Sunday, December 7, 2014

Day 3 and I call it dead right - I think

When we woke up this morning there were puzzling and to some extent contradictory signs about conditions on the hill. I am delighted to say that as far as I am concerned I called things dead right and had a great day's skiing from bell to bell on good powder snow with many untracked lines.

The first problem was that as far as I was aware we didn't have any precip in the valley last night although it may have happened when I wasn't looking as I did spend the evening in and had an early night. The snow report from the hill showed 9 cms of fresh bringing the base up to 101 cms and as we arrived at the hill there was a clear rain line (or snow line depending on how you look at these things) at about half mountain height. Temps were about zero on the drive to the hill and as predicted we were back in the standard pattern of an adiabatic lapse rate - there, that impressed you, it's just a fancy way of saying it gets colder as you go higher and the air gets thinner.

This told me that the Old Side would be pretty poor. I did get a report during the day that "the groomers were really nice" but those of you who know me know that this is an oxymoron as far as I am concerned and skiing groomers isn't nice, it isn't even skiing in  my view. A later report from people I trust said that everything off the groomers on the Old Side sucked and this sounds more like what I would have expected. We went to the New Side and stayed there all day and as a result had some fantastic skiing.

The temps up top were about -4 and probably stayed below zero just about all day. The conditions were overcast with a low cloud base which gave almost zero viz in White Pass and half way down the White Pass core. This lifted a bit during the day so that by mid afternoon the base was just about at White Pass top but this descended quickly late afternoon as temps dropped. We even had a little precip in the form of icy snow late afternoon but it was nothing to get excited about.

We spent the first session until elevenses skiing the White Pass core usually through the Gun bowl, Highline variations and Heartland or the line under the lift. The viz seemed to deter many skiers so we had lots of untracked lines in the new snow which on the previously untracked base seemed to ski a lot deeper than 9 cms. With Curry Bowl open we tracked out the Alpha Centauri and had great soft deep untracked skiing all the way down which was good until Gilmar Trail which was sketchy and got a lot more so as the day went on.

After a break we noticed that the sign line before Surprise Trees appeared to be down and went to investigate - it was and we could access Surprise Trees and Anaconda Glades. The first chute of Surprise was untracked and I laid down first tracks of the season in some awesome powder. Lower down there was a little rain crust and one track came in ahead of me from the right but with a lot of speed you could just push through - hard work though. I had noticed that Anaconda had been open on the way past and the next three times round we just did Anaconda to base loops going one chute further each time getting some great deep skiing even if it was a bit twiggy. Looks like some good glading work has been done in Anaconda which might make for some really good skiing later in the season. Loops down to White Pass were always through Puff which was also good deep powder but very twiggy.

Last run before a very late lunch was a trip out to Decline where there was only one track in front of me so lots of deep untracked powder. Like yesterday things got a bit heavy towards the Megasaurus Trail and as the run was closed below that I was happy to bail into lower Easter which confirmed all my worst fears of the Old Side being heavy elephant snot off the groomers.

After lunch Lynda took a break so I just went back to some Anaconda loops which were still very lightly tracked and very good skiing. Gilmar Trail was getting very sketchy by now but that's just the price you have to pay for enjoying the good stuff. Last run of the day I pushed out along the Reverse Traverse to Concussion and found lots of untracked snow by taking tight lines to the undergrowth and the lower sections which might have been crusty had enough traffic to have made them nice chopped up powder.

Met more buddies in the Griz Bar to celebrate the best day so far. This could be a high point as it is forecast to warm with no significant precip so things could go a bit pear shaped in the next few days. The real problem is that the big dump we had just before the hill opened came down at -24 so the snow was light and has not had any effect on the undergrowth, What we really need is a big dump of high moisture good old Sierra Cement to beat the bushes down and start to slide to bend the alders over. With the forecast warm up maybe that is what we will get, who knows.

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