Sunday, January 20, 2013

Day 51 trees always win

The reason I am repeating the most popular slogan on Fernie T shirts in today's title is because today I gave living proof that it is true. Late afternoon in Spinal Tap I decided to cut a tight tree line on the edge of the creek bed and made a slight error of judgement. I hit the first tree hard with my left hip, pinballed off the tree and hit the second tree with my right hip - the fact that I made the line I intended as I popped out wasn't a lot of consolation. You can't take trees down like slalom gates and two big grazes and bruises on each hip (even through my ski pants) prove the point. Looks like I will sleeping on my back for a day or two but it shouldn't affect the skiing.

At least I was better off than some of the guys who decided to ski Polar Peak today with the chutes in very slick conditions. Expert only signs don't seem to mean anything to some people. Having seen a skier crash top to bottom of the Peak rolling over a couple of cliff bands one of my buddies asked a patroller friend of ours at the end of the day how was the guy who had the top to bottom fall, the patroller replied "which one". I gather we had five casualties today. I guess some people have to learn the hard way that Fernie may be a quirky little ski hill but it stll has the tougest skiing around when it decides to bite back.

It was bluebird day again which is so rare for January. Temps on the way to the hill were -9 and got up to around -3 during the day before falling back to -5 tonight. Still no new snow and the base is down to 185 cms but some blow in was sifting around during the day as winds increased. The problem was that in the direct sunlight there was a softening of the surface so I guess we could be working with a crust in those area tomorrow.

We went to the New Side and tried Lift Line which showed straight off the bat that it was going to be hard and firm underfoot with any old snow getting very chunky. Quite a lot of what was soft sift yesterday and looked like it should be today turned out the be hard pack that was just about taking and edge.

We looped White Pass a couple of time before heading up Polar Peak. We did two loops of Pappa Bear which had very little soft sift and was very hard pack only just taking an edge. The view from the top was spectacular but we have seen it lots of times and skiing wasn't great so the only thing we were getting was a long fall potential - we moved on and tried -

Concussion - hard base but flat.
Stag Leap - ok through the trees and in the upper sections. Skier traffic has beat the lower crud into submission so even that skied ok.
Easter Bowl - very smooth and flat with the beginning of some wind sift. The exit via Freeway was a big mistake with some super slick ice surfaces to be negotiated.
Currie chutes - not sure exactly which run we skied but it was all smooth and flat if a bit hard.
Anaconda Glades/Bootleg Glades - as with everywhere else it was hard snow but flat becoming bumpy in Bootleg.
Skydive - last run before lunch and the bumps in the top were getting bigger but ok, the mid section was firm but ok free riding and the lower section improving just as per Stag Leap.

Lunch was quite late so the afternoon wasn't that long. I tried Cougar Glades which now need a bit of caution in the tight trees but we ok skiing. I cut left into lower Stag Leap and had a run down there just like the morning. Polar Peak was calling so I went up again and the view was just as spectacular as before. This time in Pappa Bear the wind had started to sift snow in but as I have said, if you missed a turn you weren't going to stop any time soon.

I cut out to Secret Chutes which were firm but ok and then Spinal Tap which was very tough heavy snow in the top and highly tecnical lower down, hence my "incident" with the trees as described above. Timing wasn't quite right so we had a Knot Chutes (firm but ok) and Surprise Trees (surprisingly good) loop off White Pass followed by a rip back more or less under the lift until it was time to head out to Skydive for the final run.

There were three of the regulars plus one new comer ( a female kiwi ski instructor) for the final run but by the first break we were joined by Randy coming in from the Old Side and getting his timing dead right, how lucky is that ? Skydive remained firm most of the way down with the final section just a bit crunchy.

The forecast is calling for snow a boy do we need it. Skiing is ok but there are only so many way you rip round the hill on this firm base looking for wind sift which is getting harder to find all the time.

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