Saturday, March 16, 2013

Day 98 and a bit better still

No point in getting carried away, today wasn't awesome or anything like that but did continue an improving trend if you were prepared to used your brain to work out what was happening and you had the energy to take advantage of it - if not you probably would have had a pretty poor day. In particular, considering it was a Saturday the crowds were missing - I hope that was nothing to do with my rather down beat reports of the last few days, but if it was then the truth never hurt anyone.

Overnight not much appeared to have happened and we were relying on the opening of new terrain and the flurries forecast for today to give us the improved skiing. In the event it froze hard overnight so that anything skied yesterday and not groomed over night was ugly and rutted hard ice skiing. Temps were around zero at the base as we started and it was raining. All day we had hard ice pellet flurries which sometimes came all the way to the base and sometimes changed to rain turning back to ice a little way up the hill. The result was to give some ok graupel higher up but some very varied conditions lower down and just plain mush at the base by afternoon.

We went to the New Side as we had reports that the Old Side was pretty ugly which I could well believe. We took a loop back through White Pass which confirmed what we thought which was that the groomers were ok but where stuff had been skied yesterday (and most of what would have been new stuff such as Gun Bowl, Lift Line, Surprise Trees, I bowl, Anaconda, Zig Zag etc. remained closed) it was ugly, rock hard tracked up skiing.

Currie bowl opened with the strong recommendation to stay on the groomers which for obvious reasons we decided to ignore. With everything beyond Currie Powder closed the only "off piste" was Currie Glades which were great. The rain had beaten the surface flatish and with no traffic yesterday or the day before it had frozen hard and smooth but just about taking an edge. The new snow/ice falling on top provided a bit more of a soft skiing surface and the over all effect was ok. Gilmar Gully upper and lower sections to the base were much the same but with some entertaining death cookies pushed in but the groomers from the cat track and getting a bit soft in the last few turns.

We tended to loop the above with variations (Currie Glades provide many different routes down) for most of the morning. Just before lunch I was struck with the idea that the Big 3 would be in much the same state as Currie Glades if we could only get to them. We cut hard left under the last closure sign in Currie (we never poach) and then traversed out to the trees as hard as we could. It was then a case of a side step traverse up through Cougar Glades until we got to Stag Leap. Despite the traverse being horrible breakable crust due to the snow falling off the trees the run was, as anticipated a smooth, undulating firm base taking and edge with a covering of today's snow and needless to say untracked. We had a great run and went to lunch.

In the afternoon I went back and just did loops of Currie Glades (every way possible) before cutting in to either Stag Leap or on a couple of occasions Skydive which just required a little more work. I think people who have never tried to cut in to the Big 3 from the skiers right would be amazed just how far up you are in the run when you use the summer bike trail to get in. I would estimate in both cases you only lose about 20/25% of the run giving loads left in which to have fun. All afternoon the only tracks we saw were our own from the repeat trips giving plenty of fresh lines each time.

Last run of course was Skydive which although curtailed was excellent up until the last couple of turns which were starting to get bit mushy. Loads of pre Paddy's Day beer and fingers crossed for a cooling trend and some serious snow overnight.

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