Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day 54 knots and saddles

A very very good day nothwithstanding all the strikes against. The temps remained warm and as there was no precip we appear to have got away with this latest warm up.

Yesterday when the rain finished we were left with a rain affected band at about the lower quarter of the hill level which had turned to rain crust overnight. Starting temps were about +2 at the base cooling as you got higher to minus temps (just) and a general warm up during the day to +5 at the base but with no precip the snow stayed in pretty good shape.

A quick mention to the excellent guys at Top Shelf who yet again had stuck my boots together overnight. Must be 550 days and still going. 800 days of ordinary skiing and 20 years of skiing for the most enthusiastic recreational skier. Worth every cent of the price which is a little more than the price of normal shop bought boots. Top Shelf Rules.

I went to the New side to investigate and dropped to White Pass via Lift Line. I haven't mentioned Lift Line much as it is the path used 90% of the time when going from Timber Top to White Pass base but to give it it's due the run is skiing soft and fast with loads of interesting terrain which would be fun in it's own right but tends to get ignored as it is just part of the loop.

Heading into Currie bowl I found the County Line closed so went out on the low traverse just looking for something. What I found was Concussion untracked with wind sift blown in all the way down and a great rip. The rain crust didn't start until well below the ski out into Gilmar Trail and this provided a useful marker for the rest of the day.

Next loop round they had opened the Knot chutes for the first time in almost two weeks and that was it for the rest of the morning. This year they are not insisting that you hike to the top of the chutes but are allowing a traverse in from the Gun bowl. This worked quite well as on the way across the first time I heard two guys behind me say that they didn't like the ice shoulders and doubled back, just beyond the second shoulder was Tight Knot and some awesome powder.

Spent the whole morning working across the chutes taking a different line each time, Tight Knot, Slip Knot, Slim, Thin and Jim and many lines in between. Only bad decision was to traverse all the way across the ridge line to Gotta Go only to find it was closed but then, if you don't go you don't know. After the chutes it was a variety of Surprise Trees (filled in soft powder all the way down) Anaconda ( all chutes now untracked) and Bootleg (nearside trees good powder with only the lower parts in the rain crust band).

As the chutes were starting to get a bit heavy in the sun I headed out along the County Line (now open) and got to Cougar Glades to find only one track which quickly disappeared and had untracked blow in all the way down until the final stream bed when it all got very rain crusty again. Final run before lunch was what I call the 6 diamond finish (3 x double Black diamond runs) - Tight Knot, Second Anaconda chute and the trees to the left of Bootleg Glades - all still lightly tracked and fresh deep snow.

In the afternoon I had decided to hit the front runs out of the sun but two Swedish guys riding the lift said the Saddles had just been opened and they were right. Did them in order - Corner Pocket,High Saddle, Low Saddle and Lone Fir. All ok if a bit scrapy in places but great untracked powder underneath. Ski down always through the left of Easter bowl which was surprisingly lightly tracked and then out through a rain crusted and icey Freeway. Bigest problem in Lone Fir was avoiding being wiped out by your own slough.

Final run was (surprise, surprise) Skydive which for the first two and a half pitches was very acceptable partially tracked powder. Last bit was rain affected crust but not that bad after a bit of traffic and anyway we had to pay for our fun somehow.

Beer, home, beer, hot tub, beer early night. Cooling trend and flurries in the forecast.

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