Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 96 A nice day on the hill

Yes today was a nice day which should be enough for anyone but after yesterday's awesomeness it does seem a little flat. Temps were lower this morning at about -4 as we headed for the hill and reports said -7 on top. Forecasts were for a sun cloud mix but in the event we had overcast conditions so that sun damage was minimised but we did have very warm temps by afternoon, +6 at the base and +2 at the top which did lead to rather unstable snow conditions.

I seem to have said this so often this year - we headed for the New side. I think the reason that we have done so much New side skiing this year is in part because the temps have been close to zero so height has been needed to get good snow and in part because of the unstable snow conditions openings on the New Side have been delayed giving us fresh snow there days after the main storm.

We had hoped that the cold last night would have dried the snow leaving a light base but in truth it had just chunked up the tracked powder so what was left was much harder skiing than yesterday. We looped all the usual places, Skydive, Cougar Glades, Stage Leap, Easter bowl and Decline. Of all of them Stag Leap had about the softest snow particularly on the left with the rest pretty tough skiing by comparison. Drops from Timber were either by Lift Line or Mitchy Chutes both of which had a firm base but soft enough to take a nice edge with a couple of cms of fresh.

After lunch we linked up with a group who had never skied Gotta Go and as we thought this might be some good snow we headed out that way. We were right, it was the best soft, lightly tracked, deep snow on the hill. The run down through Bootleg was also pretty good.

At Timber we were told that Currie bowl was closed because of the avi risk from warming temps and this included the ridge all the way across and beyond Anaconda. We amused ourselves by looping Knot Chutes - all very good but Tight Knot probably the best. After that we were alternating Triple Trees (quadruple on the last run through right to the lower cat track) and Surprise Trees which turned out to be really much better soft partially packed powder than we expected.

On one of the loops down lift line I was goaded in to hitting Hollywood Rock again even though I thought the landing was tougher than yesterday, to my surprise it proved much softer and I was able the make the perfect landing rather better than yesterday - shows what I know.

So the weekend comes and I never thought I would say It but I feel sorry for the weekend worriors. Last weekend their skiing was ruined by the conditions and closures. During the week we have had rolling openings of all the areas on a daily basis so that we have had fresh snow everyday and been able to trash everything on the weekdays. Saturday comes and everything is trashed with a new weather cycle starting on Sunday - ah well that's just the way it goes.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 95 a couple of hocks off hollywood rock on an awsome Paddy's day

So, happy Paddy's day which we have celebrated by having far more beer than is really a very good idea so please excuse any errors.

Only a couple of cms of fresh overnight and starting temps of just below zero. This seemed to catch the city on the hop so that the highway hadn't been treated and on the way to the hill we saw three cars in the ditch (one inverted) and we had the back end drifting all over the place even though we had 4x4 engaged and good snow tires - forgive the non uk spelling.

The potential opening that I refered to in last night's post was of course Currie bowl which by my calculations had 85 cms of fresh deep powder since the last time it was open. As we arrived at the hill we were told by ski hosts that "everything was open" which proved to be totally wrong. Currie bowl was closed and a patroller was stationed at the end of the Idiot Traverse to stop us getting across into Currie bowl via Anaconda while they were still doing prep work. We cycled on Knot chutes and the chutes just before Surprise trees in good, soft but slightly harder than yesterday snow which made for great skiing, in the mean while we waited for Currie Bowl to open.

Late morning Currie opened and we hit out across the bowl and took the low traverse out to Skydive which took a little step up to get there. There was only one track in Skydive and the four of us (me, Lynda, Rob and Randy) just hit it in the fall line on the 85 cms of un touched powder - no words can describe it, the fall line powder at maximum speed was a sensation you can't describe. The lower third was a little tracked with skiers coming in from Lizard over the past couple of days but that was a small price to pay for the top two thirds. Perhaps the best run I have had ever, ever, ever.

After that it was a day of looping out into the front side runs-
Cougar Glades - awesome deep powder all the way through the first time,mostly untracked and even good soft snow with patches of un tracked later in the day on our second loop.
The Brain - totally untracked deep awesome soft powder so that we could take the creek bed almost all the way down to the cat track, the best it has ever been with powder in tight trees.
Stag Leap - as always, a bit less tracked than most of the runs and particularly down the left side loads of untracked snow.
Easter Bowl - Wonderful soft deep snow but a bit tracked up.
Secret Chutes - Just like Easter Bowl in the top then we cut into Spinal Tap which was amazingly so full of snow that the fallen tree that we used to ski under could now be skied over.
Decline/Window chutes - Decline was great fun soft and as you broke left into Window Chutes it became the deepest untracked powder on the hill. The log drop was little more than a bump and the whole chute was very deep and soft except for the final ski out which was a bit scratchy.

While looping back through Lift Line/Mitchy chutes I did something that I have never done before - I hocked off the top of Hollywood Rock. It was such an adrenaline rush that I did it again and managed a landing both times but with one hand in the hill, someone did remark in the locker room that I was becoming 16 all over again, could be true.

A final rip down Skydive, meeting up with all the usual suspects at the top before taking what was an amazing rip on soft but fairly tracked up snow from top to bottom. On any other day it would be considered the best run of the day, it was only the fact that today was so good that made it nothing more than very good.

Tomorrow could be just as good, stay high and keep high could be a good plan.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 94 another 23 cms of fresh awesomeness

During the night I noticed rain turning to snow and woke to find a covering of wet snow which was down to valley level and a report from the hill of 23 cms of fresh snow at mid mountain giving a base of 391 cms - 4 metre party could be coming soon. Temps on the way to the hill were +2 with about -3 at the top. During the day temps rose, but not much with overcast conditions protecting the new snow and flurries of grappel (quite heavy at times) adding to the base with ridge line blow in also doing it's bit.

Just like yesterday we went to the New Side and stayed there all day so nothing much I can say about the Old side conditions. Despite the notice at the base of Timber telling us that Knot Chutes and Anaconda Glades were open, they weren't which was hardly surprising given the snow we had overnight. The I bowl and Surprise Trees were open and with hardly anyone on the hill they remained only lightly tracked all morning. It was awesome in Surprise, just like cat skiing, point your skis anywhere you wanted to go in untracked terrain and let it rip.

The snow was a little different from yesterday. I think it had been packed a bit harder by the wind so you got on top more quickly and as a result the skis ran quicker earlier. This seemed to catch out a few people and we saw some great stacks from the chair which reminded us to recentre ourselves before opening up.

Late morning we took a trip to the base via Triple Trees which confirmed that the new snow had covered the crap band that has been there for the past few days low down and we now had good soft powder all the way to base. Then Anaconda opened.

Anaconda was, just as yesterday, totally awesome. The 23 cms of fresh on top of yesterdays powder gave over the head face shots in all chutes. Knot Chutes then opened and just like yesterday we looped various Knot chutes - various Anaconda chutes - various Bootleg chutes in all permutations. Bootleg was now great soft powder all the way down. We did this until a late lunch.

After lunch there didn't seem any point in doing anything but exactly the same, so we did. The funny thing about Anaconda is that 90% of the traffic drops one of the first two chutes. This means that if you go a little further along the ridge line you are skiing untracked lines even late at the end of the day. Around Bootleg there were so many different ways into the trees either side that I found myself skiing in these tight trees with no obvious line for the first time ever but always in the knowledge that the snow was so "hero" that you could just go anywhere and do anything and get away with it.

One more big opening due for tomorrow ith 83 cms of fresh since that area (no of course I am not going to say where until we have trashed it) was last skied. Early night with only some beer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 93 rolling openings rule ok

Yup, today we had rolling openings which gave us some fantastic skiing in areas that hadn't been opened for some time. Particularly Knot chutes, Anaconda Glades and Bootleg Glades. I understand lower Easter bowl from Lizard side was pretty good but not having been there myself it isn't really appropriate for me to make a comment on that.

Temps started at +2 in town but were nearer zero at the hill and -4 at the top. Things warmed up a bit during the day but not much so we had precip off and on all day (rather more in the morning) which fell as icey snow over most of the hill ( quite a good coverage high up) and finally very light rain in the valley at the very end of the day.

Our strategy was to go to the New Side to get the benefits of being high and therefore getting the precip as snow plus the chance that Anaconda Glades would be the next thing to be opened. Anaconda was a real prize because it was north facing (no sun crust) above the rain crust line and hadn't been open for 5 days !

We started on the New side and found Knot chutes had just been opened. Tight Knot was crusty and slabby but Fraid Knot was super deep. Thin was also crusty but Slim (through the trees) and Jim were fine. We spent the whole day dropping different Knot chutes as a front end to the rest of a run which changed as the day went on. All morning we then dropped Surprise Trees. The snow in Surprise had changed since yesterday but it was hard to describe. Heavier suggests warming and slush which wasn't right in the sub zero conditions. Harder suggests ice which again would be wrong - I think perhaps "denser" is nearer to the point but it still doesn't quite get it right. In a nutshell Surprise was great awesome hero snow which whilst tracked was still great powder.

Around lunchtime they opened Anaconda Glades for the first time in 5 days. No one else seemed to be aware of the opening and the first few times through Lynda and I had to check that we hadn't misread the opening signs as it seemed that we were skiing a run that no one else thought was open. We spent the whole of the rest of the day looping Knot chutes ( pick the right one and it was awesome) Anacond Glades ( just working further across each time finding great fresh tracks in every chute) and Bootleg Glades ( hitting the near trees in tighter lines than I have ever attemped becuase of the hero snow).

That was it all aftenoon and it was so good that I never broke so that it was a 9-4 full on day of great powder skiing in what was double black diamond chutes all the time. A totally awesome day of powder skiing which is a tribute to the process of rolling openings which mean that even several days after new snow we still getting great powder days.

Tomorrow they may open Currie bowl and then the whole game begins all over again with fresh snow, probably with a bit of rain crust to contend with in the lower sections - lets see.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 92 awesome is back on the menu

Yes, today gave skiing that was right up there with some of the best ever and it was only the limited terrain and a band of ugly rain crust low down that prevented the day getting into one of the top ten best of all time - certainly some of the individual pitches were right up there.

First things first, the day started overcast and temps of +2 which never got up much during the day with a cold wind giving blow in and temps around zero at the top of the hill. Forecasts said overcast in the morning and precip in the afternoon so it should come as no surprise that we had precip in the form of grappel (quite a lot actually) all morning and after lunch it fell back to windy overcast conditions adding to the base with blow in. The base was down to 379 cms and we had 7 cms of fresh but due to a couple of new openings we were skiing about 40 cms of fresh in the areas that hadn't been open for a few days.

As we arrived at the hill a patroller buddy told me that they had opened Cedar Ridge "for me" and I noticed on the web site that Cedar Ridge was listed as run of the day so the indications were that Cedar and the whole Boomerang area was to be open for the first time in several days. After a false start involving the failure to remove the closure signs for Boom chair we got to the top of Cedar Ridge which was open and ready to go. There were closures all morning in the Kangaroo/Wallaby areas but this was not due to avi conditions but to a stroppy moose that was wandering around looking to make trouble with any skier/boarder it met.

First run down Cedar Ridge was just awesome.

To be continued after the hockey game ......... Back from the hockey, Riders beat the Rebels 4-2. We are still 3-2 down in the best of 7 series but if we can win tomorrow in their barn then it is back here on Friday for the decider. Where was I ?

Ah yes, Cedar Ridge. The snow was north facing so no sun crust and hadn`t been skied for several days so was at least 40 cms deep. It was hero snow so point your skis pretty well in the fall line and then just shimmy through the trees all the way to the bottom. The very lowest part was rain crust but even that wasn`t too bad and a price well worth paying for the conditions on top which were some of the best I have skied - ever.

That was the morning, Cedar Ridge with the odd trip into Boom just for a change which was much the same conditions without the trees. Cedar Ridge of course isn`t a run but an area which you can take about 20+ different ways depending on where you start and how you make the first couple of turns. It was that variety which took up to lunch with some totally awesome deep powder tree skiing.

In the afternoon we went to the New Side with the intention of seeing if anything new was open and if not head back to Cedar Ridge - when we got there Surprise Trees had just opened for the first time in several days with even more deep untracked snow than Cedar. The snow wasn`t quite as good as Cedar in that in places there was a slight sun crust but it was close call.

That was the afternoon, Gun bowl (still soft) Surprise trees (totally awesome) back to White Pass unless I ended up too far down Trespass Trail in which case it was a trip to base via Triple trees and back up Timber. I enjoyed the base trips as they gave me chance to hike into Mitchy`s chutes which by that time were soft, deep and untracked.

By the end of the afternoon Surprise was getting a bit out of hand as we were just throwing ourselves straight down through the trees taking more of a fall line going faster and faster but still holding control because of the hero snow conditions. One of the best powder skiing afternoons of my life - and that`s some time.

No more new snow in the next 24 but looking into Anaconda things looked pretty awesome as we skied past so that could be the next opening tomorrow, let`s watch out for it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day 91 against all odds pretty awesome in places

Last night's heli bombing obviously had some good effect as there was a lot more open today than yesterday. There was no overnight snow and starting temps were +2 rising to about +6 but overcast so there was no more sun damage and the cooling wind had the effect of keeping the hill in not bad condition.

On arrival Timber was closed but due to open shortly. Deer, Elk, Bear and Boom were open but Haul Back remained closed. The sign lines stayed down on Boom so everything beyond Bear (Boom, Boom ridge, North ridge, Cedar ridge, Cedar bowl, Snake ridge etc.) stayed closed all day giving only limited skiing on the Old side. Straight off the bat Bear was open and Lizard bowl below Tower 6 trail so not a great amount of terrain but better than yesterday.

First run was down Sun Up which we promptly renamed Sun Crust, it was very crusty on any slope which was south facing and had been sun affected yesterday. Next time round the high traverse into Lizard was open and a game started where we tried to avoid the avi debris (about 80% of the terrain, I have never seen so much avi debris off the Lizard head wall ever). We also tried to avoid the south facing slopes subject to sun crust so we spent our time seeking out un-avi affected snow on the few slopes that faced even slightly away from the south. A challenge but we managed several good runs on soft snow in the few narrow areas that we could pick out.

Late morning word came that Timber had opened an we headed across. Only Timber was open but at least the Siberia bowl was mostly open so by traversing round (the hike up was closed) we were able to get into Morning Glory Trees. These were mostly untracked and in some places a bit crusty when the slope turned towards the south and soft when it turned away. The result was great creamy powder skiing all the way down to Falling Star and even some good stuff on Fall Out. This was all so good that we did it about 5 times and just as we were getting ready for lunch, they opened White Pass.

As I predicted the snow in White Pass (except for the south facing slopes in Gun bowl which was pure sun crust) was just awesome - slightly heavy but real hero snow and great powder. Again just as we were going for a late lunch they opened the I bowl at the ridge line just as we got there so we put an amazing straight line first track back under the White Pass chair. The rest of the afternoon was spent looping White pass pulling all sorts of deep lines in places such as Highline Trees, Pillow Talk, Gun bowl, Highline, Little Trees, I bowl and various permutations of these. A fantastic afternoon skiing in deep hero snow much of which was untracked, truely awesome skiing.

Having missed lunch because of the rolling openings we came off the hill at about 3:45 and headed to the bar for lots of beer. In summary it was a good day's skiing that got better as it went on and the upper mountain opened with hero snow. All the better because we had low expectations at the start which were very much exceeded.

Avi experts on the hill this evening and I understand they may be giving a green light to Boomerang tomorrow. That having been said they are calling for another 12 cms overnight and some weather sites are talking of rain so who knows what might happen - a really good day's skiing.