Friday, December 19, 2014

Day 15 horrible rain in the valley, awesome snow on top

Yes, today was a typical Fernie day where we ended up with dreadful rainy conditions at the base reducing everything to mush and crud whilst up on top we had the most awesome powder snow conditions - don't let anyone ever tell you Fernie isn't a hill of contrasts. But back to the beginning to tell the story as it happened, and please nobody email me to tell me I shouldn't start a sentence with a conjunction, it's called artistic licence.

We woke to find temps of around zero on the deck and on the drive to the hill it flicked between zero and -1 so lets say -0.5 when we arrived at the hill. It warmed up during the day to about + 2 and flicked between +1 and zero on the drive back. Up the hill temps were a few degrees colder so I guess that at White Pass it never went above -2 for the whole day.

The web site claimed 4 cms of fresh with a base of 95 cms and the boards at the lifts claimed 9 cms but it was unclear to me whether this was more snow having fallen since the morning reading or just a case of adding the last two days snow fall together. In any event we had some new snow to play with.

We went to the New Side on the basis that with rising temps it could be a good day to go high and stay high. I thought that the Old Side would be too low and the new snow would be wet and heavy but in the bar tonight I was told that the skiing in Cedar Trees on both side was very good with it only getting heavy at the very bottom. Almost as soon as we arrived at White Pass it started to snow and continued pretty well all day. The snow was of quite high moisture content and so we assumed that it was raining at the base and periodic trips down there tended to confirm this. By the end of the day it was hosing down snow on top and peeing down with rain at the base.

We took a few runs up and down White Pass in very poor viz and found load of fresh snow in the Gun Bowl, Highline, Pillow Talk and other areas. I took a trip out to Surprise Trees and put first tracks down them and they were much improved from the gnarly conditions of a couple of days ago. My hope had been that Gilmar Trail would have opened allowing us to have Currie Chutes all the way to the  bottom. Unfortunately not only was the bottom of Currie Bowl closed but so was the Reverse Traverse so we had to take Currie Glades where we found many untracked lines. The exit via Trespass Trail was hard work in the wet new snow.

We alternated runs back down White Pass with variations such as the chutes before Surprise with trips round Currie Glades which remained lightly tracked. In Anaconda Glades I put first tracks in the chute over the first hump and had to stop half way down to avoid being barrelled out by my own slough. The snow was building fast (maybe another 7 cms during the day) and the viz on the upper hill remained almost non existent.

Last run before a very late lunch I found the Reverse Traverse had opened and went out hoping for the Saddles but was disappointed. In the event we hit out all the way to Easter bowl and had some pretty good lightly tracked skiing all the way down, soft new snow on a pretty crunchy base. As I had a dental appointment in the afternoon we were only going to be able to ski to about 3 which didn't leave much time after our late lunch.

We went back up the New Side via Puff which was now officially open and great soft skiing and took a couple more runs through Pillow Talk where the snow was getting quite deep. We took a further run in Surprise Trees where the mornings tracks were covered and the conditions had improved a lot but were still very twiggy low down. For the run off the hill we had sort of decided on Easter but when we got there we saw several tracks and so just headed on to the top of Skydive. We hit Decline which had filled in from last nights efforts and which skied beautifully with the snow hugging the rolling terrain. There were a few less twigs than yesterday and we bailed along the Megasaurus Trail into lower Easter to avoid the lower closed section.

I went back for a beer after the dentists and was told that things continued to improve after I left and the snow on top was coming down heavy. As I drove away from the hill it was a sort of wet snow rain mix hitting the wind shield and I guess you wouldn't have to go very far up the hill to find that turned to snow. Bracing ourselves for the weekend crowds tomorrow and look forward to getting to the hill early to beat the rush.

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