Sunday, February 3, 2013

Day 65 Spring skiing but not really

You see, the way spring skiing works is that all the south facing stuff gets turned to mush in the sun and the then freezes overnight. Next day you ski the North facing slopes which were not sun affaected until the sun starts to soften the south facing slopes which have of course turned to ugly crusty boiler plate in the overnight freeze. As they soften you have a great time until they turn to mush again - any questions so far ?

Yestrday part one was completed with the sun softening the slopes and overnight part two worked out as they froze to ugly crud. Unfortuately today the final phase never came through. Ridge line clouds kept the sun off all the upper mountain surfaces and a strong wind kept temps down. The result was that the south facing slopes stayed pretty ugly all day. This meant we had to keep to the un sun affected faces all day even though it took us a couple of runs to work this out.

Temps at the base at the start were +1 and we anticipated another hot day. In the event it did warm to about +3 at the base but the upper slopes were shaded by ridge line cloud and a with a strong cold wind the snow on the upper mountain did not show any signs of softening all day.

We went to the New Side on the grounds that the higher we went the better the snow potentially would be. We had a White Pass loop through the Gun Bowl and Surprise Trees which confirmed that where the snow had been exposed to the sun it was icey, chunky and ugly.

First proper run we went up Polar Peak (welcome back to Fernie Lynda) and found the chutes rock hard, smooth and with no sift, and to make it worse the light was socked in at the top. One run convinced us that there was no good skiing to be had off the Peak. We dropped Concussion and found that there the sun affected snow was ugly icey and bumpy. The only good news on the run was Gilmar Gully which is now fully open and great skiing although the light was a bit suspect from time to time.

We worked it out for ourselves and did north facing loops -
1-2-3s/Bootleg - not great light but nice firm but un sun affected snow.
Easter Bowl/Freeway - again firm and taking and edge but easy skiing.
Anaconda/Bootleg - just like every where else north facing firm but fun
Stag Leap - a bit of a chance as it is not all that North facing but it turned out ok with firm terrain all the way down and the bottom section nowhwere near as scratchy as I anticipated but a little slick through the trees in the top. Lunch

In the afternoon I went up Polar Peak to see if the blow in had made things better. Whilst the viz had improved the conditions were if anything worse. The chutes were smooth and no real problem but one mistake in those slick conditions and it could well have been your last, not worth going up again. So my loops which again were about staying away from sun affected snow were -
Decline/Window chutes - Decline was really rather nice, just taking an edge. The drop into Window chutes had been skied but a fall line line could be seen through the trees and I had one of my best drops into the chutes of the season. The chute was full of soft snow in remarkably good shape.
Secret Chutes/Spinal Tap - rather as above with some great lines in the trees facing away from the sun. The chute is staying in really good shape.
Cougar Glades/Stag Leap - not great as the glades are just that bit round the shoulder of the hill to make them a bit south facing. Not too bad in the shade but ugly and icey in the open areas. Lower Stag Leap like before was firm but nice.

And so we come to Skydive at the end of the day. Before we come to this I have to give special mention to patrol who have worked on the traverse by the bridge to the point where it is in the best condition I have ever seen it. Great job Annie and Romi.

Skydive was great. It was bumped but they were firm without being hard and came at you at exactly the right intervals for fall line bump skiing. We hit them top to bottom without a break at race speed. After that it had to be beers and to try and understand that peculiar piece of Americana known as Super bowl. Maybe a light dusting tonight.

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