Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 49 a very nice sting in the tail

The snow stopped last evening but not before it had added about another 5 cms of fresh since closing yesterday. We headed for the hill in temps of about -8 and blue bird day which held good to lunch time before it clouded over.

We went to the New side to go to Currie bowl but it was shut following the snow of yesterday evening. We ripped up and down White pass a couple of times in the super soft powder enjoying the great viz which had been missing yesterday.

After a couple of runs we drifted out the Surprise Trees and met a patroller buddy on the way to flip the signs on the traverse so we went in for first tracks. Surprise was ok with soft powder at the top and a good covering lower down providing a nice cushion on what had obviously previously been breakable crust. Spent the whole morning doing maximum speed loops in Surprise having got separated from my buddies and must have made at least 7 loops. The Gun bowl was great every where you went but by the end of the morning the snow in Surprise was getting quite sun affected and heavy.

We ran off the hill for lunch through Triple Trees which surprisingly good with a load of untracked stuff all the way down.

After lunch Currie bowl opened and we did a first run through testing to find if the traverses were open - which they weren't. The snow was a bit wind blown but deep in some of the gullies. We then made two more runs back into Currie Glades which were soft powder just like yesterday.

We intended to loop Surprise but found Anaconda open and found an untracked chute on the far side which was just awesome. Just time to do one more loop through Anaconda from the top which no one seemed to have noticed was open and was awesome untracked powder to the cat track. A final drop down Bootleg was a massive improvement on yesterday with the new snow giving a soft covering on the breakable crust.

Looking forward to tomorrow when I anticipate a full Currie opening with access to the front side runs - here's hoping.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Day 48 Alls well that ends well

This was a day that started off fairly well short of ok and ended up on the right side of very acceptable.

It was about -2 at the base and -8 at the top as we arrived and overcast with very flat light and bad viz up top. Yet again we went to the New side to stalk a Currie opening and yet again we found ourselves looping and waiting as it was closed. First run down Puff showed us where the snow had blown from in the night (the report showed 8 cms of fresh) and the job of the morning was to find where it had blown to.

Gun bowl had loads but very bad light. Highline trees were untracked with some fresh. Highline had good soft deep snow on the right where the trees had killed the wind. Firey Hornet was also good due to wind shadow. Several trips into the toilet bowl showed that the aspect was just right and there was good deep snow but a hike out was needed. Milky Way trees was good in places and swept in others so you just had to pick your track to get best effect.

We were just getting ready to run down to lunch when they dropped the fence on Currie and we were the first ones in. By that time it had started to snow and continued all afternoon and into the night getting heavier and deeper as the day went on. Light was bad at the top and a sign line was closed all the way down Currie Powder so no trips to the chutes. We cut into Currie Glades and were rewarded by deep soft tree skiing all the way down. We then tried Bootleg which was ugly crust and not much fun, later I ran into a buddy from Patrol who confirmed that there was a band of unsupported crust around the Bootleg level which they had christened the sh-t band, and I agree.

For the rest of the day we spent our time with 6 loops of Currie Glades which just got better and deeper every time. Late on it was so good that I could fly the cliff in Currie Glades with no problems. Each time on the loop down to White Pass we dropped Puff trees which similarly got better and deeper. By the end we were having good powder skiing albeit with occasional base scrapes all over the hill.

Beers, hot tub, quiet night in and more beer. Early start anticipated to take maximum advantage as the snow seems to have stopped but is forecast to start again tomorrow.

Day 47 got better as the day went on

You could almost write today as a straight re run of yesterday but with steadily improving conditions and more snow.

We arrived at the hill hopeful of Currie opening (which it didn't) with a plan of hanging about in White Pass to see what happened. The temps were about -4 at the base and -8 at the top with conditions socked in and snow which continued albeit quite fine all day. First run through Puff Trees ( Lift Line was still closed at the sign line) proved that conditions were much the same as yesterday with a covering of dust on a firm base goind to breakable crust as you got lower down.

Just like yesterday we put many loops off White Pass in different permutations of -
Gun bowl - really soft sifted snow becoming almost deep powder by the afternoon but with very flat light and poor viz.
Runs back under the lift - Similarly filled in as the day went on.
Milky Way Trees - many different ways all with some parts wind swept crust but also many parts of wind piled up powder to give some nice powder turns.
Toilet bowl - Mostly untouched because of the possible work on the exit and getting pretty deep in the final depression.
Highline and Highline Trees - filling in with windsift and new snow pretty well as fast as we could ski it.
Firey Hornet - ducking in just below the closure signs gave loads of untracked snow.

Runs off the hill always through Diamond Back which by the end of the day was full of new snow and wind sift to the point where you could actually see your own art work after skiing a pitch. Amazingly the final run out of the day through the Meadow was on about 4 cms of fresh snow which gave such a mellow ride after the ice track skiing we have been doing there over the past few days.

As we left the hill it was still snowing and -3 so opening conditions tomorrow should be even better with a good chance of Currie bowl opening having been closed now for 5 days. Looks like the snow has stopped now in the valley but who knows on the hill - fingers crossed.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Day 46 even after all we have had there was still some powder

Temps dropped overnight so that at the start today we had -14 and the lightest amount of dust on crust imaginable. It was a fairly clear bluebird day for most of the day and although the cold overnight temps had hardened the base quite a lot there was still a lot of good skiing to be had.

We went to the New side in the hope that White Pass would be open - it wasn't but we got word it would open during the morning so we just looped Timber chair while waiting. Puff trees, Black Cloud and Diamond Back were all harder under foot than yesterday but with some light dust on top and just about skiing ok.

They opened White Pass and things were just as we expected, good powder at the very top becoming a little scratchier by the time you got back to White Pass base. We spent the rest of the day making multiple loops in various permutations of -
The Gun bowl - fresh powder all over with a bit of avi debris and a couple of snow pits to keep you on your toes.
Highline Trees - powder most of the way down and hardly tracked until quite late in the day.
Highline - nice soft snow in the top getting a bit firm at the bottom and quite slick where you went over the ridge under the lift.
The Lift line from the ridge - a little avi debris to avoid but good soft snow taking an edge.
Milky Way Trees - Done several times and was run of the day as there was untracked powderish snow all the way down to the cat rack even through to the end of the day.
The I bowl - had some avi debris out of the Knot chutes but good if that was avoided. Unusually there was sign line above Firey Hornet so you couldn't get out all the way to Surprise Trees not that I think that would have been great skiing.

Our trips to base at lunch and at the end were via Diamond Back which seemed pretty crunchy and slick compared with what we had been skiing.

Beers, no hot tub as the service company have done a water change and it hasn't warmed up yet. Quiet night in watching hockey on TV and keeping fingers crossed for the moderate amounts of snow in the forecast.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day 45 a whole lot better than most people will tell you

Well we got our wish and overnight, the temps dropped to about zero by morning and winter had returned. I seem to remember seeing a bit of snow when I got up in the night to pee but to be honest by morning there was hardly dust on crust to report. When we got to the hill it was apparent that everything had frozen overnight even though it was not quite as cold as the forecasters would have us believe.

The New side was shut for the third consecutive morning so we headed for the Old side. It was boiler plate with Bear groomed but bullet proof, Lizard opened below Tower 6 but only ok on groomers (everything off was hard, smooth but rain affected) North ridge ok but Boom, Boom ridge and everything off Cedar ridge was just too ugly to contemplate.

Having had to track around on groomers we eventually hit the New side as soon as we got word that the New side was open. This was a bit of an optimistic statement as only Timber opened with White Pass remaining closed all day. We got it wrong a couple of times, we dropped Puff which was ok then got in Deep Sea which was pretty ugly and next time round tried Falling Star which was pretty well boiler plate top to bottom.

After that we got it right big time. We cut across to Surprise and found it ok in slightly breakable crust. Next was Puff trees which were actually powder in the top followed by Black Cloud which was soft on top but had to be jumped in the lower sections. Finally we went all the way across to Diamond back wich was a bit of breakable crust in the top but very mellow with a soft surface lower down.

That was it for the rest of the day, just looping all those runs, varying the permutations and finding the runs easier to rip as the day went on partly because we got more used to the slightly crusty conditions and partly because the temps were dropping all the time so that the base all over the hill was setting up ok and the surface was taking a very satisfactory edge. Puff trees by the sign line for Lift Line was particularly good and we even took to dropping of the shoulder off Summer Road just below where Timber Lift crosses it - don't even have a name for that little pitch - any ideas.

Ended a rather better day than I expected with beers in the Griz bar followed by wings night at the pub. Not sure where all this is going outher than to say that just when you think the whole thing is going pear shaped it turns out to be better than expected. A White pass opening would be pretty good tomorrow.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Day 44 bring back winter

A very short day today because buddies were arriving to stay and I had to drive to Calgary to get them so only a few early morning runs to 11 o'clock. The drive to Calgary and back was pretty interesting as I left Fernie in +5 and arrived in Calgary in -20. At one stage the temp shifted from -20 to +2 and back in less than one mile of driving.

Back to the start. It rained all night again with temps never getting below +4. This is now the fourth solid day of rain and plus temps and to be honest I have had enough and would just settle for a freeze up if only to prove we are still in winter. The hill had the same closures as yesterday so no New side, no Lizard bowl and no Cedar bowl - any doubts about the closure policy were quickly dispelled by the sight of a cat 3.5 natural that has wiped out a path of trees through the middle of Cedar bowl.

The rain sort of stopped and we tracked round the old side triangle mostly sticking to bumps and groomers which were ok but very heavy, even the grooming was pretty random due to the soft snow. Eventually we ventured down Boom and Boom ridge which were both a work out in very heavy wet snow. That was about all we had time for.

Forecast for tonight is dropping to -5 with flurries so things should be a bit better tomorrow. If it cools slowly we could get a reasonable dry base but if quickly then we will have boiler plate with our best hope for dust on crust. Opinion in the bar last night was divided but the consensus was that this has been the worst January weather event since 1976 and it is only the good start and base that has prevented a total disaster. As it is if it doesn't get better fast we could be heading for a really depressing week or so.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day 43 Now that's what I call a real mess

First of all an update on yesterday which I missed posting last night due to a massive evenings drinking session with some welsh sailing buddies who are out here at the moment - sorry for the lapse.

Friday as you may recall was a soggy mess top to bottom so as it rained all night we had very low expectations going to the hill. As it turns out we were wrong the hill had improved out of all proportion and all reasonable expectation. With a slight cool down the base up in White pass had firmed up without becoming hard and there was a thick covering of grappel which gave sort of hero snow conditions.

Taking a tip from a patrol buddy we traversed into Knot chutes which were just perfect. I bowl and the chutes out towards Surprise were equally good with just a bit of breakable crust in the lower section. Just before lunch they opened Currie bowl and 1-2-3s was good all the way down to the lower sections of 3s where the soft grappel became crust. Just after lunch 1s avied due to skier activity and there was a cat 2 slide with 7 skiers wiped out but no full burials and after a quick trip to the hospital confirmation of no serious injuries. Bit of a result and a good reminder that this play ground of ours can kill if you don't show it the respect it deserves.

With the New side shut down for rescue we went to the Old side and had a great afternoon on the Boom practicing soft wet bump sking - also had a wet run through Kangaroo. The evening was spent drinking far too much beer with buddies.

Overnight it rained again with the rain turning to very wet snow by morning. The hill claimed about 16 cms of fresh and perhaps unsurprisingly the whole New side was shut down for avi control and stayed shut down all day. We went hoping for some ok conditions but this time we were wrong again and this time the wrong way.

The only bit of the hill that was open was the old triangle which had about 10 cms of heavy snow on it and then a covering of rain from about half way down. The result was ok ish fresh at the top and pure elephant snot everywhere else. It was raining almost to the top of Bear and it was clear this was going to be short day.

We skied Bear, Boom and Boom ridge which were deep heavy chop and could only be skied by edge to edge jumping - a real work out. By late morning we were very wet and the only half decent skiing was on the left of Bear which was starting to form into the familiar soft Bear bumps. Fall line bump skiing is only fun for so long in those conditions so by lunch it was all over and we headed off the hill. In the Griz bar there was a surprisingly large number of the usual suspects taking an early finish so a few beers were had.

Tomorrow I head to Calgary to pick up a buddy from the airport who is coming out for a week or so. Fingers crossed for better conditions which from the forecast still seems like being a day or two away.

Day 42 a pretty good day all things considered

No report available tonight due to getting unbelievably pissed with my Welsh sailng buddies. Full report tomorrow.

Summary much better than you would have expected and the in bound avi in the top of 1-2-3s didn't get us and the result is no serious casualties or even complete burials.

Too pissed to continue