Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Day 97 a great way to say goodbye

Well, of course I'm not saying goodbye for good. Tomorrow I am heading back to the UK for 7 days to sort out some family stuff, coming back next Wednesday, I'm sorry to say that whilst I am away I haven't been able to get Lynda to do the blog so I'm afraid there will be no reports for the next 8 days - sorry.

Today was a pretty stunning way to finish, Overnight they were reporting 34 cms of new snow in the last 24 hours of which about 20 came yesterday during the day and the rest came overnight. Temps had dropped to -4 overnight so we had snow all the way down to the base and during the day whilst base temps may have risen a bit above freezing it was still a solid -4 at the top of the hill all day. the snow base rose to 336 cms.

Mountain conditions ranged from socked in cloud to bluebird sun and back again with each run different and later in the day we got flurries which turned to snow and even now are heavy snow in temps of -3. Polar Peak didn't open but looks awesome for tomorrow which as I won't be here does not fill me with very warm feelings. As I sit here snow is piling up on the deck and we seem to be back in a totally unforecast winter storm cycle.

We went to the New Side on the basis that the high snow from yesterday would be best up there. It was fantastic as even with Currie closed we were able to cycle White Pass. First time through Knot chtes everyone was ignoring Tight Knot and we didn't so we got great deep untracked powder all the way down to the Idiot Traverse. Next two times Slim and Jim provided great deep powder with just a few tracks. Each of the three times we completed the loops through Surprise Trees which have so much terrain that we were able to find totally untracked lines every time.

Next time up White Pass chair they dropped the fence on Currie bowl as we arrived at the top (couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys) and that set the scene for the rest of the morning -
Skydive - hit out as quick as we could and found just one track (I guess patrol) on the left hand side. We had the right and centre untracked top to bottom and it was awesome. Top two thirds were bottomless and the lower third good powder on a firm base.
Stag Leap - rather more tracks than I expected but still fresh lines to be found and, as the new snow had a high moisture content and as a result a hero quality, you could more or less straight line the top sections.
Cougar Glades - tracked in the top but as usual as you got through the top it opened out into a load of untracked tree skiing. Great over the head face shots all the way down.
The Brain - as usual there were a few tracks but with so many options you could always find untracked lines. Took the tight Decline side exit at the base which was good but a little crunchy in the bottom section.
Decline/Window Chutes - Ok in Decline and fantastic powder in the chutes themselves. Even the exit was soft powder.
Secret Chutes/Spinal tap - tracked by now but very good soft snow all the way down particularly jumping from the creek bed to the right shoulder and back again.

A late lunch followed by a short afternoon.

We went back into the Knot chutes and found Tight Knot re filled in from the morning and awesome skiing ( having to avoid your own slough).In Anaconda we went as far right as ever I can remember and got deep untracked snow in tight trees all the way down to the top of Bootleg. Just like yesterday we went beyound Bootleg to the further trees and found great untracked skiing all the way through - life is so easy in these trees that you never normally ski when there is this much snow.

Next was Lone Fir which was a bit tracked in the chute but great underneath. Because Lizard bowl was closed there was a sign line just to our left as we exited the chute. This was excellent news as everyone sking Easter had stayed right and there wasn't the usual tracks coming in from the left because of the Lizard closure - result deep untracked snow all the way down the left shoulder to the top of Freeway.

A quick time filler in White Pass via Knot chutes (Jim) and Surprise Trees ( still plenty of untracked lines) and it was time for the final rip down Skydive. It wasn't as good as first tracks in the morning but still pretty good as by this time it had started to snow again quite hard and we had a few cms of good fill in. A great end to a great day.

The forecast is for a massive warm up although it looks as if I will miss a great day tomorrow. I'll be back in a weeks time.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Day 96 brutal weather, great skiing

Let's deal with the weather first. It rained most of the night and temps were +3 on the deck this morning. The hill claimed 3 cms of fresh but the amazing thing was the forecast that called for cooling temps all day resulting in a winter storm warning for the Elk Valley with the rain turning to snow and possibly 30 cms of fresh in the evening going into the night.

When we arrived at the hill it was +2 at the base and -1 on top and these temps didn't seem to change much during the day. It rained at the base and half way up the hill although during the day the snow line seemed to move steadily down the hill though it never really arrived at the base. There was stacks of wind (so much that Polar Peak wasn't even started today) and this with the rain/snow on top gave pretty well blizzard conditions up in White Pass and what can only be described as totally brutal conditions by anyone's standards.

The obvious thing to do was to go high and loop White Pass. Even though everyone was up there (who in their right mind would be skiing anywhere else) it wasn't crowded. Most of the skiers seemed to be in instruction groups (ski school, Non Stop etc) and for the most part these seemed to be fixated on skiing groomers leaving the good stuff to the dozen or so of us who were prepared to give it a go.

Viz was a problem all day but straight off the bat Lift Line proved to be soft, flat, deep blown in powder and untracked - this set the standard for the day. There was no way in the conditions that we were going to go to base in the rain so we just put in loops of Gun bowl, or as we got more confident the various Knot chutes. After that it was Surprise Trees all the way across to Triple Trees and back again. The snow was awesome and untracked and coming down so hard that each time you looped through it was untracked from the time before. The new snow was starting to slough particularly in Knot chutes (Tight Knot to Jim and back again) and all in all it was a pretty awesome mornings skiing in what amounted to fresh tracks everywhere we went.

To finish for lunch we dropped Anaconda Glades which clearly had been skied but because of the new snow all the chutes were untracked and the biggest danger was being taken out by your own slough. Bootleg Glades were good down to Gilmar Trail but after that it was sticky elephant snot all the way down to the base.

The afternoon was an exact rerun of the morning except that the snow in the Knot chutes was much deeper and more prone to slough and The Triple Trees/Surprise Trees shoulder was deeper and again untracked in the new snow. We looped until last chair.

Last run was down Anaconda where even more snow had accumulated so that it was a race against your own slough all the way down. We hit the trees just beyond Bootleg Glades which were untracked and only got heavy in the lower section. The ski out at the bottom of the hill was a bit less sticky in than in the morning as a result of the cooling temps.

In summary a great day skiing up in White Pass which was only prevented from being awsome by some rather dodgy viz and a lack of vert due to being restricted to White Pass. More snow forcast tonight but it doesn't seem to be getting as cold as they said so I have some doubts, but lets see.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Day 95 how wrong could I be

It rained yesterday evening so much that we didn't go out to the Griz parade. Temps were warm overnight and in the morning they were +4 on the deck with overcast conditions, no new snow reported and wet precip in the forecast. We confidently predicted a crap day's skiing, so much so that Lynda took the day off to get over her cold on the grounds she wouldn't be missing much.

When I got to the hill things were a bit different. Temps were warm at the base rising to +8 during the day. Up top they must have got to +2 but with the overcast conditions there was no direct sunlight so the snow stayed in good shape. There was wind, a lot of it so that Polar Peak chair remained closed. The surprise was that there had obviously been quite a lot of thick grainy snow plus a load of blow in which gave good hero untracked skiing conditions against all the odds. Obviously quite a lot of people had the same wrong idea as me but weren't stupid enough to go up to look anyway so as a result the hill was pretty well deserted.

Lift Line was untracked a good 20 minutes after opening and that told the story for the whole day. With the temp pattern we had anyone could work out that there would be a mush line lower down and the best bet would be to go high on the New Side. First trip up White Pass showed that the ski back below the lift was untracked so I took it and it was great,

The next loop set the pattern for the morning when I traversed out into Knot chutes and got first tracks in Tight Knot, then Slip Knot, then Slim, Thin and Jim. After that each time I got first tracks in Surprise trees, Surprise Tees going one chute beyond my prvious tracks, Anaconda Glades hiking the hup and getting first tracks, Anaconda 2 getting first tracks and Anaconda 4 getting first tracks, this was getting repetitive. Exits were always through some permutation of Bootleg Glades where some first or fresh tracks were always available. It was only starting to get mushy as you got down to Gilmar Trail so all the fresh tracks were in great hero powder which allowed you to hit the fall line more often than is usually the case.

Around noon we tried Cougar Glades which had a few tracks in which soon disappeared. Good skiing most of the way down but very heavy snow in the final exit. We just had time for another Knot chute/Anaconda/Bootleg loop after that before breaking for a late lunch.

After lunch it was more of the same but rather more so. First trip I hiked Knot chutes and hit Tight Knot from the very top through the narrow entrance which was pretty mellow in the hero snow. Next was the top of Triple Trees down to Trespass trail which had a few tracks in the top which disappeared half way down giving first tracks to the trail.

The rest of the afternoon was spent traversing into Knot chutes and again hitting all of them from Tight on the skiers right to Jim on the skiers left (Thin was particularly good). The runs were completed either by dropping back through far left Surprise Trees/Triple Trees or going very far out on Anaconda. Going out that far on Anaconda is great as the chutes are not numbered and you are really having to pick your way through the tight trees that spit you out just above Bootleg, needless to say totally untracked. To exit these runs we skied past Bootleg and hit the trees on the far side which I don't even think have a name and again sking steep tight tree chutes all the way down in mostly untracked snow - totally awesome untracked skiing in hero snow.

We had a quick experiment checking out the Brain and found that whilst it was great lightly tracked powder at the top it turned to real elephant snot half way down and even the lower section of Skydive was really hard work. In the light of this we abandoned Skydive for the last run (shock horror) and did the Knot/far Anaconda/far Bootleg run which remained great snow with plenty of fresh lines if you looked for them.

A great day when it was least expected made all the better by first/fresh tracks all day due to the total lack of skiers in the parts of the hill where we went and where in our judgement the best skiing would be. Still pretty warm and raining in the valley as we left the hill after a couple of beers but that just could mean another White Pass powder day tomorrow, who knows.