Friday, January 4, 2013

Day 35 in praise of wind sift

We didn't have an significant snow overnight and temps on the way to the hill were -6 with the top socked in and a little light valley snow falling - no chance of a bluebird inversion today. In fact the reports I got from Polar Peak indicated an 80 klick wind and obviously the chair wasn't running. On the up side this must mean that the chutes that we trashed yesterday will now be filled in with deep soft wind sift and ready for us the next time the Griz allows us to access the Peak.

Wind sift was the feature today starting in the morning with some soft fill in on the bumps. Later in the day it became much more of a feature (Bear Chair was closed for a while due to wind) and in the bar afterwards everyone had great windsift stories to tell no matter where they had been skiing on the hill.

I went to the Old Side for a short morning and had a general poke around on Cedar Ridge (several ways), Boomerang, Boom Ridge, Linda's, Bear Chutes and Buck Shot just to name a few. The wind sift hadn't really started to fill in at that time so the skiing was bumps with a crisp feel taking a nice edge with a little bit of wind blown snow in the dips. I went for an early lunch and headed to the New Side.

We got word that Bear had been closed due to too much wind while the New Side stayed open. This continued a trend we have seen over the past two years where the wind on the Old Side appears much worse than on the New which is a reversal of previous trends. The afternoon passed in ever improving wind sift as -

Cougar Glades/ Stag Leap - the snow in the trees was just filling in and was mostly untracked. After the side step up lower Stag Leap only had a few tracks in and skied very easily all the way to the bottom.
Decline/Window Chutes - the bumps at the top of Skydive/Decline were starting to fill in a bit and Decline itself appeared to be untracked but that could be because of the wind sift. Window chutes were very mellow and soft with the log jumps squashed to almost nothing, well a couple of feet or so.
Lone Fir - a real surprise in that a tree from the cliff above had snapped under the weight of the snow and wind and fallen across the chute half way down - very surprising if you weren't ready for it. I got through (just) by high siding the tree on the left and then had the most awesome soft deep snow down into the avi trees - for some reason people didn't seem to be skiing this line.
Spinal Tap - great soft blow in but still very technical through the dead fall in the lower sections. When I popped out of the trees I found a fallen tree right where I had been standing last time round when I came out of Window Chutes. Very scary.
The Brain - a great result as the wind had shaken tons of snow from the branches of the the trees to form a sort of super heavy "powder" between the trees that behaved in such a way to hold up the skis and make hard fast skiing almost easy although the dead fall was still an issue.
Annaconda/ Bootleg Glades - amazing windsift in the chutes which was a little slabby and grabby but super deep.

The final run down Skydive was of course great fun and the wind had sifted in enough snow to start to make it a soft ride. We did it top to bottom again but I think this might be the last time as I really do prefer to throw down hard for three sections rather than ski controlled all the way.

Snow in the out look getting excitingly close and there is a possibility of a Polar peak opening with wind sift so let's see.

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