Saturday, December 22, 2012

Day 22 the most beautiful words in the english language

Well I guess everyone has their own favourite poem or quote that the think is beautiful but to me the most beautiful words were said today on the radio " a cold arctic air mass sinking south will meet a series of wet coastal systems moving into the interior" all the better because that is exactly what is happening right over our heads.

It got cold overnight and we started with -11 at the base and about the same on top. It might have got a degree or two warmer during the day but by the close it was back to -10 and falling. As usual it was snowing but the snow died out for a short time during the day. By the end of the day the snow  was back with a vengence and as I am sitting here writing this a full on winter storm is raging outside which will produve only the Griz knows how much by the morning.

We started with a reported 28 cms of fresh snow on yesterday's soft cheesey base. The overnight temp drops seems to have sucked the moisture out of the snow and the fresh (which was very light) was sitting on a firm but giving base from yesterday.

We went to the New Side as the Old Side on a Saturday with all the pay for powder groups in front of you would have been trashed out of existance. I had  expected a complete gong show given the powder and the time of year but the crowds if anything we slightly less than a usual Saturday. This was helped by the fantastic job that patrol did to get the whole of the hill open and spread us out across all the available terrain.

White Pass was open and we looped Surprise Trees and Anaconda in fantastic powder which was so much more skiable than yesterday. Getting first tracks in Anaconda and down through Bootleg both untracked with faceshots was so sweet. We were waiting for Currie Bowl to open and had been tipped off by a patroller buddy that we would get Currie and Polar Peak late morning.

When the fence dropped on Currie we had a terrible decision to make. Should we ski down to Polar Chair and go for first tracks on Polar Peak or go for the Reverse Traverse to get first tracks it one of the big three - as they hadn't quite got Polar read we headed off the Skydive. Third tracks down were fantastic with deep powder either side of the center.

Next loop we went up the peak and as there had been a bit of traffic took Barely Legal which was mostly untracked powder. I noticed the sign had dropped on Corner Pocket and with only two tracks in front hit the chute and knee deep powder below - exit was left side Easter which still had untracked lines. Polar Peak again but this time Baby Bear for the same reasons as before and then Decline which was tracked but super soft and deep.

I had just been given word that Snake Ridge had opened so worked across to the Old Side. On the way out across Snake I broke the first rule of powder skiing - never ski past good powder looking for better - I traversed over Snake Centre which looked just great but I was on a mission and it paid off. I dropped the really steep shoulder between Gorby Bowl and Steep and Deep which some friends tell me is called Curve Ball. It was the best, deepest snow of the day allowing fall line skiing through the alders in waist deep powder. I cut left into Steep and Deep and it was just as good with seriously deep powder. It was so good I did another lap which included a tracked up but good Boomerang and a great lower Kangaroo, but out beyond Snake it was just as good again.

The chance for lunch had gone so it was back to Polar Peak for for a last time but this time down Pappa Bear which was turning to soft bumps. Cougar Glades was tracked but still some good stuff if you took some ballsy lines close to the trees. Last run was Skydive which was much more tracked up than earlier in the day but still great soft deep snow.

An awesome day in hero powder snow with some fantastic deep untracked lines - with a major winter storm blasting us, I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Day 21 a timely reminder

Yes, today was the day when powder skiers who's ability had been flattered over the past week or so by the hero snow that we have been having received a sharp reminder that there is rather more to this sport than they might have thought. The factors that made it such a tough day were -
New Snow - 19 cms but this time heavy with a high moisture content.
Temps - rising to zero or possibly above at the base and only about a degree lower on top. The result was the existing snow became very heavy indeed, ok if you were first tracks but such hard work when tracked up.
Viz - it was snowing all day as usual and the light was the flatest I can remember. Flat light is what some people would call a white out, but only if they have never been in a real white out. To make matters worse during the day the cloud base descended to about half height on the hill so eveything after that had poor viz  as well as flat light.

We went to the New Side and first run got to the fence on the Zig Zag just as a patroller above waved to me to indicate it was green. The light was so flat in untracked snow that neither of us covered ourselves in much glory as to style but we got down. Skiing wasn't helped much by getting some abuse from the chair from people who thought we were poaching - dickheads.

After that we did several loops in Surprise trees as they were the only place that the light was ok and found some ok but heavy untracked snow. We arrived at Anaconda just after it opened and had a spectacular run down chute two with only two tracks ahead of us. For the rest of the morning we looped Surprise and Anaconda as the snow got heavier and the skiing tougher waiting for Currie Bowl.

I must have been very good in a past life as the fence on Currie dropped just as our chair reached the top of White Pass. The low traverse only on the far side of Currie was open so we went in. Rather than try and work a hard traverse we just swung Alpha Centauri top to bottom in untracked lines between the few tracks that had beaten us in. Next time round the side step traverse had been cut so we worked our way out the Currie Creek where we were blocked by a sign line and so had  a very fast rip down Currie Creek in lightly tracked snow. I have to say I was not happy to see so many people ignoring the sign line and equally unhappy to see no action being taken against them.

The rest of the morning we spent our time dropping off the Reverse Traverse anywhere between Concussion and Barracuda and finding very heavy untracked lines with the viz getting worse and worse,

After a very late lunch I went back up the New Side having heard that Lizard and Cedard Bowls remained closed on the Old. I was amazed to find Polar peak open and went up only to find the viz worse than my worst fears. It was a long grope down Pappa Bear in what felt like soft heavy powder but as I couldn't see it I couldn't be sure. It was then just a couple of loops of Concussion and Currie Creek again both of which were getting tracked up and so becoming very hard on the legs.

At the end of the day my legs were toast having had to deal with a whole day of heavy snow and poor light which does tend to push you into the back seat for some good old fashioned thigh burn. I was due to go to an end of the world party but was just too knackered to make it.

Temps are still hovering around zero on the deck but a cooling trend is forecast with more snow so with any luck we will be back to hero conditions tomorrow or the day after.

Day 20 well on the right side of acceptable

Of course this is just my famous English sense of humour showing through with a case of serious understatement. The official figures were for 38 cms overnight but of course that measurement was taken at about 5 this morning so as it snowed tons since that time I guess we had about 50 cms of fresh before we hit the hill this morning.

Glad I got that first paragraph down before my buddies Rob and Katie came round for a hot tub party as resuming this report a few hours later and after a whole load of beer I wouldn't have been able to manage anything so erudite. It's still snowing now and looking at the forecast perhaps it's going to snow forever, who knows.

Temps at the start were about -5 but rose steadily during the day so that by late afternoon they were almost up to zero and things looked a little dodgy. As it turned out that was the high (strangely enough just as forecast) and temps are now falling. Snow is continuing to fall but hey, what's news in that, it's been falling for over a week.

We went to the Old Side and although we were the third chair up Bear and well ahead of anything on Boomerang we found Boom, Boom Ridge and Cedar Ridge all tracked out - go figure why being first up doesn't get you first tracks. We played around on the Old Side grabbing what we could in Boomerang, Cedar Ridge, Boomerang Ridge, Linda's and Bear Chutes before heading off to the New Side. they were all pretty good and deep considering that those of us starting at normal time were starting well behind the eight ball.

On the New Side we were all waiting for Currie Bowl to open so we spent a lot of time looping Surprise Trees and Anaconda/Bootleg Glades while we waited. Hardly worth mentioning just how good they were in the new deep snow. Around lunch Currie opened but we had our timing wrong as we had just dropped Anaconda and missed it. On the plus side as we got to the top of White Pass we got the word that Polar Peak was opening ( I suspect Patrol just  want some skier compaction in there) and we were third chair up.

After a few day's closure there was about a metre of new untracked snow in the Polar Chutes and it would have been rude not to trash it. We did four laps off the Peak, three in Papa Bear and one in Mama Bear all of which were a bit white in the top but great lower down. The routes to base each time were -
Cougar Glades - not very tracked with awesome powder. The left cut into Stag Leap low down gave loads more vert in deep powder.
Currie Creek - by the time that most people get to the bridge they are on a mission and Rob and I figured that Currie Creek would have got lost in the rush. We were right and with only two tracks in there we had great powder from top to bottom.
Decline/Window Chutes - chopped powder but great untracked in the trees to the left but a bit tight. In the chute itself the log drop was down to about 5 ft with me hitting it off the middle left to right and Rob right to left into about 6 ft of deep snow.
Stag Leap - just starting to get filled in between the trees at the top and nice chopped powder all the way down

Our final attempt at Skydive was frustrated by Currie being closed for avi bombing. We fished with the Knot Chutes (Tight Knot) Anaconda Glades and Bootleg Glades - not a bad substitute in good blow in over the ridge line.

The hill is still in fantastic shape and more snow is in the offing - bring it on. This was the first day that I skied 9-4 with no breaks at all and I feel that bed is well deserved.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Day 19 hoist by my own petard

And before anyone goes off to look up the above quote , it's from Hamlet, so why does it apply to me. A couple of days ago a buddy described the skiing as awesome and I checked him because, as I said, when the skiing gets better how are you going to describe it. Yesterday with the fantastic conditions I used the A word and now here I am trying to think of something better to describe today. Worse still, with 30 cms called for tonight (and it was puking snow earlier when I was drinking beer in the hot tub and still is coming down looking out on the deck) and perhaps a metre by Sunday what am I going to be able to say then.

I didn't think there had been much snow overnight and temps on the way to the hill were a nippy -12. There was an inversion so it was a balmy -8 on top but the boards were claiming 10 cms of fresh and a base of 182 cms. We went to the New Side in anticipation of a Reverse Traverse/Saddles opening and found that there was at least 10 cms of new snow on top of yesterday's deep fluff and a fair bit of blow in as well. To make things even better it started to snow, kept it up all day and shows no sign of stopping so things just got better still.

We did an Anaconda loop which has deep fresh blow in while waiting for the Traverse to open. My timing must have been a bit off as we missed it as all my buddies liked to tell me later. That having been said there was some awesome awesome skiing to be had - highlights were -

Cougar Glades - only three tracks in the top all of which went right giving us the tight left side trees totally untracked. Over the head face shots all the way down and fall line S's in the narrow tree chutes. We cut left at the summer bike trail and had the bottom half of Stag Leap which was tracked but deep.

The Brain - for the first time this year I thought it was worth giving this a try as the deadfall had much more cover now. There was one track in the top that cut towards Skydive so the rollers on the top section hadn't been touched. In the dips of the rollers the snow was chest deep and light. The rest was good until the last couple of turns where I git suckered into being greedy and had to shuffle over some dead fall to get out.

Corner Pocket - I noticed the Saddles were open and very few were staying high enough to get up to CP so with a couple of side steps I went in. The snow in the chute was deep soft and easy - well as easy as a double black diamond chute gets. Under the chute the sking defied description with deep continual face shots for as long as you could ski without breathing. Exit to Easter bowl left was deep and only lightly tracked. Lynda had done Concussion instead and insisted on another CP run so she could see how good it was - even she was impressed.

Window Chutes - I hit left off Decline which had been pretty good anyway. Deep untracked snow to the left of the chute and so much soft stuff at the log drop that I hit it full force off the centre - 5 or 6 ft drop. Even the exit was not scratchy as it usually is.

Secret Chutes/Spinal Tap - great deep snow in Secret Chutes. Spinal Tap was a bit of a mistake as the old fallen trees weren't covered, there seemed to be a couple of new fallen trees to me and the stream hadn't fully filled in. There was some very tight dancing on the deep soft snow on the right shoulder to effect an exit.

Return to Couger Glades - what can I say, a bit harder left and it was still untracked just like first run of the day. Almost made me wish I had just lapped the Glades all day. For the first time this year we tried the left hand exit at the bottom which was mostly untracked, very deep, a bit twiggy and great fun.

Skydive - last run of the day in tracked deep powder which had improved as the day went on with the all day snow fall. A great final rip on the edge of control all the way down to finish the day.

There was some other stuff in there but after a lot of beer after skiing and almost falling asleep in the hot tub that's all I can remember. Loads of snow in the outlook between here and Sunday, if the world does end on Friday I am going to be so p---ed off.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day 18 awesome

Yup, it was that simple, today was awesome, no more, no less, just awesome and that is the top and bottom of it. The figures speak for themselves, we have had 35 cms in the last 24 hours and 52 cms in the last 48. The base is up somewhere around 180 cms and the coverage is fantastic.

It started snowing some time in the night and by the morning a significant accumulation was evident. Driving to the hill was very interesting as a large number of people seemed to think that the sign saying "snow chains or snow tires required beyond this point" at the base of the hill really said "have a go with your front wheel drive summer tires and see if you can get stuck half way up ski hill road" - morons. We managed to avoid the carnage and got up just before 9 but I undersatnd that not long after the line up was back to the town and it took over an hour to get to the hill. On the plus side it gave us some uncontested early tracks.

It snowed until well after lunch , sometimes quite hard. We went to the Old Side as obviously on a big powder morning like today the Old Side triangle was going to be the only thing open.We looped Boomerang (deep and untracked on the left) Cedar Ridge  (twice) which was also awesome powder, Linda's, King Fir and Bear Chutes, all of which were filled in and with loads of untracked lines if you were prepared to work.

The reason we had been on the Old Side was that we had heard that the White Pass lift was closed. As the word came to us that White Pass was open so we migrated to the New Side. Lift Line was as soft and deep as I can remember it. For the rest of the morning we played about in Knot Chutes, Surprise Trees and Anaconda Glades because Currie Bowl was closed from the top. No real problem as everywhere was good and getting better as the snow continued to fall.

In the afternoon we went back to the New Side to find that Currie was open. We had a couple of fruitless runs down the left of Currie Powder as they had posted a notice that the traverse into Skdive was open - it wasn't. We went back to Anaconda far chutes for some more runs which were much more fun than the heavily gladed chutes of 1 and 2. Somewhere in there I had a couple of traverses into Knot Chutes which were great and exits through Bootleg Glades which were also fun but twiggy.

Towards the end of the day I linked up with a buddy and we tried Triple Trees for the first time this year which were mostly untouched and thigh deep all the way down with all of the dead fall covered. As Skydive was closed we missed out on that for the final run but left the hill via Tight Knot, Anaconda 2 and Bootleg Glades - not a bad finale.

Temps are falling and it is about -10 on the deck as I write this. Today was supposed to be the break between two weather systems with more snow over the next three days - the world is supposed to end on Friday, give me three more days of this powder and that's ok by me.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Day 17 I was right

And of course what I mean is that when I said last night that maybe better was to come, I was dead right. It snowed overnight and the official figures were 12 cms by this morning. Patroller buddies tell me that by the close today we had another 15 cms and since then it has continued to puke snow all evening - I have no idea what the end figures might be when this cycle finishes, if indeed it ever does.

The effect on conditions was that we had great powder to start with that just got better during the day as a combination of new snow and blow in (it got very windy during the afternoon) filled in your tracks almost as fast as you could make them. Temps stayed  a few degrees below zero so the snow did stay in good condition all day.

We went to the Old Side and found ok snow but not quite as deep as we expected. Considering we were on one of the first chairs up it did seem to me that everything was very tracked up and it did make me wonder if some of those "pay for powder" groups hadn't beaten us to the snow. Boomerang was good and lightly tracked on the far skiers left down in the guts. We next tried Cedar Ridge which had some very deep soft powder but surprisingly tracked in places. We felt that maybe the New Side would be a better bet so after a lift up Boom we hit the Bear Chutes which were much improved from the past few days as the twigs and dead fall were getting well buried - across the bridge to Timber.

We did three Polar Peak loops on the New Side as the snow started to really fall. Just like all season the trip up to the Peak was howling wind on the chair and the light when we got there was decidedly white. In the chutes (Papa, Mama and Papa Bear in that order) the viz was pretty dreadful and didn't get better until about two thirds of the way down - after that it was soft smooth knee deep powder all the way to the Reverse Traverse.

The journeys to the base were via Cougar Glades, Stag Leap and Decline. No point in expanding on these runs as they were all great soft powder, getting deeper each time and with the few tracks that were there being filled in by a combination of new snow and wind sift. It was one of those days when the harder you hit the soft rolls of snow and the more air you took the easier the skiing became.

After lunch we went to New Side and found that Polar Peak had been closed due to lack of traffic as had the Saddles - in truth we had looked in the Saddles earlier and decide not to drop them as the light below them just looked too flat to be fun. We spent the afternoon alternatively looping Surprise Trees and Anaconda Glades with the snow now filling in so fast that our tracks were covered each time we returned. A fantastic afternoon with hardly anyone else on the hill and linking runs like Lift Line and the Gun Bowl skiing like soft powder runs in their own right.

The final run of course was down Skydive. It had filled in so well that the Reverse Traverse going out had to be cut just as if it was the first run of the day. The run itself was soft rolling terrain covered by mostly untracked powder. We had to stop a couple of times when the wind was blowing so much snow off the trees that we simply couldn't see more than a metre in front of our eyes.

It was still puking snow as we drank beer in the hot tub tonight - could tomorrow be better yet ?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Day 16 a good powder day but maybe better to come

We woke this morning to find it snowing. Obviously it hadn't been snowing long as there was no real accrual but the fall rate looked pretty promising. As we arrived at the hill in the usual -3ish temps it was really puking down snow and the fall rate had to be at least 5 cms per hour. The snow stayed until late morning after which we had occasional light flurries.The official figures were for 8 cms of fresh and maybe we had another 10 during the day.

With everything socked in we went to the Old Side and found that the new snow on the existing base gave some very nice deep and fluffy powder - it seemed to me that the upper hill had about double the snowfall of the base but that is just a guess. In any event everything was very good early season powder.

Boomerang was well filled in with untracked lines on skiers left. After that we tried Linda's as it had been good face shots a week ago and we weren't disappointed, still good face shots. We then stuck our noses in Cedar Ridge, and that was it for the morning as we found our way down several times in deep untracked snow with only a bit of bush wacking needed to get out at the bottom. As this area had only officially opened a couple of days ago the snow was particularly deep and soft all over.

We did have a look in Kangaroo but even with the new snow the top was still too twiggy but the lower section was good powder skiing between the trees, roots, rocks, stumps etc. As the New side was calling we dropped to base through Bear Chutes (don't shoot the Bear) and found great lines in between the clumps of alders with an exit via the Goat Trail.

We had time for two Polar Peak loops on the New Side before a late lunch. Both times up the peak it was very socked in at the top so that the first few turns did involve a fair bit of guess work. As we came out of the cloud the run in Pappa Bear opened up into knee deep untracked powder for some of the best skiing so far of the season. The two runs to base were through Cougar Glades (a bit tracked up but nice soft snow) and Decline (just getting better all the time with deep soft snow on lively terrain and a fantastic lower section thanks to the work done on the alders in the summer) - time for a late lunch.

In the afternoon it was straight back up Polar Peak. The viz had improved a bit which was a pity as it encouraged a few more takers but there was still plenty of deep untracked on the sides of the chutes. We went to base via Stag Leap which was improved by the new snow with great soft rolling terrain for the most part but still a bit scratchy in the final pitch.

Polar Peak was too good to miss so we made a final run and it was just as good as the others. In order to get some final skiing in White Pass we had to return to White Pass base by Trespass Trail which a buddy of mine describes as the only run on the hill which is up hill in both directions. Our White Pass loop took us into the 3rd Knot Chute via a pretty steep drop in but we were repaid but some of the deepest untracked snow on the hill - on to Surprise Trees which were tracked but still with some fresh lines available,

Last run was - you guessed it - Skydive. The new snow just meant that you could push things that little bit harder and as a result have a really fun finish to the day.

Best news of all is that the really heavy snow is still yet to come (so they say) and if the forecasters are right (chokes on beer) we could be in for a very exceptional few days.