Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day 118 still some awsome winter snow to be had

Yup, even though today was the second to last day of the season there was still some amazing skiing to be had when they opened the Saddles for the first time in about 2 weeks, but more of that later. Overnight temps dropped to -8 but it was another bluebird day despite the weather men calling for some cloud cover. All this meant that the south facing stuff was ugly refrozen crud and the north facing stuff was in pretty good shape, typical spring skiing and just like yesterday. We went to the New side based on a tip off from a patroller buddy that the Saddles should be opening early today. First thing there was no sign of Saddles opening and we just looped on 1-2-3s or Anaconda and then Bootleg or Diamond Back. All the north facing slopes were in pretty good shape and the lower mountain was starting to soften. About 11 we decided to head over to the Old side to see the start of the PPP relay ( a ski/bike/canoe/running relay race) but on the way across we noticed the fence being dropped on the Saddles. That was it, 2 trips through Corner Pocket, 2 through High Saddle and one through Low Saddle. CP had good snow in the chute and awesome mostly untracked powder on the north facing ski out. High Saddle had better snow in the chute but avi debris underneath so you had to end up tracking left back into to same ski out as CP. Low Saddle had the best snow, the best I have ever seen it but below it was a bit crusty on top. Loops were always completed through Easter bowl which remained great soft tracked powder all day. After lunch we had a quick look into the Old side but found that Snake ridge had been closed. The Saddles still looked pretty good but Lynda decided to hang on with Cedar Ridge (she said pretty good) while I looped back and hit Corner Pocket, High Saddle and Low Saddle a few more times - the ski out remained great soft back tracked snow but the chutes were getting decidedly technical as the afternoon wore on. Last run through Skydive was surprisingly good with mushy set up only evident for a few turns in the mid section. Beer and quiet night in. Tomorrow is the last day.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 117 winter, spring and summer skiing all in one day

The forecast for today was for it to be the first day of real spring skiing and to everyone's surprise the forecasters got it dead right. Overnight temps were down at -8 so that everything that had softened yesterday was boiler plate if it had been left smooth and just plain ugly if it hadn't. When we arrived at the hill it was a beautiful bluebird day and remained that way all day. In the circumstances it was a case of seeking out the north facing stuff in the morning which hadn't softened yesterday and as such was in ok condition and then in the afternoon moving to the south facing stuff which would have softened in the sun. In the event it wasn't quite like that as the direct south facing stuff got so soft that it was like summer glacier skiing and the better stuff was slightly facing away to give just slightly soft snow. We went to the Old side and as Lizard high traverse was open for the first time in days we crossed to the hump around Cascade and did a couple of loops in untracked but getting a bit of soft powder. Cedar high traverse was open so we went out to Redtree in a rather easier way than yesterday and found it was still mostly untracked and deep winter powder. Next time round we were tempted into the Fish bowl, always meaning to take the Redtree cut out but always being tempted by the steep untacked lower chutes. Three full loops of Fish followed. Totally awesome thigh deep powder mostly untracked in great winter conditions - pity about the hike out each time but no pain no gain. Last run before a late lunch and a buddy tempted me to try Steep and Deep which had many untracked lines but was not a good call as it was very sun affected and heavy. After lunch we went to the New side as I wanted to check on the Saddles which were still closed. Before that we showed a visiting buddy from the UK the way down Falling Star which I think was the first time I skied it this year and it was actually ok if you like groomers. Out on the Reverse Traverse we found all the Saddles closed so skied on to Decline which was ok in the top but a bit crusty in the lower sections. Easter bowl was good if chunky in the mid section and 1-2-3s were great north facing snow. On each loop Lift Line remained in great shape and maybe some of the best snow on the New side. Final run was down Skydive which was approached with some trepidation as Decline had not been that great. To everyone's surprise it skied great soft snow in the top, good but with a little crust setting up in the middle then back to good soft in the lower section. Beer on the deck with buddies. Off to the pub for a meal. I will go to sleep tonight dreaming about the deep powder in Fish bowl which for me at least was the pitch of the season.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 116 Not as good as yesterday but still pretty f---ing good.

The snow report overnight gave us another 16 cms in 24 hours but what fell during yesterday and what came down overnight is anybody's guess. A bit like yesterday it started to snow quite hard as we got to the hill but it never gave us quite the deposits of yesterday morning's storm but was still good enough to give fews cms on top of what was there. That was the story all day where it ranged from hot direct sun light to sudden winter storms of snow and back again. We went to the Old side only to find at Bear that they weren't loading due to control issues so we cut back to Timber and the New side. Viz was bit varied but we had a couple of runs up and down White pass and found mostly untracked skiing in Gun bowl and Highline trees which was great. Next I made my only bad call of the day which was to traverse across the top of the Knot chutes and drop Gotta Go. This was awesome and untracked in the top but in the narrow chute I found it had slid the the April 1st rain crust and all of a sudden I was in a position where you really didn't want to make a mistake. In the event after a couple of jump turns I was out and on to the big soft out slide snow and could get face shots all the way down into the bottom of 3s. After that we just looped out to some great lightly tracked powder in Secret Chutes/Spinal Tap (ST particularly deep), Anaconda/ Bootleg, a bit of a stack for me in Bootleg. An awesome run in deep through Stag leap, a back loop through Surprise trees which were getting a bit soft in the top sections. A final run off before lunch through Skydive found it a little soft on the left in the sun but great under the shade of the trees on the right. After lunch we went to the Old side and after a couple of very nice runs up and down Boom they opened Alpine way and we headed out to get great powder in the nearside ofCedar bowl. Next loop, taking some advice from a regular blog reader (you know who you are) we headed out on the side step traverse from Alpine way to get across Snake ridge to see how far we could go. All the way across there looked to be awsome lines which hadn't been opened for some days but to us they looked a little sun affected so we held on to the boundary fence, resisted the temptation to skip over into Fish bowl and ripped Redtree along the fence in some of the best powder (facing slightly away from the sun) of the season. We did return through Kangaroo which was ok in the top and ugly in the bottom, not as ugly as will be tomorrow morning. We had a couple of loops through Bear chutes and Buck shot which if anything were even deeper and more awesome than yesterday - where the hell did that come from ? End of the day we headed back to the New side for a quick loop on Mitchy Chutes (awesome) and then back through White pass which was starting to set up pretty quickly. Final rip down Skydive which was soft bumps in the top and fantastic soft snow all the way down with just a little reset sun crust on the left in the mid section. Beer and bed.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 115 Awesome, awesome, awesome

As the heading implies today was pretty awesome. Yesterday we had 23 cms of fresh and hadn't been able to do all that much damage to it. Today we had another 5 cms overnight which would have been pretty good but on the way to the hill we had one of the heaviest storms of the winter giving up 11 cms in a hour, it continued at a lesser level all morning and then had another storm which must have been about another 10 cms around lunchtime. With over 120 cms in the last week on slopes, many of which had been closed the results could only be imagined. Of course today was Hot Dog day so we were all in retro gear but with the skiing this good we took it seriously and for the first time ever I was wearing a helmet on Hot Dog day. Because of the clebrations this will be brief but it can be, as the snow was deep (over the knees) untracked almost wherever you went and giving you over the head face shots all the time where ever you went. The morning was on the Old Side with all the usual stuff - Boom, Cedar Ridge many ways, Bear Chutes, Buck shot, Linda's and returns through Kangaroo (6 times) all the most awesome skiing so far of the season. In the afternoon we went to the New side and just looped the Polar sink traverse out to Stag Leap, The Brain (awesome on a day when that meant something) Cougar Glades ( great tree skiing) and on the way through, Mitchy chutes (also awesome) and a loop in Knot Chutes and Surprise trees. Linda said the Knot chutes were the deepest she could remember just to prove it wasn't just me. Of course a final rip down Skydive which whilst tracked did have enough fresh to allow for a great fall line free ride with the skis in the air more than they were on the ground. The Griz bar had a line up to get in even for regulars so we went to the Pub in the town which was at least as good and was giving away free hot dogs. Beer and bed after what just might have been the best day of an awesome season.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day 114 an awesome return to the Old Side

Overnight we had another 23 cms of fresh which was way more than was forecast. This left the base at 440 cms and total snow to date at 1050 cms so by any definition this is turning out to be an awesome season. We went to the hill in temps of +1 at the base and -3 at the top. During the day the temp on average fluctuated from about +7 to +2 depending on the conditions and we had snow/grappel on and off all day which despite the temps always came down white. We decided on the Old side on the grounds that the best snow would be North facing and the New side would have the County Line closed all day because of the dangers of sliding in the ice chutes. We were right about the County Line but reports tell me that with 23 cms of fresh pretty well everything on the new side was ok but the snow on the Old side generally was deeper. Run of the day was Cedar Ridge which seemed a good call so we went - it was totally awesome with deep untracked snow on north facing slopes. That was really it for the morning, we worked our way up and down Cedar Ridge from end to end always finding fresh tracks in tree lines that were not usually available but could be hit due to coverage and the awesome hero snow. The high traverse into Cedar was not open but we tracked across the bowl once and had great skiing in deep powder but had to contend with poor light. We tended to loop the ridge from Alpine Way to King Fir, sometimes taking Bear chutes and Buck shot - the powder was thigh deep in both and some of the most awesome skiing on the hill. We had a couple of loops in Linda's which was great in the right trees but got a bit lumpy in Linda's Private Parts lower down. First loop back we hit Kangaroo which was fine in the top but very hard work (not hard skiing) due to the soft snow low down. After that we left it alone and ironically the toughest skiing was on all the lower runs (Lower North ridge, Lower Linda's, Wallaby etc) which would usually have been groomed but today had not been and so were rather technical. Skiing was some of the most awesome deep untracked powder all season where all you had to do was to jump in with two feet and slsh down a fall line taking maximum air all the way. It was a very late lunch. After lunch we found that as a result of the continuing snow most of Lizard bowl had been closed from Bow and the top chute from Bear into Cedar ( a favourite jump in for us) had also been closed. We just continued to loop Cedar ridge/Bear chutes/Buck Shot all afternoon which remained very deep and with some untracked lines if you poked around a bit. Final run of the day was a great indicator as when I flew a big soft roll in Bear Chutes, I landed it but my legs just let me sink into the snow as there was no rebound left, totally skied out, always a sign of a great day. Good beer and wings night at the pub. Tomorrow is Hot Dog day when we get dressed in retro gear and do stupid tricks in memory of the 80s ski/soft porn movie Hot Dog. Tomorrow's report could be missing, late, short, or all of the above depending on how the day pans out, you have been warned.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day 113 back to winter again with some great powder

This weather really is the strangest ever. On Thursday we had rain, Friday it refroze to boiler plate, Saturday was a full on winter storm of snow which closed the hill and quite a few mountain passes, Sunday was a bluebird day with double digit temps and today we were back with full on winter conditions and snow all day - what a crazy season. On the way to the hill it was near to zero and overcast with snow. It snowed off and on all day (to be fair mostly hard grappel) and although lower mountain temps did get up to just about plus it was zero and below over all of the upper mountain. The result was that everything that had been soft yesterday (south facing slopes) was ugly, hard, icey, crusty, uneven crud which was only skiable with considerable application. North facing stuff ranged from challenging to awesome. We went to the New side where all of White pass was open with the exception of Knot chutes which must have been super icey and ugly. We went up an down a few times skiing in the general Heartland/Highline area and finding the skiing pretty tough and scratchy. A patroller buddy tipped us off that Anaconda was about to open so we dropped a very ribby line by the Knot chutes sign line to the shoulder and hit out along the Idiot traverse to wait for the fence to drop. Anaconda was very very deep and very heavy but with a variable base on the ice bed which ranged from bottomless to a couple of inches. The result was very challenging but super deep powder where I managed a massive stack as a result of the variable base but great fun. Bootleg was also variable but great powder. After a couple of Anaconda/Bootleg loops they opened Currie bowl. The signs in Currie said that everthing beyond Concussion was closed because of ice falls so the only real game was 1-2-3s which was good powder but bad viz and you had to choose your lines between the avi debrise tracks. We spent the rest of the morning looping 1-2-3s, alternating with Anaconda/Bootleg and getting good if heavy and challenging powder. In the afternoon we went to the Old side and found everything open. We went out the Easter bowl on the Lizard high traverse and with a bit of a step up got several great runs through Easter in what was totally awesome untracked deep north facing powder, and I do mean awesome. On one loop we took a trip into Spinal Tap which wsn't all that good being a bit tracked out and chunky. On a whim a buddy and myself hit out across Snake ridge. The ridge looked just awesome and untracked but a quick probe of the surface showed it was ugly sun crust and a drop in would have been a nightmare. We actually went out to the Fish bowl which gave even more awesome untracked deep north facing powder than we had so far down to the Redtree ski out. The ski out itself was ugly crust but just about skiable. Last run we came back to Bear and then side stepped Easter hitting the nearside untracked trees. Half way down we cut right into the side step and worked our way up to Skydive for a final blast down there in soft snow. More snow called for tonight (and the next 3 days) so early night and get ready.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Day 112 what a difference a day makes

Yesterday was crazy winter weather with snow puking down all day. Overnight the skys cleared so that temps dropped to -8 on the deck by morning and we had a perfect bluebird day with no cloud cover and temps getting up to +10 and maybe double that in the direct sunlight. As the New side was shut we went to the Old side and as we were riding up on the Bear chair we saw the sign line into Boom and Cedar ridge being dropped. Of course when we got there we found that the various "pay for powder" groups (first tracks, breakfast club etc) had been given their usual first run at the fresh tracks so that Boom and Cedar Ridge had been significantly tracked out. Old readers of this blog will know my view of the money making schemes that make fresh powder available only to those who are prepared to pay extra for it and the fact that I think these schemes have no place in mountain life. We hit Boom picking a route that had not been tracked and had about 50 cms of awesome powder giving us over the head face shots all the way down through Boom and Buck Shot. After that it was a couple of loops of Cedar ridge which if anything was even deeper than Boom with returns through Kangaroo which was similarly deep and awesome skiing. We got the word that the New Side was open so that's where we went. White pass chair wasn't open so we had a couple of loops up and down Puff Trees and Black Cloud which were deep and only partially tracked, at least for the first loop. We had a short wait then White Pass chair opened. We got up fairly early and dropped Gun Bowl and Highline trees which we amazingly deep - Currie bowl was closed but next time round they opened Knot chutes. For the rest of the morning we dropped the chutes and Surprise trees, Anaconda also being closed. The chutes were direct south facing and had slid to the January 17th rain crust, this wasn't as bad as you might think as the rains crust started to melt giving a sort of corn snow. Surprise Trees just got heavier and uglier until we went for a late lunch. Over lunch we concluded that only the North facing slopes would be any good so we went back to the Old side but we were distracted by the fact that Lizard bowl had opened and hit out to the far side a couple of times as those slopes were at least a bit north facing. The faces were tracked but ok. Next time round we side stepped into Spinal Tap from the Lizard side and this was the most awsome deep lightly tracked powder all the way down to the cat track. After that it was loops down Cedar ridge/King Fir which were ok but starting to set up. One return through Kangaroo was enough to show that it was too ugly even by Kangaroo standards so further returns were by Lower Linda's and Bear chutes, the latter ok but no more as it was very tracked up. For the final run I took the side step traverse from the foot of Easter and worked my way up into Skydive always taking the step up options so that after some hard work I found myself just above the first logging trail in Skydive. The final run down was great, after a worrying start when there was sun crust on the left and then a detour to the right that had been in the shade all the time and was therefore mostly untracked and soft powder. Beer, more beer and some nude table sliding (two young ladies and two young guys) in the Griz bar. Early night as a new weather syastem is on the way promising 10 cms over night and maybe another 20 on Monday night - bets being taken on a 5 metre party !!!