Saturday, March 1, 2014

Day 3 Beautiful but brutal

No, I'm not describing some young lady but the way the hill was today. It was beautiful because we had a bluebird day with no moisture in the air so everything was absolutely clear. Brutal because the very low temps which made the skiing surface as hard as nails and the cold which made skiing a real survival experience.
The day dawned clear and sunny and stayed that way all day but with a cold wind which gave a severe wind chill - so severe in fact that there was a wind chill warning for the whole Elk Valley with a recommendation to stay in doors, now where's the fun in that. It was -24 on the drive to the hill and when we got there the New Side was closed (and stayed that way all day) due to a wind chill of -43 at the top of White Pass. The Bear Chair was closed initially due to cold and would guess even on the Old Side we were seeing wind chills of around -30. So with just the Elk, Boom and Haul Back running we had to make the best of what we had.
Skiing in conditions like that wasn't easy as the snow had hardened up a lot although it was still just about taking an edge in most places. Like yesterday the lower traffic areas which by rights should have been soft snow had firmed up to a kind of stiff untracked crud with a mixture of death cookies and frozen slab - sounds like fun eh ?
Things weren't made any easier by the amount of clothing that was needed to keep out the cold. Two pairs of thermal long johns under the ski pants, three pairs of gloves, five layers under the ski jacket and the fleece balaclava under the helmet just about tells the story. Of course there was no skin showing and I am always amazed on days like this the number of guys (and it always is guys) who go out with exposed skin and are surprised when they come back half an hour later with frost bite, I guess there is no cure for dumb.
On a day like this there was no New Side, Lizard bowl is always a bit easy for my taste and Cedar High Traverse out to Snake Ridge was running very slow in the cold so the only real option was the Old Side triangle off the top of Boom and later Bear when it came on stream mid morning. Everything was as described, hard bumps, tough untracked crud and just very, very hard work. I ran through Boom, Boom Ridge, Linda's, Bear chutes, and Cedar Ridge several ways. Loops back were always through Kangaroo which was hard but no tougher than usual. Time for a late morning choccy warm up break.
The next session was a repeat of the first until an early afternoon lunch break. Things did warm up a little but not enough to change the underlying conditions and certainly not enough to allow any shedding of layers or exposure of skin. Lunch
The final afternoon session was a repeat of the earlier two with temps falling as the sun went down. I had planned to take Easter Bowl to give me at least a partial final run on Skydive. Unfortunately a fault had developed on the Bear Chair and it was shut down curtailing my plans. This made for a slightly early finish but as I was feeling so beat up for a whole range of reasons it was perhaps no bad thing.
The outlook is strange. We may have one more day like this then a warm up with quite a bit of snow. After that they are talking about warming up to plus 7 with rain but who knows - that would be crazy weather. Only time will tell.

No comments:

Post a Comment