Saturday, December 7, 2013

Lynda Update

So the season has kicked off in Fernie without us for the first time in 10 years. By the sound of it the coverage is good but the conditions are pretty variable - at least rather more variable than the official reports would have you believe. Yesterday was a -30 day with wind chills up to -40 so perhaps not being out on the hill is no bad thing at the moment.

The news from us is that Lynda completed her 6 cycles of chemo at ever increasing strengths until she finished at, what we are told, is a record level of 205% of normal. The side effects were pretty awful but a short stay in hospital soon put her right.

The good news is that following a PET scan last week it appears that the chemo has done it's job and the lymphoma has been killed off with no cells remaining as "hot". We aren't out of the woods yet as things could kick off again but for the time being the news is just as good as it can get. She now has to go for regular scans and as long as she remains clear for 2 years then the chances of it all coming back are pretty remote.

Our plans now are to wait until the next scan in mid Feb and assuming that is all ok we will be heading out to Fernie for the remained of the season. So, watch this space and be ready for normal service to be resumed some time towards the end of Feb.

In the meanwhile have a great Christmas and New Year and leave some of the white stuff for us when we get there.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Update Autumn 2013

About this time each year I rock up to the house in Fernie and have a great couple of weeks hiking, biking, running, swimming in Lake Koocanusa and generally getting a feel of how the up coming ski season is going to pan out. Well this year has turned out a bit different.

When we got back from Canada in May of this year Lynda seemed to be suffering from some kind of allergy. When it didn't go away she went to the docs and they rushed her into hospital and by the end of that day with x-rays and scans they told us she had a tumour in her chest.

We had a dreadful three weeks while they tried to work out exactly what was wrong. Of course in everyone's mind was lung cancer which would have been really bad news as the prognosis in all variations of that are not good. Eventually they got a chunk large enough the analyse and told us she had a mediastinal large cell type B lymphoma. Whilst this was far from good news it did mean that what she had was treatable with good success rates (total cure) if the patient was tough enough to stand the full treatment.

Since that time she has been getting very aggressive chemotherapy every three weeks. The treatment runs for 5 days but thanks to an experimental mobile pump system she just has to go into hospital for a few hours on the Monday to get plumbed in and then back on Friday to be disconnected. During the next two weeks she recovers in time for the next cycle.

So far she has had 4 out of 6 cycles and the dose increases each time so that last time she got 175% of the standard dose which is something of a record, but the stronger she can take the better the results. The side effects mean that she is tired but by the end of the two weeks she is almost back to normal - of course all her hair has fallen out but that's just how it goes.

Needless to say this has rather disrupted our plans. We have only managed to do a bit of local sailing throughout the summer and I have had to cancel all the sailing events where I was judging and I haven't been able to put in enough training to enter the usual end of year marathons - still getting in about 8 miles a day. Lynda has been getting out with us on the Falmouth Working Boat from time to time but on the strict understanding she does nothing to disturb the PIC line which runs from her upper arm through her veins and ends up inside her chest and which she has in all the time.

This autumn's trip to Fernie had to be cancelled and it's a big thank you to our buddies Rob and Katie for looking after the house. This winter is still up in the air. Lynda finishes treatment early November and then there are a few weeks of tests to see how successful the chemo has been. Hopefully she will be clear and we will aim to get out to Fernie some time in January for a curtailed season. Of course not knowing what the results will be we don't know how often, or even if they will want us back at the hospital for further tests or treatments.

So it looks like this year the blog will not be starting until January at the earliest and even then there is some doubt. Sorry to all the followers but I am sure you will understand that in the circumstances I just have other things on my mind - Bill

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Season summary 2012-13

Again apologies for the slight delay in producing the report. Yesterday I got a call from Fernie Ford to tell me that my 13 year old Explorer needed a new transmission which would probably cost more than the car was worth. After some quick calcuations and some rather more protracted negotiations we drove away in a 4 year old F150 truck , bright red in colour so watch out for me in the new vehicle next season.

So, what strikes me about the ski season just gone looking back on it. I think I would characterise it as being a season of extremes even by the standards of Fernie. For example, the worst opening, the best pre Christmas ever, the driest January, the warmest Feb, the hottest late March and the best late snow and closing day, but more of all these things in their place. Before starting it is worth mentioned some comments that I have had from buddies who ski tour and have told me that this season was the best ever for them due to the relatively light snow falls in January and February and as a result the very low avi risks allowing them to tour almost without resriction.

On the hill we opened with a very thin snow pack and the first few days were some of the ugliest rain crust I can remember with only the Old Side open for the first week. Things then turned round and we had 170 cms of snow in just over a week and it became the best pre Christmas skiing that anyone could remember, certainly the best since the New Side opened back in the late 90's. The hill appeared to have got a better understanding of how to get Polar Peak working this year and as a result we had some awesome runs in the Polar Chutes with no one here during December mid week skiing. Probably the best run of the season was when we put first tracks in Cougar Glades (of the season) in thigh deep untracked powder. December came to an end with the snow tapering off but a very respectable 2 and bit metre base and only light crowds (in my opinion) for the Christmas/New Year holiday period.

We looked set for another epic season but in January things rather went on hold. On the plus side we didn't have any deep freeze arctic high days when the temps never get above -30 and indeed we didn't have very cold weather all season. On the negative side we didn't have much new snow. There were a handful of routine powder days (ok, I know they would be epic in most parts of the world but this Fernie) but nothing to get really excited about. The base crept up to about 2 and a half metres and all the talk was of a snow drought.

Most of February continued much as January but with the addition that it started to get warm during the day. I don't mean spring skiing or anything like that but my recollection is that during February it just about got to plus temps at the base stations on almost every day. The result was that the snow we got was pretty wet, the skiing was ok but not greaat and the base stayed below 2 and a half metres until the last week of Feb. Last week in Feb we got a mix of rain events which were some of the worst in memory and some good skiing when it cooled.

The first couple of weeks of March were very much like the end of  Feb with some horrible rain events but also some good snow as the wet pacific systems came in with warm air on the front and cooling as they pass through. The third week in March brough a much better snow cycle so that by the 21st the base passed 3 metres for the first time in the season, peaking a couple of days later at about 330 cms. Just when we thought things were starting to go our way nature struck back for the last week of March with the warmest temps I have seen, +18 one day on the hill and a 7 day bluebird period (unheard of in Fernie) when night time temps didn't really go below zero. Huge areas of the hill became unstable as the snow lost it's integrety from the surface right down to the base. In fact the highlight of the month was on the 30th when 540 of us took a drink simultaniously of the longest shot ski in the world and set a new world record.

At the beginning of April there was a lot of debate as to whether or not the hill would hold out to closing but nature had another trick to play. Winter returned with colder weather, freezing temps at night (for the most part) the hill getting re opened and some rather good powder skiing. The final week was the least busy I can remember with only 54 customers being recorded one day and that included about 30 in groups taking their level 2 instructor courses. This brought us to closing weekend which was the best ever. The Saturday gave us a heavy dump so that quite a lot of the hill remained closed but with cooling overnight the snow stabalized and Sunday we had 67 cms of fresh snow to trash all over the hill and the base back up to about 320 cms having dropped to 210 in the hot weather. A fantastic finish.

So in summary I would put the season as slightly better than average but but no means as good as the last two years which were just epic. I managed 127 days most of which were full 9-4 no groomer days. I didn't keep count of the trips up Polar Peak this year but I would guess at about 300 times (only skiing the chutes as long as they were open )the higher number being achievable because the Peak was open so much more often this year now they have worked out how to keep it running. Highlight for me was my first drops off Currie Head Wall which were a lot steeper that they looked or I thought they would be. That having been said looking into Richards now from the top doesn't look anything like as scary as the Wimp Chutes so who knows next season.

Off at the end of next week to sail boats and run marathons for the summer. As usual I will probably put together a Fall report when I am over here at the house in September. A special thanks and goodbye to all my blog readers who make my day by saying hi on the hill, it's nice to be appreciated.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Day 127 an awesome final day - maybe the best ever

First of all apologies for the late report on the final day, not only was the skiing awesome but so was the end of season party and hence the rather late report. I am now sitting down at the breakfast table wracking my brains to try and remember what happened just 24 hours ago - as I said it was a good party.

Over Saturday night the snow coninued off and on and temps got down to about -6 which stabalized the snow and dried out a lot of what had come down wet in the previous 24 hours. The result was that what had been open on Saturday was filled in and soft powder and what hadn't been skied (and bear in mind that with White Pass chair closed all day this was most of upper Timber bowl, all of Currie bowl and the Reverse Traverse with Currie chutes and the Big 3) was deep untracked powder to a new depth of about 67 cms. If things opened we were clearly in for a big day.

We went to the New Side on the grounds that offered the most previously unopened area and immediatly found Lift Line open and soft deep lightly tracked powder down to White Pass load. As we rode up White Pass they dropped the fence on the Zig Zag and we were getting excited planning our route down. We needn't have bothered as when we were about three chairs off White Pass top we heard a cheer and unloaded to find they had just dropped the fence on Currie Bowl.

We raced out to Stag Leap which we had seen untracked from the Timber chair and got about third tracks in. It was one of the best runs of the season and in the deep hero snow we pretty much straight lined down as far as the final roll when things got just a little heavier. Conditions were bluebird so things were softening fast in the direct sunlight although later in the day it did cloud over keeping what hadn't melted in great shape (hero powder) and what had softened just started to set up again.

Next loop we looked at the Saddles which were closed and remained so all day due to avi risk over in Lizard Bowl. We looked down Skydive which seemed a bit tracked and so hit the Brain where there werer a couple of tracks in front of us but they soon disappeared in the trees and it was awesome deep powder in the trees on the right shoulder of the creek bed. Next was Cougar Glades which pulled it's usual bluff on the inexperienced. It was tracked in the top but if you cut left early in trees there were untracked lines all the way down. The lower section on the disused cat track was rather claggy and I managed a good stack on some hidden deadfall but no harm done.

To get away from the sun I hit Decline/Window Chutes and found Decline soft tracked deep powder and Window Chutes with some untracked lines through the trees at the top. To keep north facing next I traversed the top of the Knot Chutes which looked quite tempting but a bit soft and pieced my way into the top of Gotta Go. I hit the left chute (Goolge Earth) and found it totally untracked and super deep powder - even lower down in the top of 3's things were pretty good. Bootleg Glades had been closed for several days and the signs at the top were ambiguous, well we thought they were, and so we dropped in for some spectacular deep powder face shots.

Last run before lunch I hiked up to Lone Fir and got my only disappointment of the day. I think patrol must have thrown a shot in Lone Fir as it was pretty scratchy but the fan below was as good as I have ever seen it, or to be more accurate as I haven't seen it as I couldn't see anything with the over the head face shots. I did think about traversing hard left to get under the Saddles but it looked like there was a ton of debrise under them so I guess even if they had been open the skiing wouldn't have been any better than what we had. I ran to lunch through Spinal Tap which was deep and soft with a few suckers holes into the creek bed itself to catch the unwary.

I had notcied how good Easter Bowl had looked when I crossed it before lunch to get to Spinal Tap so first run after lunch was Easter and it was deep tracked powder on the north facing slope. Next, it seemed to me tha Anaconda might be a good bet and I was right. The second Chute was great and the biggest problem was your own slough which as it was closing day I just decided to let rip and surf it out - awesome. It occured to me that I hadn't done Decline all the way down so off I went. The top section was as good as ever but lower down it was a tricky mix of chopped up melted powder and harder set up.

Of course the final run of the day/year had to be Skydive. Although it was tracked up it was still great skiing in the top, then setting up a little, then going soft for most of the lower section, then setting up for the last two turns - I have no idea why we had that mixed bag but it was great way to finish.

I can't recall a better closing day, or one when I have been able to ski one of the serious runs, let alone all of them. Skiing was so good that I totally ignored the Slope Soaker pond skimming event which I am told was good. The band in the Plazza was the fantastic Shred Kelly and the booze flowed.

So that's it, a couple of weeks of sorting out "stuff" and then back to the UK. Watch this space for my season report in a day or two when I have gathered my thoughts.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Day 126 Awesome - which isn't bad for this time of the season.

As regular readers may recall we were promised 10-15 cms of fresh overnight by the forecasters. Well, not for the first time they got it wrong - we had 32 cms of new snow over night. Better still it just puked snow (and I don't use the term inadvisedly) all day so I would guess that we had at least another 25 cms during the day giving us over 60 cms in 24 hours and making this the biggest snow cycle of the winter - as I said, not bad for the closing weekend.

The snow was pretty wet low down but as we headed to the hill in temps +1 we were optimistic that up top it would be rather dryer. When we got to the hill we found that power had failed in the day lodge and so had to get ready using cell phone lights to open the combination padlocks on our lockers which wasn't as easy as it sounds. The fact that we were made late didn't matter as only the Deer and Elk chairs were running to start with as most of the hill was shut down due to the massive avi risk from this huge dump of snow on a fairly indifferent base.

We took a couple of trips up Deer just to get some snow under our skis and found that really deep wet snow doesn't ski so easy on gentle slopes. Timber eventually opened and we found Lift Line closed but everything to skiers left open - we hit Puff Trees which were just awesome, hardly had to turn in the deep powder and almost choked on the over the head face shots.

White Pass was closed which we assumed was just a temporary hitch. We were wrong, after several delayed opening times were we told that White Pass would not be opening today and the dismantling of the maze seemed to make the point. We just spent the morning off Timber hitting Puff Trees, Lower Lift Line, Black Cloud, and all trees and chutes in between. Whilst the terrain was limited the skiing was just awesome in hero powder and as the snow continued to fall the conditions didn't deteriorate to any great extent. Another plus was that whilst we had a bit of a line up to begin with, after that there were no line ups so no delays in getting to the powder.

In the afternoon I don't think I played it very well. On the New Side Lift Line and Big Bang had being ski cut but I decided to try my luck on the Old Side. I am told that when Big Bang and the side step into Siberia Ridge opened it was just awesome, and I missed it, well that's the way it goes. The Old Side didn't suck but a lot of the openings had taken place an hour or two earlier. That having been said the rate of fill in from the snow fall was enough to guarantee great skiing wherever you went.

I just poked around the Old Side all afternoon with hardly anyone there - Bear, Bear Chutes, Boomerang, Boom Ridge (twice) Linda's, Cedar Ridge (three times) King Fir etc.These were all that was available as Ceder Bowl was closed to the skiers left (even Alpine Way was closed) and the only stuff open in Lizard was Tower 6 trail and below. The sking was great soft powder getting a bit heavy lower down but still awesome for the second week in April.

Kangaroo deserves a special mention as it was great soft snow from top to bottom. I am told there were a couple of closed signs in the top but I didn't see them. As I came off the hill it was still snowing and continued to do so for a couple of hours after the lifts stopped turning. Tonight it is forecast to get cold which may work out really well because if it stabalizes the snow then we could get most of the hill open tomorrow for a spectacular closing day.

The entertainment events of the day were the Powder, Pedal, Paddle relay which I guess took place but as I was getting over the head face shots on the New Side when it should have happened I can't really comment. Similarly the band in the Plazza was Chilliwack but after a few minutes of listening I was so tired from the days skiing that I just sat in the Griz drinking beer - I guess they were pretty good as everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves.

So here we go with tomorrow as last day and everything pointing towards a spectacular powder day - lets see.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Day 125 a really tough day

The reason today was so tough was that all the things that have been happening in this latest weather cycle to make skiing easier failed to happen today - let me explain. So far we have either had softening conditions during the day so it didn't matter what had happened the previous day, you could ski the mush. Alternatively if it had frozen overnight and not softened during the day there has always been some new opening available so that you could ski previously untracked snow which of course was smooth and easy to ski.

Today our chickens came home to roost and we found that everything had previously been open in soft conditions so what was available (ignoring groomers)  was tracked up and ugly. This wouldn't have mattered if things had softened but they didn't. It was -6 overnight and arriving at the hill it was -1. Initially things looked quite encouraging as it was tending towards the bluebird with temps rising fast. In the event we had cloud cover coming in off and on all day and as result it never really warmed up so everything stayed pretty hard. By the end of the day we had a little atmospheric warming so that the very lowest part of Skydive had softened but apart from that we were dealing with some hard ugly conditions.

We went to the Old Side initially and skied around Bear and into the Lizard bowl looking for things to soften up which of course they didn't but the hard groomers were ok skiing. We experimented with runs down Boomerang and Boom Ridge which were just about skiable as we could find untracked areas in which to turn. Out across Lizard nothing had been groomed and the lower Dancer area was ugly refrozen crud. Somewhere in there we looped Cedar Centre which skied ok and gave every sign of being about to become soft but that was before the morning cloud rolled in.

We went to the New Side and found nothing much different. Puff and Lift Line were tough and hard all day. We looped back through Gun Bowl/Highline/Heartland a few times and again had to work very hard in the tracked up refrozen crud to get any kind of skiing at all. I think that part of the problem was that we had a graupel storm just after close of play last night and the layer of pellets sat on top of the under surface and acted like and insulating blanket keeping things cold without really providing much of a skiing surface to make up for it.

We ran to base a few times trying a combination of Alph Centauri (really ugly ice crust) and Currie Powder - a lot better off the groomed surface to skiers left giving some soft surface pellets to work with. It was time for lunch with the expectation that the afternoon's skiing would be soft and slushy.

Our expecations were not fulfilled as on emerging form lunch the clouds had socked in again and by late afternoon we were even getting some flurry activity. Again we had to look for lines that were either groomed or not too affected by the skier traffic and freezing conditions. Currie Powder and Down Right provided some ok skiing with good lines in between the groomed areas either to the left of Currie Powder or in Currie Glades. I even ran to base through Diamond Back which hadn't been groomed for a couple of days but skied ok if a bit scratchy.

I was getting bored so pushed out to High Saddle on the basis of what ever didn't kill me would make me stronger. As it turned out the skiing through the Saddle was great winter snow as was the first half dozen or so turns underneath. Below that it got a bit tricky on refrozen crud but by sticking to untracked areas and keeping the speed up I found things were not that bad.

All too soon last run of the day came round and we headed to Skydive expecting totally horrible conditions. The top section confirmed our worst nightmares with an ugly refrozen ploughed field of icey crud to negotiate. By the time we got tothe second section both Dan and I thought we were detecting a softening which made the skiing a little easier. By the final pitch the late afternoon warming was taking effect and the surface was hard underneath but soft on top and by the last few tuens was easy mush skiing - overall not quite as bad as I expected but then I did expect it to be pretty bad.

After skiing we had drinks in Kelsey's where Dan and I (and later Lynda) registered our two man and one woman protest against the closure of the Griz Bar for the last two nights - over to you guys. The best thing about Kelsey's is that they serve 23 oz pints for the sme price as they serve 20 ozpints in the Griz.This amounts to 15% more beer per buck spent, or a 15% reduction in the price of beer depending on how you look at it - just saying.

The forecast is for 10-15 cms overnight so it could end up as a full on powder day to finish the season - who knows.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Day 124 still pretty good

I am of course refering to the skiing and not the stupid decision to close the Griz Bar for a couple of days. The funny thing is that today was the final day for the Non Stop level 2 skiers and after their exams they were looking for somewhere to celebrate/drown their sorrows and of course they had no where to go. Anyone who understood the business would have seen this coming but the decisions on the opening/closing of the facilities on the hill are clearly being undertaken by people who's greatest contribution to the planet is to breath out carbon dioxide which is good for plants so you wouldn't expect anything like a sensible decision from them. So, having cost your employers a load of lost income what next guys?

The skiing was pretty good. The official web site said there was no new snow but later changed their mind to say we had about 11 cms of fresh which looked about right to me. We went to the New Side on the basis that the snow line looked as if it had stayed high. The conditions were overcast and +4 on the way to the hill. During the day the conditions fluctuated from full on winter on top, rain below and sun, becoming very warm and spring like in the last hour of the day. We had pretty well everything.

Lift Line gave a hint of what we could expect. It was soft powder at the top becoming quite wet and even crusty lower down. We looped White Pass about 4 times in great soft powder but becoming heavier as the temps rose to above zero. After while we decide to do a couple of loops out in Surprise and found just like the other day we were laying first tracks all the way across but this time rather than scratchy it was all a little mushy in places. In fact I was quite surprised how soft the snow was today even away from the direct sunlight.

After all our activity high up getting some great pwder skiing we had to look elsewhere and predictably we went to the Saddles. Corner Pocket was still showing tires but I did hit a high left line that allowed me to slide round the worst of the rubber. High Saddle was skiing like a groomer - ok a very steep tight groomer but nothing to frighten the horses. Low Saddle was just awesome - all the saddles had great soft powder underneath but Low had totally untracked chutes off to the skiers right - I guess it was all a function of hardly anyone being on the hill. Actually I didn't feel that I had skied Low in quite the tight controlled way that I liked so I gave it another go before lunch with much better results.

Down below the Saddles in the Dancer area nothing was groomed and at first it was a case of difficult skiing on a slush/crust surface. Whether it was the changing conditions or just the fact that we were getting more used to the conditions but as the day went on the lower skiing which had been challenging at first became easy soft mush skiing and I was staying in the mush as long as I could instead of exiting it at the first opportunity as had been the case early on - it was just a case of keeping up the speed and staying on top.

After lunch it was the Saddles High/Low/High/Low which were just as good as the morning until it was time for Skydive. I had mixed feelings about Skydive after the previous hard icey experiences but today it was soft if chunky skiing all the way down - hard word but ok.

After skiing we went to Kelsey's as we will tomorrow despite the Griz reopening. Many thanks for all the messages of support and confirmation that many of you will be taking a day off from the Griz to register your protest - remember, today they close the bars, tomorrow it will be the lifts, take action now to meet my target of hitting the income line by 2000 bucks as a shot across their bows.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Day 123 not as good as it has been but some promising signs

Overnight the temps stayed above zero in valley and probably didn't freeze over most of the mountain. It was +3 on the way to the hill and overcast becoming showery in the morning. The showers were rain at the base but became snow/ice pellets not all that far up the mountain. As the day wore on the precip became heavier and was rain at the base but up in White Pass it was full on winter conditions with snow starting to pile up in significant quantities but the end of the afternoon.

We went to the Old Side and found that the groomers were ok and just starting to soften so we had a few runs down Bear, Arrow and assorted parts of Lizard bowl just to let things settle down. We dropped into Cedar and found that the centre was skiing very mellow and taking an edge. After that we tried Cedar Ridge twice, both of which were ugly death cookies but it had to be tried.

Each exit was through Kangaroo which had closed signs in the top but by taking a left chute in I guess you could just about argue that you hadn't skied above or between the signs. In any event it was the run of the day with the terrain beaten down to undulating bumps, a hard ice base underneath and a few inches of melt on top - in fact it was the nearest thing to corn snow that I have seen this year so obviously couldn't have been closed as it was the best run on the hill.

It was starting to get a bit wet low down so we headed over to the New Side to get high and found that Puff was smooth with a soft snow covering and everything in White Pass was good with real winter conditions and snow falling. The only down side was that it was socked in at the top of White pass so that viz was down around your boots and to be honest didn't get much better all day. We looped White Pass before heading to lunch down Currie Powder - to my great relief the Reverse Traverse was closed so that it would be impossible to ski Skydive at the end of the day which despite the changing conditions was bound to be as ugly as yesterday and tradition would have required me to ski it. Currie powder was smooth, groomed and covered in soft snow all the way to the base through Gilmar Trail and the Medow.

After lunch it was apparent to me that the rain line was going to rise up the hill so the only game in town was to go high and stay high in White Pass. My decision seemed to be confirmed as the conditions in White Pass became more and more wintery as the afternoon wore on, the snow came down heavy and was accumulating so that White Pass loops became powder skiing. The only downside was the viz that reamined bad and the lack of terrain as the opening was only from the I bowl line on skiers left to Timber Lift Line on skiers right.

Finally I had no choice but to run to base at the end of the day which I did via Currie Powder. This just further confirmed how good my decision had been as I hit rain about half way down and from Gilmar trail it was just mush all the way to base. So,on balance pretty good day due to a good decision to stay high and maybe a better day tomorrow if the forecasters have it right.

When I got to base I found that the Griz bar was closed today and tomorrow due to lack of customers which is huge kick in the teeth to us regular customers who keep the place going every night of the year, even lining up to get in at busy times. No other business but RCR would treat their regular (best) customers in such a disgraceful way. Well, they have put the game in play amd set the rules (bottom line is the only thing that matters) so lets play guys. I have agreed with a large number of buddies that we will take one day off drinking in the Griz at a time when we normally would - in my case Friday. I would like everyone reading and following this blog to do the same to show them that customers deserve to be treated better than this. By my calculations if half the regular blog followers, and the buddies who have agreed go through with this and they normally spend about 20 bucks a night (like me) then the effect will be about a 5000 buck hit on the sales line. At the outrageous mark up in the bar this should hit the bottom line to the extent of about 3000 bucks give or take.

I would imagine they saved a few hundred at most by closing the bar for two nights so I think an action costing them 3000 bucks might just make them realise that in the long run this is not a wise course of action. Not the sort of thing I like doing but they set the rules not me. Please support this action, after all it only requires you to change your drinking place for one night and it sends a strong message.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Day 122 still skiing untracked snow - how good is that

Still no new snow but it dropped to -7 in the valley overnight and I guess it was a lot colder on the hill which help the stabalize the snow pretty well all across the hill allowing for more openings. On the way to the hill it was -4 and conditions were mostly sun with some cloud. The result was that in the direct sunlight temps rose to plus figures of up to +8 softening all surfaces but in the shade not much softened at all.

We initially went to the Old Side because we had been told that someone was trying to set a new world record for the most vert in one day and to do this he would have to ski the Bear 58 times. On the way up we did the math and worked out that he would have to loop the Bear once every 7 and a half minutes which as the Bear takes 8 minutes to run to the top at standard speed looked a bit of a tall order. I think he would need to have a word with the hill to get the hours extended and the lift speeded up if he wants to stand a chance.

Having lost interest in the record attempt we skied around Lizard Bowl always running down to Bear load to check the snow conditions if we were to start skiing the Saddles again. Everything looked ok and much, much more was groomed in Lizard Bowl today making any skiing below the Saddles much easier than yesterday, if that is what you are looking for. We went to the New Side to see what was new.

Arriving at Timber load I was told that Surprise Trees had opened for the first time in a week or so. When we got to the top of White Pass we found that although Knot Chutes remained closed, the Gun Bowl and the Idiot Traverse were open and so we could go out to Surprise Trees or Anaconda Glades. The Gun bowl skied very mellow and powdery and when I got to the end of the traverse I found that all the tracks went into Anaconda and I had to cut fresh tracks into Surprise Trees. The skiing was soft slighly heavy powder on a rather scratchy base and totally untracked. A little lower down some tracks came in from the right but there was still plenty of untracked.

Now for the amazing part - the next time round I found that mine were still the only tracks into Surprise and so I cut the traverse a bit further and then dropped with much the same effect as before. I did this again on the far side of Surprise, and then again on the near side of Triple Trees first section and then again in Triple Trees first section proper - all loops were returned to White Pass load along Trespass Trail. I couldn't believe I got 5 runs of untracked powder with no one coming out to follow me - I guess that's a function of the hill being even less busy that yesterday if such a thing was possible.

I noticed on the Idiot Traverse that soft snow was starting to pinwheel out of the Knot Chutes and figured (wrongly as it turned out) that the traverse would be closing soon. We hit Anaconda Glades and had an awesome run in good powder on the north facing slope so that we both had to stop at one time to let our sloughs pass to avoid being barrelled over by them -conditions lower down were a bit varied so beating out your own slough would have been a bit of a ballsey call today.

We hadn't forgotten the Saddles and took a High Saddle loop followed by a Low Saddle loop.The chutes were getting a bit slick in places but nothing some good edge to edge jumping couldn't handle. Under the Saddles it was just like yesterday with great powder and many untracked lines to be threaded if you just paid attention. We went for a very late lunch.

After lunch it was just more Saddles (Low, High and then Low again) and although they were getting more marginal as the day went on they were still in pretty ok condition. The skiing underneath still had many untracked lines to offer if you just looked hard enough. At the end of the day I had just time for a quick groomer loop on White Pass which was so unused that you could almost straight line it from top to bottom.

Tradition has a lot to answer for - I could have had an easy saddle to finish but found myself heading for Skydive. My buddies had quite sensibly avoided me by this time so I faced the final Skydive drop on my own. At first it wasn't too bad with soft snow on the bumps and then the mid section was soft and melting and my hopes rose - all too soon as it turned out. The last section was ugly icey ploughed up crud and even worse than yesterday if that was possible. It was very hard work to get to the cat track but eventually I made it, lets say the skiing was effective rather than pretty.

I only stayed for a couple f beers in the Griz Bar tonight as it is Beer and Burger for 10 bucks at the Northern and I don't want to miss that. The forecast says we are in for four days of "mixed precip" I wonder what that will actually turn out to be, only time will tell.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Day 121 Sensational Saddles

The heading about sums things up so maybe I should stop here. Ok, just to put it in perspective - it didn't snow overnight as forecast although reports all around indicated snow such as the Crowsnest Pass being single lane and the "local" radio station (it's actually based in Cranbrook) reporting difficult driving conditions. I guess the storm slipped by us on either side.

What did happen was that overnight things froze and it was -3 at the base as we arrived at the hill. We were a little late as we had to get the car checked in for a service next Monday which will be the first days non skiing since November - where did this season go. Conditions at the upper hill were much colder and I noticed temps of -8 at the Timber top as late as midday. Conditions varied from sun at times to overcast with even the hint of light snow from time to time. Even by late afternoon nothing much had got above zero and we were really back to winter conditions.

The resut was that everywhere we had skied yesterday was ugly icey refrozen crud. The groomers such as they were (there was very little grooming in the bits of the hill where I was) were very hard and scratchy. Of course where things hadn't been skied yesterday we had the most wonderful deep full on powder.

Arriving at the hill a patroller buddy of mine told me that the Saddles were just awesome. We headed there via Lift Line which was about as bad as I have ever seen it with ugly refrozen crud. We looked in to Corner Pocket and found the tires just about showing. I am not a fan of tire skiing in Corner Pocket so we headed on to High saddle which skied just like a dream through the chute and deep powder with huge untracked areas below - some of the best powder skiing of the season.

We decided to stick with alternate runs between High and Low Saddle as most of the traffic on a day like today seems to head for Corner Pocket - the Saddles stayed filled with snow and easy edge to edge jumping through them all day. Despite the slide over the tires in Corner Pocket I think people like the idea that it is only a couple of easy turns after that to get out of the chute and that is why they go there. This leaves High and Low Saddle and the skiing below mostly untracked.

We resolved to ski the Saddles until we couldn't get any more fresh lines and then move on. When we went to lunch just after 1 we were still skiing the Saddles which speaks volumes. Lynda did try one run down Concussion which she said was ok in the top but nowhere near as good as the Saddles so we went back to our original plan.

After lunch we just continued with particularly good skiing in the chutes to skiers right after a hard right cut out of Low Saddle. Abour 2:30 I had to cross another skiers track which was quite annoying but still not bad for the second week in April. The secret was that if you took away vacation skiers sticking to groomers and a couple of level 2 groups also on groomers there were only probably about 2 dozen of us on the hill skiing serious lines and lets face it there is an awful lot of hill for us to try and trash.

I wasn't looking forward to last run of the day - by tradition if Skydive is open we have to ski it. I had a feeling it wouldn't be good and I was right. Up to about half way down you could find untracked areas that skied ok. After that you were in heavily tracked stuff from yesterday which had refrozen into an ugly ploughed field of ice tufts. I couldn't really complain as I was one of the main offenders in creating these conditions by hiking up into Skydive yesterday. It was a slow crunchy descent in just about the ugliest conditions in Skydive of the year but - whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger and me and my buddy Randy who I had met on the traverse out got to the bottom in one piece and went for a beer.

So, a really great start to last week week of the season. Skiing the Saddles over and over again is a bit repetitive but repetitive untracked powder is ok by me. The forecasts for the next 7 days call for rain, sun, snow and everything in between, could be an interesting finish.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Day 120 a powder day at this time of the season - I guess so

If you define a powder day as any day when you are skiing untracked powder snow with more than 10 cms of fresh for a significant part of the day then I guess today qualifies as a powder day.

It rained all night in the valley but the temps were only just below zero so we had hopes that on the hill things were coming down white. The early morning figures from the hill were for 12 cms of fresh but we were understandably sceptical. On the way to the hill it was only +2 at the base and on top the viz was swinging from socked in to quite clear and back again on a 10 minute cycle.

We went to the New Side and found that up top in White Pass we had almost full on winter conditions with real powder in the top of the run becoming a little heavier as you got to White Pass base. The White Pass loops were a  bit better today as the open area extended from the I bowl sign line on skiers left to about Mitchy's Chutes on skier's right.  The extra area gave us much more to go at with a 12 cms powder covering and the total lack of crowds (even for a Sunday) meant that there were significant areas of untracked snow available all morning.

After a few great powder loops in White Pass which involved Gun Bowl, High Line, Quite Right under the lift, Highline Trees, Little Trees, and many other lines where we found good untracked lines, we headed down Currie Bowl. We hope for a traverse out beyond Currie Powder but that was all closed so we had lots of good untracked powder in Currie Powder itself although by the time we got to Gilmar Trail it was getting pretty heavy.

For the rest of the morning we put loops in White Pass always looking for new untracked lines which we found quite a lot of the time and then dropping to base off the top of White Pass. The base runs were always through Currie Glades which we entered via the Polar Peak load (Polar Peak was closed)  and found great untracked line albeit getting a bit heavy by the exit. A special mention has to go to Gilmar Gully which was super soft on the old bumps and getting heavy but challenging if only to avoid the sink holes above the stream in the bottom of the gully. We looped about three times and went to lunch.

After lunch I decided to try the Old Side to see if I could access the Big 3 from Easter bowl. I didn't really expect the skiing to be much better but it was somewhere different to go and something different to do and so seemed worth while to me. As I started the afternoon it socked in and started to snow from about above the Bear load and rain below that - off and on those were the conditions all afternoon.

First loop was a low side step into Skydive which was ok soft snow with some untracked lines but generally speaking more tracked than I expected. Next I went low into Decline and found a lot of untracked lines. One of the funny things about Decline is that because of the great skiing off either side the tracks in the run tend to become fewer as you go down and today was no exception. The final pitch was great with a lot of untracked areas but a bit sticky on the last couple of turns.

I had noticed a couple of guys hiking high off the Easter traverse and decided to follow suit. The result was that I came out in the top of Skydive with all my options available. It may seem strange but the very people who were working so hard to hike into the big 3 were totally locked into the idea of skiing one of the runs rather than any of the trees. I dropped into the Brain and had totally untracked skiing all the way down and it only got mushy in the last two turns of the final section before I cut out into Skydive. Last run was another maximum hike up to the top of Skydive but this time taking Cougar Glades untracked from top to bottom as a spectacular finish to the day.

Having hiked as much as I did the only cure was a lot of beer in the Griz where the first one didn't even touch the sides. Sunday is my favourite night as it is a locals only event with everyone coming up with stories of the weekend. So, today was a great full on powder day which can't be bad for the start of the second week in April - Lynda was also celebrating her 100 days on the hill.

The forecast for the next few days is cooling and snow - who knows, they might even be right.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Day119 first fresh tracks for weeks - sort of

It rained hard again all night and was raining on the way to the hill although the temperature was a rather more encouraging +3 as we drove up Ski Hill Road. On their web site the hill claimed 1 cm of fresh ovenight which seemed strange as with the precip we had I would have expected it would either be much more or nothing at all.

We kitted ourselves out in full rain gear and for only the second time this season I found myself dressed head to foot in Canadian Tire's finest yellow plastic suit. I have to say that I don't really see the challenge on a rain day as any different from any other type of day. In cold weather you have people coming off the hill complaining about cold hands and feet because they haven't worn the right gear, in really cold weather you have people coming off the the hill with frost bite because they haven't covered up and so with rain it is just a case of wearing the right gear (as I was) and you are dry and toastie all day with no problems.

We went to the New Side and found that the rain line reached up as far as White Pass load. Above that it was wet heavy cream snow for the most part getting lighter as you got higher and snowing most of the time. It would have been ideal for a good old White Pass loop day except that most of White Pass was closed. It fact it is easier to say what was open (from the fence on the skiers left of Highline to the fence on the skiers right of Puff) than to say what was closed which was everything, and I do mean everything else.

No one else seemed to have woken up to the fact that we had untracked wet snow (you couldn't really call it powder but I bet they do) all across Highline and the trees to the skiers right. The nature of the snow was such that even the two of us trying to cut quite tight lines still left a real mess everywhere we went and by late morning we had trashed eveything in Highline and in the trees but the extraorinary thing was that there appeared to bo only our tracks in there. The only bad decision of the morning was to get too greedy in the Toilet Bowl and have to side step up in wet snow to get out at the bottom.

We went down to lunch through Currie which had warning signs at the top saying that only Currie Powder was open (correct as we found 1-2-3s and Down Right closed) and that the Gilmar Trail was subject to "bare spots". The top was poor viz as had the top of White Pass been all morning but the surface soon became ok wet snow skiing although someone got out the glue pot for the section just above Gilmar Trail. On the trail itself I was prepared for the worst but actually it wasn't that bad. There were a few bare patches that were easy to avoid and I have seen it much worse at either end of the season in the past with no warnings.

After lunch we poked around the Old Side and found that the rain was falling all the way to the top. Where there had been past grooming or high skier traffic the wet snow on a firm base was ok but again anywhere there had been soft snow it was now super deep mush. They were setting up the course for the Monster event so we ran the course just to see what it was like and found ourselves hardly moving in the mushy top section. I guess the racers would have some special soft snow wax (I have been told WD40 works quite well) that would hold good for just one run and allow them to run at something like normal speed.

There is only so much fun you can have on limited terrain in pouring rain and by mid afternoon we abandoned skiing and headed for the bar. Things were starting to hot up after we had our couple of beers as the hype for the Monster race and Plazza Party was starting. With the Head Wall not on the course I couldn't get that excited about the race and the size of the speakers being set up in the Griz convinced me that maybe the party was being aimed at a different age group from ours. We headed home for hot drinks and some comforting whiskey.

I have no doubt that tomorrow everyone will fill me in on what I have missed. It looks like we may have a cooler dryer day and could possibly get back to something more like normal skiing to start the last week of the season.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Day 118 a bit of a wash out

Yes, today was a bit of a wash out in every sense of the word. It rained hard all night and stayed warm so that temps on the way to the hill were +6. It was raining off and on when we got to the hill and the ridge lines were socked in and Polar Peak chair wasn't running due to high winds. You didn't have to be a genius to work out that the Monster Enemy Lines Chinese Downhill simply wasn't going to happen in those conditions and it didn't - but more of that later.

We went to the Old Side and found the actual skiing surface in surprisingly good shape as long as you stayed on the previously groomed or high traffic packed in areas. Bear, Arrow, North Ridge etc were all nice easy skiing with soft on firm and we looped them. Best skiing was China Wall which is now soft bumps although you do have to avoid some big bare patches and lower Kangaroo which is still soft bumps on the firm underbase.

Of course where there had previously been soft off piste the snow was mush all the way to base and to all intents and purposes unskiable. We didn't have much choice as everything beyond Arrow in Lizard was closed as was everything right off North Ridge. I did take a speculative drop into Cedar Ridge just to test how bad it was and it was very bad - I would have done better with scuba gear rather than ski gear.

We spent most of the morning looping what little was open on the Old Side with occasional dashes into the Bears Den to get out of the worst of the showers which did have some graupel in them but were mostly rain all the way to the top. We had a very soggy lunch with just a few other around who were stupid enough to be skiing on a day like this.

After lunch we continued much as the morning but by 2:30 the rain had set in as unbroken from top to base and getting heavier and we took this as sign to call it a day. The most amazing thing was there were still about a dozen people out on the hill as we came off which must go to prove something but I can't think what.

We went to the Griz Bar where for just over an hour only one other set of customers came in, at all times the staff outnumbered the customers by a margin. It was in the Griz we read the press release from Monster confirming that the main event had been cancelled "on Fernies 45 degree + headwall.." and instead they were running a scaled down event tomorrow from the High Lizard Traverse to base for the reduced prize of $5000. Whilst that is a big step down from $20,000 it still seems pretty ok to me to be racing for 5000 bucks just for straightlining lower Lizard.

More rain is in the forecast and it looks like tomorrow may be another short day decked out in my yellow plastic rain suit - $9.99 from Canadian Tire. After that forecasters are calling for a cool down with actual minus daytime temps on Monday and Tuesday with white precip to come. Whether or not we get these conditions and if we do how they will affect the hill are two very interesting questions. Meanwhile today was the biggest washoutof the season.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Day 117 the hill is getting even more tired than me

Yes, the whole season is winding down with conditions slowly dribbling away to spring, our bodies suffering the cumulative effect of 100+ days skiing and nothing new for the last two weeks even beginning to tempt me to try something out of the ordinary. Today we didn't even have the sun of the bluebird days that we have been having, it was overcast but warm (starting temps of +1 going to +12 by the end of the day) so the everything just warmed up and mushed without having frozen overnight to give us a firm base to work on.

We went to the Old Side and found everything softening in the warming conditions so we had a few runs in Lizard bowl, some on what had been groomers (Bear) and some on ungroomed lines (Arrow). About the best skiing was China Wall which has now turned to big bumps but you do have to watch out for the bare patches.

By way of experiment I dropped off the chutes between Bear top and Alpine Way and found them becoming rather soft even early in the day. We cut into Cedar Centre which at least had the advantage of having been ice and so skied soft on a firm base. Kangaroo was still closed in the top so we cut in at the Cedar Trail level and found it pretty soft but ok in the bumps. After that we just poked around Cedar Ridge (soft) King Fir (softer) always returning via lower Kangaroo. Everything off skiers right of North Ridge (Boom, Boom Ridge, Linda's etc) remained closed so with so few options we headed for the New Side just before mid day.

We found Puff was soft and taking an edge on a firm base. Up Polar Peak yet again the only way down was Polar Coaster which had been groomed in the top but from the bumps and the rocks you would neve have guessed it. We had a couple of ok loops while looking out at the weather which was gathering somewhere out to the west and then ran for base and lunch through Currie Powder which was just about ok and Gilmar Gully which was soft bumps and great slow motion bump skiing.

After lunch I took a trip up to Lizard with the intention of taking the high traverse and then traversing Easter bowl and side stepping up into the Big Three. I didn't really expect the conditions to be much good but it was something to do and somewhere different to go. In the event it didn't matter as the high traverse was closed. As luck would have it I got tangled up with the professional ski circus that is in town for the Monster Head Wall Chinese Down Hill scheduled for the next few days starting in Richrds run tomorrow

No one seemed to be that impressed by the conditions any more than they were when I tangled with them at the top of Polar Peak where I next encountered them looking into the top of Richards. I looped Polar Peak several times waiting to see what was going to happen and when nothing did I ran to base via Currie Powder and Gilmar Gully which was just as before.

I went back up Polar Peak for the last three loops of the day making 8 times in all I had been up there without ever really intending to and found it soft in the Coaster as always. I had hoped for some action on the Peak at closing time but when I found myself alone up there after last chair I did a non stop (actually I did rip through a Non Stop Group) run through Currie Powder and Gilmar Gully to Timber.

This all just gave me time to get up Timber and down Puff, making the last White Pass chair with 40 seconds to spare. It was apparent that some serious heli bombing was about to take place but as it was choice of hanging about to watch this or drink beer I had another non stop run to base.

In the bar tonight I asked about the plans for tomorrows Monster event but was told that it was secret - well guys, as it has been announced on the radio I am prepared to guess that it will be on Richards if conditions allow which they won't due to ice in the choke, debrise in the bottom and the fact that the top will be socked in by cloud tomorrow. This means the time trial will take place in the Polar chutes and down Currie Powder assuming the sock in allows even that - or so the radio says, so I guess it must be true.

Outlook is for minus temps and snow by Monday, could the Griz have one last treat for us ?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Day 116 Happy Hot Dog Day

For those who don't know, we hold Hot Dog day every year (usually on the first Wednesday in April) to celebrate the movie Hot Dog. If you have never seen this movie it is a dreadful 1980's offering which is a mixture of skiing and soft porn. We celebrate by dressing in 1980's ski gear, skiing round the hill pulling some pretty stupid tricks (the one day of the year that we don't wear helmets) and getting unbelievably drunk despite the official line that no alcohol is allowed up the hill.

Today was overcast in the morning and stayed cloudy off and on all day with the occasional rain drops coing out of the clouds. Day time temps got to +12 so the chances of any precip coming down white was pretty remote.

I was amazed putting on my old Killy one piece ski suit which must have been bought in the late 1980's just how warm it was and it did cross my mind that if we do get cold weather next year maybe the red one piece could make a guest appearance to keep me warm - who knows.

I had a few trips round Bear, Arrow and other parts of Lizard to check the conditions and found that despite coditions being overcast things were softer than during the past few days. I went to the New Side and took two trips up Polar Peak before they closed it - I was told that only 6 of us had been up all morning, 4 had down loaded and I was the only one who took a double loop. The truth was that although it was socked in at the top and the only advertised way down was Polar Coaster the skiing was ok soft bumps. At the top of the Polar Coaster there was a sign saying "Marginal Conditions, Skiing not recomended" which gave me a laugh as in the words of the movie I thought " Ok,where to Butch". The warning was fair as the first few turns of the Coaster were quite rocky but after that things were ok - second time up I was told they were closing.

I went to the Old Side and had few runs down North Ridge and the lower part of Kangaroo - the closed signs were only in the top and the second section skied nicely, I can't help but think that the top section woud have been just as good had we been allowed to ski it. I did check out Wallaby which was starting to get rowdy as the crowds were gathering - lunch.

After lunch we just looped Wallaby/ North Ridge/ Cruiser/ Cedar Centre/ Emily's etc which were all in pretty good shape as the cloud cover was preventing the snow from softening too much. Skiing wasn't really the business of the day and we all ended up on Wallaby each loop to watch/take part in the crazy stunts and jumps. After several loops we headed to base ratherv early to guarantee a place in the Griz Bar - actually about 3:30.

Things worked out well and we got seats in the bar, met up with friends, all in Hot Dog gear, and drunk far too much beer and Jagermeisters to celebrate the day. I have decided not to head to the Pub for a showing of Hot Dog the movie as I am not sure I would make it so it will be a quiet night in and then hope for normal service to be resumed tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Day 115 weather forecasters know nothing and more strange stuff

The confident forecast for today was that we would have showers becoming heavy in the afternoon. In the event it was bluebird all morning and although we got a bit of cloud later in the day there was nothing that looked like a shower even when I took a look at the weather from the top of Polar Peak late morning when I could see about a million miles in all directions.

As for the last (God knows how long) we had -1 on the way to the hill and a base of 260 cms. Just for the record Lynda got out her journal for this time last year and found that our base at that time was 425 cms - just saying. It was another bluebird day when temps came up and by the afternoon we were seeing +15 in the shade and I would imagine at least another 10 degrees in the direct sunlight  - what I am saying is that it was seriously hot.

We went to the Old Side where of course quite a lot (Snake Ridge, everything right off North Ridge and few other places ) were closed. We did the usual trips down Bear and across Lizard bowl only to find that everything was softening in an inversion ! My only explanation is that a warm wet system is on the way and we are seeing is the front end of that system high up and added to the recent warm conditions - actually I have no idea why things are working out as they are.

We looped back down Boom Ridge and found the bumps already soft so we looped three times and had some great skiing before it got too mushy. I took one trip down Cedar Ridge in the hope that it would be soft but it was in fact hard boiler plate and not worth further investigation except for later events.

We went to the New Side and up Polar Peak which was only open at the Polar Coaster due to the snow instability every where else. After a couple of trips up the fairly slushy Coaster we dropped to base and to lunch via Currie Powder which was soft with bumps. Best bit of the drop like yesterday was Gilmar Gully which was soft big bumps and great fun to drop the fall line in almost slow motion. Lunch.

After lunch I went back up the New Side only to find that Currie Bowl was closed  as was the Zig Zag so all we had off the White Pass chair was the Highline/Heartland guts and these were pretty mushy. At this point I did something that I rarely do and which in the past has cost me dear - I used my brain. This time it paid out big time. I reasoned that if the north facing Cedar Ridge on the Old Side had been ugly boiler plate in the morning and that the sun would not have had a direct effect on it but the atmospheric warming would then it could be pretty good skiing.

I went to Old Side via Deep Sea and other runs that I never do which were surprisingly good mush on a groomed surface. When I got to the top of Bear on the Old Side I put my theory to the test and found (more to my amazement than anyone else's) that I had got it spot on. Cedar Ridge (in any one of it's one hundred or so incantations)  was firm underneath but taking a soft edge on the top. To be fair it was bit variable in places but light years ahead of anything else I had experienced on the hill.

It was so good that I loope the ridge 4 times, each time getting to Boom Chair via the traverse (Lynda says it's the Monkey Trail) into the bottom section of Lynda's which was a bit scratchy but the run itself was almost corn snow. I just managed to get the last Boom Chair up and then after that it was just a few beers in the Griz.

In anticipation of tomorrow's Hot Dog Day (retro) signs have appeared on the hill saying that drinking alcohol while skiing is not allowed. I would just make three points on this -
1) A great let off for the boarders who seem to be allowed to do whatever they want from the wording of this sign.
2) A very good rule anyway, you might spill some alcohol if you try and drink it while you are skiing. I am sure we will wait until we are on the lifts or just standing around.
3) There are a group of people breaking this rule who I am prepared to offer up to security who distribute alcohol to anyone on the hill who wants it, they are the serving staff of the Lost Boys Cafe - I am sure security will be dealing with them (at $6.50 a pint) tomorrow - not.

Have great Hot Dog Day.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Day 114 yet another bluebird day

I have to say first of all that this is no April Fools Day gag and yes, we had yet another bluebird day breaking some kind of record for sunny skiing in Fernie. Over night temps were only -1 and again things got hot fast in the direct sunlight. By mid afternoon I noticed it was + 10 at the Polat load and that was in the shade. On the way back from the hill it was +17 and against this background I am amazed to see that the base is still holding at just above 250 cms.

The effect on the hill was just as before, in the morning significant area were closed due to ugly icey conditions. During the day some areas were open but as the day wore on even more significant areas were closed due to the snow becoming isothermic - the snow temp below the surface rising to zero all the way to the base so that the snow structure had no integrety to support skier traffic or hold itself together.

We went to the Old Side a poked around the Bear, Arrow and in fact all of Lizard bowl across to Dancer. Arrow hadn't been groomed so acted as good indicator as to when the rest of the hill would become skiable. It took about half a dozen runs in increasing mush before we became adventurous.

I decided to drop the chutes off the top of Bear into Alpine Way to test north facing slopes and found it as hard and ugly as I could have possibly imagined it.We diverted into Cruiser which was soft and groomed and then into Cedar Centre which was by no means so soft and certainly not groomed but ok challenging skiing. Kangaroo remained closed so the best route to Boom load was through Lower Linda's.

Boom and Boom Ridge were closed but looking in we felt that they had to be opened soon. After one abortive run down North Ridge that was still pretty hard they dropped the signs on Boom Ridge and we had three loops down it, first a little firm, second just perfect bumps and third starting to get to soft. The bumps were getting pretty rutted and coming at you at irregular intervals but I guess that's skiing.

It was time to go to the New Side so we did. Getting to Polar Peak we found that everything except Polar Coaster was closed due to the isothermic conditions. We looped the Coaster 3 times taking different lines left or right where we could and it was getting mushy and bumpy even then. The route to base for lunch was Currie Powder as the County Line was closed and it skied as soft bumped up snow on a firm base. Best part was Gilmar Gully which had become steep soft bumps and was great fall line bumps skiing.

After Lunch it was just a replay, we were up Polar for 3 Coasters and then the Currie Powder Gilmar Gully bumps which were all just as before. The rest of the afternoon was spent looping Polar Coaster in a light fleece, thin gloves and all in all rather less than I would wear on a typical summers day back in the UK. Final run was Currie Powder and Gilmar Gully where the bumps had got even bigger and softer and as result much more fun to ski fall line.

After a couple of beers I headed off the Ski Base to bindings put on my new Shoguns which I bought there in September. I have no intention of using the skis with the rocks starting to poke through but with bindings 30% off now is the time to have them mounted up. Still more sun in the forecast for tomorrow- now I am getting used to it this spring routine is not as bad as I thought it was a couple of days ago but still nowhere near what real skiing should be like.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Day 113 seven sunny days

Well, some of you my remember that 7 sunny days was the title of a Matchstick snow porn DVD a few years back. Of course in that they spent all winter to get 7 sunny days one at a time in which to film some awesome skiing. We have just had 7 sunny days straight off which is more than anyone on the ski hill can remember us getting in a row during the ski season. Unfortunately the result is not awesome skiing but the whole hill going to mush and most of it having to be closed down by afternoon.

This morning it was only -1 on the way to the hill and in direct sunlight Bear was already very soft when we arrived. We ripped around The Old Side trying Bear, Arrow and Dancer several times and found that only Dancer was staying firm at it lay in part away from the sun.

Skiing was going to be very limited as we were booked in at Lizard Creek Lodge for their awesome Easter brunch at 11. We took a trip down North Ridge only to find that it was hard and icey as expected but all the runs that might have softened early (Boom, Boom Ridge, Linda's and Kangaroo) were closed presumably for conditions. We cut back to Bear and had one more loop across the Lizard runs as far as Dancer and then it was time for Brunch.

I have to say that the all you could eat buffet at Lizard Creek was just awesome with some of the biggest crab legs I have ever seen. As we were pacing ourselves beers appeared and what with one thing and another it was gone 2 before we got back to skiing.

Being bloated and having drunk beer we had decided just to take one run down the Elk and then home but it was so nice in the sun that we went to the top of Bear and found that things weren't much slushier than this morning. We tracked around for about an hour enjoying the sun and putting up with the skiing. One good thing was that Boom Ridge had opened and it was soft snow in big bumps and so quite hard and hot work to get down.

It strikes me that the skill in skiing this afternoon elephant snot in direct sunlight (the temp on leaving the hill was +15) is to go fast enough to create a cooling breeze but not so fast that you hve to put in effort and create body heat. The result is that you ski a bit slower than usual and only use minimum effort GS turns if possible - ok I know that's what I do usually to preserve the legs for 9-4 skiing.

We were going to go to the New Side but got to the bottom to find out that White Pass chair had shut down so there was only very limited skiing available on that side from the Timber chair. We knew when we had had enough and the effects of too much food and beer were starting to take their toll. We came home, leaving the hill just after 3.

I really don't know where we are going from here or just how much more of this hot weather the hill can take before the season will be over. If nothing changes in the next two weeks then from the point of view of good skiing the season is already over. There seems to be some mixed precip in the forecast which may go either way, the problem is that it is forecast for Wednesday (Hot Dog Day) which is the one time when we wouldn't mind a sunny day - our old gear wasn't waterproof when new and certainly isn't now. A quiet evening in.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Day 112 a fun day in the snow

You will notice I make no reference to the skiing which was actually pretty poor but to the amount of fun we had today which was just awesome. Yet again it was a bluebird day (the longest run of bluebird days I can remember) and temps on the way to the hill were only -2. Everything warmed up fast on the south facing slopes and by the end of the day became so mushy that a significant part of the hill had to be close due to snow instability. Significantly on the way back from the hill I noticed that the temps on the car thermometer were 14/15 degrees.

We went to the Old Side and found that Bear was starting to get soft straight out of the gate at 9. We tried SunnySide shoulder and were probably one run too early as it was refrozen crud. China Wall was soft and easy skiing. We looped out into Cedar and found that Cruiser hadn't been groomed and was still very ribby but by lower Cedar Centre it was starting to get soft. I had intended to try Kangaroo but it was closed - can you believe that ?

Our final attempt to find something good on the Old Side was down Boom Ridge which was a mixture of slush and refrozen crud and very difficult to get a handle on. We decided to abandon the Old Side in favour of the New and ran out down Boomerang which was very much like Boom Ridge although maybe more going to slush in the sun.

On the New Side we found things getting very slushy and closures starting even in the morning. By the time we got there we had already lost Lift Line, Big Bang, Sib Ridge, Knot Chutes and the I bowl. We had runs off Polar Peak in the chutes through Grand Pappa Bear, Barely Legal and Pappa Bear a few times over which were all slushy big bumps before running to base. For an early lunch.

The reason for the early lunch was that today was the Cardboard Derby. This is where competitors have to build down hill racers out of  cardboard and duck tape and race them down the hill to a target near the base. It was great fun with some incredible machines that must have taken hours to build and some that were no more than a cardboard box. As usual there were spills, wrecks, laughs and fun for everyone.

We headed up the New Side only to find that the continued softening had cause Patrol to close the chutes off Polar and the Reverse Traverse so that the only way down from that side of Currie Bowl was the Polar Coaster (or the Crusty Chute) and then Currie Powder and then the Gilmar Gully all of which were very soft and mushy. We looped this twice and then it was time to become world record holders.

Straight up - this afternoon, just before 4 o'clock mountain time Lynda and myself and 552 other people set a new world record which was overseen and confirmed by the Guiness Book of Records. The record was for the most people drinking a shot from the longest shot ski in the world. They had put 120 skis together joined end to end and stuck 554 shot glasses too what was then about a 600 ft long ski. The glasses were filled with Jagermeister and on the given signal we all took a shot simultaniously by tipping up the 600ft ski. As I said it was officially a world record and we were all joint holders.

After that it was time for beers to celebrate a great fun day where the skiing was either scratchy or slushy but we had fun despite the skiing rather than because of it. Tomorrow may not be much better in terms of conditions. It may also be a short or non existent report as we are booked in at 11 for the legendary Lizard Creek Brunch which will only give us two hours skiing before (and if I am any judge of these brunches) none afterwards - let's see, it's only two days a year that I ditch skiing for eating at lunch time, the other being Christmas.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Day 111 why I am not all that keen on spring skiing

Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying that I don't like spring skiing ( it is after all skiing) all I am saying is that there are a number of reasons why it is my least favourite of conditions and today proved just why.

Up until yesterday we had classic spring condidtions where the south facing slopes softened during the day and refroze over night whilst the north facing slopes remained crisp winter skiing. This meant that you could ski the north facing slopes at any time of the day and have good sking whilst on the south facing you had to wait until around late morning before they softened and became ok. Yesterday we had atmospheric warming which meant that everything irrespective of aspect melted during the day and then refroze over night. The result was that the north facing slopes were ugly boiler plate and remained so until very late in the day when they may have softened but posssibly not at all and the south facing slopes turned to mush so fast in the morning there wasn't much chance of getting anything but boot deep slush at any time.

It was -1 at the start with no new snow and the base reduced to about 292cms. We went to the Old \side and finding Bear melting from the opening bell we tried the Sunny Side shoulder and were amazed to find that too was soft and was giving us spring skiing that early in the day. We looped Lizard to Dancer to try the North facing stuff in Lower Easter and found it boiler plate. This set the trend for most of the day where the skiing was either mush or boiler plate with not much in between.

Boom Ridge proved to be going mushy in soft bumps but Cedar Ridge next time round was hard, icey and very scratchy. Amazingly Kangaroo skied ok as long as you took the left side in the sun - I would imagine later in the day it was something of a waterfall. Boom Ridge was getting very heavy and Cedar Ridge remaining ugly and hard with Kangaroo the only redeeeming feature for a couple more laps. We headed to the New Side down a very slushy Boomerang Guts. The effect of all this variable skiing was to slow down significantly the amount of snow we could put under our skis.

We had three loops up Polar Peak in Barely Legal, Grand Pappa and Pappa Bear which were all getting very slushy before heading to base through High Saddle and Easter which were hard and ugly. Next time from Timber I dropped Lift Line which was very icey and bumpy. We had a couple more loops on Polar ( Barely Legal and Pappa Bear) which were as before and then headed own to lunch. My drop through Stag Leap stands out as the worst run of the day with some turns ending in deep elephant snot which almost stopped you while others ended on ice where you skis tried to fly out from under you and there was no obvious way of working out which was which. Lunch.

After lunch I did a few loops in Polar which were as they had been in the morning. I tried another drop through High Saddle which was not only mushy by now but poor light - this could be the end of a beautiful friendship. Lift Line had been closed to stop people getting across into Mars but I cut in under the last sign and shouldn't have bothered. It was just as hard and icey and ugly as it had been before lunch despite most of the rest of the hill turning to slush.

This time up Polar Peak there was some cloud cover (did I mention it was yet another bluebird day) and with the afternoon wearing on the chutes were stating to set up which actually gave a rather better skiing surface. After a couple of loops I realised that time was getting on so I hit Pappa Bear, Currie Powder and Gilmar Gully non stop from top to bottom - pretty knackering after the sort of day we had experienced. Actually as a lot of this was on stuff that had been groomed at some time to give a firm base it skied pretty well as the surface reformed in the cooling air.

Last loop was out to Skydive and we had no idea what to expect. Actually it was rather hard in the top section but from mid mountain with soft snow reforming on a firm base starting to take an edge it was much better than expected. Loads of beer with buddies who were on stat hols for Good Friday and now an early night as the legs took a real beating today. In a nutshell we either had mush or ice and not much in between and that's why I am no great fan of spring skiing.

Day 110 hot but different

Tonight's report may be a bit shorter or at least rather more disjointed than usual due to the Ski Patrol appreciation evening which involved getting unbelievably drunk with some ski patrol buddies. As they will all be too drunk to read this I will just go on record to say that they are the most awesome bunch of guys (gender non specific statement) who could ever look after a ski hill. They do the most professional job I have ever seen and remember I have seen a lot of ski hills in my time. Best of all they do it with good humour and a smile on their face while being prepared to risk their lives at any time to save yours - respect.

Today got warmer but in a different way. Over the past few days it has frozen at night, got warm in the sun but stayed ok on the north facing slopes, in fact what most of us would call normal spring skiing. Today it didn't really get cold overnight and was only -1 on the way to the hill. The conditions were mixed cloud cover so the warming didn't come from direct sunlight. ; instead it came from atmospheric warming which meant that for the first time this year surfaces softened irrespective of their aspect so that (for example) the bumps on top of Skydive which never really get the sun got quite soft. Later in the afternoon  the sun came out really quite hot and we were back to spring skiing.

We went to the Old Side and looped Cedar Ridge (firm but taking and edge) Kangaroo ( nice firm bumps but don't tell anyone in the Fernie locker room as they won't believe you despite not having skied the run themselves) and Boom Ridge which was ok but skiing a bit tougher than yesterday. We then went to the New Side and had High Saddle which was ok but work on the S5s (see later remarks) and then Easter which was ok with the bumps firm under the soft surface skiing pretty mellow. We had a last run to base through Decline which just felt a bit chunky and uneven compared with yesterday but I guess ok.

Of course all this was a bit subjective as my good skis (Shoguns) were in for repair so I was on my old S5s for the morning. It's amazing that when I went on to the Shoguns just over a year ago I didn't feel that I changed the way I skied just because the had 300m of rocker in the tip. Going back I found I had got used to just lifting the tips to direct the skies and having the S5s with no rocker and where you have to bring the tails round to redirect the skis was much more work and no where near so much fun. Worth noting that the problem with Shoguns was where the Salomon logo cut into the base had started to deliminate and had to be stuck down - stop trying to be so clever guys and just make us plain bases to ski on.

After lunch I got my Shoguns back from repair and can't remember feel such a release since my first divorce - they were light quick turning and even had some new edges and a bit of wax to help with the warm slush we were skiing on. I went to the New Side to play on the Polar Chutes.

I had runs down Barely Legal, Grand Pappa Bear and Pappa Bear all of which were super slushy on big bumps before heading out to Stag Leap which was in surprisingly good condition and was maybe the run of the day, even low down it wasn't too bad. It wasn't hard to work out that the only slightly wintery conditions were up Polar Peak so that's where I spent the rest of the afternoon. I lost count of the various runs but it was the usual suspects from the morning several times over plus a new variation by starting from Shale Slope and cutting left into Grand Pappa Bear through the rock bands. This took us almost up to final bell.

I took a last drop through High Saddle and found two boards and a skier in there kind of hung up. They let me through but to be quite honest it's tight enough in that cute without having three stiffs to negotiate on the way down - ah well, you do what you have to do and it was an ok run down below the chute and Easter bowl was still skiing firm but ok.

Skyidive at the end was ok but for the first time in many weeks I was there alone. Of course alone or not I hit it top to bottom with no break - well, there is such a thing as pride. I skipped the Griz tonight becuse of the Patroller party and the way I feel at the moment that is probably no bad thing. I will be interested to see how tomorrow starts given that almost all the hill softened today - that having been said valley temps aren't forecast to get below zero tonight so who knows.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Day 109 just getting hotter

As forecast the ongoing warming trend has continued. Today we had another bluebird day which started at -6 which was way warmer than the -12 starting temps of earlier in the week. During the day temps tended to stay cool for most of the morning but began to spiral around lunch time so that the temp at the Polar Peak load mid afternoon happened to be around +6 with things much warmer in the direct sunlight. Even driving away from the hill tonight we noticed it was +10 down town.

The overall effect was that snow stayed pretty crisp during the morning but once the sun got hold everything south facing became very mushy indeed - even the Polar Chutes. By the end of the day the stuff that was in shadow or no longer had the direct sun was starting to set up to some pretty ugly refrozen crud.

Lynda decided to take the day off so I headed over to the Old Side to see what I could find. Without the sensible advice of Lynda I decided to try the Sunny Side shoulder on the basis that maybe the early sun had softened it. I was wrong big time and it was ugly hard refrozen horse's heads all across the face - in a nut shell I got there about 2 hours too early.

After that I took 4 loops which comprised Cedar Ridge starting at Bear Chair Top and ending at King Fir, Kanagroo as a return to base and then a loop on Boom Ridge back to boom chair between each Cedar Ridge drop just to ring the changes. Cedar Ridge was north facing and as such all the runs were on firm crisp snow which took a nice edge but which was well skied in. Kangaroo was good all four times with the upper section having some soft on the top of the bumps which it paid to ski - just about as good as Kangaroo ever gets. Boom Ridge might just have been the run of the day as it was firm but taking a nice edge and with quite big bumps that allowed for some very nice bump skiing with the bumps doing the hard work for you. Four loops of that and it was time for lunch.

Over lunch I took a gamble and got rid of my jacket and put on a light fleece instead. I also ditched my gloves in favour of some light inners and of course had already left off my thermals in favour of a pair of boxers but that is probably too much information. At first I thought I had made the wrong decision as things struck quite fresh but not long into the afternoon I realised that things were getting very warm and I had made a good call.

I went to the New Side and straight up Polar for a Barely Legal and then Pappa Bear loop in the chutes. The chutes were much softer than I thought they would be with a sliding surface of mush on a none too firm base. It really felt like the skis might slither out at any time. Route to base was High Saddle And Easter Bowl and even though the saddle was a little more scraped out it still skied ok as did Easter bowl.

Next time up Polar we did a Grand Pappa Bear, Crusty the clown and Bill's chute into Mamma Bear. Just like before they were getting very soft and I dread to think how they will set up tonight. The route to base this time was through Stag Leap which of course had softened but actually was in much better shape than I thought it woud be. The high skier traffic through the lower section had actually created some nice firm bumps.

I got to the top of White Pass with not much time to spare so I dropped 1-2-3s which isn't something I often do. The snow was in ok shape as it is north facing but it was very tracked up and disturbed with traverse lines which made skiing challenging. The snow was also rather chunky which just added to the problems. The Gilmar Gully was probably some of the best skiing with the high skier traffic having pounded in the snow and the bumps coming at you at pretty regular intervals.

We just got to Skydive in time and had the usual rip. Like yesterday there were bumps in the top and the mid section was more bumpy thaqn before and the snow seemed to had a reset feel to it. The bottom section was just tough and scratchy to the point that you had to slow down and take a fairly cautious line. Of course we dropped it in one.

Another night of a fews beers on the locals deck in the sun. Remember the appreciation party for Groomers and Patrollers tomorrow night at the Corner Pocket at 6 o'clock.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Day 108 spring has sprung

After yesterday's adventure we decided to have a rather more mellow day today, at least as far as the skiing goes. This didn't stop us having a pretty good deck party after skiing finished today on the locals deck and another party tonight down at the Northern where they were doing their awesome offer of a burger and a beer for 10 bucks.

With all that partying this report is late and it could end up quite short. It was -9 on the deck this morning and it was another bluebird day all day so that temps got up as the day went on. By the end of the day everything south facing had turned to mush and even up in the Polar Chutes we were starting to see some softening for the first time this year.

We went to the Old Side and did four loops along Cedar Ridge starting at the Bear Top and ending at King Fir. All along it was firm north facing skiing on compacted snow. Two of the loops were completed through Spice Trees which still had some soft untracked snow against all odds and all four were through Kangaroo which skied ok on hard icey bumps with some soft on top. We also had one drop through Boom Ridge which was also firm but taking an edge.

We went to the New Side only to find that the Timber Chair was down so we had an early lunch just to kill time. After lunch Timber Chair was running again so we went to the New Side for the afteroon.

Polar Peak was in good shape with a great 360 degree view from the top and as clear as I can ever remember seeing it. We dropped Barely Legal and Pappa Bear which were both firm bumps taking an edge before trying High Saddle (still in good condition particularly the fields below) and Easter Bowl - firm but easy bumps.

Back up Polar and we took Grand Pappa Bear and Mamma Bear which were showing signs of softening on the far (south facing) sides for the first time this season in the spring sunlight. We ran to base through Skydive which was ok bumps in the top and soft snow in the warm conditions from the mid point down.

Next Polar loop was Baby Bear  (getting soft) and Decline (ok skiing as it faces away fom the sun) before a final loop of Spirit Bear which was interesting because where the snow was dark from blasting it was about 10 times softer than where it was unaffected - interesting. The run to base was through Stag Leap which was in good condition on the right where it had remained in the shade but was getting crunchy and setup on the left where it had melted and was now refreezing.

We had time for a couple of speed runs through White Pass at the end of the day to kill time which confirmed that things were beginning to set up. Last run was Skydive which was bumps in the top as before but getting very crunchy and scratchy lower down as the surface set up towards the end of day - we still ripped it in one.

Loads of booze on the deck and at the Northern and some trepidation as to what tomorrow might hold on any even slightly south facing surfaces until they warm up and begin to soften again - real spring skiing in way.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Day 107 my biggest day ever

I'm sorry but today was not about the hill and what it was like but was about me and what I skied, if that causes anyone a problem then now is the time to exit the site. In summary today was 8 Polar Peaks through the chutes, 2 Currie Head Walls through different chutes and 3 High Saddles. Any one of these in the past would have justified the title "a big day" but when you put them together I am sure they justify the title of the biggest days skiing I have ever had. Let us try and put all of this in context.

It was cold again overnight with deck temps this morning of -12 and still -10 when we got to the hill. It was the first pure bluebird day we have had for sometime (although the forecasters say not the last) so temps rose steadily all day in the warm sunny conditions. By late morning it was +4 at the base, zero at the White Pass load and -5 at the Polar Peak load. By early afternoon the temps were +7, +2 and zero respectively and after that I just gave up counting. The result was that anything south facing got soft fast if it was low down and even high up it was getting a bit mellow by late afternoon. North facing remained crisp and taking a nice edge all day.

We had decided on a New Side day just because we had and went up to White Pass feeling rather lethargic for reasons I don't fully understand. We had quick trip back down through the Gun Bowl and Highline Trees which seemed to get things in place and headed for Polar Peak. The view from the top was just stunning in the bluebird conditions and we looped Barely Legal and Pappa Bear which were both firm bumps taking and edge before going out to try High Saddle. I think the sign in the top of High Saddle warning of marginal conditions and saying that the skiing wasn't recommended was a great help - it kept poeple out and preserved the chute in very good soft snow conditions. Route to base under the saddle was soft if chunky powder and Easter bowl was getting to be soft bumps but very mellow.

Next loop was just Mamma Bear off Polar and then Stag Leap which was skiing remarkably soft although with some hard underlying bumps. Next Polar expedition was a return trip through Grand Pappa Bear to the load which was as everywhere hard and chunky bumps and then Baby Bear which was much the same followed by the usual drop through High Saddle and Easter which were much as before but with some sign of boards having side slipped the Saddled - a hanging offence in my view.

Before lunch we just had time for a quick loop through Easter which was still firm but taking and edge. I cut right into Spinal Tap which was tracked up through the higher chute but ok - lower down it was all a bit scratchy in the creek bed and actually pretty hard work. Lunch.

After lunch it was back up Polar Peak for some practice on Barely Legal which was still skiing ok on a hard base. Next time up I worked my way over to the Clown Chutes to get a good look at the Head Wall. Luckily (?) my buddy Rob appeared along with my other buddy Randy and they had both just skied the Head Wall. We hiked up to the Wimp Chutes and dropped in. It was super steep in the top and a bit icey (you really have to see it to understand just how steep it is) but then nice ordinary steep skiing through the rest of the chute.

Next time to the Head Wall we hiked on to Up Right chute on the grounds that Randy said is was more mellow than Wimp Chutes. I can only wish I had a bottle of what Randy was on as it was a tight slide over a cliff drop before having two tight icey turns in a very gnarly chute just to get started. After that it opened up into some nice deep powder skiing for the rest of the way.

After that I went up Polar and had a Pappa Bear/High Saddle/Easter drop which actually seemed like a bunny run after the Head Wall and was just as good as it had been in the morning. I just had time for a quick White Pass loop through the Gun Bowl and Highline Trees (still seeming so easy) before heading out to Skydive for the last run. Skydive was bumpy in the top and quite hard but softened in the mid section before becoming a little scratchy at the end. I skied it in one although my legs were pretty shot from the Head Wall ridge hiking but it was a bit slower than usual.

After a day like today it was a huge beer evening on the locals deck as the sun went down - a perfect day. Just a reminder of the Patrol and Groomer appreciation evening on Thursday at the Corner Pocket at 6. It should be great evening (it usually is) and it is also a good way of showing appreciation to the staff that make our skiing safe or even possible - go if you can, no excuses.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day 106 sounds boring but yet another good day

It isn't my fault that nothing much is happening with conditions on the hill and what we are seeing is a slow work through of the results of a big storm cycle. The days are mostly bluebird but with some cloud cover that protects the snow at vital times and as a result things don't change a huge amount from day to day. Lucky for us the underlying conditions that are being preserved are rather good, not awesome, not fantastic or any of the other superlatives but rather good for Fernie which may be regarded in higher terms in other places where the bar is set lower.

Overnight temps again dropped to -12 which dried out the snow and left us with firm but responsive snow in most places but of course ugly crust where we had seen sun affect melting taking place - mostly on very south facing slopes such a Knot Chutes, Concussion, Snake Ridge and to some extent Steep and Deep. The weather was bluebird for a time when we had some quite long periods of clear sky snow. This occurs when moist warm air crashes into a cold air mass so fast that the moisture doesn't have time to form visible moisture (clouds) but just falls as snow. The effect is for snow to fall out of a clear blue ski in sunshine which is so cool - it only happens in fairly cold temps.

Around the middle of the day the clouds socked in particularly on the New Side around Polar Peak so that the temps stayed down and the snow was not sun affected at the warmest part of the day. In the afternoon things cleared and it warmed up all over the hill but I guess it was only just above plus temps at the base and well below from mid mountain and above.

We went to the Old Side and concluded that it wasn't worth hitting out all the way across Cedar Bowl towards Redtree on the grounds that it would be hard work and the skiing wouldn't be any better than the nearer stuff off Cedar Ridge. Later there proved to be a further bonus to this decision as we heard that a moose was loose on Redtree road trapping skiers and being a bit of a problem. Moosey would do well to remember what happened last year to the moose that attacked people out there - the environmental officer was called in to deal with it and it was delicious.

We worked our way slowly along Cedar Ridge with four drops that started with the chutes right at the top of  Bear and finishing at King Fir. The skiing on the north facing slopes was soft on top with some hoar frost covering taking an easy edge on the soft slightly bumped surface underneath. Each return was through Kangaroo which was icey bumps but skiing ok for icey bumps. Somewhere in there we took a quick trip down Boom Ridge which skied a lot softer than I expected even between the soft bumps. It was time for the New Side.

We went up Polar and found it was as white as I have ever seen it (or rather not seen it) in some very flat light. We had just one trip down Pappa Bear which was firm bumps with a little soft on top. Just like yesterday I took the route to base via High Saddle and Easter bowl and just like yesterday I found High Saddle skiing ok after the first icey turn and good soft snow underneath. Easter was some pretty ok soft bumps. Next time round the light had improved so I dropped Polar through Barely Legal which was firm but still full of snow and then ripped Stag Leap which was remarkably soft considering how long ago the fresh snow had come. Lunch.

After lunch I went back up Polar Peak and spent most of the afternoon playing in the chutes (Barely Legal, Grand Pappa, Pappa, the Clown chutes several times over) which were all tracked and firm and of course pretty steep. My main objective had been to find a buddy to take out to the Currie Headwall but no one wanted to play ball and I just don't feel happy about heading out there myself - this is my next objective - to get as comfortable with the headwall as I am with the things I used to be uncomfortable with eg the Saddles which I now think of as bunny runs.

I looped to base via High Saddle and Easter which as in the morning were great skiing in soft tracked snow. I just had time for a quick loop off White Pass and missed Polar Chair by about 30 seconds. I cut into 1-2-3s about half way up 2 for some good soft north facing skiing. The exit via Bootleg Glades and Gilmar Gully were nice mellow tracked skiing.

And so we came to Skydive for the final rip and it was bumpy in the top, mellow in the middle and bit scratchy low down, in fact exactly what you would expect on a day like this. The Griz bar was much quieter tonight and I don't know if it was in response to my comments last night but Kokanee was on offer at $4.75 a pint which is much better than the usual $6.25 to my mind.

Tomorrow is another day.