Saturday, February 12, 2011

Day 70 not what we were promised but still pretty bloody good

Lets start with last nights hockey. Just as I predicted the score was of no account (the Riders won 8-4) but markers were being put down for the play offs that start next week. The result was that over 300 penalty minutes were awarded (a franchise record) and at the end the two teams only had two and four players on the bench instead of the usual ten due to game misconducts and the game didn't end until after 10:30 instead of the usual 10 due to fighting. Can't wait until next weeks play offs.

The forecast was for temps to drop to -5 overnight with snow. In the event we got temps that never went below about +1 and the precip was rain with a little wet snow but by the morning it had turned to solid rain. The report from the hill said 16 cms of fresh, the base up to 252 cms, wet granular at the bottom and powder at the top. With a report like that there was only one game in town, go high and stay high - we went to the New Side.

First run down through Puff trees felt a bit heavy and with White Pass closed for avi control a further run through Black Cloud confirmed that the powder was indeed heavy. Next loop White Pass had opened and we had a straight run back in surprisingly soft powder and pretty deep, and so firm that you weren't touching bottom.

With a lot closed we did many loops through Surprise Trees getting further across into the boonies each time and having to hike back a bit further along Trespass Trail but for fresh tracks it was well worth it. Late Morning Anaconda Glades opened and we were tipped off by a patroller buddy we were riding the lift with so we grabbed very early tracks there plus first tracks in the trees to the left of Bootleg Glades. Another lap of that and we were ready for lunch but then they opened Currie bowl.

We just hit the top of White Pass as the fence dropped and as usual the big crowds dashed for 1-2-3s and Currie Glades. We kept out nerve and although the County Line was close the low traverse was open so we hit out as far as we could. Two patrollers were cutting their way up the Easter so that left me with first tracks in any of the front runs of my choice. I chose Cougar Glades and had what to date is probably the run of the season. Deep untracked tree skiing all the way down and really fast. After that loops of Stag Leap (two tracks ahead of us) and the Brain (on track ahead which disappeared soon after the start) it was time for a very late lunch.

After lunch it was back to the New Side for a drop down the chutes on the right of Easter from the top of Skydive and then a right hook into Spinal Tap which was very deep and easy skiing all the way down. Next the Brain but this time staying hard left and left of the creek bed. This gave very tight steep tree skiing particularly on the final section down to the cat track which was just awesome in the hero snow and best of all untracked even that late in the day.

Of course we then had the final rip down Skydive which was a bit bumpy in the top but then tracked but great soft snow for a maximum speed rip for a finish.

Great day - temps +4 coming off the hill, a cool down and rain turning to snow in the forecast so tomorrow could be a repeat performance. One of the best days so far all the better because expectations were so low.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 69 a short report

A short report for two reasons, firstly there isn't much to report and secondly there is a hockey game tonight we want to get to.

To deal with hockey game, we are playing the Kimberley Dynamiters in the final regular season game. The result means nothing as the play off places have been decided and the play offs start next week with the Ghostriders playing - you guessed it, the Kimberley Dynamiters. It follows that the purpose behind this evenings game is to put down markers for the up coming play off series so I guess we are in for a bit of a fight and if we get more than a few minutes of 5 on 5 hockey I will be amazed.

The hill today was much the same as yesterday with the wind sift just as stiff as ever on the up wind slopes and the whole condition rather varied and a bit slick when you least expected it. Starting temps were around zero and at the base rose to +5 although it was bit cooler at the top and felt a lot cooler in the wind and overcast conditions which persisted all day.

We had a New side day and just hung out, first of all around Siberia Ridge, Surprise Trees, Anaconda Glades doing multiple loops and finishing before lunch with a rip down Skydive.

In the afternoon we drifted out into Concussion, Stag leap, Cougar Glades, Easter/Spinal Tap, The Brain, Window chutes and of course a final rip down Skydive. Conditions were much the same as yesterday with chunky blow in which was rather tough and a hard base that took a fair bit of edge control to hold down the speed.

Day ended at +3 and some light rain in the valley which I guess is snow on the hill and due to turn to snow right down to base over the next 24. We will see.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 68 quite tough conditions all things considered

Today dawned overcast with temps of -5, no new overnight snow, the snow base now down around 240 cms with kind of light mountain snow off and on all day. We had some pretty strong ridge line winds so that there was blow in all over but the conditions were variable. In a nut shell where the wind had blown it was hard ice crust, where the snow had been subject to up slope winds it was wind slab which was grabby on the tips but with wash out on the tails and later as the blow in came from down slope winds it became great smooth wind groomed brainless skiing.

The Old side provided the first challenges with -
Boomerang - slabby blow in.
Linda's - more slabby blow in at the top with some nice soft fill in lower down.
Bear Chutes - blow in starting to get a bit less slabby.
Steep and Deep - nice wind blown at the top and actually deep powder in the right hand chute into lower Gorby.
Snake ridge - good if you picked the folds in the terrain to give you soft tracks.
KC chutes - a bit scratchy on the way in and on the way out but great powder all the way down the middle section.
Cedar Ridge - Right side, good down draft snow now forming good wnd groomed smooth snow which was easy skiing.
3 returns through Kangaroo - as always ugly icey bumps with some soft cover, very tough skiing.

Last run before lunch down Boom which by then had tons of down draft soft which was some of the easiest wind grooming you were ever going to see. Because of the varied conditions, the scratchy base and of course the flat light it was vert difficult but rewarding mornings skiing.

In the afternoon we went to the New side where there appeared to be a bit less wind but there was still plenty of evidence of blow in.

Cougar Glades - great soft snow if you held the tight tree line on the left. During this I tried to take a line which involved dropping a 6 ft roll, ducking under a fallen tree then diving into an untracked glade. I failed to notice a branch pointing down off the fallen tree and smacked my head so hard that I was knocked over, saw stars, wrenched my neck back and had a huge lump on my head through the helmet. A message to those who say you don't need a helmet, today without mine I would most likely be dead now - think about it.

The Brain - great soft snow skiing still to be had if you looked hard enough in the trees.

The Brain again - having met up with abuddy who hadn't done the Brain yet this year it had to be done again and was just as good a second time but of course with a slightly different line.

One Step Beyond - I am told the chute beyond Lone Fir is technically part of Easter Meadows but in my own mind I have named it One Step Beyond. The chute is tighter and steeper than any of the Saddles but as it doesn't get skied much (at all) it remains in great shape.

Spinal Tap - still very good soft snow but still with a couple of sink holes to avoid on the way out and a bit technical as you come out through the trees.

Michy Chutes - just over the ridge line from the prevailing wind so predictably full of soft blow in snow.

Skydive - final ripper during which I met up with a couple more buddies so we ended up with quite a collection of the usual suspect for last rip, it's getting to be something of a club in there every day.

Early night in anticipation of the forthcoming weather cycle which is looking pretty encouraging for the weekend.

Day 67 a surprising boost to the snow base

Yes, today didn't promise much but actually delivered some pretty good conditions as long as you weren't going to be a princess about cold, wind chill and variable snow.

Overnight we had temps down to -20 but it was -18 when we got to the hill and during the day it got uo to about -8. The forecast was for cloud with a bluebird afternoon but in the event what we got was strong ridgeline winds with loads of blow in and mountain snow at the higher elevations all day which without producing significant accumulations still added to the 249 cm snow base all day.

We hit the New side and spent the morning trying unusual loops in such places as Surprise Trees, Knot chutes, Anaconda Glades, Bootleg Glades and Siberia ridge. All were good with new snow except that Anaconda looked like it had slid in the top of the second chute and this needed a bit of avoiding. Cougar Glades were soft all the way down, Window chutes were a bit scratchy on the exit and Stag leap was particularly good on skiers left.

In the afternoon we stayed on the New side and had a great run through Secret chutes/Spinal tap the latter being a bit technical in the lower sections. Decline was a bit tracked out lower down but Concussion had lots of soft blow in through the whole of the chutes and bowl. I then did something I haven't done all year, I took a run and it was so good that I did it again straight away afterwards - the run was the Brain. It was great tight, mostly untracked tree skiing from top to bottom.

Final rip down Skydive but with the usual suspects missing it was just me and Lynda. A great rip and finish to the day. Maximum beer evening with friends at home and now time for bed. Loads of disturbed weather in the forecast.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 66 another blue bird day

It's official Fernie is becoming another typical European resort with bluebird sunshine and no new snow, the only difference is the complete lack of crowds as we hardly saw a sole all day.

Temps started at a chilly -15 and were about the same at the close of the day having risen to about -5 in the early afternoon. I have a feeling it will go a lot lower during the course of the night.

The effect on conditions was that the cool down had stiffened up the unskied snow a bit so that where there was a lot of it then it could just about pass as powder. Lower down where the weeks old rain crust still sits under the surface it was a bit patchy so that you kept hitting a powder/slick mix giving very front seat/back seat skiing. Higher up there tended to be some scratchy stuff up on the ridges where the wind had swept it but lower down the snow was nice, soft blow in or even untracked if you looked hard enough.

We went to the Old side and warmed up with a few runs through Sunny side to reflect just how cold it felt and the snow was ok and soft on hard bumps. Going out into Snake ridge and KC chutes we found the snow just as soft as yesterday with just some shadow/light problems in KC. The rest of the morning was spent looping the Old triangle, particularly Cedar Ridge, King Fir, Boom, Boom ridge, Bear chutes - all the usual suspects, all good but subject to a rather varied base.

Last run before lunch was to hit out to the Fish bowl where we took the Poppa chutes and cut back in bounds on the Red Tree ski out. As always the Fish was lightly tracked and just fantastic powder - well worth the risk. All returns all morning through Kangaroo, lost count, but it was what you would expect, tough icey bumps with a scattering of fresh on top.

In the afternoon we went to the New side where for first run I hit a line which i don't know the name of. Hiked the Cornice ridge, got to the top of Lone Fir, went one chute further and then cut right into the trees to find a very tight steep chute that comes out just to skiers right of Lone Fir - great skiing but wish I knew the name. Cut across Easter to take Spinal Tap to make it a very spectacular way to run off the hill.

After that it was pretty standard stuff with Cougar Glades, Stag Leap, Decline, Window chutes and of course the fianal rip down Skydive. Not much to choose between them as they were all very good skiing on a nice rough and tumble base with still some fresh on the sides.

Much the same forecast for tomorrow.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 65 a really nice powder day

It wasn't awesome, sick or any of those sort of adjectives, it was just a nice powder day which in the way of things is way better than most recreational skiers will get in any given year. Really sorry about yesterday's blog but we did get totally hoovered after skiing and I actually did pretty well to type as much as I did.

The snow continued into the night so that by the morning we had about 15 cms of fresh at the snow plots with way more in certain parts of the bowls and the snow base back above 250 cms. Despite what I have written before we went to the Old side to try for first tracks and although we were first up there was signs of earlier activity presumably by those who had paid to get first tracks.

The snow had come down with very little moisture content so that you were through it pretty easily and we were really skiing on the base with some great powder on top. The fluff moved quite quickly and almost everywhere you went there was maximum slough problems and in extreme cases it even slabbed out in mini avi conditions.

We ripped around the Old side triangle in Boom, Buckshot, Cedar ridge several ways, King Fir and then a long loop out the Steep and Deep which we entered via the Gorby shoulder. We got first/early tracks everywhere we went and had some great fresh snow skiing. Three returns through Kangaroo and Bear chutes were all good. By this time it was about 11 and we headed to the New side which was showing all green on the open board.

We just had time for a couple of runs before lunch. First was Cougar Glades which by staying close left in the trees rather than drifting out into the gladed areas gave good untracked skiing. Then a good finish through Lone Fir (awesome deep powder under the chute) then Spinal Tap (again really good deep powder in the creek bed) time for lunch.

In the afternoon we went back to the New side and had great loops in -
Stag leap - great powder all the way down.
The Brain - good tight tree skiing mostly untracked
Window chutes - The log drop getting almost civilised and the ski out getting a little technical.
Concussion - far chutes a bit patchy but some very deep snow
Skydive - final run, great, great soft snow skiing all the way down, what a ripper.

Maybe a bit more snow tonight - who knows ?

Day 64 oh dear

Another good day on the hill in -5 conditions, good snow, super bowl Sunday so the crowds drifted off late in the day (go Packers), junior free ski on Big bang so the crowd such as they were tended to be a the base of White pass - great skiing all over the hill, particularly KC chutes on the Old side.

Totally, totally pissed with my sailing buddies from Wales so nothing else to report. Puking snow as i type ? so tomorrow could be an awesome day. That's it - too far gone for any more.