Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 3 or was it day 1 being opening day

A good question but with the preview weekend opening day does in fact become day 3. Crowds were the lowest I had ever seen on an opening day with no line ups and the Griz bar almost empty in the evening. Two reasons for this have been suggested both of which are covered below, either it was the fact that opening was on a Friday and not a Saturday or the fact that only the Old side was open put people off.

Opening on a Friday was an unusual decision. There could be two possible reasons, either the hill were going back to the traditional opening day (Friday was last used in 2004, but also for many years before that) or it was a shrewd marketing move to give, in effect, a three day weekend at the start of the season to boost income. Unfortunately conversations with friends in the know have thrown up a third possibility - someone mis read the calendar and thought that the 2nd was a Saturday by the time they discovered their mistake the 2nd had been published as the opening day and the rest, as they say, is history.

Turning to the closure of the new side, we come again to the question of the constuction of the new Polar Peak lift. As I predicted no flying conditions were apparent in the last 7 days so the lift remained in kit form in the parking lot. Today being the first blue bird day the towers were flown into place but construction regulations meant that flying could not take place over an open ski slope, hence no New side. I am told that every thing is in place now and the New side will open tomorrow but with resricted access below Currie bowl to avoid the construction site. When the actual lift opens is anyone's guess, you can get goods odds against any time this year.

It was about -3 when we arrived at the hill and -6 on top. Temps during the day came up to low plus temps in the sun and around zero higher up before plunging this evening to around -6 at the base. The forecast was calling for overcast conditions early on so it should come as no surprise that we had a beautiful bluebird day all day really helping the heli construction of the new lift.

Snow was very wind affected and much tougher than last weekend. Up top in places it has been swept down to an ice base while in other places it was wind slab which was very slabby and grabby. Lower down there was what felt like rain crust. All in all it was very tricky conditions where you were never quite sure what you were going to land on out of a turn and you had to be ready to react quickly if you had mis judged the surface. I saw a lot of falls and a few injuries as result of these tricky conditions.

Like last weekend we spent our time all over Boomerang, Bear chutes, Cedar ridge, Linda's run, Cedar glades, and all asssorted routes in between. Everthing really was reflected in the above report on conditions, slabby/grabby/ice on top and rain crust down low. Not over selling this am I ?

Late morning we tried the fence between Dancer and Easter bowl which was a bit softer than most but the ski out through the chutes very icey. We then got word that the sign line on the far side of Cedar had been dropped and we headed out for loops through Redtree and Steep and Deep (both twice) and a loop back to Bear through Boomerang. Again, just as described there was good soft untracked powder up high, plenty of bushes to avoid and some scrapy crust down low, all in all not bad skiing but you did have to pay attention.

We had a very late lunch so that the afternoon was just a couple of drops off Cedar Ridge - very nice soft snow between the alders and a trip to the Fish bowl. Now as a warning I don't think skiing out of bounds on opening day is a very good idea unless you take care and really know what you are doing. The Poppa chutes were awesome untacked out of bounds tree skiing and worth the hike. The next face was a bit bushy but ok,becoming crusty lower down. The real problem was finding the ski out to Redtree on a thin snow base which took a lot of concentration and knowledge of the terrain. A quick loop back through Boomerang which was still ok finished the day.

Too much beer in the Griz bar followed by a hot tub on the back deck under the stars in -6, dinner and now this - really ready for bed. Tomorrow night now looks like hanging out at the Griz bar for a seminar on avalanche risks from 6:30 - 9. You can never know too much about this stuff so it should be a good evening.

Outlook is for a dusting of snow ( maybe) and then getting colder - lets see.

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