Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day 59 Cold, hard and tough conditions

On the way to the hill today it was -28. During the day it stayed low so that as I got on the Bear Chair late in the afternoon it was about -18 which must have been about as warm as it got (ignoring direct sunlight) although it stayed a bluebird day with angel dust and sun dogs - a typical arctic high.

As it was so cold plus the fact that it was Lynda's first day back from the UK we decided on a two break strategy giving us 3 sessions of skiing. What emerged was that the continuing cold weather had dried out the snow even more so that the surface was now less chunky and actually would pass for powder in certain circumstances. The problem was that on the upper mountain where the base was just more soft snow this was fine but on the lower mountain where there had been the rain crust last week you were alternating between deep soft snow and a slick base - very challenging.

We went to the Old side and had a good start getting Lynda back in the saddle with Bear bumps, Sun up, Boom, Buck shot, Boom ridge, Cedar ridge several ways, and of course Kangaroo each time which illustrated what slick based bumps and heavy soft snow could present by way of a challenge. The snow was surprisingly good, particularly on Cedar ridge and at one time we stood in Cedar bowl for 5 minutes not seeing a sole anywhere in the bowl. By just after 11 we were cold enough and went for a hot choccy break.

Next we went to the new side and had a quick loop through White Pass to test the snow which was also very soft and only partially tracked in Gun bowl and Highline trees. Just had time for a Skydive , Decline and Concussion all of which were approaching powder in places. Skydive as always icey bumps in the top for the first 5 turns or so but then good. It was noticeable that Polar Peak was open so as Lynda wasn't going to ski the final session we had lunch and then I headed off with my hiking pack.

Going up Timber chair for the short final session I noticed White Pass wasn't loading and had closed signs. Further enquiries revealed that there had been a problem with the snow pack and no one was being allowed up. I hit Siberia ridge which wasn't too gnarly in the gnarly section and the lower "terrain park" part of the run was just great snow.

Deciding that White Pass would be closed for sometime I went back to the Old side for a couple of pretty good loops on Cedar Ridge ( it really is powder in there) and Kangaroo ( exit to the cat track left is now certainly the way to go). After a couple of runs thought that it seemed pretty quiet so headed back to the New side.

I was much surprised to find White pass reopened and according to reports it had been closed for only 10 minutes. Still trying to work out why it needed a 10 minute closure apparently for safety reasons ?

Final run was -wait for it - Skydive. This time it was icey bumps at the top giving way to soft snow on terrain. Final section skiers left made a change and provided some fresh tracks.

Hot tub, beer and relax. Temps on the deck dropping like a stone, just gone past -25. Must get warmer sometime.

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