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.

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