Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day 108 from winter to summer in one day

Yes, having had a week of full in winter powder snow conditions, in one day we went to spring skiing although as the heading implies the temps went way beyond what I would normally call spring and gave us summer (by UK measures) temps all day.

No new snow overnight so the base settled to 400 cms (still pretty good) and the starting temps were -4 at the base. A kind of valley fog persisted for most of the morning but around 11 o'clock it burned off and we suddenly found ourselves with a bluebird day and temps climbing to +13 at the base and + 5 on top. The result was that everything became very mushy very quick.

As we hadn't been to the Old Side for a while we did and tried a run down Bear which just confirmed that yesterday's soft snow was now bullet hard. We tried Sunny Side shoulder to see if it had started to soften and found rock hard bumps and uneven tufted surface features all the way down - a pretty tough start to the day.

After that Lynda had the idea that yesterday's north facing slopes would still be in good shape as they would not have been sun affected and as usual she was right. We spent the morning running down Cedar Ridge from the gully on the left to King Fir on the right and all stations in between. The surface was good soft tracked powder that showed no signs of crud or crust.

Just once we dropped Boomerang which was ok and just starting to soften from it's re frozen crud starting point, in order to go out and try Steep and Deep/Redtree. I tried Steep and Deep and found it to be crud just starting to soften. Lynda guessed at Redtree and yet again proved the better judge as this was round towards north far enough for the surface to be soft with some untracked near the boundary fence.

Each return was through Kangaroo (5 times) which as you would expect was pretty hard icey bumps for the most part but with the surface softening to take and edge by the end of the morning - lunch.

In the afternoon we went to the New Side and by this time it was getting very hot in the direct bluebird sunlight. Polar Peak was open and I guessed that by this time it would be soft enough to be ok. I was right and the chutes all had soft big bumps which were very mellow skiing but with the caveat that if you made a mistake your were not going to stop any time soon.

I looped Polar three times (Papa Bear, Barely Legal and Mama Bear) all of which were soft big bumps getting almost slushy in places before heading out along the Reverse Traverse. I didn't even look in the Saddles as I guessed by now thay would be totally scraped out. I went out as far as Decline and had a rather lazy drop in the slow motion deep soft melted powder that was there, great fun but very had work.

Next time round I found that Polar Peak had been closed due to mechanical problems (again) so had to work my way across to the big three and this time took Stag Leap. It was surprisingly good in the trees although you did have to ride the berms to get good deep snow and stayed in good shape (not too soft or melted) right down until the last couple of turns of the lower section.

I did not expect to find Polar peak running again this afternoon but to my surprise it was. I just had time to go up and have another quick soft bump run in Papa Bear (107th of the year) after admiring the fantastic 360 degree view from the top. This time I hiked into Easter bowl on the basis that it was North facing and would have stayed in great shape. I was rewarded by being right and had a great run down in what was still recognisable as winter snow before cutting off into Spinal Tap which was still soft and deep and in ok shape condidering how low down and warm it was.

Last run of course was Skydive which was big soft bumps on the top, ok skiing most of the way down and a bit slushy in the final pitch. In summary it was an ok day in spring conditions (I know I am considered strange because I don't really like the sunny warm spring skiing - I would much rather have cold winter conditions) but with the hill starting to set up towards the end of the day it could get ugly tomorrow. A lot of precip in the forecast but I fear it may be pretty wet - lets see.

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