Monday, December 29, 2014

Day 25 very cold, hard skiing and brutal conditions - but great fun

As forecast we had no new snow and the Arctic high slipped in from Alberta with some strong winds giving some very cold conditions, made all the colder by wind chill. On the way to the hill this morning it was -14 and on the way back -19 never having got warm during the day. Temps tonight are due to go down to -25. The problem was the wind which was strong, particularly on the New Side and may have pushed the real temps to a further 10 degrees below the mercury. The other problem was that there had obviously been a big wind event on the hill and conditions were either scoured to a hard base, or wind sift, or (and this was the most common) ugly wind slab.

It was quite sunny off and on but the effect was to give defused white light in the areas not in direct sunlight making viz very difficult. The overnight freeze had made the snow hard and unforgiving and on terrain subject to a lot of skier traffic this just gave brutal skiing conditions. Add to this the fact that none of us ski well in these very cold conditions for three reasons - Firstly, we are so bundled up we can't move - Secondly, our muscles don't move as normal - Thirdly the body seems to burn energy just to keep warm so energy levels foe skiing are low. Finally poor and variable light made us all ski a bit back seat making for less controlled skiing and more strain on the legs.

Against the cold it was two pairs of thermal long johns, 5 layers under the ski jacket, woollen gloves in the powder mits with hot shots and a fleece balaclava showing no skin - I always find it funny how many people ignore the warnings and head up with exposed skin and are so surprised when they come down with frost bite - you can't fix stupid.  I was nice and toastie all day but still stopped for two breaks to thaw out.

We went to the Old Side and toured round Cedar Ridge, Boom Ridge, Boomerang and similar areas. As anticipated it was all hard chunky bumpy skiing which took a lot of effort. Lower Kangaroo was the only nice soft untracked snow and that was rather bushy. After a couple of hours of this we hit the New Side and got to understand the real meaning of cold as a mixture of greater altitude and stronger winds hit us. One loop down Decline confirmed that the Reverse Traverse had become a tough hard ice track and not a lot of fun. Decline itself was ok but much tougher than the last few days with the bumps and terrain very hard indeed.

After a hot chocy break I looped -
Cougar Glades/ Stag Leap - less slab in the glades due to tree cover but very hard bumpy chunky skiing in Stag Leap.
Decline - top to bottom again still very hard.
Skydive - ditto

After a late lunch there wasn't much time but I hit Decline/Window Chutes where the skiing in the chutes remains quite soft but everything else hard. Next was trip down the new gladed area off Skydive cutting right into Secret Chutes which aren't so secret any more. Spinal Tap was good challenge jumping in and out of the stream bed in the lower section. By that time it was 4 o'clock and time for the Skydive rip which I completed alone as no one else seemed to be around. It was pretty good but the lower section is now getting a bit technical in the hard snow.

I had intended to go to the hockey tonight but I just felt so beat up by the hill that I had a couple of beers and went home - couldn't even get out to the hot tub. The forecast is for even colder more brutal conditions tomorrow before a warming trend with some snow comes in towards the end of the week. Looks like a few early nights for me with most of the body complaining.

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