Saturday, April 14, 2012

Day 128 Furnival

Today was the Furnival celebration which usually means not much skiing and quite a lot of drinking. Today we did ok by the drinking but actually got in quite a lot of skiing.

It was about +4 as we reached the hill but it was overcast and stayed that way all day so with no direct sunlight the melt line just worked it's way slowly up the hill all day. The only change was late afternoon when we started to have a graupel storm which quickly turned to full on winter snow before slipping back to hazy sun all in the space of about 30 minutes.

We went to the Old Side on the grounds that yesterday ( and most days in the season) this softens some time before the New Side. It was not as soft as yesterday and things were warming a good half hour slower.

We went out around Boom Ridge which we found was softening just about ok and then as the day went on we skied it more. Much the same for Lynda's run and Boomerang which were done several times. First time down Cedar Centre was very rough and scratchy although it got better. Run of the morning was Kangaroo which we ran 4 times and was a firm base with soft snow taking an edge on top and the bumps smoothed out in the previous soft conditions. Lunch

After lunch we went to the New Side and found that things has softened but not all that much. Polar Peak had opened but as a reflection of how things were different from yesterday only the Polar Coaster side opened but the chutes stayed closed due to icey conditions all day. We went up and took the Coaster down which as I have said before I don't count in my Polar Peak total as it is , whatever you think, a groomer.

From then on we just looped -
Skydive - great corn snow all the way down with just a couple of soft turns in the bottom.
Stag Leap - rather technical in the trees in the top due to variable conditions and then as with Skydive.
Decline - just like Skydive but rather better in the lower sections with fast GS turns.

We then had to do a couple of loops back through White Pass to kill time. I went into Surprise Trees which I honestly expected to be pretty crappy but was actually really nice and taking an edge. It was so good that I went back and did it all over again which was if anything better as I had got more used to the conditions.

Last run was Skydive which was in awesome spring skiing shape and the GS turns just kept getting bigger and faster,

Afterwards it was April Wine in the plazza followed by far too much beer in the Griz Bar. Forecasts are for a possibility of powder over night so we could actually get fresh tracks on closing day - how good is that ?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Day 127 Back to spring skiing

Yup, today reverted to spring skiing as we all understand it. It was cool overnight and although the base was +4 at the start and the snow was softening it was zero on top and felt like it might have got a lot colder overnight. The result was good old spring skiing with soft snow down low, boiler plate on top and a melt line moving up the hill during the course of the day. We had a sun/cloud mix which just added to the general spring feel of things.

We went to the New Side and as usual the litmus test of Lift Line told it all - it was hard refrozen icey crud all the way down that shook your filling loose as you jumped each turn. We poked around on the New Side and found everything frozen hard and even the groomers were totally bullet proof. We dropped Currie bowl on the way to the Old Side just to find out where the melt line was and we actually got to the top of the Gilmar Trail before we started to feel any give in the surface.

Going up the Old Side we found that things had softened to the top of Bear which was a bit strange as this was several hundred feet above the melt line on the New Side and I can't think of any reason why the sides should be so different. We ran all over the Old Side all morning with Cedar Ridge (twice) Boom Ridge (twice) Linda's (twice) Boomerang (twice) and Kangaroo (twice). The snow was very varied but as a general rule was a little crusty at the top, soft lower down and the transition line moving up all morning.

We got word that Polar Peak had opened so at the time we would normally have gone to lunch we went back to the New Side and went to the Peak. The chutes were closed so we had to drop Polar Coaster (I don't count this in my Polar totals as only the chutes really count) and the only way we could think of making it interesting was to run non stop from the Peak all the way to the base, 3500 ft vert in a single shot.

After lunch I went back to the New Side and went up the Peak. just as I arrived a patroller buddy was dropping the signs on the chutes. I dropped in and was treated to a hard ugly icey bumpy run down where one mistake would have meant good night Vienna. I looped out to Skydive which after the chutes seemed like a bunny run and which just like yesterday was mushed in soft snow with a bit of a strange crust and skied in great GS turns all the way down.

What a difference 40 minutes make as next time up Polar Peak (164 this season) the surface had softened and was taking a nice edge if still a bit slick. This time I dropped Stag Leap which was just like Skydive but if anything even more mellow.

I just had time for a quick loop out to Decline which was delayed slightly as I had to wait for three skiers who managed to stack it one after another off the bridge in Currie Creek. Decline skied just like the other big three and again maybe even better on the last pitch.

Final run was Skydive which was just starting to set up in the middle section so that I was skiing on what was almost corn snow for part of the run - great skiing.

Beers with friends and Casablanca on TCM, does life get any better. Just two days to go.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 126 if you don't go you don't know

The heading is aimed at all the people who didn't go to the hill today because they thought it would be too crappy and that includes Lynda although as she doesn't read the blog I will probably get away with it. It certainly was the vast majority who didn't go, as a ticket checker buddy of mine told me at the end of the day the total number of different tickets scanned all day was 54 so by any definition it was a bit of a quite day on the hill.

The forecast was for rain all day and sure enough it was raining when we got up. The temps was +6 so there was an outside possibilty that it would be snowing on top but in truth the odds were against it. Lynda declined to come to the hill and I went with the intention of just checking things out and if conditions were not good coming home.

I went up Timber and it was still raining. First drop into Lift Line was a shock as the snow was so soft that I dropped in boot deep and nearly suffered a case of premature ejection. The rest of the run was good old crud skiing using upper body weight movement to drag the skis around. At the top Of White Pass things were very socked in and it was still raining but with the odd fleck of white.

I had a few runs down White Pass at first on groomers but then in Gun bowl and other soft stuff as the conditions appeared to improve a bit. I was just about to quit when the temps started to drop, the freezing line came down the hill, the precip turned to snow/ice and the skiing surface started to set up to give something that you could at least take an edge on.

I headed for the big three which was a bit risky but had some great runs. Skydive set the tone for the whole day where it was soft, almost slushy at the top, about one third of the way down the base firmed up with just a soft layer on top and the overall surface flattened out a lot by the rain. For the rest of the way down you could just throw big GS turns anywhere you wanted all the way to the base. That was what all the runs were like for the rest of the day.

Stag Leap was interesting in the entrance as it was a bit +/- trying to get through the trees as you were never quite sure how long you would need to keep your skis in the fall line before you had enough speed to turn. Once in the run it was just as good as Skydive. I had a run back through White Pass just to make sure the conditions were improving there which they were before hitting Decline which was just like the rest, perhaps best of all on the lower pitch.

In the afternoon it was just more Currie loops but the near winter conditions that had been there in the morning were gone and it was just overcast so I felt almost out of place in my expensive rain jacket (10 bucks yellow plastic mac from Canadian Tire) but hung on in there. We then just ran -
Skydive - as before
Currie Creek - didn't really mean to do this but a piece of bamboo was sticking out of the big drop off so I went back to rip it out to prevent an accident and in the process got too low and had to drop the creek.
Stag Leap - as before
Decline - as before
1-2-3's - having run the front runs twice I decided to try this and then exit via Diamond Back which was pretty good by now.
Skydive - final run and getting really good with fast GS turns down through the lower section.

Given the conditions it was really good day and well worth staying on the hill. In the bar there was select group all of whom had enjoyed their day. Just as a matter of interest today I decided to work out the day's vert. At the suggestion of a friend I decided that all I had to do was to take the number of lift rides and multiply them by the vert for each lift as the uphill vertical had to match the downhill. Doing this I came up with a number of 34,176 ft. This makes my estimate of 3 million vert for the season look a bit low but perhaps that's something I will count next year.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Day 125 super hot and super slushy

The problem today was not the daytime high temps but the fact that the overnight temps never got that cold so we started with temps of +4. A few days ago we had starting temps of -4 which at least gave us and ice base to start. Today it was soft straight off the bat and just got softer as the day went on.

The saving grace was that it was overcast until lunch so at least the direct sunlight did not have any effect until the afternoon. That having been said it all got very soft very quick everywhere on the hill. It was some surprise to me that the base remained at 411 cms after yesterday's heat and by the afternoon I noticed temps in the then sunshine of + 15 even at the base of Polar Peak. The overall result was that things started soft and got a lot softer by the end of the day when we were really skiing in summer slush in most places.

We went to the Old Side and just like the last few days we poked around Boom, Boom Ridge, Cedar Ridge, Linda's etc. but this time at least everything was soft and skiable and actually quite enjoyable. We looped through Kangaroo three times and found it softening on top and taking an edge on a firm base - probably some of the best skiing on the hill today. Late morning we moved to the New Side.

On the New Side Lift Line was already getting soft and very sticky at the bottom. Polar Peak was open so we had three loops in Grandpa Bear, Barely Legal and Papa Bear. We dropped Skydive for lunch which was already getting soft and heavy although the lower down you went the better it got with the base firming up.

After lunch we did a couple of loops in Polar Peak which now was getting very soft and slushy bumps. The loops were Papa Bear and Barely Legal. The drop to base was through Low Saddle and I was a bit taken aback when the top of the chute slide out on me and I had to react pretty quick to get in some turns back on firm ground. The lower parts under the Saddle and Easter Bowl was really strating to get very soft and heavy.

By now skiing anywhere on the hill was becoming a challenge so we just looped White Pass for a bit relying on the more tracked snow in that area to at least provide a firm base below the slush which as I said was evident everywhere. We just timed it right to go the Polar Peak on the last lift and have a final very slushy run down Papa Bear - 6th today, 162nd this year.

Final run was down Skydive which was soft on top and got better all the way down on skiers right so that the final pitch was also some of the best skiing on the hill. Tomorrow is forecast for rain all day but then what do forecasters know.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 124 uncharted waters

And the uncharted waters into which I am moving are those of skiing day 124 of a regular season which is the most number of days I have ever got in during the normal season and this with still 5 days to go.

Once again there was no new snow and the base has now shrunk to 412 cms, still a pretty impressive total for this time of year. Temps were forecast to get to an amazing +19 in the valley which I guess they did and even early afternoon at Polar Peak base it was +12. In anticipation I had let go the thermal long johns (boxers only) and vented the helmet and jacket from the start. By the afternoon the gloves had gone in favour of some thin inners and the jacket had been ditched in favour or a thin fleece.

We started on the Old Side with temps just above freezing but the surfaces bullet hard. After an initial bluebird spell when things softened it clouded over for about an hour when everything went on hold. After that things got a lot warmer and a lot softer, a lot quicker than yesterday, I guess this was due to the lack of real cold overnight temps.

Just like yesterday we poked around the Old side all morning but this time the surfaces that had been hard were softening fast. Cedar Ridge, Boom Ridge, Boom bowl were all very good several times over. We had three exits via Knagaroo which were all good in conditions that were just going soft on top to start with and getting a bit mushy the last time through.

We went to the New Side and did three loops off Polar Peak in very soft snow getting softer all the time in Papa Bear, Grandpa Bear and Barely legal. I had intended to drop High Saddle but found it closed so dropped Low Saddle which was open and was ok softish snow and the exit was of course Easter which is tracked but still ok.

After lunch we went back to Polar for Grandpa Bear and Mama Bear before cutting out to Lone Fir. The climb up was a bit warm and the chute was ok but no more. We dropped into Easter which was as before.

Next time was Grandpa Bear and then Papa Bear. This brought the daily Polar total to 7 and the year to date total to 156. Not much looked any good by this stage with everthing getting very soft so we cut out into Decline on the grounds that it was now in the shade. It skied ok but with some very variable conditions.

Timing was wrong so I had to do a couple of loops back down White Pass to kill time which were ok but getting very mushy in the sun. Last run was out to Skydive where again you had to cut left and right to try and get the best surface in and out of the sun, tough skiing but ok.

Beers on the deck then more beers at wings night hence this rather disjointed report.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Day 123 Another bluebird spring day

And so it was. After yesterday's big warm up we had the inevitable freeze overnight under clear skies with temps dropping to around -4. Today was a complete rerun of yesterday with bluebird conditions, a freezing start, rock hard ice everywhere, and then a warm up in the sun so that we had temps of +15 at the base, even +9 on top and all south facing slopes softening like mad.

Obviously there was no new snow but the base only dropped to 424 cms which is pretty amazing considering the continuing warm sun.

We went to the Old Side after a slightly delayed start to drop in a Fernie Ford to book the Explorer in for it's annual service next week when the hill closes. I'm afraid to offend die hard Old Siders but really it's getting hard to justify a trip there when set against what is now on offer on the New Side. Really there is nothing challenging enough in Lizard bowl to attract, and because of avi debrise Snake Ridge and beyond are closed and likely to be for the rest of the season.

This only leaves the triangle and as with today when Boom ridge was closed due to conditions it only really gave us Cedar Ridge, Boom bowl and Linda's run none of which were very good. To be fair some buddies who skied it in the afternoon said conditions had mellowed but after about half a morning poking around looking for good snow and only finding refrozen crud we headed for the New Side.

Lift Line was a firm base with a bit of crud on top but taking a nice edge. From the top of White Pass we saw that Polar peak was not yet open because of the icey conditions so we cut back into Gun Bowl (still frozen) and then Anaconda Glades (great winter snow in the chutes and slightly heavy to the point of being hero snow) Bootleg Glades (soft on top a bit chunky in the lower sections).

Next time round Polar was still not open but we found the Saddles were and dropped High Saddle which is getting a bit bumped up but nice skiing in the chute. The snow underneath was tracked powder and in ok shape. Exit via Easter bowl which was quite tracked in snow but taking a good edge.

After lunch I headed up to Polar Peak to find it open and did a series of loops in Papa Bear, Barely Legal, Grandpa Bear and finally Mama Bear. The whole of the south facing chutes had become soft bumps which skied ok but did have a big penalty (a long slide) if you made a mistake. High Saddle and Easter had been so good before lunch that we did them again and they were just as good - really good.

Next time up Polar I tried to do Barely Legal but got the entry slightly wrong and ended up in the trees and rocks to skiers left of Grandpa Bear which was a new experience and not bad coverage with just few jumps over some rocks. We exited via Baby Bear (getting very slushy), Low Saddle (skiing very easy if a bit lumpy) with the chutes under Low Saddle getting a bit tracked up and heavy, rather past their best before date. Of course Easter was still the way down.

I got to Polar just in time for a final run up to the top and then a drop down Papa Bear taking the tight chute on the left which was untracked and smooth but very soft. That brought the total to 7 Polar chutes for the day and 149 for the season to date. Just like last week I dropped Currie Powder and Trespass Trail back to White Pass in time for a final run up.

Last run of course was Skydive which was very varied and we spent our time moving left into the sun and right into the shade all the way down to try and find the best surface which depended on the pitch, the aspect and just how long it had been in/out of the sun.

Beers on the deck in sun with buddies then home for a quiet night in. Another good spring day. Any time you are sliding around on snow in the second week in April has to be good news.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Day 122 Happy Easter, a short day but a good one

As I said yesterday Easter is one of only two days in the season (the other being Christmas) when we plan to be off the hill early and back to the house for a festive roast beef dinner. So it is for that reson today was short day, but a pretty good one as spring skiing goes.

There was only a dusting of snow overnight but temps at the hill first thing were -3 at the base and had been as low as -8 on top. In addition to the dusting of snow there was a kind of soft hoare frost which also added a bit of fluff.

It was a spectacular bluebird day with not a cloud in the sky and as a result temps started to rise very quickly. All south facing slopes started to soften but because of the cold overnight they stayed in better shape than you might have expected for longer than you would have expected.

We went to the New Side and straight away found that Lift Line was skiing soft on a firm base but taking a nice edge. Arriving at the top of White Pass we found that Polar Peak was open but our buddy Lee who we were skiing with this morning, Lynda and myself all thought that a loop through the Saddles might be an idea to let things soften.

We tried Corner Pocket and found it pretty scraped out with some tires showing so we had to slither a bit before we could start to jump turns. We won`t be going in there again this year unless we get a bit more snow. Underneath CP the snow was very good powder with some untracked but not quite as good as the past few days. Easter remained in great shape and was our chosen exit all morning with loads of different soft lines.

Next time we decided that the Polar chutes would have softened enough and were right but only just, they were still pretty firm under the base. Papa Bear, Grandpa Bear then Papa Bear again all proved good challenging skiing. This time we dropped High Saddle which was way better than CP with snow below just as good and Easter still fine.

Next time Papa Bear and Mama Bear now getting really mellow in the warm up. To the base via Low Saddle which was also taking a nice edge and had powderish snow underneath in the skiers right chutes and then Easter.

Final run before a late half day (about 1:30) was Barely Legal and then Papa Bear through the tight left hand chute which has now become my favoured line. This brought the daily Polat Peak total to 7 and the year to date to 142 As it was last run it had to be Skydive which was nothing to write home about after some of the mornings spectacular chute skiing but was ok.

A quick late lunch beer then home for a roast beef Easter dinner - a perfect Easter Sunday.