Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day 36 life in the sauna

I was thinking of writing about spring skiing but that doesn't seem to even begin to descibe the warm up that hit us today. A chinook was called for in Calgary today with forecast highs there of +16. Everyone tells me that this has no influence on the Fernie weather but experience over the past few years tells me that whenever this happens the Fernie temps go up way over the forecast and today was no exception.

On the way to the hill this morning it was +5 and on the way back well after sunset it was +9. During the day in the direct sunlight (it was a bluebird morning before clouding over) it could have gone much higher - who knows. Even up top in the shadow, late morning it was +3 and as a result we had true spring conditions with every surface softening but particularly those south facing.

For us it was just like a spring day and we decided to go high to the New Side although reports from the Old Side confirm that north facing slopes like Cedar Ridge stayed ok all day. In the morning we risked the south facing slopes which became very soft very quick but in the afternoon tended to hang out on the more north facing slope which even with the lack of direct sunlight were soft to the top and just plain mushy lower down.

The base was quoted at 157 cms which is still high for the time of year and higher than last year. It is worth examining this in a bit more detail to explain why the conditions appear so marginal this year. Last year we had a lot of early season snow followed by low temps and no snow. The result was a low snow base but one that existed all the way down the hill. This year we have had a fair amount of snow at the snow plot level followed by warm ups. Add to this that a lot of the snow that has fallen has been rain lower down so whilst adding to the base at the snow plot it has actually been reducing the base over most of the hill.

The result is that we now have a very beat up lower mountain and an upper mountain melted and getting ready to freeze (if the cool weather ever comes back) into boiler plate. I can't ever remember such a long warm period in January, a fact confirmed by talking to one of the snow makers who hasn't been able to work for two weeks because it is just too warm.

We just hit the New Side all day and had nice soft Spring skiing everywhere - I don't mind spring skiing but I do like it to come after winter skiing and not before. All the Currie chutes were good all morning going to slush lower down so that is what we skied from Concussion to Currie Creek.

In the afternoon we kept to the more north facing slopes - Cougar Glades (twice) run of the day being shaded by the trees and only getting sticky low down.
Anaconda Glades - good blow in in the second chute and high enough not to be too warmth affected.
Bootleg Glades - Ok and mostly untracked but a bit scratchy underneath. Soggy just above the Gilmar Trail
Mitchy Chutes - even this high up and north facing it was corn snow.
Lone Fir - very sketchy and heavy through the chute but some ok if heavy stuff down into Easter bowl.
Decline - nice in the top but just got heavier all the way down
Sykdive - last run of the day and just like Decline but with more alders in the lower part - at least the front three runs (don't let me catch anyone calling them the fingers) are now open although no better than they have been for the past week or two.

In summary the skiing was ok spring skiing on corn snow which would have been great in April but sucks in January. The base is now very fragile and more snow is needed. If things don't cool down and we get precip then we could lose the lower hill altogether, on the other hand if things do cool down we could be faced with boiler plate a death cookies top to bottom. Our only hope is a cooling trend with precip turning to snow and looking at the forecast that is odds against but we can hope.

No comments:

Post a Comment