Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day 64 happy groundhog day

Yes, today is that strange piece of North Americana when rodents across the continent are dragged out of their burrows and stood up to see if they cast a shadow. If they do (as most did today) then spring is just around the corner but to look at the short term forecast it looks as if spring is going to be with us for the next 7 days with sunshine and plus temps called for no matter what the rodent population thinks.

Overnight the hill said we had 8 cms of fresh but I guess most of that fell during the day yesterday but there was still enough overnight to give good coverage and fresh tracks. The base was up to 283 cms but for those interested in history, or at least Lynda's diary, it is over 50 cms more than this time last year.

Temps were -1 all over the hill at the start but whilst they continued at that level on top for most of the day it warmed up to around +5 at the base. It was a sun/cloud mix day although the cloud socked in to the upper parts of the hill, particularly Polar Peak whilst the rest of the area appeared bluebird - strange.

We went to the New Side to be told that the Polar Peak chair was not open for "maintenance issues" not sure what this means but as I really don't want to stuck up on the chair if it breaks down so I am more than happy to let them get on with it.

We did a couple of loops down Concussion which were great untracked snow. One more loop was down through High Saddle which had really nice powder all the way down into Easter and then rather chunky snow in the lower part of Easter,

They then opened Polar Peak and we had 4 loops but only one back down to the chair itself. We came down all across the various Polar chutes and they were all good and deep. The three exits were High Saddle ( still good) Easter Bowl ( north facing stuff good just like spring skiing) and Cougar Glades ( the Glades, along with the Concussion faces were all turning to soft spring sun affected snow). This was getting crazy as we were all looking to find good north facing slopes, just like we have to in the Spring.

After lunch the sun had gone in so the Concussion faces were all setting up so we headed back to Polar Peak. We had four more trips down the Polar chutes which remained soft and deep but with some very variable viz conditions. Again only one lap back to the base and the other three through the far chutes and exits in Low Saddle (twice) and High Saddle (again). As before the snow under the Saddles was deep and in many places untracked, particularly on the right cut out under Low Saddle and the final exit was always through the chunky lower Easter Bowl.

Final lap was a hike into Mitchy Chutes which was smooth and deep and then a track out to Skydive for the last rip. Skydive was great all the way down to the final pitch which was the refrozen crud of a couple of days ago with just enough fresh snow on it to make it ok (just about).

I'm very aware that the openings of Polar Peak have diverted me from the Old Side and I have had conversations that convince me that Snake Ridge and Fish bowl aren't all bad. Tomorrow promises to be a blubird day when I have no doubt that dozens of skiers who have declined to go up Polar Peak over the past few days will be up there for the first time complaining that it is all tracked out - guys, that's what happens if you don't go for it in the marginal conditions.

Maybe Fish will be the way to go after the Polar photo op. A record today of 8 trips up Polar Peak and a total this year to date of 31 trips, much more than when we had to hike.

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