Saturday, February 16, 2013

Day 78 Alberta Family Weekend

Normally this weekend with the provincial holiday in Alberta on Monday is one of the busiest days of the year. Whether it is the lack of new snow (1 cm in the last 7 days) or the premium pricing on everything from beers in the Griz bar to lift tickets (including burgers in the day lodge) but today wasn't much busier than a normal Saturday.

As I said no new snow and the conditions are getting decidely ribby and bumpy all over the hill. On the way to the hill today it was about zero at the base but got up to +4 during the day and even up at White Pass we were struggling to see minus temps. The top of White Pass was totally socked in which meant that Polar Peak was never going to happen, perhaps no bad thing given holiday crowds and hard pack skiing in the chutes.

During the day we had snow/ice pellets off and on but by lunch time the precip at the base was rain for sure and the only good snow still falling was above about half mountain height. As we left the hill tonight temps we getting down to +2 and the snow line was getting pretty near to the base. With a possible 20 cms of snow forecast in this cycle we have to hope that the diurnal cooling effect does it's stuff.

We went to the Old Side in the knowledge that today would be crowded with lifts being slowed for families so that the actual amount of snow you could put under your skis would be a lot less than on a weekday - we were right. After a quick loosener down Sunny Side shoulder which was firm but taking an edge we hit out to the fence by Fish Bowl and dropped Gorby Bowl which was also firm but taking an edge.

Next loop out we went for Snake main which had some good sift and KC chutes which still had lots of soft blow in all the way through the main chute. On both loops the return was via Kangaroo (good hard icey bump skiing) and Boomerang - pretty flat and taking an edge on firm snow. As Haul Back had a few people around it we went to the New Side to get away from the crowds.

On the New Side we found White Pass totally socked in and it remained so all day. We ran to the base via Gun bowl (so white you couldn't see anything) Anaconda Glades (lovely crisp skiing in the second chute) Bootleg Glades (big death cookies pushed of the cat track by the groomers but after that ok) and then some nice skiing in Gilmar Gully.

We then looped Skydive which was great skiing from the bumps in the top to the flatter stuff lower down. Last loop before lunch I hit Cougar Glades as hard to the left as I could without actually getting into Stag Leap and amazingly still found some fresh lines. I took the lower exit all the way down through the trees and then decided to drop off the disused cat track that cuts into Stag. This was a mixed decision as the first few turns in the top were deep and untracked but pretty soon it became alder city. Still nothing that couldn't be handled by some good old early season bush whacking and then it was time for lunch.

Over lunch the rain started in earnest at the base so I made the decision to go high and stay high for the afternoon. I spent all afternoon working my way through a zero viz Gun Bowl (very tricky skiing) and then hitting the face between Surprise Trees and Triple Trees all the way down to Trespass Trail. With the new snow puking down and no one around it was great (almost) powder skiing all afternoon in varied and sometimes steep tree terrain with the plus that I stayed dry by not running to base.

Last run was Skydive which was skiing bumpy in the top but pretty mellow all the way down. We were joined by a stranger at the top who then seriously kicked my ass in the top to bottom run - ah well, that's how it goes.

It's precipping as a wet snow/rain mix on my deck at the moment so here's hoping it's coming down white up above.

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