Friday, March 14, 2014

Day 16 back to winter sort of

Yesterday we were sitting on the locals deck after skiing (some of us wearing shorts having been biking in the South country) enjoying spring conditions and drinking cold beer. Today we were socked in with 10 cms of fresh snow falling during the day and everyone wrapped up - we were still drinking cold beers but after all this is Canada.
The day started a bit weird. The radio alarm went off at 7 and the news said that there had been a crash on Highway 3 between a logging truck and a car, the highway was closed and probably would be for several hours. The implication was that this crash was between Fernie and the ski hill. In the event I drove to the hill with no problems as the crash was actually west of Ski Hill Road. The hill was pretty well deserted, I guess as a result of people thinking that the highway was closed.
Today was so different from yesterday's bluebird spring skiing conditions. As we arrived temps at the base were +1 but up the mountain they were nearer -5 and much colder with brutal wind chill on Polar Peak. During the day base temps got up to +3 but stayed well below zero on the hill. It started snowing as we arrived and continued all day giving at least 10 cms of new snow and pushing the base back over 300 cms. For most of the day the snow was wet at the base but better further up. Towards the very end of the day the base snow turned to light rain but in only +3 temps I don't doubt that the snow line is low down the hill and will be down to base during the night.
I went to the New Side on the basis that the higher I could get the better the snow would be although the viz was probably going to be poor - as it turned out both predictions were correct. I was surprised to find that in the conditions Polar Peak was open (ok only the Polar Coaster) and did three loops before the brutally cold winds around tower 8 got the better of me. The irony was that as the snow got better the viz got much worse. I ran to base via Currie Powder which was ungroomed but gathering new fresh snow and Diamond Back. At the top of Diamond back the was a sign warning of "marginal conditions" which was strange as the run was flat with a deepening soft snow covering - ok, a bit slick in the lower section.
Next time round I went to Polar Peak but only managed two loops before doing a run to base just as before. The final trip before lunch had me managing just one trip up Polar but by then the viz was so bad that navigation was very difficult and there was a lot of disorientation. Being a creature of habit I ran off the hill the same way and found that the snow was really starting to accumulate and get very deep and soft in Diamond Back.
After lunch I went back up the New Side only to find that Polar Peak was now closed (no surprise there) and the viz had got even worse. After a few runs back through White Pass we ventured out into Currie Bowl and found that the low traverse was open so an untracked rip down Concussion was called for. The run was great but you were still hitting an uneven hard base most of the way down. We did two more loops out around Toms run which were just as untracked and just as good.
As the day drew to an end we had time for a couple of White Pass loops which we took through the Gun Bowl and the Pillows which were getting quite soft. Worth mentioning Puff Trees and lower Lift Line which opened and was good snow on a hard base.
For the final run we went out to Currie Creek and had a great run in the top where avoiding our sloughs was the biggest problem. As we got lower down the snow became a bit mushy and by the time we reached the Meadow it was down right sticky. This was so different from my first run of the day which had been back through the Gun Bowl on hard refrozen crud - amazing what 10 cms of fresh high moisture snow can do.
After last night it is time for an early (quiet) night in and prepare for the Paddy's Day weekend crowds. However you look at it today was good powder day which went some way to repairing the hill and tomorrow maybe I will go to the Old Side to what the news is from there.

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