Monday, April 8, 2013

Day 121 Sensational Saddles

The heading about sums things up so maybe I should stop here. Ok, just to put it in perspective - it didn't snow overnight as forecast although reports all around indicated snow such as the Crowsnest Pass being single lane and the "local" radio station (it's actually based in Cranbrook) reporting difficult driving conditions. I guess the storm slipped by us on either side.

What did happen was that overnight things froze and it was -3 at the base as we arrived at the hill. We were a little late as we had to get the car checked in for a service next Monday which will be the first days non skiing since November - where did this season go. Conditions at the upper hill were much colder and I noticed temps of -8 at the Timber top as late as midday. Conditions varied from sun at times to overcast with even the hint of light snow from time to time. Even by late afternoon nothing much had got above zero and we were really back to winter conditions.

The resut was that everywhere we had skied yesterday was ugly icey refrozen crud. The groomers such as they were (there was very little grooming in the bits of the hill where I was) were very hard and scratchy. Of course where things hadn't been skied yesterday we had the most wonderful deep full on powder.

Arriving at the hill a patroller buddy of mine told me that the Saddles were just awesome. We headed there via Lift Line which was about as bad as I have ever seen it with ugly refrozen crud. We looked in to Corner Pocket and found the tires just about showing. I am not a fan of tire skiing in Corner Pocket so we headed on to High saddle which skied just like a dream through the chute and deep powder with huge untracked areas below - some of the best powder skiing of the season.

We decided to stick with alternate runs between High and Low Saddle as most of the traffic on a day like today seems to head for Corner Pocket - the Saddles stayed filled with snow and easy edge to edge jumping through them all day. Despite the slide over the tires in Corner Pocket I think people like the idea that it is only a couple of easy turns after that to get out of the chute and that is why they go there. This leaves High and Low Saddle and the skiing below mostly untracked.

We resolved to ski the Saddles until we couldn't get any more fresh lines and then move on. When we went to lunch just after 1 we were still skiing the Saddles which speaks volumes. Lynda did try one run down Concussion which she said was ok in the top but nowhere near as good as the Saddles so we went back to our original plan.

After lunch we just continued with particularly good skiing in the chutes to skiers right after a hard right cut out of Low Saddle. Abour 2:30 I had to cross another skiers track which was quite annoying but still not bad for the second week in April. The secret was that if you took away vacation skiers sticking to groomers and a couple of level 2 groups also on groomers there were only probably about 2 dozen of us on the hill skiing serious lines and lets face it there is an awful lot of hill for us to try and trash.

I wasn't looking forward to last run of the day - by tradition if Skydive is open we have to ski it. I had a feeling it wouldn't be good and I was right. Up to about half way down you could find untracked areas that skied ok. After that you were in heavily tracked stuff from yesterday which had refrozen into an ugly ploughed field of ice tufts. I couldn't really complain as I was one of the main offenders in creating these conditions by hiking up into Skydive yesterday. It was a slow crunchy descent in just about the ugliest conditions in Skydive of the year but - whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger and me and my buddy Randy who I had met on the traverse out got to the bottom in one piece and went for a beer.

So, a really great start to last week week of the season. Skiing the Saddles over and over again is a bit repetitive but repetitive untracked powder is ok by me. The forecasts for the next 7 days call for rain, sun, snow and everything in between, could be an interesting finish.

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