Monday, April 7, 2014

Day 40 full on spring skiing

Yes, this morning was what spring skiing is all about, poking around trying to get to the surfaces just as they soften, too early and you get ugly refrozen crud from the day before, too late and you get mushy elephant snot. As always on a day like this there were some spectacular successes and of course some even more spectacular failures. The afternoon was something else all together but more of that later.
As I was having my morning coffee I checked the deck temp which was -3 which suggested to me that everything on the hill would have frozen overnight in even colder up the hill temps. When we got to the hill it was +5 which confirmed that things were getting warmer quicker and by the time we drove away it was +12 in the parking lot and for last run of the day I had noted a temp of +8 at the White Pass load - all in all a very warm spring day. It was a bluebird day with some clouds in the morning but in the afternoon it became quite over cast before clearing back to bluebird for a great locals deck session after skiing.
We went to the Old Side on the grounds that the lower elevations would get softer first. The groomers had cut a diagonal slash across the Sunny Side shoulder which was the first time I had ever seen that. It was really useful in that it allowed you to get into Sunny Side early to check out the conditions early knowing you had an escape route if you got it wrong. As it was Sunny Side softened very early and I had a large number of loops off the Bear Chair through the shoulder before it all became too soft.
On the advice of a Patroller buddy I went out to Snake Ridge and had an awesome run in softening snow on a firm base all the way down Snake Main. I made my first mistake by choosing KC chute as the exit and found the left side in the sun already gone to mush while the right hand side in the shade was still icy death cookies - this made for some very interesting turns until I could escape over the left hand shoulder and ski the face which was firm underneath and soft on top. The drop from Haul Back top to Boom load was via Kangaroo which was soft bumps and great easy skiing - so good I did it 2 more times.
Boom Ridge was softening and I hit it 4 times with great soft bumps which were getting a bit mushy last time round. Boom was fine and I skied it a couple of times sticking to the guts to take advantage of the firmer base as the surface softened. My only other mistake was Cedar Ridge which had softened yesterday in the atmospheric warming but had not sun softened when I did it and was rather ugly. It might well have improved in the afternoon but for me it was lunch time and then I was heading to the New Side.
When I arrived at the New Side I found that the Polar chutes had only just opened. A patroller buddy said that they had started to soften but as things became overcast they were starting to set up and he couldn't guarantee the conditions. I dropped in and found the most wonderful conditions - the chilling winds were creating a sort of sugary surface which on the soft under snow took a great edge and made skiing the chutes so easy. Awesome skiing as long as you weren't fazed by the whole surface moving under your feet as you turned.
I did laps of Grand Papa Bear, Barely Legal and Papa Bear three times each so 9 runs in all off the Polar Chutes, all good and very mellow. It was getting late so I dropped Mama Bear (also very good) and High Saddle (great in the saddle but very mushy in the face below) before looping back to Timber on the groomers as the lower mountain was very heavy. There was just time for a White Pass ripper loop before heading out the Skydive.
I have to say that I was not anticipating a vintage Skydive given the conditions but I was so disappointed to find that I was the only one who turned up for the 4 o'clock run. Actually it wasn't to bad with the upper section soft on the bumps and the lower section setting up to take an edge. In a reversal of normal conditions it was the mid section which was challenging as heavy elephant snot.
The evening on the locals deck of the Griz was magic in warm sunshine. We were entertained by Crazy Luc with stories of his various narrow escapes (the guy has more lives than a cat) and plenty of input from the Patrollers who were there as well as a good number of buddies and even a guest visit from Murdie the retired avi dog.
Looks like tomorrow will be much the same.

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