Saturday, March 23, 2013

Day 105 another great day, in a slightly different way

Over the past two days we have had had great days skiing because of awesome new powder. Today we had no new powder but still had a great day due to the bluebird conditions, some new openings and the great shape that the snow stayed in for the most part.

We had no new snow overnight although the boards were claiming 5 cms in the last 24 hours and a base of 325 cms. It did get cold and was -12 on my deck as we headed off for the hill. The forecast was for a bluebird day which was sort of how it turned out - it was bluebird to start but clouded over around late morning which was good as it preserved the snow from the worst effcts of the sun although things did start to set up. After that it was back to bluebird for late afternoon softening the south facing slopes again in the direct sunlight and of course followed by the inevitable set up towards the end of the day as the sun got lower. As we drove away from the hill even though it was still bluebird the car thermometer showed only +1.

Had you just skied all over the hill you would have got some very varied conditions but as it was we used our heads and as a result had some very good skiing with one or two exceptions. As I predicted a combination of new snow, sunshine and the hill putting on a retro weekend gave us what might well have been the busiest day of the year. That having been said, again if you used your head, you could mitigate the worst effects of the crowds.

We went to the New Side to check things out and found they were still working on Polar Peak and as a result only the low traverse on the far side of Currie Bowl was open. We looped White Pass through the Knot Chutes and Surprise Trees and found that the cold had dried the snow to a soft fluffy texture and a hoar frost gave it a nice surface. As you would expect at cold temps all the sights of high mountain cold skiing were there to be seen - sun dogs, angel dust etc. As I have said before I feel so sorry for people who never come to the mountains and see these sights of nature which are 100 times more awesome than any man made light show could ever be.

Next time up White Pass it was apparent that Polar wasn't going to open soon so we took the low traverse to Easter Bowl (nice soft snow in the trees on the right) and went to the Bear Chair. Snake Ridge area had opened so we hit out and did two loops of Gorby/Steep and Deep (still plenty of untracked lines and deep having been closed for 3 days) Kangaroo (bumpy and hard but skiing as mellow as it ever does) and Boom guts which were tracked soft powder and skiing well. I was amazed how sun affected Steep and Deep had become low down in the direct sun light even though we were only just past mid morning, it was getting very chunky - I guess it's a sign of spring being on the way.

We headed back to the New Side and found Polar Peak had just opened but the line to Polar chair was so long my guess is that it would be 15 minutes to get to the front of the line. We went out on the Reverse Traverse and looked into Corner Pocket and found the tires (tyres to you UK readers) exposed already which must be something of a record. With no great hope I looked in to High Saddle and was amazed to see that it was soft bumps (ok some quite big drop offs) and an easy ski - well, as easy a double black diamond chutes ever get. We had a great drop through the chutes followed by super deep and soft powder which had been untouched for 3 days all the way down the the cat track into Easter.We cut into Easter Bowl (this time trees on the left) and found soft if tracked snow all the way down - the only downside was that Freeway had been groomed, why do they do things like that?

Next time we discovered a singles line on the Polar Chair and skied the chutes twice - Barely Legal now so deep that he exit chutes aren't chutes any more they are just an open snow field. Mamma Bear which was still deep soft snow even if you did have to avoid some blast debris. Route to base was High Saddle and Easter again which were just as good as before. Last loop before a very late lunch to avoid the crowds was Grand Pappa Bear and then Baby Bear off Polar which were tracked but still deep hero snow. Route to base (you guessed) High Saddle and Easter still as good as ever - Lynda remarked that it was the first time she had ever skied High Saddle 3 times in a morning.

After lunch there was very little time but it was back up Polar for a Barely Legal followed by Pappa Bear all the way to the traverse and the skiing remaind good but getting a little chunky and sun affected in the last two turns. Route to base was (all together) High Saddle and Easter with the saddle just getting a little scratchy in the first turn and the drops between bumps getting quite big but to my mind still easy mellow skiing. The snow under the saddles still had deep untracked lines if you were prepared to poke about a bit - it says something about the day when the run of the day is High Saddle and it is still very good after 4 loops.

At the end of the day I tried a repeat of the starter run of Knot Chutes and Surprise Trees and found that they had melted, got chopped up and refrozen - it was whole different experience and not one for the faint hearted. Last run of course was Skydive which was in great shape with the bumps at the top just starting to reform but everything else below soft, un sun affected and very nice skiing. We ripped it in one for a great end to a good day.

Of course with the crowds the chance of any enjoyable apres was zero. They were serving beer in the plazza but there was a big line up for it. As for getting in the Griz, the line was to the bottom of the stairs and I would guess it was a 30 minute wait. I thought to myself "wait half an hour to pay $6.25 a pint for beer - not in this lifetime". Plenty of chance to drink with buddies after skiing tomorrow when things get a bit more sensible - wonder what tomorrow will hold ?

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