up to find that whilst White Pass was open Currie bowl remained closed - do I need to say it was socked in at the top !
The New Side snow was a kind of thick Jersey cream powder as a result of hard wind pack and warming conditions, this was feature over most of the hill most of the day. Lift Line down from Timber top to White Pass was particularly thick and almost heavy but without being wet. We had several loops back through Surprise Trees which were in pretty good shape as they had been protected from the worst of the wind effect but still had plenty of ( not sure what to call the thick cream we were skiing on.)
Currie opened and we hit out in Concussion but found the snow very slabby in the up slope winds so that the only safe way to ride was fairly fast GS turns to keep you on top. Logic said that the snow must have blown into Easter bowl and logic was right - we had two loops through Easter from the top which were very much go where you please in wind sifted deep powder.
Lynda tried 1-2-3s and reported them as chunky whilst I dropped Ananconda Glades and found very nice soft cream in the first chute with all previous tracks filled in. To finish for a late lunch I dropped Bootleg glades for the first time and found them in ok shape but with many traps for the unwary between the boot deep pitches of heavy powder.
After Lunch we went to the Old side and found two things, firstly because of the lower elevation the snow was a little heavier with the melt effect and the destruction caused by the wind was much greater - like about 10 times greater. All pitches were much enlivened by finding branches or whole trees down just where you were least expecting them.
The snow had a great breaking quality so it was possible to fall line ski pretty well anywhere you wanted and we did off Cedar Ridge, Boom Ridge, Linda's, Bear chutes and all points in between several times. Some said the slightly melted powder was tough but I found it ideal slow motion snow to push around. Only downside was being stuck at the bottom of Haul Back for 25 minutes due to a break down but as I got a little end of the day timing latitude on the next two runs down Boom ridge I guess it was ok.
The only real problem with a warm up is precip. If it comes down cold it comes down white and if it comes down warm it comes down wet. In this cycle we seem to have got away with it as the base has held at 134 cms and the precip has held off. We now seem to be moving into a cooling cycle although temps on the deck are still +2 and if/when the precip arrives tomorrow evening it should be cold enough to come down white - watch this space.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 17 what we don't get with new snow we get with wind sift

So, we got to the hill and found that yesterday we had another 5 cms of new snow since yesterday's measure and the base was 128 cms, about 2 cms less than my estimate in yesterday's report so not a bad guess. Everyone seems to be a bit twitchy about the snow base but the figure for this time last year was 130 cms and Boxing Day was 128 so we are well up on last year and should just chill out a little while waiting for the big dumps that will come.
With no overnight snow all we had had was what we left there last night but with a bonus. The boards showed that the forecast in terms of wind was calm, so obviously we had strong ridge line winds generally blowing snow from East to West and giving a nice accumulation on the down wind slopes with smooth if heavy powder. The only worry was the temp which got up to just plus figures at the base during the day and about -5 on top. with more precip in the forecast this nearness to zero is a little worrying.
We went to the Old Side and after a quick rip down Bear we moved out into Cedar Bowl via new lift line enjoying the blown in powder. I guess because there had not actually been new snow the skier numbers we way down and we just looped of Cedar Ridge about 10 different ways always finding fresh wind sift and always able to go a little further than previous days, slowly expanding the ski range.
On the occasions we headed back to Bear we went via Bear chutes which as a lee slope was also deep windsift. Heading out across Cedar Bowl we got to Steep and Deep and found plenty of untracked powder still there but best of all the exit gullys are starting to fill in so with very little bushwhacking you can get down pretty well any way you want.
A few more trips through Boomerang, Boom Ridge and Linda's were all in a mixture of yesterday's powder and today's wind sift which counted as powder. We even tried Buckshot for the first time and although it was a bit twiggy it wouldn't take much more snow to make it a pretty nice ride.
As a result of such great powder/wind sift skiing we had a very late lunch and this only left a very short time available for afternoon skiing on the New Side.
Concussion was great with soft snow having filled in the far Currie chute entrances. Next I decided to try and hike up to Corner Pocket to check out the Saddles. Corner Pocket was wall to wall tires with the only way in I could see down a clingon rope. I took this as a sign that all the other Saddles would have been pretty crap and dropped back through Toms which was lightly skied and good powder.
Next was a hike into Lone Fir which was a bit twiggy so we skied the right shoulder before dropping into the chute and still had some pretty tight stuff to negotiate in order to get out but the chute below was awesome deep snow.
In response to a request in the bar tonight here is a detailed description of how to get to Easter bowl which has great blow in all the way down. Drop into Down Right in Currie bowl off the top of White Pass. At the first hump cut left across Currie Glades and Currie Powder and just keep traversing until your eyeballs bleed. Hold the reverse traverse out to Skydive Traverse and then continue over the bridge on the shoulder above Currie Creek and out to the closed signs. Side step up to the left for about a minute and there you are at the top of Easter Bowl - simples.
A final run in the top of Decline and then a drop off to the left into Secret Chutes found only one track ( perhaps for the whole of the season) and the snow was so deep and soft that it was face shots all the way down into the top of Freeway.
Beers with buddies who will not let me forget that Free Press has designated me as athlete of the week following my first ski column that appeared yesterday. Off to the Ghostrider game - go riders go.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 16 Powder - and hero snow to boot

We had flurries forecast but in the event it was fairly solid snow from sometime just after midnight to around lunch time. The boards said 7 cms of fresh and a base of 125 cms but my guess is that thes figures were taken pretty early, maybe before 6 in the morning so the actual snowfall may have been double that figure by the time it finished and the base was nearer 130 cms.
Best of all was that the snow came down at around -4 with a good moisture content so that it was real hero snow - heavy enough to hold you up in the tight stuff and make you float but not so heavy that it was hard work.
I can only think that because of the down beat forecast no one was really pumped up for a maximum powder day which is what it turned out to be. As a result there were no crowds around for the powder chase first thing. We got first tracks in Boomerang and cut out onto Boom ridge and it was face shots all the way down. As we rode the Boom chair up it looked like we were going to put second tracks along side our first but a couple of guys jumped in just as we got to the top. Plenty on untracked left in Boom and this time we tracked far left to get into Linda's. Only one track in Linda's which disappeared half way down and after that it was deep and untracked.
The hill got the grooming dead right so that they had it all done by the time the snow started and the powder fell on the groomed slopes. With nothing groomed and maybe because of early season legs people seemed to be sticking to the groomers with powder on rather than head off into to real off piste. Great as far as we were concerned as we could hit Cedar Ridge about half a dozen different ways, always untracked, deep and the biggest problem being getting wiped out by your own slough. For the first time this year you could just hit the rollers on the terrain and take air with the brain switched off in the knowledge that however you landed you would be able to make the next turn, the definition of awesome.
We spent the whole morning on Cedar Ridge, Boomerang and Bear Chutes with a few trips out to Snake Ridge and Steep and Deep. Those far loops were great but the exits still required a bit of attention as I discovered by hitting a hidden hazard for a great header down KC chutes. Even Kangaroo was starting to ski ok but still needs a bit more snow before it becomes fun, or even safe.
In the afternoon we went to the New Side and found if anything even more snow. Lift line down from Timber seemed to have a load of new snow plus some blow in. White Pass was socked in (an expression that is going to be used frequently this season) but snow in the Gun bowl was untracked and deep.
Our first trip out the Surprise trees didn't really work as we got too low. Next time round we stayed high and found that as no one else had managed to we had first tracks in the Anaconda chutes where again the only issue was being hit by an express train in the form of your own slough.
The rest of the afternoon was spent putting in a bit of work to get out in to Currie Bowl and then enjoying untracked hero snow into Concussion, Tom's, and several other chutes - all untracked hero snow. By late afternoon we had worked our way out to Cougar Glades which had a few tracks but as has often been said, you can have quite a lot of tracks in ther and still find fresh lines. I did look at side stepping up to Corner Pocket and High Saddle but there was just so much good stuff to be had without that work that I took the lazy option.
Final rip was the top of Decline followed by the left cut out into Easter bowl half way down. The best way to describe this was a thigh deep terrain park which you could straight line off huge rollers with 50:50 split of skis on the ground to skis in the air - a great finish.
In summary the first proper Fernie powder day of the season but we certainly hope not the last given tonight's forecast.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 15 still pretty good

Not really much you can say about today. As a result of yesterday's snow things were a bit better but no huge change in the way they have been for sometime.
It was -7 when we arrived at the hill and temps got up to -3 by the afternoon but stayed a bit cooler on top. Conditions were overcast with the top of White Pass totally socked in and a forecast of afternoon flurries which never really materialisied.
We went to the Old Side and tried several loops out to Red Tree, Steep and Deep and Snake Ridge all of which had fresh untracked powder on the upper parts. The ski outs had improved a bit with new snow but not that much and getting to the very bottom was always hard work through alders, roots, stumps and rocks.
Cedar ridge probably showed the most improvement with sections opening up in the new snow giving access to previously unskied areas. As always Boomerang, Boomerang Ridge and Bear chutes were good ways back either to Boom or Bear chairs to complete a loop but there remain a lot of logs and other early season hazards that need a bit dealing with when skiing the tree sections.
The afternoon was back to the New Side with loop after loop out into Currie bowl under the new Polar Peak loading station. Just like yesterday no one was really prepared to put the effort in to side step traverse into Currie so for the few of us who were prepared to make the effort we had great untracked powder anywhere we wanted to go in the chutes all the way across to Currie Creek.
I understand that the Saddles remained pretty poor but that the snow below was very good. On balance I decided to give it one more day before I put the extra effort in to get back in the Saddles. Last rip was through Cougar Glades which had again filled in and was great untracked powder all the way down to the bottom trail. I decided to try the final exit by going left into the creek bed that I usually use but found it very woody with a couple of fallen trees and very much a hop and pop experience.
The hill did seem a bit busier today but I suspect if you took away the off duty staff members then those of us fare paying customers would still be in very small numbers. A couple of groups today appeared to be tour reps getting to know the hill so they can guide their guests when they show up in a week or two. This always amuses me to see those who today know nothing of Fernie guiding guests in a weeks time with all the confidence and authority that only comes with true ignorance.
Snow in the forecast for the next 6 days although mostly only flurries - of course anyone who knows Fernie knows that a flurrie can be anything from 2 to 22 cms.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day 14 New snow New side day

Well the severe overnight temps never materialised so we had a -10 start with upper mountain temps staying there or thereabouts all day and the base warming by a few degrees. Conditions were overcast all day with mountain snow starting at the base and getting heavier as you got higher. As a result viz became very poor from about half way up White Pass and the top was totally socked in.
We decided to go to the New Side and for no real reason stayed there all day so I really can't say what the Old Side was like except to say that the locker room talk was of good powder in Cedar Bowl. The reports were calling 3 cms of fresh in the past 24 hours with a base of 119 cms. Clearly this was mountain snow which we never saw in the valley and it continued to fall all day probably adding at least another 3 cms during that time plus a fair amount of wind sift.
The result was that everything was in much better shape than yesterday and better than expected. All over parts of the hill that had been marginal no go areas became marginally ok and the stuff that had been ok was getting down right nice.
We spent some time alternating the loops between Surprise Trees ( much better and softer than of late) and Anaconda Glades (still steep and deep and mostly untracked but still rather bushy) to very good effect. On one trip to the bottom we did try Diamond Back which was great soft powder most of the way down but just a bit too aldery in the final pitch.
Just like yesterday (and I suspect several days to come) the far side of Currie bowl remained closed for Polar Peak lift construction although it was hard to see the closed signs in the very poor viz. Also like yesterday no one was making the effort to get out to the far side of Currie bowl because a little polling and side step traversing was required. We made the effort and it was really worth while.
A combination of new snow, wind sift and no skier traffic meant that all across Currie chutes was untracked boot high powder which had generally filled in by the time you looped back next time. All the entrances to Concussion (particularly Severe Concussion) were just great untracked powder chutes. Easter bowl had a few more tracks but there was plenty to go round.
We simply spent most of the day looping out into Concussion for untracked skiing, it rather reminded me of our first vacation here when the New Side lifts first went in back in 1999. Cougar Glades had also repaired to the point that we were back to soft untracked tree skiing. I know I keep going on about how few people are here but today, as often as not, we could not see anyone on the chairs in front of us on any of the lifts.
A final run was planned on the right side of Easter bowl but we got pushed further right than we wanted by the terrain and ended up in what turned out to be the top of Decline. This was awesome deep first of the season tracks in powder although a few small bushes got in the way all the way down to the first trail across. At that point we exited back to Easter along the trail which had been our intention all along but with some amazing powder experiences to relate at wings night in the pub.
Best news today was that I was able to get back on my rock skis having reconstructed a heal binding from the parts of three broken heal bindings in my closet - amazing that it all held together. Perhaps rock skis won't be needed much longer as we have some snow at least in the forecast for each of the next 8 days and this bearing in mind what we got today when no snow was forecast at all - here's hoping.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Day 13 free skiing from now to the end of the season

No, not a fantastic deal offered by RCR to customers but my take on the season pass situation. If you take the price I paid in the early bird sale and then compare it with the daily ticket price you will find that the pass paid for itself yesterday - as far as I am concerned everything from now to the end of the season is free. Of course there are other key points like when the average cost drops below 10 bucks a day (around day 85 this year) and getting the cost below 7 bucks a day which should just about be possible by the season end.
When we got to the hill today they were claiming 9 cms of fresh which seemed a bit optimistic but bearing in mind this was in the last 24 hours so quite a lot got skied in yesterday I guess it was about right, particularly when we got up higher in the bowls. Big surprise was at the base of Elk where the board claimed a base of 150 cms up from 109 yesterday. Now we all know that hills over claim the snow base early season and use the first big falls of the season the even things out (oh yes you do guys) but even by these standards it seemed a bit excessive. During the day all over the hill the other boards were only claiming 115 cms so false alarm and a case of someone obviously having had a hard night last night.
Forecast was for cloudy this morning becoming sunny so it was no surprise that we had a bluebird day right from the off with a bit of ridge line cloud forming in the afternoon. The temp started at -12 and stayed there all day with perhaps a little warming in the direct sunlight. By evening temps were dropping and we may yet have our first -20 start tomorrow.
The new snow must have come down at around -7 as it was light dry powder. On the one hand it was nice to ski but on the other it didn't do much to help the base, you were for the most part skiing on yesterdays surface with a light covering. Of course everything looked a lot better with new snow and in truth did ski quite a lot better except that surface obstructions were covered and quite a few of us got tripped up on something unseen.
We went to the Old Side and took a few trips across Cedar bowl to Snake, Steep and Deep and similar areas . The new snow on top was nice and soft and untracked but the exits remained challenging. KC chutes seemed to have a bit more space between the bushes but poor light did make it all a bit interesting. We spent the rest of the morning dropping Cedar Ridge which as I have said before you could ski all day and still find new ways down. The ridge was starting to open up a bit in the new snow so we had several new routes.
The rest of the morning was filled in on Boomerang and Linda's. Bear chutes provided a real treat being mostly fresh snow because of the bushy entrance from Bear keeping most skiers out.
After lunch we went to the New Side and spent the afternoon looping out a long the Idiot Traverse and then either dropping Surprise Trees (going further into Triple Trees each time round) and back to White Pass or turning left into Anaconda Glades and working our way along the chutes each time on the way to the bottom. The new snow made everything really soft and powdery but there was still plenty of alders and other undergrowth to prevent easy flowing sking, in fact typical early season stuff made a bit better by some snow.
Finished with a rip out to Easter bowl on the low Currie Traverse and then another final loop through Cougar Glades. Because of the hard traverse (far side of Currie still closed due to work on Polar Peak lift) there had been very little traffic so we were back to nice, unskied powder on yesterdays lightly tracked surface. I did look at the side steps up to the Saddles but decided that with only a light covering they would not have improved and the juice would not be worth the squeeze.
A few beers in the excellent Griz Bar followed by more beers in the hot tub under the stars in temps of -15 on the back deck. Some disturbed weather in the outlook but no precip called for until Wednesday.

Day 12 Whats this white stuff falling from the sky

The forecast had been for snow today, starting in the morning and continuing all day. I guess that pretty much is what we had although the fall rate was not great. As I type this (rather late due to a good session after seeing the Christmas train in town) it is still snowing after a sort and should continue into the night. We have probably had about 5 cms on the hill by now but how much more we get is anyone's guess - these convecitive systems can produce strange local conditions.
On the bright side I did discover in the pub tonight that patrol have called for and early start for tomorrow for bombing so at least someone thinks we are getting a good covering.
Today was Community Appreciation day on the hill when locals can ski free and get free lessons. As I have been saying every day, the crowds were not great, rather less than a normal Sunday and again we did not have to line up or share a chair lift with anyone all day.
We went to the Old Side and found the usual conditions. Far side of Cedar was ok on top but very twiggy lower down. Conversely Cedar Ridge and King Fir were scrubby to get into but nice tracked powder once you got going. Just for a change we tried several ways down Cedar ridge and found good skiing all over.
Also as usual Linda's Boom Ridge, Boom Bowl and Bear chutes provided the best open skiing with not too many early season hazards on a fairly hard skier packed base. With temps holding at -5 and the snow starting to set in we headed to the New Side.
Just like yesterday the far side of Currie Bowl was closed to allow work on the new Polar Peak lift, viz was so poor at the top of White Pass I am unable to comment on how the lift is coming along. We restricted ourselves to looping back to White Pass through either Surprise Trees or Triple trees both of which were ok and got better as the snow fell. Trips to the base were via Anaconda Glades which also improved as the day went on.
By late afternoon we were cutting out to the far side of Currie by crossing below the closure signs and then traversing as hard as we could to get into Currie chutes. As this traverse was proving too hard work for most skiers and impossible for boarders the new snow was accumulating nicely out there to give some nice boot deep untracked powder. Last run was cut into Cougar Glades which was much improved by the new snow.
Only one quick beer after skiing and then a trip down town to see the CP Christmas Train pull into town and listen to the band. The first time I have ever done this while it was actually snowning so quite a treat for me.
And so to bed to see if the morning brings a powder day.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Day 11 another blue bird Saturday

Today was always going to be interesting as being the first real weekend of the season. As it was the crowds were up a little but never enough to have to line up to get on the lift and I only had to share a chair three times which puts it in perspective compared with the use of the word "crowds" at other ski hills. In truth all we had were a few locals let loose for a couple of days, some weekend warriors up from Calgary and the kids and their coaches in FAST (Fernie Alpine Ski Team) - still don't understand why they rejected my idea to rename it Fernie Alpine Race Team.
The base hangs in at around 110 cms. This is a reflection of the fact that because we had the rain layer on the original snow we now have a very solid base, much better than say last year when it was about 10 cms more at this stage but with nothing solid underneath. The good news is that we are skiing on a relatively thin base but not breaking through so skis remain well protected, the bad news is that this could become a serious layer of weakness for avi events from now to the end of the season - watch this space.
We got to the hill in temps of -11 but with clear blue skis and a warming trend in the sun. With no ridge winds it must have warmed to about -6 on top during the day and -2 at the base. No new snow and not much wind sift but a little hoar frost under the mist at lower elevations.
Lynda decided to take the day off as she had girly things to do like a hair appointment so I was left to amuse myself doing stuff that the missus might not approve - you married men will understand this.
Went to the Old Side and tried to find the best way out of Steep and Deep trying it three times with chutes left, right and middle. Right (skiers) was the best of a bad bunch if only due to the lack of wet snow avi debrise. Came back in and ran Boomerang, Boom Ridge, Linda's, Cedar Ridge and King Fir several times. Linda's and Boom ridge just about got the vote on the grounds that they are starting to get tracked into some pretty nice firm skiing. Once down Kangaroo got me asking why I didn't follow my own advice of a few days ago and leave it until there is more snow.
In the afternoon went over to the New Side and found Currie bowl closed half way across due to a hive of activity on the Polar Peak lift. I can't think that this has anything to do with my comments of yesterday but it is a coincidence. By late afternoon it looked to me that they had rigged the com line and we well advanced with the main cable - maybe a Christmas opening is on after all.
In the curtailed terrain I looped White Pass a few times, Surprise trees were ok before dropping loops in Currie chutes ( low entry under the new lift) Currie Glades and Anaconda Glades - all good but chunky tough skiing just like all week. Last run I decided to hike Knot chutes as they have been open a week and I haven't been in. The skiing was really nice tracked snow but the way in was down a clingon line assuming you don't want an 8 ft jump onto a flat landing with big drops either side (I didn't).
Life was made more difficult by me breaking a second heal binding on my rock skis in two days. The only consolation was that the one that broke was not the one I had replaced the day before from my huge stock of Rossignol heal bindings acquired over the years under warrenty claims because the things keep breaking. I am now on my best skis for a few days until I can dig out yet another replacement. To be fair these are all old bindings and I am assured that the new ones are much more solid - as these are the ones on my new skis I hope so.
Snow is forecast in the next 24 hours with maybe 5 cms in town and more on the hill - lets see.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Day 10 A beautiful day even if the skiing was only ok

Sorry this report is a bit late. The problem is that after skiing and few beers we went to the movie house to see a showing of this years ski movie from Matchstick Productions ( far and away the best makers of ski movies at the moment) - The Attack of La Nina. For the price of the tickets for the two of us we could just about have bought the DVD to watch at home but it was fun to see it on the big screen plus all funds went to the Canadian Ski Patrol, also some excellent raffle prizes donated by Gear Hub.
Today was the coldest so far with starting temps at the top of -12 and if anything getting colder in the sinking cold air mass above the clouds, add to that a ridge line wind chill and the effective temp had to be something like -20, not really cold but enough to make you think.
Arriving at the hill we had valley fog but with the Lizard Ridge in sunshine appearing to be floating in the mist above the valley floor. This was just the first of many beautiful weather induced sights such as angel dust in the blue ski above the clouds, sun dogs, and the whole of the upper parts of the clouds turning into rainbow colours as you passed through them. As I said, the skiing wasn't great but it was worth going to the hill just for the sights.
There was no new snow but a light dusting which may have been windsift or possibly hoar frost but either way not enough to get excited about. The Old Side was just as it has been pretty well since opening with chunky tracked snow and plenty of early season hazards. We tried one loop out across Cedar bowl to Snake Ridge and KC chutes and just like before found that the sking there was no better than what was available directly off the top of Boomerang. Crowds were not an issue as once again the hill was deserted.
We ran through Boomerang bowl, Boom ridge, Linda's run, New Lift line into the gully, Cedar ridge and Bear Chutes. All very much as before with the best of the bunch being Bear chutes down to the Goat track, probably best because it's a bit scrubby getting in.
We moved on to the New Side and did a repeat of yesterday just running down through Currie chutes from Alpha Centauri to Currie Creek. As I have said there are so many variations on that face that you could ski it all week and still get a new line every run - unfortunately whist the runs may have been different the conditions were not so it was the usual tough hard surface wherever we went.
Two loops through Cougar Glades found the snow starting to track up a little and get a bit pebbley towards the bottom but still the best to be had on the hill. All these loops took us out past the new Polar Peak Lift where I have to say it does not exactly look like a hive of activity. Cables and chairs are stacked at the foot but to the untrained eye not a lot seems to be happening, I await the next publicity announcement with interest.
So another ok days skiing with some beautifuls views. The good news is that out of nowhere the forecast is now calling for snow on Sunday and again on Tuesday. This is a cause for some hope but bear in mind that these unexpected forcasts of snow can disappear as fast as they appeared.
Lets see what the weekend brings. Temp on my deck as I type this is back to -12.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day 9 Mountain snow - not much but ok

So just as previously reported we started with temps of about -9 at the base, -12 at the top with few degrees warm up during the day. Morning conditions were overcast with some mountain snow (not really enough for a measurable accumulation) and in the afternoon it brightened up to hazy overcast conditions. The viz was totally socked in this morning and very white (particularly at the top of White Pass) getting rather better as the day went on.
Sking was again tough. A number of people have asked me why I dwell on how tough the conditions are off the groomers (off piste to you Europeans) when the conditions on the groomers are so good. There are two reasons - firstly I don't ski groomers except to get from A to B and I don't regard skiing groomers real skiing at all. Secondly, if you take a snow cat and smash the snow flat, compress it and then groom it you end up with flat compressed groomed snow - what else is there to report ? The groomers are great if you like that kind of thing, as they will be all season, every ski hill anywhere in the world, forever - groomer report over.
We went to the New Side and found things lightly dusted with the mountain snow and a bit of blow in mostly in the Currie chutes. Runs back through the Gun bowl were ok if very white and excursions into Surprise Trees found better light but very chunky conditions.
1-2-3s which are usually reliable on such days also proved hard work. The problem is that the surface is so varied that you either turn on what you think is hard and it's soft ( result skis don't come round, you find yourself in the fall line, accelerating in early season hazards etc) or it's hard when you think it soft and you accelerate out of the turn in the back seat having to fight to get back into control. Add to this chunky snow pushing the skis where you don't want them to go and roots catching your tails as you come round leaving you in the fall line in tight situations and you start to get a feel of what I mean.
Next had a look in Corner Pocket to see what the Saddles might be like. I use Corner Pocket as a sort of cypher for the other Saddles so (if as today) all the tires are showing you know that High Saddle will be an unskiable gouged trench thanks to boards and Low Saddle will be sheet ice peppered with rocks, in other words not worth trying. I did hike Cornice ridge up to Lone Fir on the grounds that as it was some work to get there and steeper than the other Saddles it might be better. It wasn't bad but pretty twiggy in the middle section and some serious edge to edge jumping was needed.
The rest of the day we just spent our time looping Currie bowl in chutes between Concussion and Currie Creek. There are only about a million different ways down through the chutes and trees but the conditions were very similar wherever you went with a hard base, some soft, some chunks and plenty of hazards. The only area to avoid was the middle of Currie Creek low down where there had obviously been a wet snow avalanch early in the season and this was now solid ice lumps - very challenging.
On the drop from Timber top to White Pass bottom it was mostly a fairly scratchy Lift Line route although a twiggy Puff trees was negotiated a couple of times. Also tried the Lazy Locals traverse (very rocky and twiggy) but leading to some good stuff in Big Bang and Mitchy Chutes but again very cautious skiing between hazards.
Final rip down Cougar Glades was still good soft and only lightly tracked snow. By the end of the day for the first time this season actually felt that I was in control of the skis and able to hold a tight line on the steep stuff.
Looks like more of the same tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day 8 Hebrews 13:8

And for those of you who do not know the biblical text quoted in the title it is "Jesus Christ - the same yesterday, today and tomorrow" - this best sums up my feelings about sking here in Fernie at the moment.
As I predicted yesterday the conditions were no change with double figure minus temps over night, low single figure minus temps during the day, no new snow, no melt and no traffic. The only thing I got wrong was that it did not remain as overcast as I thought and we actually had a sun/cloud mix today but apart from that everything was as anticipated and is anticipated for quite a few days to come.
The resulting conditions were equally predicable, steadily deteriorating surfaces becoming tougher and more chunky. As with every night there had been upper mountain wind and the surfaces were wind affected either being swept down to ice or with some rather slabby grabby wind sift which tried to take control of your skis. All in all not conditions for the faint hearted.
We went to the Old Side and hit out across Snake ridge before dropping KC chutes with conditions as described. After that we just worked our way all over Cedar and Boomerang trying Boom ridge, Boom bowl, King Fir, Cedar Ridge, New Lift Line, Linda's, some more than once. Probably the best of the bunch was either Linda's or Boom ridge which had quite a lot of blow in which was not too slabby.
For the first time this year we managed Kangaroo a couple of times top to bottom. It was bushy, rocky, stumpy, icey and the drop onto the cat track half way down was pretty sparse but just about ok. Probably won't try it again until we get abit more snow but the roo has been christened for the season.
In the afternoon we went to the New Side and after a nice drop through Anaconda Glades spent the rest of the time just looping (many times) out into the Currie chutes through various tracks down to the top of Gilmar Trail. On one drop to White Pass from Timber top we decided to have another go at Mitchy Chutes as that was where I had my major stack a few days ago and I felt there was unfinished business. Good skiing and a some tight edge to edge jumping to get through the tight chutes half way down.
For the final run we decided to try Skydive for the first time this season. It was awsome at the top with deep untracked snow if a bit tight between the obstructions (rock, root and alder). About half way down it got so tight that we had to cut across to Stag Leap which was a bit more open but in all honesty the final pitch was just tough and only seemed to have been attempted by a couple of snow boards this season to date - yet another one to try after the next snow cycle but again the first Skydive finish has been recorded.
After 8 days of skiing the body is starting to feel the strain ( should start to get better some time after day 14) so a long hot tub under the stars was needed to soak away the pain. Early night.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day 7 Same old, same old

This is the first (but certainly not the last) attempt to post an entry after having drunk far too much at the pub on wings night so apologies in advance for poor spelling and other assorted cock ups.
As often happens at this time of year a south westerly air flow sets in which brings moist overcast conditions which never get as far as snow but hangs around all day as overcast gloom with occasional mountain snow (not enough to be of interest) or ( as we had today) a little freezing drizzle out of the cloud base which hangs around at about the top of White Pass. This looks set to continue until the early part of next week when there at least looks like the possibility of some disturbed conditions bringing a change either for good or ill.
The effect is overnight temps in double figure minus' and day time highs of around -3. The ski conditions don't improve as there is no new snow but then on the other hand they don't get much worse as there is no warm up melt or skier traffic (if anything today was even quieter than yesterday) so we get the same old conditions which just deteriorate a little each day until the new snow arrives. The only hope of improvement is the chance of some blow in from wind sifted snow which did come in to play a little today.
Everything was tougher with the surface chunky and every turn requiring some sort of correction after it was made. We went to the New Side which was much the same as yesterday in the Timber bowl with even Surprise Trees and the surrounding chutes proving tough. Hoping to play the wind sift card we moved into Currie bowl trying Anaconda Glades, 1-2-3s and Concussion chutes all of which had got some wind sift but which proved a bit slabby and grabby but in places nice soft powder.
Moved out to Cougar Glades and the top of Stag Leap which was truely awesome untracked powder between the many early season hazards and obstructions. At one stage did cut back and try Morning Glory Trees in the hope that an up slope wind would have given some good snow but again it was rather tracked out and no better than ok.
In the afternoon we went to the Old Side and a first loop out the Snake Ridge followed by KC chutes showed that things over there were just like the New Side - rather tough with a variable surface and plenty of obstructions. We whiled away the time in King Fir (bushy at the top but nice and soft below) Linda's (some good wind sift) Cedar Ridge ( the good stuff starting to get elusive in there) Boom ridge ( seemed very nice perhaps because it had not deteriorated and was still ok chunky skiing) Boom Bowl ( actually the best on the hill with wind groomimg starting to build up).
A good couple of beers in the bar then a spectacular wing night at the pub. Quick up date on the Polar peak lift - the towers are in place but still seem to need final fixing and aligning. Both the cable and the chairs are sitting at the base station waiting for something to happen. I am not an expert at lift construction but to me an opening this year looks optimistic but I am willing to bow to anyone with superior engineering knowledge.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 6 my favourite day of the year

Yes, every year my favourite day of the year is always the Monday after opening weekend. Why - because there is no one, and I mean pretty well no one on the hill, plus the season is new and everyone is optimistic, Christmas songs are on the radio, Christmas lights are up in town and everything is just buzzing.
Today started with temps of -15 in the Elk Valley according to the radio but not in the part where I was where it stuck firmly to -10. A little colder at the top of the hill and a warm up at the base during the day to about -5 but not much on top. The base was still recorded as 123 cms which either means that with no snow there was no settlement in the last 24 hours or no one could be arsed to change the signs - make your own mind up.
The ridge line cloud spread into the valley during the day. This meant cold overcast conditions and strangely mountain snow pretty well all day which whilst never enough to give any accumulation was enough to make sure the base didn't start to fall away.
The under foot conditions were pretty tough with yesterday's tracked powder sitting fairly chunky on the uneven firm base. Overall with the exception of Cougar Glades (of which more later) the conditions were no better than ok. That having been said, when you see the reports from Europe fence to fence skiing looks pretty awesome so it's just as well to bear in mind the Fernie's ok is probably one hell of a lot better than some other places awesome.
Having been on the New Side for two days we decided to try the Old Side. After a quick rip down the Bear we headed out across Cedar bowl to try Steep and Deep out beyond Snake Ridge. The wind sift had pretty well covered the traverse so it was hard work and when we got there the conditions were no better than ok so in summary the juice didn't really justify the squeeze.
After that we spent the morning looping Cedar off the Boom chair with Linda's, Boom Ridge, Boom bowl, New lift line, Cedar ridge, King Fir, Cedar Centre Glades etc. Everything was ok if a bit chunky but where you had to do some bush whacking (King Fir and Bear Chutes to name but two) there was still some great soft powder in between for a few turns. Best of all we managed the first two runs down Kangaroo of the season (bottom half only ast the top half was closed) which was very twiggy, bushy, stumpy, rocky, etc in fact just the same as usual - great fun.
Lynda took the afternoon off and I headed to the New Side. Just like the Old Side it was hard chunky powder on a tough base. I looped Anaconda Glades, Concussion (twice) and Currie Creek, all of which were ok. For the record I had my first major stack of the season in the top of Mitchy Chutes when I hit a submerged "early season hazard" blowing both skis off and going head first into the chute. Lucky for me no real damage which condisering what could happen (and has happened) in there is another reason to consider it a good day.
Ended with two rips through Cougar Glades going in just under the sign lines. Still great soft mostly untracked powder and great tree skiing. Only down side on the day was to find Timber Chair down when I got there for a final run timed to get me to White Pass in time for last lift - not a happy bunny to miss out on a final run due to mechanical failure.
Beer, hot tub, more beer, time for bed.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Day 5 fresh powder and more New Side

Overnight we had an unexpected 8 cms of fresh powder which as it came down well below -10 was champagne light with virtually no moisture content. The mid mountain base came up to 123 cms (still some way short of the 2 metres when we abandon our rock skies each year) but a very respectable base for this time of the season. We had hoped that the new snow would have sat on top of the old tracked up powder and given us a double whamy effect of increasing the powder depth but actually the base firmed up underneath so that what we ended up with was the new powder on a firm base, not quite so good but still pretty impressive.
It was -9 on the deck this morning and a few degrees colder on the top of the hill. Today there was no wind chill or ridgeline wind just a fantastic bluebird day to rip up the new powder. Temps did get up a bit in the sun but for the most part stayed down around the -10 mark on the upper New side. I was amused to see the number of skiers/riders with hot bags in the gloves and face masks - I wonder what they will do when the temps get down to something serious like -30 ! We hit the New side and stayed there all day.
Lift line has now become the standard drop from Timber to White Pass and it was in pretty good shape all day with just the usual hazards (rocks, stumps, etc) to avoid. Just once I took Lazy Locals out to Big Bang and found it cut a bit higher than usual and a little scratchy but ok - Big Bang was good between the hazards.
Gun bowl and Highline trees provided some good untracked powder mostly because of the lack of skier traffic. I'll say it again - I have never seen such a quiet opening weekend with no line ups at any stage over the three days. We moved out to Surprise Trees which weren't as good as we thought they would be, being a bit chunky under the powder.
Top of Triple Trees was still mostly untracked powder and just as good as yesterday afternoon. Moving into Currie bowl, Concussion was a bit skied out but Easter had great untracked snow all the way down. Corner Pocket had a couple more tires showing in the chute but there just seemed to be more room (perhaps I was getting better - no) so the edge to edge jumps down the chute seemed to come easy. The bowl underneath was great untracked deep powder ( what do you expect when the access is a bit tough) and when I cut into Easter nearside the powder was again deep and untracked.
Finished the morning with a traverse across the Reverse Traverse and then dropped into Currie Creek which was awesome powder in some places and rocks and avi derise in others - a real mixed bag. Oh, somewhere during the morning we hit out Anaconda lades which were not quite as spectacular as yesterday but still pretty good untracked steep tree skiing. And another thing, Lynda had rip down 1-2-3s while i was doing something else and said it was just downright enjoyable.
In the afternoon which due to a long morning was pretty short we hung out in Surprise Trees and Triple Trees (top only) finding new lines down having to cut the trees a bit closer each time and also having a few spectacular drops on to Trespass trail when navigation proved a bit faulty. We did try one run through Currie Glades taking us near to the loading area of the new Polar Peak lift which looks well on the way to being ready. The run through the glades left us both with the impression that the trees had been thinned but I will be looking for confirmation on that.
Last run of the day flirted with the illegal. I went out to Currie Creek and dropped in but after two turns hit left into the trees. I eneded up in Cougar Glades which were closed but as I came in well below the sign I think I was just on the sunny side of the law. As it was it was the most awesome run of the season so far - deep untracked gladed skiing all the way down with regular face shots. The ski out was a bit technical but well worth the effort.
So a great days powder skiing, beers in bar afterwards then back home to a hot tub under the stars drinking beer surrounded by snow covered trees that looked like something from a Hollywood set. Early night.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Day 4 Welcome to the New Side

Yes, today as promised the New Side opened for the first time this season so having had three days of the Old Side we headed off up Timber and stayed on the New Side all day. Just like the Old side it was very wind affected which gave variable conditions but more of those later.
The temp as we arrived at the hill was about -9 at the base and a little lower at the top. During the day which was sunny but with ridge line cloud the base temps got up to about -3 but up top it sayed cold with a harsh wind that must have given a wind chill of a good 5 degrees lower than the mercury temp. The base was 112 cms and the surfaces varied from boiler plate ice to awesome powder via raincrust and wind slab - in other words just like yesterday you had to keep your wits about you.
All day we did a series of loops either from the top of White pass back to the foot of the chair or all the way to the bottom then up Timber and down to White pass that way. Anyone who knows the hill knows this pattern gives endless permutations of runs and terrain to ski. It was a rolling opening first with just White pass, then near side Currie and finally all of Currie as far as Easter bowl hike up (Skydive, Stag leap etc were all closed due to poor coverage). Even the Knot chutes were open which I didn't hike as the skiing in there didn't look any better than what was on offer in the rest of the area without having to hike.
The runs back from Timber top to White pass were all a bit scratchy but Puff improved with skier traffic, Lift line/Lower Big Bang was quite good powder in places but lots of hazards and Heartland right side was slick but with some soft snow near the edges.
For the remainder of what we skied (in some cases several times over) the verdict was -
Gun Bowl - great soft powder everywhere except on the far ridge that was wind swept ice. Skied it lots to access other areas and enjoyed it every time but towards closing the light got very flat.
Highline trees - windslab, not really worth the effort.
Surprise trees - Three times and great skiing as the trees had protected the surface from the wind effect. A bit twiggy and stumpy but very nice soft and mostly untracked snow.
Milky Way trees - very disappointing as we thought they would be great, in fact they were no more than ok with a lot of wind slab.
Morning Glory trees - Great, not much traffic and still loads of untracked soft powder when we got there. Disn't seem to be wind affected at all but you still had the long ski out at the bottom of Falling Star.
Anaconda Glades - when the fence dropped on Currie we ignored the bowl and went straight to Anaconda where we put first tracks in the steep and deep left cut back which was great powder all the way down, just awesome and the biggest problem was getting hit by your own slough. Towards the end of the day I hiked the hump and dropped the chute just beyond which was unskied presumably because of all the bushes in the top, just a little bush whacking and then it opened up into truely awesome powder.
Diamon Back - Nice at the top but icy and very aldery at the bottom, needs more snow before I try that as ski off again.
1-2-3s - Quite a lot of avi debrise but if you skied between it there was some very nice soft stuff and great powder in the trees on the right of 3. Did my good deed for the day in 3 recovering a ski that had been lost about 100 metres uphill of where I found it - always amazing how far these things travel.
Corner Pocket - Not often you get to ski one of the double diamond saddles on opening weekend. Snow was ok in the pocket with only one tire showing and below it was great untracked powder which just got a bit slabby lower down. Cut across to exit via Easter bowl which was also soft and only lightly tracked.
High Saddle - See Corner Pocket. Due to board scrape I has to slither the last little bit out of the chute but after that great powder.
Triple trees - Second to last run and we hit the top section of triple trees down to Trespass trail. To our amazement the undergrowth was far less than we feared, the powder was soft and there were so few tracks you could find a fresh line all the way down even late afternoon.
Easter bowl - Final run of the day took the reverse traverse all the way out which was in surprisingly good shape and the whoop-de-do above Currie Creek almost non-existant. With Skydive closed it was the nearest I could get for a final run and it was still great with plenty of untracked lines until lower down.
All in all a great day on varied conditions but with great powder snow untracked if you were prepared to look and work for it. No beer after skiing as we had to get back for tea before heading up for a presentation on avi dangers by CAC . The presentation is in the Griz bar so we will be back there at 18:30 and just treat it as a late start to the apres. Watch this space.