Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Day 6 not as bad as I expected

But before we all go off celebrating the wonderful ski conditions in Fernie it worth first understanding just how bad I expected things to be on the hill today.

As anticipated the temps stayed at about +5 in the valley overnight meaning that they probably stayed at plus temps all the way to the top of Polar Peak. During the day the temps rose a bit so that by mid afternoon we had +7 all over the hill and even as we were driving away tonight we were getting +4. In other words the warm up that was forecast hit us full on just as anticipated.

We had hoped that the rain would hold off, but that was not to be. During the night I woke a couple of times to hear rain beating down on the roof and in the morning it was still coming down pretty hard. Given the temps I had no doubt that it would be raining to the top of the hill and the evidence of our own eyes when we turned up to ski tended to confirm this. It was so bad that we delayed going to the hill for half an hour which proved to be a good move as the heavy rain stopped just about the time we arrived and as forecast and stayed away for the rest of the day.

Our fear was that the rain would mean a further loss of terrain (not that there was much to lose) and a massive deterioration in conditions. In the event we did have the loss of terrain but the conditions didn't deteriorate as much as I feared but were still pretty crappy.

When we got to the hill all that was open was Bear, some parts of Lizard below Tower 6 trail, North Ridge, Emily's (only access to Haul Back) and that was it apart from a few bits of the lower mountain below those areas. I reckon this to be less than 5% of the advertised terrain. In the afternoon The near side of Cedar bowl and Arrow opened giving some minor increases in skiable terrain but still only a tiny fraction of the ski hill.

In these circumstances there was very little skiing we could do and almost no ungroomed snow. The groomers (mostly Bear, North Ridge, Emily's, Lower Lynda's and Lower North Ridge) were soft rain affect mush on a hard base and some quite nice skiing. In places where the grooming had been done in warm temps and then frozen overnight there were some very uneven and rutted lines. In other places where the groomers had dug too deep we were down to rock and dirt so it would come as no surprise that today I was back on my rock skis.

The only ungroomed opportunities were soft mushy spring skiing which is better done with a 4 metre snow base in April than now in December with a sketchy covering. On that subject the overnight rain had reduced the official snow base to 93 cms but that was at the snow plot and in many places on runs today it was zero. We tried Lower Bow ( surprisingly ok) and Sunny Side shoulder (very soft and mushy and hard skiing in tight twiggy lines) Later in the day when Cedar opened we tried the skiers right of Cruiser which skied like good spring skiing and was ok on account of the good brush removal work that has been done in the summer on the lower section.

Honestly, that was it, a very repetitive day on limited terrain which produced ok groomers (what there were available) and some very heavy spring like off piste. Doesn't look like we will get Timber chair repaired in time for tomorrow so looks like much more of the same for the next 24 hours. After that we hopefully see a cooling trend with precip in the form of snow but we have had such a beating over the past few days I will believe it when I see it.

On a positive note the bank has finally come through with credit cards that appear to work and the hot tub is fired up although it won't be warm enough to use until tomorrow - party party.


  1. Good to see your back in good form.
    The daily reads of your blog over a large brew are now part of the daily routine.
    Alas, it looks like another year will pass where I will not be crossing the pond to get my Fernie fix, work commitments again.
    All the best Bill.

  2. Thanks Neil, as you can see you are not missing much at the moment