Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 88 I came back for this ?

Actually today was a bit better than you might have thought it was going to be judging by the totally crap conditions at the base of the hill, however, I am getting a bit ahead of myself.

I got back yesterday evening and a big thank you to Air Canada for cancelling the direct flight from Heathrow to Calgary so I had to re book Heathrow-Edmonton, Edmonton-Calgary. The result was adding 4 hours to the journey, leaving 2 hours earlier and arriving two hours later, just what you need when coming back on a long trip.

Having heard of the awesome conditions that have been around since I left and with a heavy snowfall warning for the Elk valley I was pretty optimistic about today's skiing - wrong. There was no valley snowfall, it rained all night although the hill reported 15 cms of fresh (they didn't say fresh what) at the mid mountain snow plots. On the way to the hill it was +2 and raining and that is what we faced as we got ready to ski,

With rising temps and rain on top of the awesome amounts of snow we have been having you don't need to be a genius to work out that the avi risk was off the scale with more stuff closed (Currie bowl, Cedar bowl, Lizard bowl) than was open, I understand that full prices were still being charged for day tickets even though over half the hill was shut - amazing. None of the New side was open and only Elk and Deer on the Old side were available so you had the option of skiing the lower hill in pouring rain if you wanted to start on time, we went for a coffee.

About 10:30 we got word Bear and Boom were open and went to check them out. Bear was heavy partially tracked powder at the top and pure elephant snot from about half way down. Sign lines were down at the top of Boom to make sure you couldn't hit Alpine Way or Cedar ridge in that direction so the only real choice was Boom. As first glance it looked like it was going to be super heavy and hard work but actually you were skiing around on top of the snow so the effect was a very strange one of sort of having moon gravity and skiing in slow motion without the usual hard pull on the legs that you get in those circumstances. We had a few great if rather weird feeling runs in that stuff which was much more fun than perhaps it sounds.

We went to the New side and not only was White Pass open but so was the I bowl, Idiot traverse and as a result Surprise Trees - Anaconda was well and truely shut and remaind so all day. The Gun bowl was bit challenging due to the poor light but Surprise Trees were just awesome in the top with great lightly tracked heavy powder turning to rather heavier stuff for the last few turns. We had several runs then a late lunch.

After lunch it was still raining hard at the base with plus temps so again we went high to White pass where it was wet snow building up at a very significant rate and continued to hit out to Surprise Trees which by now where very deep and heavy with huge sloughs almost amounting to avi conditions. After about 4 runs through still getting great tough skiing White Pass chair was closed at about 15:10 due to avi risks and to be honest I was surprised it had stayed open so long. No point in trying to ski the lower mountain in the rain so we hit the bar.

Not a great day back but given the conditions it could have been a lot worse. The heavy snow which normally would have been hard skiing for some reason seemed to ski very easily, almost hero snow at some times, but very slow. Tomorrow could improve as the warm front passing through cools and the precip turns to snow some time over night, lets see.

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