Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day 100 Paddy's Day and we have the luck of the irish

First of all apologies for this report which is being written after a maximum Paddy's day celebration plus an additional celebration for 100 days of the season and some awesome powder skiing. It may all become a bit more incoherent than usual and if that is the case - sorry.

It didn't seem to snow overnight but the hill reported 15 cms in the last 24 hours and a base of around 360 cms. It did start snowing first thing and continued throughout the day with the snow just getting deeper all over as the day went on. On the way to the hill temps were -2 at the base and about -6 on top. During the day temps at the base rose to low plus temps but as the snow was coming down from cold clouds it kept coming down white. On top temps stayed just below zero and the snow on the upper mountain stayed lightish and fairly dry all day just getting deeper all the time.

We went high to the New Side to get the best snow. Lift Line set the tone again with a rather scratchy base where yesterday's rain crust had frozen but with good soft snow with a high moisture content giving hero powder on which you could float. We assumed that the base on the Old Side would be just the same but with skier track marks making it very lumpy in the overnight freeze

We did a White Pass loop through the Gun Bowl and Surprise Trees which were lightly tracked and good powder starting to accumulate. Next loop was through Knot Chutes where the Tight Knot was good deep snow and then we found Anaconda open which was great sloughy skiing over the hump. Even a drop down Bootleg Glades proved ok on a scratchy base as long as you hit the near trees and avoided the death cookies from the cat track.

After that Currie bowl opened and even though it was only the low traverse that was open (no Polar Peak obviously) we worked out to the Skydive Traverse and for the rest of the day got -
Skydive - Only about three tracks in front of us so mostly untracked snow all the way down. As Currie haden't been opened for 5 days the lower sections were not tracked up crud, in fact they were soft rain rounded bumps now taking an edge with good powder building on top. All the big three were like this all day getting better as the snow mounted up.
Cougar Glades - a few tracks in the top which soon disappeared as you worked your way down. Some really nice soft stuff in the creek bed exit on the lower left.
Stag Leap - amazingly mellow skiing through the top trees if you had the nerve to drop your skis into the fall line. The run itself had been beaten mostly flatish but with the powder covering it was a real ripper with only a few tracks ahead of us.
The Brain - most amazing experience of the day. There were no tracks in there even that late in the morning. Half way down a board track crossed me right to left but then disappeared and I had the tight trees to myself all the way down to the cat track below Skydive, awesome powder.
Decline/Window Chutes - Again great skiing in Decline and no tracks into the top of Windows with only a couple of tracks when you got in there. Lunch
Secret Chutes/Spinal tap - by now the snow was really starting to get deep and the skiing was good and deep with aload of fresh lines to be found.
Stag Leap - just like before lunch. More tracked up but the high moisture content of the snow meant that it was still great skiing.
Easter Bowl - Getting tracked up but very good powder with lots of fresh tracks.

Just time for a filler in Knot Chutes (Tight Knot even deeper than before) and Surprise Trees where the powder was mostly now covering the base.

Last run was Skydive which was an awesome rip on tracked powder where you could fly any part of the terrain you didn't feel like skiing. Highlight of the day was Lynda ripping past me in the untracked snow on Skydive - I think she is becoming a bit of a hooligan.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Day 99 not great but way beter than expected

Expectations were way down as it rained all night and seemed pretty warm in the valley. Temps on the way to the hill were +2 and although the official report showed 18 cms of fresh and a 368 base we figured this was as a result of yesterdays precip and measured at the snow plot which is pretty well up the hill along side Bear. To add to this the official description of conditions was "varied" for the upper mountain and "spring conditions" for the lower which is about as close as a hill ever gets to admitting to crap conditions.

We went to the New Side to get high where temps remained at plus fgures at the base all day and around -2 at the top to start with getting up to zero or slightly higher up there as the day went on. Conditions were overcast giving up ice pellets in showers during the morning but clearing at lunch time. Over lunch we had rain at the base turning to wet snow higher up and with about 20 mins to go to final bell the lifts were closed due to too much wind - in other words pretty well every condition you could think of at some time during the day.

A sign at the top of White Pass said that Currie bowl wouldn't be opening today and that was exactly what happened.

The first drop from Timber to White Pass revealed a crust (probably rain crust) under the new snow/pellets so that jump turns were required and it was tough all the way down. We then hit Knot chutes and Surprise Trees which were ok in the top but crust from about half way down Surprise so much more jumping required.

Next time round Knots were as awesome as ever (working our way across the chutes) but we found Anaconda just opened. This was great and we hiked the hump and put first tracks in the chutes which were grippy fresh pellets but still with big sloughs. As the last couple of turns out of Anaconda were a bit crusty we came back to White Pass via Trespass Trail which was as easy as I can remember it with the skis sliding well on the fresh pellet surface.

We spent the whole of the morning working our way across Knot Chutes from the Tight Knot all the way to Simon's Crack and everything in between some of which got done more than once. In general terms all the chutes were good with new pellet powder on a slightly scratchy base but great skiing. Returns to White Pass alternated between Surprise Trees and Anaconda all of which were good with fresh tracks in rather testing crusty conditions. A funny thing was that the further you went into Surprise the higher you had to start jumping your turns in the crust. Clearly something happened up there last night but I can't work out what.

Last run before lunch was a great drop of one of the far Anaconda chutes which still had fresh rather icey snow even after a few tracks. Bootleg just looked ugly so we bottled it and went to base via Gilmar trail which was in much better shape than yesterday and quite ok. Over lunch it started to rain at the base but having heared that the Old Side had been good in the morning we decided to give it a go.

Later reports in the bar suggest that the Old Side had never been good and certainly our trip tended to confirm this. Being low we had wet snow sticking to the goggles to add to the general poor viz. Cedar ridge was heavy and tracked and Boom bowl wasn't much better - we returned to the New Side.

We resumed the New Side where we had left off with Knot Chute/Surprise Trees loops but the difference this time was that the wind had got up so at times it was difficult to see anything in the swirling snow. The effect on the snow of course was to give new untracked skiing surface as a result of the new wet snow now falling and the wind sift. The last time round Tight Knot was agin full of deep untracked windsift and we trashed it to very good effect.

White Pass chair close 20 minutes early due to the wind which was strange as by that time the wind had passed and we were skiing in quite mellow conditions - my own view is that this was call from someone who wasn't on the spot looking at what was actually happening. Even so it was an ok day on a day when the expectation was that it would be crap conditions which makes it ok by me.

More snow forecast but conditions are so crazy who knows how this will pan out.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Day 98 a wet welcome back

So here I am guys, back in Fernie having spent 7 days back in the UK sorting out stuff and most importantly having a beer at the Pandora Inn (my favourite pub in Restronguet) which opened last Friday having been closed for a year after the fire and now rebuilt with most of the 13th century bits still intact.

Overnight the hill reported 13 cms of fresh snow raising the base to 360 cms. Temps on the way to the hill hovered around zero but the precip was coming down wet at the base. This set the pattern for the day with the rain line working it's way slowly up the hill so that by mid afternoon it was around mid White Pass. Snow was heavy and wet even on top but at the base it didn't even bear thinking about. We went to White Pass with the plan of going high and staying high - the Old side would have been a nightmare.

First run down to White Pass from Timber showed that we were dealing with Jersey Cream powder which would track out when the first tracks were put through it. Gun Bowl and Surprise Trees confirmed this with lots of untracked in Surprise.

After that we spent most of the morning working our way across Knot Chutes eventually puting tracks in pretty well all of the chutes with the occasional fresh lines to be had. In Surprise we worked our way backwards and forwards looking for fresh lines and finding some from time to time. Once we pushed out as far as Triple Trees and having got down to Trespass Trail took the trees all the way down to base which started as cream powder but ended up as heavy elephant snot by the last set of trees - not a bad run down considering conditions.

Late morning we were there when they dropped the fence on Anaconda and had a great rip through the second chute which was untracked and so deep that I was actually knocked over by my own slough at one stage. Bootleg glades were untracked in the near trees but by we got down to the Gilmar Trail it was getting very claggy and the trail out itself was slow heavey elephant snot.

One more run a bit further along Anaconda before lunch was even better with untracked snow through the far trees. The fianl run down before lunch was the trees beyond Bootleg which were untracked in the top and heavy snow beconing slush as you threaded the trees on the way down.

Over lunch the rain at the base picked up and we got reports that the rain line was even further up the hill. We went out with no great hope and found the reports to be correct with the cloud now socking in the top of White Pass, a sign saying that Currie wouldn't be open today and Anaconda now closed due to instability.

We did a few runs down White Pass in poor light and heavy snow before deciding enough was enough and coming off the hill about an hour before last bell. We ran off through Triple Trees which were now heavy and wet almost to the top and Diamond Back which represented the best exit as it had been tracked up so the sticky snow was at a minimum.

Early beers and a hot tub soon restored spirits. Snow forecast overnight but with deck temps of +5 who knows what we are going to get.