Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Day 26 a point of clarification

I think in fairness to all concerned that when I talk about conditions being tough and brutal (and I will certainly be doing that a little later on ) I am referring to the skiing off the groomers. As everyone knows I don't ski groomers, I don't even consider skiing groomers as skiing. That having been said I appreciate that a lot of people get pleasure out of this and to many it is the only "skiing" that they do. For those I would say that the groomers in Fernie at the moment are great from the limited experience I have of them getting from one place to another and if that is your thing don't be put off by what I say. If on the other hand your view of skiing is like mine, pin your ears back and listen.

On the way to the hill today it was -28 and a bluebird day. This is typical of an Arctic outflow as no moisture, visible or otherwise, can exist in air at that temperature. Up top it was probably only a couple of degrees colder but thankfully no wind at first. We were promised a warm up but when Lynda got to the hill at around 1 she had temps in the truck of -20 in the parking lot. By this time wind was starting to pick up particularly in White Pass and my guess would be that we had a wind affected temp of -30 before we headed off the hill at 4.

A special mention has to go to the lifties and the ticket checkers today. It was bad enough for those of us who were moving around in these temps. They had to stand around all day and even at the end of the day had a smile and a cheerful word for us nutters. Great work guys and girls, you are real stars.

I had decided that the day would be three modules with an early hot chocy break, a late lunch break and then beers afterwards. Each session was only going to give me time for a couple of runs in White Pass and a couple of loops to base before some of my most personal possessions (not going to mention them here) would be frozen forever.

Module 1 - drops from Timber to White Pass were always by Lift Line and always hard bumpy snow. A couple of runs up and down Gun Bowl and Highline confirmed that like yesterday the cold had given us hard ugly challenging conditions with some wind sift/ wind slab to surprise you from time to time. The first loop to base was via Decline which was ok hard chunky snow. The Reverse Traverse going out is getting very sketchy and whilst this doesn't bother me I would imagine it would be carnage if an intermediate group tried it. Next loop was Anaconda Glades which were really very soft and Bootleg Glades which were hard and bumpy with loads of alders on the exit.

Module 2 - After a break in Lost Boys CafĂ© it was up and down White Pass a couple of times with the same conditions. Loop one was down via Currie Creek which was good soft lightly tracked snow but very twiggy and technical on the exit. Next loop Stag Leap ( please note the singular) which was soft but very tight in the trees, great soft snow in the top but hard bumpy technical skiing where traffic (self included) had cut in from Cougar Glades.

Module 3 - After lunch Lynda joined me for the obligatory couple of runs down White Pass which were no better or worst than before. Next loop I went out to the new chute (name ?) at the top of Skydive and hit it all the way down to Freeway in some very variable conditions and tight bushes. I would like to say that this was me exploring but the truth was I just missed the traverse to Spinal Tap. On the off chance I dropped Siberia Ridge off Timber and found it wind affected in the top, ugly in the choke (as usual) but the best soft deep lightly tracked snow in the lower section even allowing for some new dead fall left there just to surprise you.

Last run of course was Skydive via the traverse which wasn't getting any better. Icy bumps in the top, good snow on freeriding terrain in the middle and some pretty twiggy stuff in the lower section. All in all a very tough days skiing in some pretty brutal conditions but actually these are the days when your skiing gets better, either that or you hurt yourself.

Loads of beers with buddies and then home to more beers and a hot tub. Temps driving back from the hill were up to -17 so maybe we are in for a warm up - lets see.

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