Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Day 88 a pretty good way to take a 7 day break

Today was my last day before I head back to the UK to do some grown up stuff for 7 days and then coming back to Fernie to attend to the important things like skiing every day until the end of the season - it looks like it will be about 128 days this year. I was talking to some guys from the UK today out here with Non Stop who amazed me by saying that they took days off when they were not being instructed despite the fact that they are only out here for 11 weeks. They didn't seem to appreciate just how few ski days we are all going to get in our lives and just how valuable they are. I guess I will just go on skiing every day from 9-4 (except for the next 7 days) and leave others to work out what is important in their own lives.

The snow that puked down yesterday stopped early evening so the the 15 cms claimed by the hill in the last 24 hrs mostly fell during skiing yesterday but a combination of the fall after closing yesterday and the windsift meant that we had some nice untracked snow on a very soft base although there was wind slab around.

It was -3 on the way to the hill and overcast. During the morning temps rose at the base to +3 with the snow softening before falling in the afternoon to around zero with everything starting to set up. At times we had sun and at others it was socked in (usually just when I was heading up Polar Peak) and a couple of times we had snow/graupel showers in convective cells. All in all it was a pretty mixed day but with a great starting position of soft untracked snow.

We went to the New Side on the grounds that the Cedar High Traverse remained closed so the Old Side would remain limited. Currie Bowl was closed so we headed out to Anaconda and had an amazing first track run down the second chute. The trees to the left of Bootleg Glades were also untracked and deep but the Gilmar Gully had obviously been very wind affected and was super slabby.

As we were skiing out of Currie it was apparent that the fence had been dropped and we had got our timing 100% wrong for a change. We headed back up as quick as possible and started to do Currie loops -
Stag Leap - tracked but still with some untracked lines. Nice and deep with face shots at speed in the mid section.
The Brain right - a couple of tracks in the top section but untracked lower down and great powder tree skiing.
Polar/Lone Fir/Spinal Tap - Viz wasn't great in Polar so we hit Pappa Bear all the way down and found really good deep untracked snow in the bottom half. We hike up to Lone Fir which was a bit chunky but the fan to the avi trees was super soft deep powder. Spinal Tap had been tracked but the heavy snow gave good support all the way down.
Gotta Go - We hit left into the chute known a Google Earth and found deep untracked snow although you had to cut right as you got to the top of 3's to avoid the blast avi debris. After this I dropped the trees between Bootleg and Diamond Back which I don't even think have a name but after the initial death cookies pushed off the cat track but some pretty random grooming they skied very well with deep untracked lines to just above Gilmar Trail.
Polar/Cougar Glades - as a last run before a very late lunch we tried Mamma Bear via my chute. This was ok in the top but you had a lot of blasting debris to avoid the further you went down. Cougar was tracked but you could still get untracked lines by holding the trees tight left.

After lunch we went back up Polar Peak and did another Pappa Bear in improving light and with the snow still soft and deep. We then tried the Brain left side which was still mostly untracked but the lines in the trees didn't seem to be working as well as before - could be just me getting tired.

Polar Peak again and this time in much improved light we went out to Spirit Bear and after skirting the rocks in the top (perish the thought that we would duck the fence to do this) we had a super nice drop in lightly tracked powder. The return to base was through Decline and Window chutes which were skiing well but I was starting to feel my legs a bit at this stage and was tending to check and push snow rather than drive the skis into the fall line.

We had time for a White Pass loop so took the Knot Chutes out to Jim which was still full of soft snow before hitting Surprise Trees far side which again were skiing very well and deep even at the end of the day.

The final rip down Skydive was just as good as ever and in the upper sections it was possible to pick up the speed so that you were floating on top of everything, getting face shots, and hoping that a big bump wasn't going to come up any time soon.

So that's it. Back to the UK for a week and then the blog will start again.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Day 87 oh yes

Overnight they were only reporting 5 cms but as we arrived at the hill it was snowing. In fact it was a very localised system which seemed to give us light snow at the base, graupel as we went up Timber and was just puking soft snow at the top of the big three. As this happened every time we lapped I guess it wasn't a change in the weather pattern but just local (very local) conditions. At the end of the day who cares, we just got snow puking on us all day so that at 3 in the afternoon we were getting fresh tracks in lines that we had skied earlier in the day.

With all the holiday weeks and weekend crowds gone we were back to a typical quiet Fernie Monday and with no great dump reported overnight even the locals kept away until the afternoon when they realised that something rather good was happening on the hill. It was -3 when we arrived and although temps got to low plus figures during the day the precip kept on coming on down white all day. On top temps were a bit lower and the snow had a lower moisture content. As I said before the snow just dumped all day so that no matter how hard we tried we couldn't trash the hill and we just got better and deeper powder right up to last turn.

We took one look at the boards and saw that Cedar High Traverse was closed so that all the really good skiing out on Snake on the Old Side would not be available. On the strength of this we went to the New Side all day which proved a good call particularly as Lizard High Traverse closed early afternoon while the New Side was green for most of the day.

On the New Side there was very little traffic and with the local Fernie ski community staying off the hill due to only a 5 cm call we could go pretty much where we wanted and get first, or at least early tracks. Bearing mind that the snow was piling up all day as we skied (possible 20 cms in 24 hrs by the time we left the hill) the runs were all soft and deep and getting more so as the day went on, the only thing that counted was whether or not you got untracked snow.

Cougar Glades - we got first tracks and all took different lines all the way to the disused cat track at the bottom.
Stag Leap - great untracked snow until in the lower section we encountered one track which was Lynda's from when she had skied in there from Cougar the previous time round - funny girl.
The Brain right - there were a couple of board tracks in the top trees which seemed to disappear left and then we had right side trees all the way through in very soft and deep and getting deeper snow.
Secret Chutes/Spinal Tap - only a couple of tracks in earlier than us that could be easily avoided so some good stuff.
Skydive Trees right - these trees just to the right of the run have so many lines that they are always going to have untracked options. The final tight pitch through the deadfall was made a little easier by the falling snow.
Polar Peak - viz had been pretty socked in but we gave it a go with Steve taking Pappa Bear, me taking Mamma and Lynda taking Baby (the whole bear family) with the rest of our group taking the easy way out and not trying it. The snow was just awesome, soft deep and smooth powder, the viz was crap but in those conditions who needs to see.
Decline/ Window Chutes - soft and filling in as fast as you could ski it, a great way to end the morning before lunch.

After a late lunch (look at the mornings itinary) we went back up Polar Peak but found that the clouds had socked in even more in the heavier snow so that even Mamma Bear had to be skied cautiously until the last third of the chute. We went back to Stag Leap and found that everything we had skied in the morning had filled in and we were back to very good deep powder all the way down.

We decided that Polar Peak was just a side show next time round as we couldn't really rip it in that light so we went out again to the Brain but this time left side. Just like before there were a few filled in tracks at the top and then untracked steep tree powder for the rest of the run - I love steep powder tree skiing.

Next we were getting towards the end of the day because of the late lunch so we did a White Pass loop. I took the far side of Surprise Trees which by this time were so full of soft new snow that you could pretty well point your skis anywhere you wanted and then just go with the consequences.

Last run of course was Skydive which by that stage was getting so full of soft new snow that you could almost ignore the terrain - as a buddy of mine said at the bottom "you cheated down there, you didn't turn" it wasn't that bad/good but it was getting on for that way.

It's still snowing so tomorrow could be a good day. This would be great for me as tomorrow is my last day before heading back to the UK for a week while I sort out a load of grown up stuff. The blog will not be written while I am away so make the most of tomorrow's post which should be pretty good given the forecast conditions.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Day 86 a good throw down day with better to come

Even though they reported no new snow in the last 24 hours we still had what fell after we left the hill yesterday plus some blow in so there was rather more soft new snow than the official figures would have suggested which must have been something of a first for them to under report.

On the way to the hill it was -3 despite all the reports from local weather stations being about -10. It was overcast so that the junior free ski finals had to be held on Big Bang rather than on Polar Peak on account of the fact that the judges would not be able to see anything that was going on. During the day temps rose a little but all the flurries (and there were some quite heavy ones) came down white andit wouldn't surprise me if we didn't have a 5 cm accumulation as a result of those flurries. The base is back above 250 cms which is good news but still at least 50 cms below where we would expect it in a normal year.

The hill was skiing well on a combination of untracked snow from yesterday and blow in from today. We went to the Old Side on the grounds that Cedar High traverse had been closed yesterday for most of the day so fresh tracks were at least possible. The avi debris from the bombing in Cedar should have been proof enough to anyone who doubted the wisdom of closing it yesterday.

We did three loops out to Gorby/Steep and Deep (very soft deep snow on the shoulder and not bad in the right hand chute) Snake Ridge/Lower Gorby (just couldn't resist the untracked soft powder in upper Snake which lasted until the low traverse lines of yesterday cut in) and the ski out in Lower Gorby was ok but with pretty poor light. Steep and Deep/Redtree/Wallys Follies were a great final loop with some untracked and very deep snow on the steeper faces.

All exits were via Kangroo which was icey, bumpy and great fun and the Boomerang/Bear chutes which were all skiing ok. We went to the New Side to test it.

Polar Peak was open but was so socked it that it didn't seem worth it and coming from one of the biggest fans of Polar Peak (me) that means something. We went out to Lone Fir and found that after a bomb hole in the middle it was just the most awesome deep powder skiing all the way through the chute and the fan. We did of course have to cross Easter bowl to hit Spinal Tap which had been skied but was still pretty ok soft, heavy snow.

We did a final run down Skydive before a very late lunch to avoid the crowds (looks like this is the last day of crowds before we go back to normal Fernie mid week skiing from tomorrow) and then took our late break.

In the short afternoon we went to the Brain left and found loads more fresh snow all the way through to the cut out into Decline low down. Just remembered, before that we went out to Triple Trees and found that although there had been lines put down between them there were still some very good untracked lines to be had. In the final section I managed to get myself locked in between a couple of triangulated pieces of deadfall and amused everyone by stacking it as I attempted a major jump in order to exit.

After that we had a go at Cougar Glades which had been reported to us as having been trashed out by side slipping snow boards. We didn't find this but to be fair the lines we were taking in the trees to the left were so tight that a side slipping board couldn't have got through them.

So we came to Skydive and were humbled by a bunch of the kids who had been skiing in the junior free ski blasting past us at the top and jumping helicopters off the bumps that we think are quite tough. After they had gone we had what was for us a pretty hard rip down in one and then headed for the bar.

The forecast is for some snow over night but a maximum full on storm while we are on the hill tomorrow.I have only been out a couple of times in those conditions and always loved them so bring it on.