Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Day 46 harsh conditions but good skiing

On the way to the hill today it was about -7 and slowly warmed at the base so by close it was -3 although it probably stayed around -10 on top. The ridge lines were socked in and the wind was so strong that we got reports that White Pass chair was not loading the public.

When we got up the effects of the wind were apparent with closures due to avi risk (Cedar High Traverse and the Saddles) closures due to wind and cold (Polar Peak) and a whole load of sifted wind which ranged from slabby to the most awesome soft wind grooming.

We skied around the Old Side dropping Cedar Ridge four different ways and finding soft snow every time. Boom ridge was nicely filled in but special mention must go to Boom Guts which was smooth wind grooming and could be ripped in high speed GS turns from top to bottom. Linda's, Bear Chutes and Buckshot all had nice blown in snow although a bit crunchy in the lower sections. King Fir was untracked and had some surprisingly deep windsift in among the trees.

Of course Kangaroo was the star and we dropped it 4 times. The windsift had no effect here and the top section was icey bumps with shrubs and alders waiting to catch you between the stumps and rocks. The lower section after a pretty sketchy drop onto the cat track had improved since the other day and the new snow now meant that the breakable rain crust didn't snap every time you landed on it. This is a really challenging pitch and as all the other routes from Haul Back top to Boom bottom are groomers I can't understand why everyone doesn't take this route.

At lunch we heard that the New Side was fully open (except Polar Peak) so off we went for the afternoon. I was amazed how much sifted in snow there was (it had to be sift as there has not been significant snowfall) and in places it was well over the top of your boots. The afternoon played as -

Lift Line - great soft snow renewed every lap with blow in off the ridge line.
Cougar Glades/Stag Leap - the windsift had filled in particularly on skiers left to give untracked lines. Lower Stag Leap was still scratchy but much improved.
The Brain - I couldn't believe how much new snow was in there although I was cuting the stream bed pretty tight to get new lines. The last few turns were a nighmare on crust and we were glad to cut out at the base of Skydive.
Window Chutes/Decline - Decline had hardly been tracked and the trees at the top of Window chutes were deep and untracked. As before the crunch line started just about at the choke but, hey, if it was easy everyone would be in there - the log drop is still big enough to be fun.
Secret Chutes/Spinal Tap - loads of untracked lines to start with and although there had been some traffic in Spinal Tap the snow was heavy enough to hold up well. The crunch line at the bottom as you tried to exit the creek bed was miles of fun.

At the end of the day I took a quick loop on White Pass under the chair and still found plenty of soft snow. Skydive for the last run is getting almost smooth (well less bumpy) in the top and was just soft rolling terrain down to the last pitch where the crunch began. As no one else turned up for the final rip I took it top to bottom without a break just to add a degree of challenge.

So, the wind (with moisture) and light gave for some pretty tough conditions today whilst the blow in windsift provided some very mellow skiing surfaces, a day of contrasts.

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