Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day 56 a day that just got better as it went along

For the first time in about 10 days the overnight boards said no new snow but as we currently have a heavy snowfall warning for the Elk Valley for tonight going into tomorrow (with the greatest accumulations in the Fernie area) then this is just a small break. In any event the base having settled to something pretty firm was 225 cms.

The snow had dried out and wind sifted around so that everywhere (unless stated other wise) we were skiing on soft tracked powder with a firm base (but not hard) taking a really nice edge. In normal circumstances most of the world would say this was great skiing but in Fernie it just passes for ok.

I had another New Side day lurking around looking for the Polar Chutes to open and as always dropped lift line from Timber top with the occasional detour into Big Bang all of which was ok and was the route taken on every lap. The problem with today's surface was that it was skiing quite a lot quicker than yesterday's so you had to be on your game and put in some effort to stay in control for the first time in a few days.

Before Polar Peak opened I had loops through Skydive, Cougar Glades and Decline all of which were as per above and very nice skiing. As soon as the Peak opened I went up despite the fact that I thought it looked a bit ugly.I was right, it was horizontal ice pellets at about 50 clicks on the way up, no viz at the top and tough crust in th chutes on the way down. I came down via Stag Leap which was good and soft and enough work to warm me up.

I must be stupid (tell us something we don't know say my friends) as I decided to have another go at the Peak next time round and amazingly it was even worse. Ran out through Skydive which was it's usual fun soft self. Lunch

After lunch I had decided not to go back to the Peak but as I got to the top of White Pass it looked as though the cloud base was lifting so I gave it a go. It was incredible that in the short time I had been in for lunch things had changed that much. The next three runs off the Peak were all in ok, if not great viz but sifted in snow which got better as you went further left and by the end of the day was untracked wind grooming. A reminder that we are playing in serious double black diamond terrain came with a skier stacking it about half way down one of the chutes and taking a trip all the way to the bottom. This won't be the last time this happens this season so everyone should take the patrol warnings about the terrain seriously.

The three loops were -
Polar Peak, then Window Chutes. Still loads of soft snow and the log drop only about a metre. Just starting to get a little icey again on the narrow ski out.
Polar Peak, then a hike up Cornice Ridge to Lone Fir which was still in great shape but a few edge to edge jumps needed to get through. Exit with a traverse across Easter bowl and then into Spinal Tap which was still in pretty good shape despite evidence that people had been in there a bit over their heads and side slipped some of the best sections.
Polar Peak, then a traverse into Secret chutes which weren't quite as good as yesterday but in most other circumstances would be described as awesome lightly tracked powder.

Just like yesterday I needed a fill in lap of White Pass at the end of the day and traversed into the Knot chutes and hit tight knot which was skiing just about as well as I can ever remember it. The chutes on the left of Surprise Trees still had plenty of life in them for a late run. Last run of course was to meet up with buddies and rip Skydive which was just skiing better each time I went down it today.

So, the hill is in great shape and we have a heavy snowfall warning. We also have a threat of rain at lower elevations but the freeze level has been revised downwards as the day has gone on so I am hoping for a lucky break. Fingers crossed. A new record with 5 Polar chutes in a day but one that will be broken no doubt and quite soon if the viz improves.

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