Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day 9 Mountain snow - not much but ok

So just as previously reported we started with temps of about -9 at the base, -12 at the top with few degrees warm up during the day. Morning conditions were overcast with some mountain snow (not really enough for a measurable accumulation) and in the afternoon it brightened up to hazy overcast conditions. The viz was totally socked in this morning and very white (particularly at the top of White Pass) getting rather better as the day went on.
Sking was again tough. A number of people have asked me why I dwell on how tough the conditions are off the groomers (off piste to you Europeans) when the conditions on the groomers are so good. There are two reasons - firstly I don't ski groomers except to get from A to B and I don't regard skiing groomers real skiing at all. Secondly, if you take a snow cat and smash the snow flat, compress it and then groom it you end up with flat compressed groomed snow - what else is there to report ? The groomers are great if you like that kind of thing, as they will be all season, every ski hill anywhere in the world, forever - groomer report over.
We went to the New Side and found things lightly dusted with the mountain snow and a bit of blow in mostly in the Currie chutes. Runs back through the Gun bowl were ok if very white and excursions into Surprise Trees found better light but very chunky conditions.
1-2-3s which are usually reliable on such days also proved hard work. The problem is that the surface is so varied that you either turn on what you think is hard and it's soft ( result skis don't come round, you find yourself in the fall line, accelerating in early season hazards etc) or it's hard when you think it soft and you accelerate out of the turn in the back seat having to fight to get back into control. Add to this chunky snow pushing the skis where you don't want them to go and roots catching your tails as you come round leaving you in the fall line in tight situations and you start to get a feel of what I mean.
Next had a look in Corner Pocket to see what the Saddles might be like. I use Corner Pocket as a sort of cypher for the other Saddles so (if as today) all the tires are showing you know that High Saddle will be an unskiable gouged trench thanks to boards and Low Saddle will be sheet ice peppered with rocks, in other words not worth trying. I did hike Cornice ridge up to Lone Fir on the grounds that as it was some work to get there and steeper than the other Saddles it might be better. It wasn't bad but pretty twiggy in the middle section and some serious edge to edge jumping was needed.
The rest of the day we just spent our time looping Currie bowl in chutes between Concussion and Currie Creek. There are only about a million different ways down through the chutes and trees but the conditions were very similar wherever you went with a hard base, some soft, some chunks and plenty of hazards. The only area to avoid was the middle of Currie Creek low down where there had obviously been a wet snow avalanch early in the season and this was now solid ice lumps - very challenging.
On the drop from Timber top to White Pass bottom it was mostly a fairly scratchy Lift Line route although a twiggy Puff trees was negotiated a couple of times. Also tried the Lazy Locals traverse (very rocky and twiggy) but leading to some good stuff in Big Bang and Mitchy Chutes but again very cautious skiing between hazards.
Final rip down Cougar Glades was still good soft and only lightly tracked snow. By the end of the day for the first time this season actually felt that I was in control of the skis and able to hold a tight line on the steep stuff.
Looks like more of the same tomorrow.

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