Sunday, February 5, 2012

Day 67 the devil makes work for idle hands

This was one of my granny's funny sayings, she had lots of them but eventually she went barmy and we had to have her locked up, but that's another story. This is so true as far as the groomers in Fernie go. When we have snow dumping it is all the groomers can do to keep some of the lower mountain clear. When we get a few days without snow as we have now then, with nothing to keep them busy, the groomers start grooming all sorts of places that have no business being groomed.

Today places in question were Boom Ridge, Puff, Freeway, to name but three. As a result of the grooming great untracked skiing was smashed into a flat ugly carpet. My view is well known in that skiing groomers isn't skiing at all as it lacks challenge and the essential interaction with the natural surfaces and features of the mountain. I can only repeat what I have said before, perhaps we should change the tag line of the hill to "Legendary Grooming".

The crowds had gone and on the way to the hill temps were -12. Once again there was a low fog/cloud base with sun above and a temperature inversion so that up high it was about -4. No new snow so the base had drifted down to 269 cms. Just like yesterday as the cloud burned off the temps at the base rose until they were -4 at the close and the upper mountain temps cooled to about -6.

The main results of these changing conditions was amazing angel dust just above the clouds with huge sun dogs and ice crystal rainbows, some of the must beautiful I have see. Also with Polar Peak clear many decided to make it the day for their one photo op up there choosing to come down the groomed face which I understand was icey and rocky rather that use the chutes which were fine but a bit bumped up and hard and just waiting fot someone to take a slide over the cliffs.

We went to the Old Side and after a nice warm up on the Sunny Side shoulder on hard packed tracked snow headed out to the near side of the Fish bowl which still had untracked powder in places. After that we just played around off Boomerang with several runs through Cedar Ridge, King Fir, Linda's, Boomerang, Buck Shot, Bear chutes etc. The conditions were very varied. Where there had hardly been any skier traffic the snow was soft and good powder, where there had been a bit more it was chopped up chunky and very tough and where there had been more still it was beaten in and skiing quite nicely taking an edge in bumps.

Four trips through Kangaroo showed it was back to it's icey tough self and as I said yesterday is an excellent practice ground for anyone wanting to ski the Polar Chutes. After lunch we went to the New Side.

The bluebird conditions proved too great a temptation for us to ignore Polar Peak so we went up for the truely spectacular view. We guessed the "easy" way down would be rocky and ugly ice (a buddy tells me it was) so we opted for the chutes which are now steep hard bumps where if you fall you are not going to stop any time soon. As we got there patrol were just expanding the entrance so we were able to drop in on a fresh snow berm and avoid all the rocks at the top. The run down was fine hard bump skiing but well worth taking some care over.

After that there didn't seem much point on going up again just to say we had done it so we looped the Currie side in Concussion, Easter bowl, Secret Chutes and Cougar Glades, all were ok with the best skiing on the North facing slopes like Easter.

At the end of the day we tracked into the Knot chutes and got a nasty surprise as these were hard refrozen crud and very tough skiing, not worth the effort although from the lift they looked quite nice. Surprise trees were better where they were shaded and so it was to Skydive for the final rip. Skydive is skiing ok on the upper sections but still pretty sketchy down below. I was feeling it a bit as I started a cold last night and my energy levels were way down but I managed to rip down in half way decent style for the end of the day.

The stable air mass seems to be with us for a while so probably more of the same tomorrow.

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