Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 1 and a pretty good preview

I know, I know, I did say that I would do a report on Monday for the whole weekend but today was so good and tomorrow could be so different that I just had to get out a report on today's first day of the season.

Now I don't usually have much time for preview weekends. My view is that they are put on by Ski Hills well before conditions are anything like good enough to ski just so they can brag about their early opening date. That, together with the rain during the week gave me low expectations of today which I am delighted to say were totally off the mark.

Back to basics - the snow report called a base of about 120 cms and 40 cms of fresh in the last week all of which seemed about right. We arrived at the base in overcast conditions which continued all day and base temps were -4 rising to about zero during the day and upper mountain temps had to be -8 warming to -4. An upper mountain wind gave a significant chill.

Contrary to the official reports the whole of the Old Side was open ( Bear, Elk, Boom and Haul Back lifts) all running. There was a sign line on the far side of Cedar Bowl closing Snake Ridge and beyond but apart from that the whole of the Old Side was available up to Easter bowl.

After the rain we expected a pretty scratchy day but to our surprise we hit the top of Bear and found powder. Not a mass of the stuff but pretty ok on a firm base reflecting the 40 cms of fresh that has come down since the rain crust. We had intended a loosener down Bear but instead hit out into the fresh powder on Arrow and Bow.

Perhaps it was because of the rain or the reports of a limited opening but there was hardly anyone on the hill. No lift lines, powder and a snow base of over 1 metre makes for a pretty good opening day in anyones language.

Cedar bowl was particularly nice in the glades beyond Cruiser with the powder running down to the foot of Cedar Centre. Boomerang ridge and Boom bowl were also good powder but a bit twiggy. Best snow was Cedar ridge but only deep powder in short pitches between some very bushy stuff. It was a kind of rule that the trickier the conditions the better the powder between the tricky bits.

That was it for the whole day just working backwards and forwards across the Old Side grabbing what powder we could which got progressively more trashed as the day went on but was still pretty good even by the end. Only bad run was just beyond Bow where got ourslves stuck in some very rough icey chunks of avi debrise and had to pay a lot of attention to get out ok.

Good to have beers with lots of buddies in the bar. Missing hockey as we would be face down half way therough the evening the way we feel now. Tomorrow might be ok in the morning but calling for a warm up and rain in the afternoon - let's see.

If anything a better opening day than last year which is particularly good considering this was only supposed to be a preview.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Season Preview 2011/12

So here we go again for another winter in Fernie. Just like last year there was a good dump of snow mid November and also like last year just as I arrived it rained. Lets hope that things continue to shadow last year and we end up with an awesome season and over 1150 cms of snow.

Flew out of Heathrow on Wednesday after a stunning evening with friends in London which involved a lot of drink and discussions as to the effect of travelling faster than the speed of light - yes a typical beer fuelled conversation. As we are on a BA/Quantas round the world ticket we had to come out on the late BA flight which didn't get into Calgary until 7 pm ( 2 in the morning body clock time). Lucky for us our buddy Rob picked us up and got us to Fernie just after 11 in pouring rain.

Today has been spent with the usual post arrival crap - getting the car insured and on the road, getting lift passes, sorting out the house, cable TV, phones, internet, food/drink shopping, sorting skis/ski gear etc. The whole process much enlivened by finding that the leak in the back door which was supposed to have been sorted by the Strata company hadn't been and the TV lounge carpet was decidedly damp - back door duck taped up pending proper solution.

Just starting to flag a bit at 4 pm (body clock 11) so time to go to the pub for a beer and early night.

The rain appears to have done quite a bit of damage to the snow in town and at the base of the hill but the snow line is around the Bears Den level so I imagine the upper mountain is pretty good. Plenty of explosions from Patrol bombing the bowls and ridges tended to confirm this view. It will certainly be a case of using the rock skis for the first few days until we get a better idea of what is on offer.

Current temps are around zero as a daytime high with flurries in the forecast so things should get a bit better in the short term. The worrying thing is a warm up and rain called for on Sunday, but lets see what happens.

News on the new Polar Peak lift is that it is still to be finished and best guess for a completeion date in around Christmas. I am not holding my breath.

This weekend is a preview weekend. No New Side and only the Elk and Bear chairs open on the Old Side ( I don't count the Mighty Moose drag). Not really worth it if you had to pay for it but with season passes and nothing else to do it should be an enjoyable way of passing the weekend and of course it will give me a chance to meet up with buddies, drink beer, catch up on the news etc. The hill opens properly next Friday by which time we will all be getting a better idea of what actually is on offer.

There is a hockey game tonight but I will be zonked out well before that. Next home game Saturday so if the jet lag has worn off that should be our first.

Everything looks in place for another fun season but wait until Monday for the first report on the actual ski conditions on the preview weekend.