Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day 106 sounds boring but yet another good day

It isn't my fault that nothing much is happening with conditions on the hill and what we are seeing is a slow work through of the results of a big storm cycle. The days are mostly bluebird but with some cloud cover that protects the snow at vital times and as a result things don't change a huge amount from day to day. Lucky for us the underlying conditions that are being preserved are rather good, not awesome, not fantastic or any of the other superlatives but rather good for Fernie which may be regarded in higher terms in other places where the bar is set lower.

Overnight temps again dropped to -12 which dried out the snow and left us with firm but responsive snow in most places but of course ugly crust where we had seen sun affect melting taking place - mostly on very south facing slopes such a Knot Chutes, Concussion, Snake Ridge and to some extent Steep and Deep. The weather was bluebird for a time when we had some quite long periods of clear sky snow. This occurs when moist warm air crashes into a cold air mass so fast that the moisture doesn't have time to form visible moisture (clouds) but just falls as snow. The effect is for snow to fall out of a clear blue ski in sunshine which is so cool - it only happens in fairly cold temps.

Around the middle of the day the clouds socked in particularly on the New Side around Polar Peak so that the temps stayed down and the snow was not sun affected at the warmest part of the day. In the afternoon things cleared and it warmed up all over the hill but I guess it was only just above plus temps at the base and well below from mid mountain and above.

We went to the Old Side and concluded that it wasn't worth hitting out all the way across Cedar Bowl towards Redtree on the grounds that it would be hard work and the skiing wouldn't be any better than the nearer stuff off Cedar Ridge. Later there proved to be a further bonus to this decision as we heard that a moose was loose on Redtree road trapping skiers and being a bit of a problem. Moosey would do well to remember what happened last year to the moose that attacked people out there - the environmental officer was called in to deal with it and it was delicious.

We worked our way slowly along Cedar Ridge with four drops that started with the chutes right at the top of  Bear and finishing at King Fir. The skiing on the north facing slopes was soft on top with some hoar frost covering taking an easy edge on the soft slightly bumped surface underneath. Each return was through Kangaroo which was icey bumps but skiing ok for icey bumps. Somewhere in there we took a quick trip down Boom Ridge which skied a lot softer than I expected even between the soft bumps. It was time for the New Side.

We went up Polar and found it was as white as I have ever seen it (or rather not seen it) in some very flat light. We had just one trip down Pappa Bear which was firm bumps with a little soft on top. Just like yesterday I took the route to base via High Saddle and Easter bowl and just like yesterday I found High Saddle skiing ok after the first icey turn and good soft snow underneath. Easter was some pretty ok soft bumps. Next time round the light had improved so I dropped Polar through Barely Legal which was firm but still full of snow and then ripped Stag Leap which was remarkably soft considering how long ago the fresh snow had come. Lunch.

After lunch I went back up Polar Peak and spent most of the afternoon playing in the chutes (Barely Legal, Grand Pappa, Pappa, the Clown chutes several times over) which were all tracked and firm and of course pretty steep. My main objective had been to find a buddy to take out to the Currie Headwall but no one wanted to play ball and I just don't feel happy about heading out there myself - this is my next objective - to get as comfortable with the headwall as I am with the things I used to be uncomfortable with eg the Saddles which I now think of as bunny runs.

I looped to base via High Saddle and Easter which as in the morning were great skiing in soft tracked snow. I just had time for a quick loop off White Pass and missed Polar Chair by about 30 seconds. I cut into 1-2-3s about half way up 2 for some good soft north facing skiing. The exit via Bootleg Glades and Gilmar Gully were nice mellow tracked skiing.

And so we came to Skydive for the final rip and it was bumpy in the top, mellow in the middle and bit scratchy low down, in fact exactly what you would expect on a day like this. The Griz bar was much quieter tonight and I don't know if it was in response to my comments last night but Kokanee was on offer at $4.75 a pint which is much better than the usual $6.25 to my mind.

Tomorrow is another day.

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