Monday, December 1, 2014

T minus 4 and freezing

Yes, opening day is getting nearer and full on winter is now with us. Today the forecast was for -10 and sunny but as I drove back from town a few minute ago I noticed it was -20 and snowing and as I look out on the back deck it is showing no sign of it letting up.

Things are moving slowly on the home front to get everything in place for the rest of the season.  The outstanding matters now are - getting the hot tub fired up (should have happened today but because of the temps it was a non starter and will probably have to be put back a week) get credit cards from the bank (just awaiting the cards to be delivered to the branch this week) and take our newly tuned and serviced skis to the hill to put in our lockers (along with helmets, powder traces, water proofs etc and everything you need for a season at Fernie). The way these last few things are going we should have them all done by the end of next week - nothing happens very quickly in Fernie.

During the rain last week I checked my waterproof gear and found it was looking a bit leaky. I took a trip to Canadian Tire and invested 20 bucks in a yellow plastic rain suit. I always hope that I won't have to use this stuff but every season we have a couple of days at least when it rains all over the hill and on those days forget you expensive ski gear and go for a cheap plastic jacket - there is nothing more waterproof than plastic. I am now ready for the inevitable downpour when it happens.

When I last reported we were in the middle of a huge rain event and temps were well above zero but with predictions of a cool down. When the weather changed no one really expect the dramatic weather event that hit us on Friday night. When we entered the Pub at about 6 o'clock it was +3 and raining just like it had done for the previous 48 hours. When we left after only a couple of pints (ok so it might have been 3) it was -16, snowing hard and blowing about 70 klicks so the conditions were total white out. Those condition held all night and temps dropped to -25 (-35 on the wind chill) so that by morning we had 40 cms of snow with much more in the drifts. The very wet roads froze to sheet ice which is still there and for 24 hours the highways were closed and Fernie was cut off.

Since that time it has been brutally cold with the mercury getting down to -31 with no wind chill. Today was forecast to be the start of a warming trend with no precip and as I have already said it has stayed down at -20 and has been snowing all afternoon. The forecast remains as a warming trend between now and opening, with maybe some more snow to come.

The hill is reporting about a metre snow base which should give us ok early season coverage although I will be staying on my rock skis until I have been over every inch of the hill without any major damage. I would imagine that there would be some quite deep stuff in the bowls but on the runs where there are alders I suspect we will be bushwhacking for a while yet. The web cams are showing an ok picture for this time of the year and always worth checking out if only because the one from Bear load is titled Great Bear Bottom and no one else seems to find this funny like I do. All this is speculation and the real report on conditions will follow the first day's actual skiing.

Entertainment has comprised going to the hockey (Riders won 6-3) and going to the pub to chat with ski buddies. I am also spending some time sitting around at home in my ski boots (as I am now) to get ready for the season. I know some boot fitters don't agree with using the boots around the house like this but my view is that it is more to get your summer feet into winter shape and not a lot to do with the boots so it's worth the effort.

Finally the number of hits on the blog is rising daily and I am even getting a few emails. The most common question I get asked is a variation on "I am coming to Fernie, when should I come to be guaranteed powder snow". Of course there is no answer to this question but with 4 years of blogs under my belt I am now just suggesting that people go back into the archives and read my reports for the time they intend coming. This still won't help as they will be contradictory and past weather is no good in predicting the future but at least it means I don't have to stick my neck out and it sounds as if I know what I'm talking about.

Be ready for a final report on the day before opening and then after that we will be in to the real thing.

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