Saturday, April 7, 2012

Day 121 and we have varied conditions

Now just to make things clear, when I say conditions are varied I mean just that. I know this is a term that official sites use when things are totally crap (perhaps they can't spell totally crap) but in this case I mean the words in their true sense, things were very varied.

Let's start with the weather. There was a couple of cms of snow overnight and the base settled to about 425 cms. We arrived at the hill to temps of -1 and during the day they may only have risen to low plus temps. The result was that the snow stayed in it's overnight condition (good powder on the North facing slopes and refrozen crud on the South facing) except were it was in the direct sunlight where it softened but reset as soon as the sun went off.

The real change was that throughout the day we had sun, cloud, full on winter flurries of snow or ice pellets and back to sun again sometimes in the space of less than half an hour. This has continued into the evening so no one is quite sure what is happening. The surface was varied in that depending on where you were in the cycle it could be powder, soft (but not slush) hard pack, refrozen (ranging from crud to mush) and all other points in between.

Of course we had a job to do on the Old Side. We had a couple of runs through Cedar Ridge which was soft powder in the top and a bit chunky lower down before I went for the recovery of the beers buried on Wallaby on Hotdog day. It was only partially successful, five cans were recovered but one was pierced by my ski pole during recovery. To my amazement the beer had not frozen despite a couple of -8 nights and I think this is living proof of the insulating effect of the snow and how perhaps digging a snow pit if you are ever stuck out on the hill overnight might just save your life.

Today was the Powder, Peddle, Paddle, a four legged relay race that can be run by a team or just one competitor involving skiing down the hill, biking to town, canoeing back up the river then running back up Ski Hill Road. We watched the start and by that time most of the morning had gone.

We spent the rest of the morning dropping Cedar Ridge, Gulch, Boom Ridge, Boomerang bowl all of which were ok but rather crustier than I expected due to the lack of direct sunlight. Returns were through Kangaroo which having softened and then set up a bit was skiing as mellow as I can remember it all season - 3 trips through proved this.

In the afternoon I hit the New Side which was (now here's a surprise) varied. Lift Line had improved and was now soft bumps.

Getting to the top of White Pass I noticed Polar Peak had just opened. It didn't look very inviting and the signs at the top of the chutes described the conditions as "poor" which is just about as bad as official reports ever get. Popa Bear was icey ugly bumps which I took back to the base. Baby Bear had looked a bit more inviting but when I got in there it was just the accumulation of the days flurries on a very scratchy base. As I said conditions were changing every loop.

The trip to base was through Corner Pocket which is still in remarkably good shape with just one tire showing and the best soft, deep and in some places untracked snow on the hill. From there I went to Easter bowl which for whatever reason was hardly skied all afternoon and in great shape with soft snow and few fresh tracks.

Next time round I tried Popa Bear again off Polar Peak which was a little better than the previous time, at least now taking an edge. Mama Bear looked just as tempting a Baby Bear had and in the event turned out to be just as crap. As a slight variation I dropped High Saddle which was still in good enough shape to allow edge to edge jumping all the way through and the snow below was tha same as the previous time in CP and Easter.

Winter set in as I got to the top of White Pass with snow puking down so I decided against Polar Peak or any one of the Saddles but went out to Stag Leap and was much entertained by two skiers in front of me stacking it on the whoopdie -do at Currie Creek which to be fair was a bit gnarly all afternoon. By the time I got to the top of Stag it had become summer again so I need not have bothered but the run down was very good in soft reforming snow under the cover of the newly fallen snow.

My timing was a bit out so I had to to do a quick loop in White Pass to kill some time and had a fairly scratchy time down through Surprise Trees but just about ok. Final run was Skydive which skied really well in (yet again) varied conditions from top to bottom.

A few beers with friends. Tomorrow is only one of two days a year when we intend to ski a short day. Of course sometimes we do ski a short day due to weather, injury, avi control etc but we only ever plan to ski short on Christmas and Easter. Tomorrow being Easter we intend to go through to lunch and then have a big Easter dinner at home. Whatever happens I will set it out in the blog tomorrow.

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