Saturday, December 29, 2012

Day 29 how can so little new snow make such a difference

This is the question we were giving some 3 pint attention to in the bar tonight. Over night there was a dusting of snow, maybe 2 cms. During the day we had more taking it to 5 cms at the most but the effect on the hill was to give conditions reflecting a fall of at least twice the recorded figures and maybe more in places. Needless to say the answers we came up with ranged from the idiotic to the even more idiotic and no one had any real idea of why things worked out the way they did, but they did and we had a great time.

Temps were between -10 and -5 all over the hill and of course as we had snow, things were socked in at the top - everywhere else the light wasn't really anything to write home about. Having had quite a lot of time on the Old Side yesterday we drifted over to the New Side in part to see if Polar Peak was open which it wasn't first thing. It was clear ( or rather not clear) that given the light conditions staying in the tree line might be a good idea.

First run was an untracked Cougar Glades which had surprisingly deep soft on a firm base. Exit was in the left lower chute which was tough edge to edge stuff between the dead fall. Best news was that patrol had shovelled in the dip after the bridge on Skydive traverse and this remained pretty mellow all day.

I have to confess that today proved so much fun that I ditched lunch and just spent all day looping out beyond the County Line and getting great skiing. The log of the day is -

Stag Leap - the new snow made the drop through the trees pretty straight forward and after that the sking surface did give the odd face shot.
Decline - like Stag Leap but slightly more bumped in the upper part but then some of the best skiing of the day.
Skydive - beautiful as usual and ignoring the opinions that Decline is better.
The Brain - it was the first time in there for a few days and there is still plenty of soft in the top section and untracked lower down but it can get a bit technical in the trees.

Polar peak had been closed all morning due to poor viz and now just as the viz got about as bad as it had ever been it was opened. We dropped a wonderful soft Pappa Bear before cutting out to the top of Skydive (where the bumps still look like they have buried VW Beetles) and then dropping into the left of Secret Chutes which were good powder if you took it tight to the trees.

My buddies went for a late lunch but I met up with another buddy and skied on.  We did a Polar Peak loop down Grand Pappa Bear which was bit white and wind crusty on the shoulder so we looped back and had a very nice run down Mamma Bear in soft deep snow. Tthe route to the base was through Cougar Glades again which were tracked but with soft sections then a short left hike into Stag Leap and some great all terrain skiing to the bottom.

We went for a last trip up Polar despite it being socked in and had a very tough ski down Pappa Bear in some of the worst viz of the season - sorry for taking you up there Tekka but I enjoyed it. To meet up with another buddy I had to drop to Trespass Trail and back the White Pass. We just had time for a White Pass loop in Highline trees which by this time were getting very white indeed before heading out for the final run down Skydive.

As always the big S gave us a great soft snow finish with a very excitig rip in the bottom section where the skis spent as much time in the air as they did on the ground. Today was supposed to be the busiest day of the holiday period but it seemed ok to me. There were a couple of brief line ups at Timber but these were more due to mechanical failure or human stupidity than volume of traffic.

Light  coming down as I am writing this - fingers crossed.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Day 28 no new snow but no great crowds

Yup, we had no new snow to speak of overnight but by the same token the hill got busier but not the ugly busy crowds I had been expecting - perhaps the had heard they were charging $6.25 for Kokanee in the Griz Bar.

As I promised we went to the Old Side and had a really good morning. The start was delayed as one of my guests had forgotten her pass and had to go to guest services to get a replacement which was done fast and efficiently - thanks Liz. While waiting we had a rip or two up and down Bear which was fast groomed smooth skiing - not my kind of thing at all.

We hit out to Steep and Deep and whilst it was pretty steep the snow was quite chunky with only a very light covering of new stuff on top of the base. The right chute was packed but taking an edge and the return to Boom Chair via lower Kangaroo was quite fluffy. After that we reassembled the group and spent the morning doing -
Boom Ridge - kept to the skiers right to avoid the groomed section (when will they stop grooming the beautiful bumps out of Boom Ridge) and the snow was soft with some windsift.
 Boom to the Goat Trail - pretty hard packed but the bumps taking an edge.
Gorby Bowl - yes, another long trek out but worth it as it was very lightly tracked. Had to escape the cliff band by a left traverse into Steep and Deep which was as before.
Cedar Ridge right - good tracked powder taking and edge.
King Fir - Just like Cedar Ridge but with deeper snow below the fir itself.
Linda's - really just like everywhere else packed but taking and edge with soft stuff near the trees.
Bear Chutes/Buck Shot - as above

In summary the Old Side was in great shape but with no new snow it was the tracked bumps that made it fun. Best untracked snow was in upper Kangaroo which I did twice and was a bit tricky in the drop on to Cedar Trail. If there were two closed signs in the top as I have been told then I didn't see them.

In the afternoon we went to the New Side for a short session after such a long morning. Polar was running but not loading due to poor viz. Stag Leap was a little slick in the trees at the top but great soft skiing in the run. For a change we tried Knot Chutes ( a bit scratchy in the middle) Anaconda Glades ( surprisingly soft in the second chute with blow in) and Bootleg Glades which were ok hard pack but still pretty twiggy low down.

That of course got us to the final rip down Skydive which reamains tracked but soft for the most part. For the first time I got a bit more air than I intended in the final pitch but great skiing. The whoopdy-do on the traverse by the bridge is getting to the end of it's sell by date. I held it together ok but I can see why a lot of people took one trip out to the Big Three and decided not to take a second - from a personal point of view I hope it stays that way.

Some snow in the out look.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Day 27 another New Side day

Yes, I hung around all day today on the New Side hoping for a Polar peak opening which never happened. I promise all fans of the Old Side that I will ski over there tomorrow and give my thoughts on what the conditions are like.

It didn't snow overnight or at least they claimed 2 cms which is much the same thing. Temps were a mild - 10 as we headed for the hill and they got warmer all day so that on the drive back this evening we were looking at -5. We had very light snow off and on all day and the very overcast conditions gave poor light. The new snow had added a slickness to the skiing surface with the hard pack underneath firm but taking an edge. Best of all, although the hill was a bit busier, the crowds still haven't showed up and we didn't have to wait in line at any time today.

Some friends from the UK (Steve and Liz) arrived to stay last night so we decided on a New Side day with a possible Polar Peak if it opened which it didn't. How many ways are there to say that we did what we have been doing for the past three days which was for the most part just looping out towards the big three -

Alpha Centauri - hard packed but the smallish bumps taking a nice edge so a good warm up for our guests.
Cougar Glades - well tracked up but some soft deep stuff in the trees, a hard left cut at the bike trail gave us the bottom half of Stag Leap which had a mixture of hard pack in the middle and soft on the edge.
Siberia Ridge - not a trip into Currie but a great run. After the choke it was like a rolling terrain park in soft snow, perhaps the best on the New Side today.
Skydive - big bumps in the top but then just as good as always with soft tracked snow all the way down.
Decline - on my own as the others had gone for a choccy break. The bumps stayed further down than usual but were taking a nice edge. By the lower pitches ther was loads of soft and even some untracked by the side.
Stag Leap - getting a bit slick in the trees in the top but once in the run really fun soft snow/hard pack mix.
Decline - as before, then a very late lunch.

After lunch I just had time to go back to Cougar Glades which skied just like the morning. This time I took the left exit chute which is still very testing with a lot of deadfall but also some great lightly tracked snow.

I did a filler loop through Surprise Trees which still had a lot of soft but some slick sections in the high traffic areas. After that it was of course a finish on Skydive with the whoopdy - do on the far side of the bridge still not shovelled in and proving a disincentive to anyone who doesn't like surprises. After the bumps the snow was still soft and in the final section I suddenly had an attack of the red mist and ripped it as fast as I can ever remember, maybe the old man still has it in him.

No new snow in forecast but who knows what the Old Side will hold tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Day 26 where were all the people

We expected the crowds to start today but not so. We got to the hill a little before 9 and found we could park in the second line of lot 2, I can't usually do that on a normal weekday. Theories differed as to why it was so quiet but came down to three main ideas - everyone was hungover, everyone was still driving up from Calgary, everyone had gone over to Lethbridge for the Boxing Day sales to get their big electical goods ( of course declaring them at the Provincial Boarder to pay HST cough cough) but would be on the hill tomorrow. For my part I was happy just to get a quiet day.

Temps were cold at around -13 at the base and stayed that way during the day although an inversion with temps up to -8 at the top developed during the day. The hill were claiming an extra 4 cms of snow but I couldn't see it, to me it was a light dusting with maybe a hoar frost layer forming on the surface. Where there had been skiing the hard pack was firm but taking and edge with the surface a little slick, where there was untracked snow it was chunky but still ok, if hard work.

We went to the New Side and had a run back through White Pass to test the conditions. They were as above and the skiing was fine. Polar peak was closed as it was totally socked in so we just drifted out along the Reverse Traverse and went to Cougar Glades which were well tracked up and so a little speedy in places but nice tree skiing.

I bumped into my buddy Red Pants Rob and he stayed with me for what proved to be s very enjoyable day with a lot of mileage but nothing too tough. The rest of the morning was spent looping Stag Leap, Skydive, Easter bowl and Decline. They were all tracked up with big bumps at the top of Skydive but for the most part were chunky tracked snow which was a bit physical but great skiing.

On the last run of the morning it looked like things were clearing and we guessed that Polar Peak would open in the afternoon - we guessed right. When we got to Polar it was clear and as Rob said he had never skiied Grandpappa Bear, that's where we went. The skiing off Polar was very good as it had not bumped up too much. The surface was slick so a fall would have resulted in a long trip but the snow was taking an edge much better than I expected so skiing was remarkably easy and good fun.

Next loop we went to Baby Bear as Rob had never skied that either and then we cut across to the top of Skydive. I had an inspiration and we tried the Brain. It was tracked but there was still loads of deep snow and some untracked lines in the lower section if you cut the line between the trees and the stream bed tight - not everyone's cup of tea but to me just perfect skiing.

We had time for a final trip up Polar which turned into a Pappa Bear descent and a schuss round Trespass Trail to get back up White Pass to get out to Skydive again for the 4 o'clock Skydive club daily meeting. There were 6 of us taking part today which is a record for this season but I hope soon to be beaten. As always Skydive skied like a dream (if a rather naughty one) particularly in the bottom section.

I suspect tomorrow will be the start of the 7 day zoo but as some friends arrived to stay tonight for the next two weeks I am still looking forward to some good rips towards the end of the day when the crowds start to die down. Still no snow in the outlook.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Day 25 merry Christmas everybody

And a particular merry Christmas to all of you who have raised the average number of hits on the blog to 400 a day - a bit different from the 20 hits a day that started things off. 

As you may know Christmas day is the day when we get to the hill a little late (why does opening a bottle of  Jamesons 12 year old in Christmas Eve always seem such a good idea at the time) and then taking a few morning runs before heading up to the Griz Bar for a couple of drinks with buddies and then home.

Today, a short day was more attractive than usual as there had been no new snow and starting temps in the valley were -18 although I think I detected a slight inversion on top. Anyway it was great test of my Christmas presents from Lynda of a merino wool long sleeved top and smart wool socks. I am delighted to say that they kept me really toastie all morning and if anything I was a little too warm.

We went to the New Side and found White Pass chair down for a tech problem. We ran back to Timber base via Lift Line and Black Cloud which showed that the hard pack had become hard but was taking and edge and the tracked powder was getting a bit heavy. Next time up White Pass still wasn't working so we hiked Lazy Locals with the intention of hitting Sib Ridge but noticed White Pass loading so we dropped Big Bang in nice hard pack.

After that with White Pass open we found that Polar Peak was also open so we went up. The light was very poor and I had some very unchristmassy thoughts towards the cat driver who had pushed debris into to entrance to the chutes and which couldn't be seen as you dropped in. Half way down the light got good and we noticed we were third and forth tracks down - that would be since forever in Polar Peak on Christmas Day as this is the first year the lift as been open at this time. We went to base via Stag Leap which was good but a mixture of hard pack and heavy tracked powder.

Next loop Polar was clear and we had a spectacular rip all the way down to the Reverse Traverse. The route to the bottom was Decline/ Window Chutes which were just like Stag leap but if anything the log drop had got a little bigger. Final loop was anthor spectacular rip down Pappa Bear chute and then of course Skydive to finish which was also just as Stag Leap - hard in places, heavy in others.

A great morning skiing made all the better by linking up with the best ski buddies in the world Rob and Katie. Beers in the Griz made much more fun by Lynda spilling her Mogul Smoker all over herself - she claimed that Rob's new gloves had got her too excited. Now at home getting ready for a hot tub with champagne, a gut busting dinner and then far too much to drink.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Day 24 no new snow

Sure, we had no new snow over night but we still have had 156 cms in the past 7 days and the base is 240 cms so it isn't all bad - I guess we all knew it had to stop snowing sometime.

It was cold overnight and it was -12 on the way to the hill. They said there was another inversion today but It didn't feel like it and so by the afternoon the base temps may have risen to about -8 but up top it was a lot colder. The skies cleared to bluebird and for a couple of hours the whole thing had the feel of an arctic outflow. It is telling that Polar Peak chair was closed all day due mainly to the freezing temps and wind chill up there.

We decided that as it was Christmas Eve we would have a lazy day - that is mentally in not trying to work out the best runs not physically where the day proved to be quite tough. I spent the day on the New Side just looping out along the Reverse Traverse and dropping runs off Skydive top and the surrounding areas. The skiing was all in tracked powder which was a little chunky having been dried out by the cold temps - that having been said it was still soft deep tracked powder everwhere.

The morning was - Skydive, Surprise Trees, Stag Leap, Decline/Window Chutes, Knot Chutes, Surprise Trees and Skydive. The only things of note other than the very nice tracked powder everywhere was the log drop in Window Chutes which had filled in to almost nothing and the dip above Currie Creek which was getting very deep indeed. It was a close run thing for best run between Stag Leap which always stays a bit less tracked because of the trees at the top and Window Chutes which stays in great shape for much the same reason.

In the afternoon it was just a repeat with Concussion, Stag Leap, Secret Chutes (rather chunky) Surprise Trees and of course the final run down Skydive. Conditions stayed good in the very cold temps and the few people who had been on the hill earlier had gone so we were back to having our own private ski hill and making the most of it before the rush starts on Boxing Day. Best of all was that the dip on the far side of the bridge at Currie Creek had been shovelled in  (thanks Tyler) so that the trip across to Skydive was now a pretty easy ride.

Christmas Eve drinks in the bar with buddies and then back home to do this report before having a hot tub and beer in -16 temps. Christmas is shaping up well and I am looking forward to tomorrow's traditional morning only on the hill follwed by Christmas dinner. Apologies for the shortness of this report but Christmas calls.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Day 23 the storm passes but more to come

Last night's winter storm blew itself out in the night so this morning dawned with no snow actually falling for the first time in about a week. The hill we claiming 12 cms of fresh but I have to say that in places it seemed much more to me, perhaps as much as double in certain stashes. Temps had fallen to -12 at the base and started about the same all over.

During the day an inversion developed so that temps on top were about -5, this was except up Polar Peak which was it's usual windy brutal self driving ice pellets horizontally at you at about 50 klicks. We had flurries off and on during the day with a super heavy one late morning which must have accumulated at least 5 cms in an hour but things brightened up towards the end of the day. They are calling for another 10 cms tonight and who am I to argue.

We went to the Old Side and as we arrived at the top of Bear they dropped the fence into Lizard Bowl. I am not a big fan of Lizard as the pitch is not steep and the skiing generally not challenging but as there was untracked to be had we took Bow Trees and assorted gullys and first tracked our way back to Bear Chair.

We then proceeded with our original plan which was to go out to Snake Ridge and hit the Gorby Steep and Deep shoulder which just like yesterday was thigh deep and totally awesome. We worked our way back to Boomerang with conflicting reports as to whether or not there was a problem with the chair. It seemed to be running but we were told by an insider not to rely on it and so headed to the New Side via a very mellow drop down Boomerang in chopped up powder.

On the New Side we had time for three loops via Polar Peak before lunch -
Pappa Bear/Skydive - poor light in the top but good snow all the way. Great deep lightly tracked powder in Skydive.
Mamma Bear/Stag Leap - as with Pappa Bear. Stag Leap had much better coverage than last week in the trees above the run and the run itself was great rolling soft powder, like a terrain park but better.
Baby Bear/Decline/Window Chutes - still poor light and great powder in Baby Bear. Decline still had some untracked lines along the side but was mostly deep tracked powder. For the first time this year the direct drop into Window Chute from above off Decline looked an option and it proved to be deep untracked snow which I guess hadn't been skied this year. The chute was still full of soft snow and the log drop down to about 3 ft at the most, one more dump and it could well disappear.

After lunch I went back to Polar Peak and hit Grandpappa Bear on the grounds that it was one of only two Bear lines I hadn't tried this year (excluding Goldilocks who isn't really a Bear). This took me back to Polar base for another ride and this time I dropped Spirit Bear which was a little rocky in the entrance but very soft and deep after that. The run to the bottom was via Cougar Glades which in truth were pretty tracked out although the left side exit chute was almost untouched, probably as there were some alders and dead fall to contend with.

I only had time for a couple more loops excluding Polar Peak so went back to Stag Leap as it had been so good earlier - it was a little more tracked up but still very good. I bumped into a ski instructor buddy and we hiked up into Big Bang next time round and got some very nice lightly tracked lines on the right near the trees.

So last run was Skydive as usual. The whoopdy-do on the far side of the bridge had been getting worse all day and last time round it took a fair bit of caution in the entrance to keep your speed down to a safe pace - some work is seriously needed there. Skydive itself had a few bumps in the top then you could pull the trigger for a crazy free ride all the way down in great soft snow.

Tonight we went out for our traditional pre Christmas meal in the Lizard Creek Lounge. The main course was excellent (good old Alberta beef) but the service was slow, the drinks over priced (8 bucks for a small bottle of cider) and the desserts aweful - think we will give it a miss for the rest of this season.

Let's see what Christmas Eve holds.