Monday, January 9, 2012

Day 41 no change but a few thoughts

When I say there was no change this was not strictly true as we had yet another warm up - is this the warmest winter anyone can remember so far, I suspect. The facts are that the warming conditions did not have much effect on the snow so that things were much the same as yesterday. I have taken the opportunity to set down some of my thoughts on the season so far which since (as I guess) most readers would have no interest in this subject you can all ignore.

On the way to the hill it was +4 and driving back +6 so I guess it was there or there abouts all day at the base. On top it started as -1 but as the day went on it rose to slightly plus temps however the underlying snow base kept the snow down to freezing levels. Some wet precip started early in the day but kind of gave up early morning and for the rest of the day it just remained overcast but fo a change the cloud base was above the White Pass top.

My own day was disrupted by boot fitting vists to Top Shelf (still the best boot fitters in town) so I probably missed about an hour of skiing during the day. We did try the Old Side early on in the hope that rising temperatures would have softened up the lower mountain. Having found that the Sunny Side shoulder and Boomerang were still hard icey bumps we headed to the New Side.

We spent all day ( in between boot fittings) doing just what we did yesterday, looping out into Currie and then back round. Lift Line was still good with the blow in at the top giving some soft skiing. Best snow was in Anaconda Glades but a short pitch even allowing for the ok stuff in Bootleg Glades. Worst was in the Currie chutes which were varied to put it mildly. Best runs were Decline and Skydive exiting into Easter bowl as the snow was only slightly less good than Anaconda and the pitches were much longer.

Now to some reflections on the season which you can fast forward past if you are not interested - and who could blame you.

We seem to be obsessed with how bad things are but look at the rest of North America. Squaw Valley (the snow capital) has 12 inches of man made snow on the lower runs and so little snow on the upper mountain that they can't measure a base - look at the web cams. If Squaw is that bad then so is the whole Tahoe basin (Heavenly, Sierra, Kirkwood, Alpine Meadows, North Star etc). Vail is only one third open and my buddies who have just visited from out East tell me that Jay Peak is just one ice run. Perhaps we should be grateful for what we have.

Of course there is always Austria. On facebook I am friends with the Hotel Hintertuxerhof where I stay to summer ski the glaciers from time to time, I don't know how I am friends with a hotel but WTF. They have had unreal amounts of snow up to the roof of the entrance porch and the lifts have been closed for two days due to too much snow.

Buddies have asked me would I go back to Europe to ski and if it was just for the next two weeks to trash their powder while waiting for ours the answer would obviously be yes. On a longer term basis would I go back and start spending winters in Europe? the answer is no way. My reason is best summed up in a story -
European skirrs and particularly Brits make a great play of talking about "off piste skiing". About 90% of European skiers never ski off the groomers and the ones that do make a great play of talking about "off piste skiing" as if it is another sport presumably to distinguish themselves from the vast majority who never do it. One night in the Griz bar after a great day of ripping powder a buddy of mine asked "Bill, what is this off piste skiing that the Europeans are always talking about". I explained it was free riding over the mountain away from the marked runs in open terrain hoping to get some fresh tracks. He thought for a minute and said "Oh, so it's just skiing then" - that's why I will stay in Fernie.

Another reason to be cheerful is that it will be a little quiter next year as we lose the snow chasers. There is a strange bunch of people who each year book their vacations or their seasons skiing based on how good it was in a location last year and as a result of our awesome last season they are all here. This logic is obviously flawed as for it to work you would have to get two awesome seasons in a row which rarely happens. I guess next year they will be off in Austria and we will have a bit more elbow room.

Last and by no means least it is only day 41 so the season is not even a third over. Those of us who can remember the dreadful season of 2004 when in January they were dragging snow from one side of Bear to the other just to keep a track open will remain hopeful. That year in the second week in March when everyone had given up on the season it puked snow for four weeks and those of us who stuck it out had thigh deep powder and fresh tracks all day for the rest of the season.

All I am say is that things could be worse and there are reasons to be cheerful.

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