Friday, January 13, 2012

Day 45 wind affected - big time

First of all sorry this is a bit late. We had intended to get away from the hill early and post the blog before heading out to a hockey game. In the event we drank too many beers in the Griz bar, had some more while soaking in the hot tub under the stars at -8 and now find ourselves having some difficulty trying to remember what exactly happened today but here goes.

On the way to the hill it was -10 and a bluebird day as it remained all day. There was no indication that there had been a major wind event but as we arrived we were told that the Bear Chair had been stopped due to wind and that persuaded us that the New Side was the best place to go. We heard reports of 70km winds on the Old Side and noticed that the Bear Chair was not running for quite a lot of the morning. As a result we missed out on the Old Side which may have been a pity as reports in the afternoon indicated that the wind grooming in Boomerang was something special.

It was evident straight away that the winds had been strong with wind damaged surfaces everywhere. In a nutshell where the snow had been blown away it was either lunar lanscape which looked ugly but surprisingly took an ok edge or swept blue ice which was ready to slide you out when you least expected it. Where the snow had been deposited it was either slab which was very grabby or packed in sift which was also pretty grabby but a little better to ski. The real fun thing was that as you skied you had no idea eaxctly which surface you were landing on until you did at which time fast reactions were required.

An additional problem was the light. Many people think that on a bluebird day the light is great but not so. Where the sun shines of course it is great but on the sun/shadow tree slopes it can get very difficult to work out the terrain and on the shaded slopes the light just turns white and flat giving some real problems - just so you know that bluebird isn't all beer and skittles.

Lift Line immediately established things weren't going to be easy with some grabby wind sift. A few runs back through White Pass via the Gun bowl, Quite Right, Surprise trees and other such places showed that things had toughened up considerably.

We next tried the Concussion chutes which proved to be the template for the day with us encountering all of the snow/no snow conditions described above on any one chute, and often in the course of four turns. We hit the chutes several times with no better results.

Anaconda Glades proved better with some great blow in over the hump. Bootleg was surprisingly slabby in the top but got better lower down. Cougar Glades (first time of three) proved ok but with less wind sift than I had hope for. Easter bowl was ok but still a little slabby between the bumps.

Last run before lunch we hit the top of Decline which was ok blow in. On the way out to Easter down the trail I was tempted to give Spinal Tap a try for the first time this year - big mistake. The top section was ok with some edge to edge jumping in soft snow but with a very scratchy base. Biggest problem of all was that the stream bed had not really filled in so you had to dance on the right shoulder to get down. A complete surprise was Freeway which up until now had been the ugliest ice face on the hill but today was covered with great wind grooming.

In the afternoon Lynda went to the hair dressers and I just kicked around with a good ski buddy (hi Jay) seeing what was there. I had hit Cougar Glades myself and found the blow in improved so a third time in company was on the agenda and this proved that the improvement was continuing.

Somewhere in there I had done Easter (I think on my own) so we went out to Secret Chutes and probably found the best snow of the day cutting right into to top of Freeway - see earlier remarks.

Last loop we hiked Mitchy chutes which had filled in very nicely. Due to timing we needed a short White Pass loop so we hit Surprise trees which also seemed to have filled in but was bit varied. Last run of course was Skydive which was starting to firm up a bit but still very good skiing - see my comments for yesterday and about the last 14 days.

So tomorrow Polar Peak Chair opens even though the forecast suggests we might have some fairly socked in conditions - watch this space for and early and unbiased report. Tons of snow in the forecast if (and that is a very big if) you can believe the Weather Channel.

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