Saturday, December 6, 2014

Day 2 A reversal of fortunes between the Old and New sides

As the heading implies whist yesterday it was the Old Side that had the best condition, today, with a total reversal of fortunes the conditions on the Old Side deteriorated and the New Side threw down some pretty good skiing. The reasons for this have a lot of relevance to the current and future conditions on the hill and are worth exploring in a little more depth later.

Before that it's worth saying that today was opening weekend and in normal circumstances I would have expected it to be much busier than yesterday's Friday opening but in truth I didn't see it that way. The parking lots were a bit busier and the day lodge had more people in there but out on the hill if anything things were slightly quieter. I think this may have something to do with the fact that the weekend crowd comprised a lot of families and the kids racing teams whilst the rest of the hill was at or below business as usual. In any event there were no line ups and by the afternoon you could get pretty lonely on some parts of the hill.

Last night as we left the hill it was -7 but with an inversion. Overnight we had snow in the valley and they were claiming 4 cms of fresh at the snow plot in the last 24 hours which kind of backs up my estimates of yesterday's snowfall during the day. By morning the temps were -4 on the way to the hill and we soon found out that the inversion was still in place with just about plus temps at mid mountain. What this meant was our valley snow last night came down as drizzle and froze on the existing surfaces at mid mountain with colder conditions both above and below, or at least that's my interpretation of what happened.

The result on the Old Side was that yesterday groomers were regroomed as crunchy icy snow, where the snow hadn't been groomed yesterday but was groomed overnight you had some rather mellow soft grooming but where the snow had been soft and untouched yesterday and hadn't been groomed it was hard going with a stiff icy surface on heavy untracked snow - real hard work. The New Side being much higher was above the drizzle line and continued to have good soft snow although in warming temps later in the day this got quite heavy. My view of the New Side was much enhanced by some significant new openings but more of those later.

We went to the Old Side and just like yesterday found closures for Boomerang, Cedar Ridge, Snake Ridge and Easter Bowl although this was opened later. Of course lots of the lower mountain runs such as Kangaroo and Linda's were closed due to lack of coverage. We poked around Lizard, Bear, North Ridge and Cedar bowl for a couple of hours and found the conditions exactly as described above, icy groomers and what had yesterday been nice soft powder turned to ice crust on soft snow.

We went to the New Side and found things much improved although running back off White Pass was mostly restricted to the main core but snow there remained soft with no real icing on the surface. Currie bowl was open for the first time with a warning (promise to my way of thinking) that there was no grooming in the bowl. The promise was good and we had few nice runs through Currie Powder, Down Right and 1-2-3s which were all super soft fun and way better that the way they ski later in the season when they have had the hell groomed out of them. We went to  a late lunch.

It is worth mentioning the weather conditions here, It had been overcast all day and we had flurries. drizzle off and on all day. With the inversion this meant skiing in rain at mid mountain and then being frozen as you dropped into the colder air - this all made for some pretty frustrating conditions. Late afternoon conditions socked in really hard so that the whole of the upper mountain and particularly White Pass was in zero viz and the precip came and went anything from snow to rain depending on elevation.

In the afternoon session I poked around White Pass and particularly tested the extent of the area by getting to the closure lines such as taking the Idiot Traverse out to try for Surprise Trees but having to drop just after Fiery Hornet. The skiing was very good, particularly in the ungroomed areas of Highline even if the viz was a bit challenging.

At the end of the day we had the opening we were looking for on the far side of Currie bowl and took the Reverse Traverse out to Skydive for the closing run. The traverse was in ok shape for early season and even if the bridge on the way appears to have collapsed it was still ok. From the top of Skydive it looks like loads of glading had been done in the trees going over towards Easter/Lizard and this looks like there will some great lines in there when we get just a bit more snow. We tried Skydive and had some great skiing in the top section although it was a bit bushy. As we got down the run the snow got super heavy in the warming temps and we were quite relieved to see the closure signs at the Megasarus trail to give us the excuse to bail into Easter, I really wouldn't have fancied trying what would have been tight bush whacking in snow that heavy.

We finished and had a few beers with buddies. On the way back from the hill temps were about zero in the valley and at last the inversion seems to be going and we will back to the good old 2 degree temp loss per 1000 ft gained. A fair amount of precip is called for tonight which if things go well could be 10-15 cms of snow but it could come as rain or not at all, everything is very confused at the moment.

Whatever happens we will be skiing it.

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