Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 104 an unexpected benefit

First of all apologies for the lack of paragraphs in this post, I have tried several times to edit them in but for some reson tonight the computer is just refusing to respond. After yesterday's spring conditions we didn't expect anything much particularly as there hadn't been much snow in the valley overnight. On the way to the hill it was -1 and very overcast with valley fog and snow flurries which persisted on and off all morning and fading into weak sunshine in the afternoon. We found we had about 5 cms of thick fresh powder which grew as the day went on and about double that in some places due to wind sift. The result was a good covering even on the south facing refrozen crud so that it skied ok and anything north facing was pretty acceptable powder. To the New side and Gun bowl despite being a bit socked in and refrozen crud on the base was actually ok skiing on the way to Anaconda. Anaconda and Bootleg were both untracked and pretty good, nice to get first tracks in such good conditions. After that we were out to Skydive and for about the 10th time this season we (Me, Bobby and Lynda) found ourselves with Skydive there ready for first tracks. We trashed it and it was great soft powder on a firm base which actually was taking a good edge. Low down what looked like death cookies were actually not as hard as they looked and skied like a form of chunky powder. We filled the morning up with Decline, just like Skydive and with one track in front of us. Stag Leap, untracked, although a couple of tracks came out of the right trees in the bottom and the conditions were as per Skydive. Secret chutes and Spinal Tap were the last run before lunch and were not quite as good as I had hoped, the chutes were fairly well skied and Spinal tap was very scratchy. In the afternoon we went back to the New side. On the loops we did several variations on Lift Line and the trees to skiers right and a couple of hikes to Mitchy chutes. After that we found that the drop down to Skydive Traverse had softened (it really was ugly ice all morning) and the continued to loop - Cougar Glades - a bit chunky but also soft on top as the new snow started to melt in warming afternoon conditions. Stag Leap - surprisingly mostly untracked and not getting heavy until you got down into the bottom third which was soft melt on a hard base. Easter bowl - good north facing winter snow in the top becoming a bit mushy low down. Decline/Window chutes - In was much the same in the top of Decline as the morning run but surprisingly good all the way down through the chute (not much of a log drop now) until the last couple of turns above the cat track which got a bit crunchy. Skydive - usual last rip of the day with bumps at the top, soft snow most of the way down and getting mushy but on a firm base in the final third. A great day with some more snow on the way tonight. For the second time in two weeks I had to line up to get into the Griz bar which was pretty empty when I eventually got in - something to do with health and safety regulations. Not at all happy as I don't like having to wait on one night a week to get into a bar which is more than happy to take my money on the other 6. Think maybe I am being taken for granted and perhaps I should spread my business (about 3000 bucks a season) a little more evenly around the town.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 102 an ok new side day

We had a bit of a slow start as we were saying goodbye to our buddies last night and the Jameson's Irish Whiskey did flow rather freely. The day started clear and cold at -3 with no new overnight snow. the forcasters were calling for cloud with flurries so predictably we had a bluebird day with temps getting up to +8 although to be fair it did cloud over towards the end of the day.

As has been the usual practice we headed for the New side and dropped Lift line finding that the out of the sun faces were not at all bad. Gun bowl and Highline Trees were also ok. For a change we looped 1-2-3s and Bootleg glades both of which were ok as north facing slopes covered in winter snow.

After that we had time for three loops through the Saddles, always returning through the skiers left side of Easter bowl which remained just a soft and good winter conditions as it did yesterday -
High Saddle - a bit firmer than yesterday so actually better for edge to edge turning but the snow underneath the chute a bit chunky and the crown drops not so steep.
Lone Fir - Great soft lightly tracked snow in the main chute and then even better snow on the ski out under the chute particularly on the right hand side.
One Step Beyond - the name I have given to the chute one beyond Lone Fir with the right cut into the tight steep chute. The best snow on the hill with only a couple of tracks and the snow so deep that you could jump onto the shoulders and back into the chutes all the way down.


After lunch we were back to the New side for another great loop through One Step Beyond. After that it was a try out on Stag Leap which was great in the top but rather crunchy in the lower sections.

Back to Lone Fir for yet another drop which was just as good as before. All this having to climb Cornice Ridge to get to the Lone Fir/ OSB area did slow down the number of times we could put in loops but it was well worth it, great soft snow all the way through the chute again. Finished with the usual rip down Skydive which was quite soft an bumpy at the top getting a little more chunky and down right crusty in the final pitch.

Somewhere in there we managed a couple of drops down Mitchy chutes taking Randy's line and the snow remained very soft and good.

Lots of beer in the Griz then an early night. Still not real spring skiing and maybe more winter snow to come.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 101 Don't believe everything you are told.

We got to the hill with temps of around zero at the base and significant minus temps up the hill. The official web site said that there had been no snow overnight and the advice we got from the ski hosts was that the hill was frozen ugly and we should stick to the groomers. I am delighted to say that both the information and the advice proved wrong.

As we headed up the New side it certainly looked like new snow and the drop down Lift Line confirmed about 4 cms of good jersey cream powder which was enough to smooth out even the worst south facing refrozen crud from yesterday and on any slopes that faced even a little away from south to give great spring powder skiing. I feel sorry for the visitors who only have the official sources of information and as a result might have missed out on one of the great days of the season.

We hung out on White Pass looping Surprise Trees, Highline Trees, Gun bowl, and a few other bits which were all mostly untracked and very soft mellow skiing. We then went to Anaconda and put the first tracks down there in good powder. Amazingly we came back and did second and third tracks with no sign of anyone else getting out there - perhaps they were following the official line. Each exit to the base was via Bootleg Glades which were also soft and untracked. Somewhere in there Lynda went via 1-2-3s and said they were also untracked - where was everyone?

We then hit out to Secret chutes and found these to be untracked and soft down to Freeway. At that point we were getting ready for lunch and then they opened the Saddles for the first time in several weeks and that was it for the rest of the day, we just dropped different Saddles all the rest of the day always looping back to base by left side Easter bowl which seemed to be lightly used and very nice soft powder. The best thing about the Saddles was that the avi fracture lines underneath gave you the chance to fly them at a height of your choice ranging from 4ft to 6ft+, no prizes for guessing what we took.

Corner Pocket (twice) - great run through with no sign of the tires. Soft snow underneath and some nice air.
High Saddle (three times) - the most mellow it has ever been but with the biggest drops into the bowl, awesome.
Low Saddle - ok but a little sun affected.
Lone Fir - best it has been all season with amazing soft snow all untracked underneath the chute.
Somewhere in there we managed a couple of really good lines through Mitchy chutes and even found time to show my buddy Nick the line to hock off the top of Hollywood Rock this being his last day of the season - landed it fine (me at least).

Good party back at the house tonight as a farewell to Nick and Bethan, hot tub, beer etc.

Total crap shoot as to what tomorrow will bring.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 100 Snake, Kangaroo and Fish back on the menu

No, this isn't the bill of fare for a particularly dodgy Chinese resturant but a reflection of the fact that the Old side across to Snake ridge opened for the first time in two weeks today giving us access to the Fish bowl with returns through the ever ugly Kangaroo.

Against my usual practices Rob took this photo today as we were breaking trail for first tracks out of Fish bowl this morning - him taking the pic with me and Lynda in front of the main Fish bowl drop. Next time round we actually dropped the main chutes seen behind us in the pic and totally trashed them from fresh in conditions that at best could be described as marginal and at worst as down right dangerous, but more of that later.

On the way to the hill temps were -2, we had 7 cms of fresh and everything was ready to go for another New side day. All changed as we got news that Snake Ridge was opening for the first time in two weeks and although the whole Snake/Steep and Deep area had a 2 metre avi fracture line (crown) across it the area was open and ready to trash.

We went out to Redtree and skied the area fence which was just beyond the avi fracture and was the most amazing deep powder all the way down. Return by Redtree Road (haunted by the ghost of moosey who they shoot a couple of days ago) - Kangaroo, as usual ugly but made worse by the grooming on the trail half way down that gave a 1 metre drop onto the trail - Boomerang, scratchy as you would expect.

Next loop was Gorby and the steep Steep and Deep shoulder entry which was awsome, untracked, alder free (looking very strange) and a great 6 ft cornice drop on the avi crown which seemed pretty mild after Hollywood Rock. Then an exit via a chute which simply hasn't existed until we had this much snow. Loop back as before.

Fish bowl on the near chutes was next with the intention of cutting back along the Redtree ski out. As has happened before the chutes to the bottom looked so tempting and in this case untracked that we went right down to the bottom which was avi debris when we got there. No tracks out so Lynda, Rob and me had to cut first tracks and that was where the pic was taken.

We had wanted to do Fish from top to bottom next time but found that the traverse was closed due to snow stability problems in the rising temps. We had a quick loop through Cedar ridge and back through the icey Kangaroo and then went for lunch.

During lunch we got word that cloud cover had rolled in, temps were dropping and they were going to reopen the traverse out to Snake - we went but this time hiked up to the top of Fish bowl and then side stepped even higher into the bowl. When the tracks ran out we turned right and had the most awesome untracked powder run of the year all the way to Fish centre. At the convex (the top of the roll in the pic) things changed. Snow became heavy, sloughs became like mini avies and we had to do some serious slough management but jumping from chute to chute before we were taken out. In the event everything was ok but it was just about as close to the margin that I ever want to get - not one of my better calls. Also a long hike out.

After that we headed to the New side and just had time for -

Decline - great soft snow all the way down.

Secret Chute/Spinal Tap. The best snow on the New side at the top and then getting very soft and friendly in the creek bed.

Skydive - As always the final rip with all the usual suspects that turn up at the top of Skydive every evening. By that time the snow was getting very soft which made for a great finish but filled us all with some trepidation as to what tomorrow morning may be like.

Possible snow tonight, and the next couple of nights, spring skiing still seems alittle way off to me.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 99 first day of spring, Hollywood Rock 2 Bill 3.

Sure today was the first day of spring and in keeping with the rest of the season it was cold, snowing overnight and snowing all day so that we had powder on a fairly firm base on the north facing slopes and on hard death cookies on the more south facing stuff.

The score represents the fact that I hit Hollywood Rock 5 times (a new record by a big margin for me) and landed it 3 times and stacked it (not in a big way) 2 times so I reckon that's a result for me on a split decision.

It snowed overnight and the hill only showed 3 cms of fresh but with the accumulation during the day it must have got up to nearer 10. It was -2 at the base when we arrived and about -6 at the top. Overcast and snowing all day so that even by close we only had +1 at the base and minus temps all over the hill. The snow piled up giving a powder day and a pretty good one at that.

We went to the New side and met up with Rob at Timber. In the snowy conditions the light was very socked in anywhere above Timber top. There were a couple of bus loads of visitors today and I felt rather sorry for them as in the conditions Rob, Lynda and myself (three people who probably know the hill as well as anyone) were groping a bit to get out across Currie, anyone who didn't know the hill would have no chance.

With the light as it was we certainly didn't want to try Gun bowl so we headed out to Skydive. Yet again we were the first three tracks in (more first tracks in Skydive this year than the past 5 years put together) and we ripped it. Next Loop was Stag Leap which had only one track in it - not quite as good as Skydive. Secret chutes / Spinal Tap, getting on towards awesome even with the firm base. Top of Decline / Window chutes very similar but as always a little scratchy where the creek emerges through the trees into Lizard. Final run before lunch we were joined by Rod and tried Cougar Glades which were ok under the trees in the top but in the more open sections low down just became a light covering on ugly death cookies. Lunch.

A clear pattern had emerged in the morning - the more north facing slopes were fine but the ones tending towards the south were not. Everyone thought this was logical due to the sun but my memory of yesterday was that it was warm without much direct sunlight - guess I must have got it wrong.

For the afternoon we went back to the New side and just cycled the areas that had proved to be good as the snow continued to pile up -
Decline - good all the way down with only two tracks ahead of us in the lower section.
Skydive - a little more tracked but good fill in and blow in repairing the powder.
The Brain - great untracked snow all through the trees almost down to the low cat track
Secrect chutes / Spinal tap - just like the morning run but even better.
And of course the final rip down Skydive now getting to the point when you could just free ride it. Somewhere in there we had a couple of great runs down Mitchy chutes which were good blow in and I think I have missed out a second trip into Stag leap,but it all blurs into one on such a good day.

Beer, hot tub and an early night while snow is still falling on the deck.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day 98 if it's Sunday how come no one is here

Maybe it was last night's partying at the '80s weekend party (yes sorry about yesterday's report but I had drunk enough beer to float a reasonable sized boat) but today on the hill was the quietest Sunday I have ever seen. Of course it may be something to do with high ticket prices, slow economy, avi closures and lift break downs over the past few weekends etc but then what do I know.

We had about 4 cms of fresh overnight bringing the base back to over 380 cms. On the way to the hill temps were -2 at the base and -6 at the top but this rose rapidly so that by mid afternoon we had +8 at the base and +5 at the top. There was a bit of direct sunlight but for the most part it was diffused through cloud which became heavier as the day went on. The result of the warm and fairly moist air was to give soft spring skiing conditions even on the north facing slopes.

As usual we went to the New side to see what the fresh snow was like. It was pretty slabby having been packed in by the wind and the ski tips were getting pulled all over the place. That having been said it was fresh untracked snow and it did slough up when you skied it so it just about counted as powder, at least until it really warmed up around mid day. The effect of the new covering was to firm up the base from yesterday giving a fairly bumpy ride.

We worked out way across the Gun bowl/Highline trees which were as I said a firm base with some soft on top. A couple of Knot chutes (tight and fraid) were similar as were Anaconda and Bootleg and a loop back through Surprise Trees which was starting to soften by late morning.

We then started drifting out along the County Line and ran Stag Leap, Easter bowl, Decline, Cougar Glades and Skydive. All were very similar, a bit bumpy on top, great soft snow most of the way down and a bit crunchy at the bottom but softening as the day went on.

After lunch it was back up the New side via Lift Line and Mitchy chutes but of which had become fairly soft. When we got to County Line it had been closed due to some sun induced slippage in Polar chutes but the low traverse to the front side remained open.

We looped Stag Leap (again), Decline into Window chutes, Cougar Glades (again) and Easter (again). By this time it was starting to set up pretty hard underfoot as the sun went down and I just had time for one last Knot chute (very crunchy) and Surprise trees (surprisingly soft).

The final trip out down the traverse to Sykdive was very hard and bumpy with what had been soft sun affected snow becoming quite crusty, a good indicator of where not to go tomorrow until things warm up. The final blast down Skydive was soft bumps followed by great tracked powder and the final section turning to ice crunch as things cooled down.

Beers, hot tub, early night, what could be better. Snow cycle due to hit in the next few days.

Day 97 another nice day

Another nice day on the hill. Temps at the start were -2 rising to about +7 at the base and maybe +2 at the top.

No new snow so relying on good hard packed snow to provide a base with some soft partialy tracked on top.

A new side day which provided great skiing in Knot chutes, Gotta go, Easter bowl, Skydive, Stag leap, Decline, Cougar Glades, Secret chutes, Spinal tap, Window chutes, Surprise Trees, etc.

Totally pissed as a result of a great meal with Dan and Ruth. Unable to report further, normal service will be resumed tomorrow.