Friday, February 3, 2012

Day 65 the groundhogs were right

Yes, the groundhogs were right in that spring was supposed to come early, in fact it came today.

As we headed to the hill it was about -5 and despite the forecast of a bluebird day it was overcast and the cloud base hid the tops of the mountains. We decided to go to the Old Side as there didn't seem much point in going to the Peak until the viz improved. After a quick rip down Bear just for the hell of it we headed out to the Fish bowl.

I had been told by a buddy that Fish bowl was good yesterday and he was right. Although there were a few tracks we had deep untracked powder in the near chutes that we took all the way down. I didn't go in too far as the ridge lines were obscured so a risk assessment was difficult.
We looped back to the top of Bear via Kangaroo (surprisingly good shape even low down) and Boomerang (ok soft bumps) only to be told that Polar Peak was open and the whole of that area was above the clouds - we headed for the New Side.

The report was right and as we got to the top of White Pass we were just getting on top of the clouds and as we went up Polar Peak we had a bluebird day with a carpet of cloud below us. We took the opportunity to go left off the lift for a couple of loops in an area we hadn't tried before. This was not good news as the area was full of rocks and ice crust and not very good skiing. A check on the trail map later showed the name of this area was "Shale Slope" and they were not kidding.

Next loop we dropped Mamma Bear which was at least deep snow but becoming very soft and bumpy due to skier traffic. We went to the base vis Concussion which strangely had better snow than on top because of the low cloud protecting it from the effect of the sun. I don't know the exact temps but there certainly was an inversion and conditions on top were Spring (almost Summer) skiing.

We went up the Peak again and this time played with the chutes off Barely Legal which were getting very soft. Final run before lunch we pushed all the way out to Spirit Bear which because of it's distance to the left and tightness of entry was much less tracked and bumpy but still getting mushy. I had intended to drop Cougar Glades but was asked by a group of visitors to show them the way to the Big Three (note, had they asked me the way to the Fingers I would have told them I knew of no such run) and I did and had a rip down Stag Leap which was great in the top (at first protected by the cloud and by this time now out of the direct sunlight) and ok if a little chunky in the bottom section.

In the afternoon I ventured up Polar Peak for the sixth time today and number 37 for the season and this time hit Baby Bear which was getting almost liquid by then - the rest of the chutes were soggy soft bumps. Using spring skiing logic we crossed to Easter bowl which being north facing was in great shape and soft tracked powder.

We had intended one more trip through the Peak but it was closed due to some mechanical problems. As a consolation prize we hiked into Lone Fir and found it pretty well untouched today so some great steep and deep chute skiing all the way into Easter bowl.

I had bit of time to kill in White Pass at the end so a quick trip into the Knot Chutes (Tight Knot) was called for with a drop through Surprise Trees which were surpringly still full of quite fresh snow. Just time for one more rip down White Pass under the chair to link up with buddies and then out to Skydive for the final rip. Upper sections still in great shape and the lower part improving by the day but still not for the faint hearted.

Having been right about the crowds up Polar peak today in the bluebird conditions I make another prediction for tomorrow. The Peak will be ugly icey chicken heads all the way down, it will be bluebird conditions and most of Calgary will be lining up to get up there. The inevitable result will be ugly with injuries - me, I'll be over on the Old side, possible out in the Fish Bowl keeping as much distance as I can between me and the crowds.

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