Thursday, December 31, 2015

Day 21 An awesome day for all sorts of reasons

Lets establish that the reasons that today was awesome was nothing to do with new snow or deep powder, it was everything to do with the conditions that were created by the the weather and the great skiing that resulted.

On the way to the hill it was -13 and overcast with valley cloud but the promise of clear skies on top was evident from the colouring of the sky. Overnight they were reporting a couple of cms of fresh snow and just like yesterday we had light flurries off and on all day none of which gave us anything like an accumulation of snow. Temps stayed cold all over the hill and for example it was always around -16 at the Polar Load but with the moist air and wind the wind chill temps on that lift had to be around -25.

I went to the New Side and headed straight up Polar Peak. As I said it was cold but the cloud tops were just below the peak and I have never seen the cloud tops look so flat - it was like a carpet just below your feet. The viz above was the best I have ever seen and you must have been able to see clear to North Pole with the peaks poking up through the thick flat cloud tops. There were all manner of amazing sights up top. Angel Dust, Sun Dogs, Circular Rainbows, rings round the Sun etc. The best thing was a flow of clouds coming over Currie Head wall and falling like a water fall into the valley and then breaking up just like water.All morning I saw the most amazing sights I have ever seen on a mountain - beautiful.

As for the skiing I just looped Polar Peak through Grand Papa Bear and Papa Bear. I avoided the Coaster (ugly blue ice) Shale Slope (ugly blue ice in the bottom) and Barely Legal (ugly blue ice in the exit chutes) but everywhere else was huge bumps (about the size of VW Beetles in places) but nice skiing. The cold seemed to have drawn the moisture out of the bumps so that the surface was hard but crisp and taking and edge making for the most excellent challenging skiing and of course in the chute one mistake would have resulted in a long slide - prefect skiing to my mind.

Half way through the morning I ran to base through Decline which had icy bumps in the top but below the same drying effect seemed to have occurred and the bumps all the way down were crisp taking a good edge. I returned to Polar for more loops and by lunch the top of the clouds were starting to break up. Lunch to base was via Mamma Bear and the Stag Leap from the top all of which were nice firm bumps. The final pitch of Stag is still a little twiggy but good if you crash through the twigs.

After Lunch I was back up Polar which was now becoming a bit clearer in the conventional sense and a few more people were turning up. It just like the morning, I looped it many times and the daily total had to be in the 12/14 region. We took a run to base to warm up but this time via Cougar Glades and Stag Leap. Although tracked out both runs gave great firm snow taking a good edge.

We just had time for a couple more runs down Polar before it closed and then skied round to White Pass load for the final run of the day. Polar continued to be great firm bump skiing although just a bit tougher as the light faded.

Last run was Skydive which skied just a well as you would have expected and as I said yesterday, icy in the bumps at the top, soft terrain hugging skiing in the top, easy skiing in the flats and great slightly twiggy skiing in the last pitch.

New Years celebrations kicked off in the Griz with beers and are about to continue in the hot tub with champagne - Have a great 2016.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Day 20 back to some pretty tough skiing

Overnight we didn't have any new snow to speak of and even the boards at the hill were only claiming 2 cms of fresh. We were offered a range of forecasts for today ranging from sunny and clear to flurries. In the event we got overcast conditions most of the day getting bit brighter towards the end and some very light snow off and on which peaked early afternoon but didn't give us anything that might be described as an accumulation.

Temps were chilly with a start on the way to the hill of -12. They stayed much the same during the day warming maybe a degree or two but for the most part we spent the day in -10 temps all over the hill all day. The crowds which have been 5500 and 5300 for the past two days respectively seemed to be slightly lower but we still had to squeeze into the end of parking lot 2 at 10 to 9 this morning. During the day (as usual) there were a couple of pinch points in the high traffic areas such as the Bear load or the Haul Back load but other than that no hold ups and other skiers were very sparse out at the end of the Reverse Traverse on the New Side. Things would be much improved if they insisted that that the Haul Back was double loaded rather than allowing singles to load at peak times.

Lynda was back testing her new hip for the forth time so we went to the Old Side for some gentle morning skiing. After a quick warm up down Bear which was smooth grooming we poked around on New Lift Line, Cruiser Side, Cedar Ridge, Boomerang doing some runs twice. Nothing very demanding but in most places it was tracked up firm bumps taking an edge. I hit Kangaroo 4 times which was a bit scratchy in places and the drop on to the cat track had to be planned as a far left then right turn manoeuvre.

We went to the New Side and had a few runs back through White Pass where the snow was a bit softer but rather chunky and the light was very flat. Final run before lunch we hit out to Concussion and had some nice firm bump skiing all the way down the main chute and continuing through the gully to the left of Gilmar Trail. We had lunch in an incredibly crowded day lodge where we had to sit in the locker room as the only space available - do the same restrictions that apply to the Griz Bar at busy times also apply to the day lodge I found myself wondering. Lynda was well satisfied with her efforts at rehab.

In the afternoon on my own I hit Cougar Glades which still had plenty of lightly tracked lines and then into Stag Leap which was good bumps taking an edge. Next time round the light had improved so I headed up Polar Peak which proved a big mistake. The chutes were closed due to poor viz so the only way down was the Coaster. In poor viz I hit the Coaster which was ugly crusty ice that was about as forgiving as boiler plate all the way down and has the feel that it will be like that for some time to come - below the cat track it softened and was ok skiing.

I dropped Decline and then Window Chutes all or which were hard packed powder taking and edge - much more hard work than of late. I then looped Triple Trees and had great untracked powder in the pitch down to Trespass Trail and some ok skiing in the two pitches below between Summer Road but a fair bit of dead fall. I have been told of some great glading in Triple Tress but I saw no sign of it - the obvious explanation is that what I call Triple Trees is a variation on the official version and I will be looking into this and reporting back.

Final run was on Skydive which for the record was icy in the bumps at the top, chunky tracked snow in the top pitch,mellow skiing in the flat section and some ok if rather twiggy skiing in the final pitch. A few beers then home for yet another early night, I think I must be getting old.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Day 19 no new snow but still good conditions for early season

We had no new snow (at least none I could detect) over night and during the day whilst flurries were promised we only had the odd light dusting which didn't amount to anything in terms of accumulation. The big surprise was the temperature which was down at -13 on the way to the hill this morning and -10 as we drove back and which was way lower than anticipated. To be fair temps did get up during the day so that we saw maybe as high as -4 at the Timber load but at at the Polar load it was never warmer than -10 and for most of the time way lower than that.

It was lightly overcast with a high misty cloud which gave way to hazy sunshine during the day but towards the close the conditions started to sock in a bit so that it almost looked like another weather cycle was on the way although we haven't had anything yet. People think that sunshine in these conditions means good viz but that is only partially true. In the direct sunlight things are good but in the shade (particularly when the light come through haze and therefore is diffused white light) the light is very flat making skiing quite difficult. This happened to me as I dropped into Cedar ridge this morning and I had reports from buddies of similar experiences as they dropped into 1-2-3s about the same time. Just making the point that the light did make for some problems today.

The crowds didn't show up first thing but by mid day things were busy and at lunch the day lodge was packed. Whilst there were a lot of people around at the base the upper mountain remained fairly crowd free and the Griz bar was busy but with no problems finding a seat tonight. I was solo today and only had a couple of lifts where there were crowds but both times by taking the singles line I was able to ride the lift with no delay.

I went to the Old Side for the morning hoping to get some runs ahead of the crowds. For the first time this year I tried my standard warm up through Sun Up and China Wall both of which skied well through the twiggy bits which were quite prominent. A trip out to Snake ridge gave good soft snow in the top and big soft bumps in the ski out which I understand is now being called the Waterfall, although I did hear it referred to as Gorby Gap a few days ago. My theory is that as the way out is now so much better there is more traffic in there and as a result the terrain is getting much more bumped up and we are just going to have to get used to it. Kangaroo which was always skied as the route down to Boom load is getting a bit woody and the drop onto the cat track is icy and twiggy and takes some planning.

I skied all over the Old Side with drops through Boom (always soft and good) Cedar Ridge (light problems but skiing ok) Snake (see above) Boom Ridge ( ok but twiggy low down) and all lines in between. Just once I dropped off the Goat Trail into Buck Shot and found good deep snow but twiggy in the top and the lower section looked like a Christmas Tree sale lot - we need a little more snow before I try that again.

After an early lunch I hit the New Side and found Polar Peak open and in good light - a rare combination. I lost count of the number of times I hit the various chutes but as before Grandpapa bear was the run of the day with no ice if you knew where to go. Papa Bear was mellow and Barely Legal was still very icy in the chutes. I tried two more lines than before - Shale Slope (nice on top but slick ice low down) and the Clown Chutes where Crusty was bit technical in the entrance but great soft skiing below that.

By late afternoon it was getting busy on Polar so I dropped the less tracked Baby Bear and had a great run to base through Decline where the skiing was good but the highlight was the appearance of two pileated woodpeckers - made my day.

We just had time for a couple more runs on the Polar Chutes before another drop to base via Currie Creek which was great deep skiing all the way down and some nice tight technical turns to exit. Last run was Skydive of course which we (or at least me) hit top to bottom in one and the skiing was good all the way.

A good days skiing considering the base is still only about 195 cms and despite the crowds still plenty of places to go where you didn't see anyone.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Day 18 the day the crowds show up

Today was the day that the Christmas holiday really kicked off in Fernie. When we got to the hill just before 9 we could only just get in parking lot 2, at lunch we had to sit down in the locker room to eat our sandwiches and this evening there was a small line to get in the Griz but that seemed to be more to do with checking ID - they didn't ask for mine, should I be offended ? Despite all this the lift line ups were not bad and we only had to ride single once. Out in the far areas of the New Side we saw a few more people but it was never what you would call busy.

A lot of my buddies get very up tight about these holiday crowds but personally I take a slightly different view. There is no way that the hill could operated based on the few of us that ski the hill mid week particularly in Dec and Jan. What is happening in these busy times is that the crowds are effectively paying for our seasons mid week skiing and as such we should be really happy that they show up. As a gesture how about trying to be super nice to a visitor tomorrow and maybe even showing them some quite nice places to ski - of course I am not suggesting anyone should show them the best , you have to draw the line somewhere.

Overnight we had about 4 cms of fresh snow raising the base to 196 cms which no doubt will settle over the next few days. On the way to the hill it was -7 and all day it seemed to be about -5 all over the hill and overcast. Actually we had very light snow all day which I doubt accumulated a measurable amount of snow but did at least add to rather than take away from the snow base. The upper mountain was all tracked up powder from the previous few days and with the temps keeping the snow in good shape it was pretty nice skiing everywhere,

Lynda was on her third day of skiing so we had some low key skiing while she tested the strength of her new hip. Up the New Side we looped White Pass several times through the Gun Bowl, Highline Trees, Highline and Quite Right. We then pushed out into Currie Bowl and we had two good loops of Alpha Centauri and lower Concussion which were all very mellow as was the ski out through Gilmar Trail.

Late morning I met up with buddies and skied some other lines while Lynda continued to loop. We hit Knot Chutes which were chunky but soft and Surprise Trees which were really very soft in the trees but getting a bit tracked up in the open areas. The run down for lunch was Polar Peak Mamma Bear which was super deep but firm and Touque Chutes with still some soft lines if you knew where to go. The final exit was Spinal Tap which is starting to get a bit slick in the high traffic areas. Lynda finished just after 1 which is not bad for 3 months after a new hip but with the very crowed day lodge it made for a relatively short afternoon.

After lunch we went back up Polar Peak but the viz had gone and it was closed very shortly after we skied it. Papa Bear was just about the only way we could grope our way down and it was at least soft - I guess. Cougar Glades still had some untracked lines and Stag Leap was yet again improved in the lower section. Next time round was a Decline/Window Chutes loop which was some excellent skiing in  upper Decline as soft bump skiing and then soft snow in the trees and good skiing in the chute which was a little scratchy in the choke.

We had some time to spare so we hit Siberia Ridge which remained great soft lightly tracked skiing but rather technical in the choke as always. Last run we took Lazy Locals into the top of Big Band and found some great untracked steep lines on the near side. Last last run of course was Skydive which as always was soft terrain skiing on top, mellow in the flat mid section and and tough twiggy skiing in the lower pitch

A couple of beers in a very crowded Griz Bar and then a quiet night at home. Could this be the peak busy day of the Christmas holiday period or is it just a taste of things to come.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Day 17 a lot easier than yesterday

Again avid readers can decide why today was so much easier than yesterday. Was it the 5 cms of new snow overnight and about 10 during the day ? Was it the fact that Polar Peak remained closed all day so we did not have to wrap ourselves up in order to survive and still end up freezing our nuts off on the Polar Chair ? Was it because we kept alcoholic consumption last night to at least reasonable levels so we didn't feel like death warmed up when we got to the hill ? Again, you decide.

Temps warmed up a lot overnight so that on the way to the hill it was -7 and overcast. I think it was a little cooler up the hill but nothing like yesterday's brutal temps. In a way this makes things more complicated, yesterday you just took every piece of clothing you possessed out of your closet and put it on, Today you had to make decisions which thankfully I got just about right and stayed warm without getting over heated.

The snow that I talked about falling as we skied the last run last night had some effect and an accumulation of 5 cms of fresh was reported which felt about right to me. The bonus was that despite there being no snow in the forecast it snowed all day all over the hill quite hard and at -7/8 which as everyone knows produces perfect light dry powder snow. It's hard to say but it would not surprise me if we had an accumulation during the day of around 10 cms. The wind was swirling up and down the slopes so in various places the accumulation was significantly greater if you struck lucky.

The crowds turned up today so I headed for the New Side. For reasons I can never work out the Christmas/New Year crowds always build up on the Old Side and whilst some come over to the New Side they seem intent on not skiing the best snow. This was proved today as I looped the New Side finding crowds only in the lift areas (even then there were no significant line ups) and as I headed out into the more remote areas I hardly saw anyone all day.

Whilst I wasn't late to the hill I was by no means on first chair and headed up the New Side with a nice soft drop from Timber top to White Pass load via Lift Line in lightly tracked deep snow. At the top of White Pass I bumped into my good buddies Rob and Katie and we headed out to Skydive, We could not believe that Skydive was untracked and we hit it top to bottom. The nice thing about skiing any of the Big Three (don't let me hear anyone calling them The Fingers, yuck) with three of you is that as long as you all take tight lines everyone gets first tracks - that's what happened.

We had noticed that on the way past Cougar Glades it was untracked and when we looped back it still was. Great first tracks and when we cut left into Stag Leap, yes, you guessed it, untracked all the way down. Rob and Katie had family duties so I hit out on my own.

Next stop was Decline top (lightly tracked) and cut into Window chutes through the untracked tree lines and then the chute itself with just one track in front which meant great deep snow. I looped Touque Chutes and then Spinal Tap both of which were becoming deep with untracked areas despite a bit of light traffic.The lower part of Spinal tap is now as good as I can remember it.

Around this time I decided that it was going to be a no lunch and ski straight through day as the new snow was building up and things were just getting better. I hiked up to Lone Fir and apart from one icy turn about half way down it was great soft skiing so that you could really push it hard in the chute. The ski out through Easter Bowl and Freeway was good by any standards.

For a change I hit the top of the Brain next which was full of deep untracked lines. For information a couple of days ago I had a minor stack in there which involved me having to remove a ski to get up after my ski buddies proved useless and performing any kind of recovery assistance. Contrary to rumors that seem to be circulating I did not have a life threatening experience and my continuing existence is in no way due to the actions of a particular ski buddy who I would just reiterate provided no assistance at all. I cut into Window Chute which as before were really deep.

In search of adventure I hiked back up to Lone Fir but this time went one chute further on into what is officially known as Easter Meadow but is sometimes referred to a One Step Beyond. Totally awesome snow all the way down and the only danger in the tight chute at the bottom was being taken out by your own slough. I cut across Easter after skiing the awesomely deep cushion and hit Spinal Tap once again and once again it was deep powder.

For a change I hit out off the top of White Pass to Gotta Go and had some spectacularly deep skiing (deepest so for this season) in the Google Earth chute. Boot Leg Glades were also deep and soft through the trees on skiers left. Next change was to try Siberia Ridge which was soft mellow skiing which was just a bit technical in the choke, We just had time for a quick White Pass loop through the Gun Bowl and Pillow Talk which were all soft tracked powder before last run time.

Last run was Skydive which as it had been the first run gave a certain symmetry to the day. I wasn't untracked this time but it was still pretty good deep skiing for last run of the day. Unfortunately we had to skip beers as we were entertaining at home but we had a great evening with beers and hot tub at home with Rob and Katie and 18 month old Joey.

looks like we may actually get some more fresh snow tomorrow and Lynda is going back out for day 3 on the new hip so everything is looking good.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Day 16 all a bit tougher today

There was a certain amount of debate as to why the conditions today seemed a bit tougher. Was it that there was no new snow and the hill was a little tracked up ? Was it that in the very cold conditions we were all bundled up and our muscles were cold and not working so well ? Was it because we got unbelievably drunk last night over an excellent Christmas dinner with our buddies ? You decide.

Overnight things got cold, we had no new snow and on the way to the hill this morning we were registering temps of -20 in the truck. They said there was an inversion with temps about 10 degrees warmer on top and it is certainly true to say that things did warm up quite quickly so that very soon we had temps of about -12 all over the hill. It was high misty cloud to start with giving fairly flat light and as the day wore on it clouded over more and by the last run it was actually snowing quite hard although that does seem to have petered out in the valley this evening.

I had expected today to be a complete zoo with the start of the holiday crowds but not so. If anything it was rather quieter than a usual Saturday and whilst the parking lots seemed to be quite busy at no time did I have to line up at any lift anywhere on the hill.

For rather obvious reasons we started about an hour late this morning and I headed over to the Old Side as I thought the light might be better there. I did two loops of Snake Ridge which skied very soft in the top section but is getting a bit bumpy in the narrow newly cut pitch. The exit was through Kangaroo which is getting rather icy on the drop to the cat track and at the bottom there were several new moose tracks which suggests that moosey didn't head off to Cedar Valley as I thought after I saw her a few days ago. The loops were completed through Boomerang which was soft and chopped up powder on a firm base.

As a final loop before lunch I headed out to Steep and Deep which I had tried about 10 days ago and found it too twiggy. This time it was really good deep lightly tracked powder most of the way down. My mistake was to try and exit via the chute on skiers right into Lower Gorby. It was very twiggy and finding away through took a fair bit of bushwhacking. Exits for lunch once again were through Kangaroo and Boomerang.

After lunch I headed to the New Side, Polar peak had just opened and I felt obliged to give it a try. In Papa Bear there was bit of blow in but the light was very poor and flat. I would have skied it several times but the ride up in the chair was about the coldest I have ever known. Even though I was dressed for it (fleece balaclava, 5 layers, boot gloves and hot shots in the mitts) I could only manage one ride up and that was my lot for the day. After that  I just did standard New Side loops -
Cougar Glades - ok tracked up powder. Below the cat track I tried the exit left chute which was deep snow and just about skiable but so many alders that it was difficult to get any kind of flow going.
Decline - I figured I needed a rest and just hit the run top to bottom and it was very mellow soft skiing.
The Brain/Window Chutes - Top of the Brain was a little more tracked up than yesterday but there was still plenty of soft snow. Window Chutes were tracked up but soft although rather scratchy in the choke.
Touque Chutes/Spinal Tap - The top of the chutes are becoming icy on the old rain base which I think is going to be something of a feature for the remainder of the season. Spinal Tap remains deep but a few twigs in the lower section.

Drops to White Pass from Timber were usually down Lift Line which was starting to become slick in places but last time I hiked up to Mitchy Chutes which were very soft and deep until the lower chokes which were pretty icy and twiggy.

Last run was Skydive which was just as it has been but with more tracks than before. Soft snow in the top section, nice undulating bumps in the middle and the lower section is still twiggy but getting better every day.

Now after a hot tub an early night and a (comparatively) sober one while deck temps are showing -15. Tomorrow should be another rather tougher day but good fun.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Day 15 Merry Christmas Everyone

Just a very brief report tonight as we have just had about the best day's skiing on the hill imaginable and we are waiting for the taxi to go to our good buddies Dan and Ruth for Christmas dinner - UK readers please not this is something that happens in the evening in Canada.

What a day. Overnight we had another 10 cms of snow on top of all of the powder that came down over the past two days. The result was that everything was filled in and where we hadn't skied over the past two days the powder was bottomless. Temps overnight dropped to -15 and never got above -10 during the day anywhere on the hill. Driving back from the hill it was -16 which suggests another cold night but with the snow staying in great shape. The viz improved so that we had a bluebird day most of the morning and just a little light haze in the afternoon. This meant we could really rip the areas that were poor viz yesterday (Polar Peak) in the improved light.

In summary we had a cold bluebird day in great new snow conditions and hardly anyone on the hill. What more could anyone want from a Christmas present.

I had a couple of rips round White Pass which was all deep hero snow and then they opened Polar Peak. I got second tracks in Grand Papa Bear which were spectacular ant then just looped that, Papa Bear and just once Barely Legal. The chutes out of Barely legal were the only bad skiing on the hill being super icy and well worth avoiding. As Polar became tracked I ran to base through Mamma Bear and the Skydive which was hardly tracked and very deep in the top.

I looped around the Big Three with particularly good skiing in Touque Chutes and Spinal Tap. Last run before lunch was a ride up Polar for Baby Bear (awesome) then a hike up Lone Fir (even more awesome) and then a cut across to Spinal Tap which was still deep and trying to take you out with your own slough.

After lunch I hit Gotta Go/ Bootleg Glades - lost for words on how good and deep the snow was. Knot Chutes - deep but getting scratchy in the Tight Knot. Then Triple Trees which was probably the deepest snow on the hill as no one had skied it due to the dubious exit. As It was I dropped on the Trespass Trail with no major incident after getting spectacular deep untracked skiing all the way down

Last rip one hour early down Skydive was still deep and soft. I have probably fogoten a few runs but the taxi is here. Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Day 14 the best days skiing ever

So what made it the best day's skiing ever? Was it the fact that we had about 20 cms of snow at -8 overnight giving us awesome powder? Was it the fact that the crowds have still not arrived so we had most of the hill to ourselves for the day? Was it the fact that it puked snow all day despite the forecasts only saying we were in for a light dusting and as a result everything filled in and the base went over 2 metres? No, it was the fact that today Lynda skied for the first time after her hip replacement op almost 3 months ago to the day and had no problems.

Lynda's first plan was to ski before the end of the season, then before the end of January, then on Christmas day and finally today on Christmas Eve. The conditions were very favourable but even allowing for that it was great to get my best ski buddy back and that she was able to last for 3 and a half hours was a bonus - we are now both really looking forward to the rest of the season.

Overnight we had 13 cms of fresh snow which came down at around -8 making it just about perfect powder. As we drove to the hill it was -6 at the base and -10 on top and stayed that way all day. It snowed all day despite the forecasters only calling for a light dusting. When I say it snowed, it just puked down all day filling in existing tracks and giving some super deep deep skiing. It is just starting to slacken off a bit now in the evening but we must have had at least 20 cms of fresh which was confirmed in the bar tonight as having taken us past the 2 metre base mark, an awesome start to the season.

Because I was helping Lynda in the morning my skiing was limited to the Old Side on such runs as Bear, Arrow, Dancer, Cruiser, Cedar Centre, North Ridge and similar gentle skiing. It wasn't all that bad as the powder had piled up along side these runs and we were able to ski powder on a flat base most of the morning. We even tried a few of the ungroomed areas such as Boomerang and Bear Chutes which we super soft and deep.Not my usual type of skiing but time well spent to get my best ski buddy back on her skis.

In the afternoon I decided to make up for lost time and went to the New Side where I found Lift Line very deep if a little tracked but filling in - that set the pattern for the afternoon.

Polar Peak was open but very socked in. I took a run back through Grand Papa Bear which was very deep and soft before hitting out to Papa Bear which was similarly spectacular. Because of the poor light I couldn't really pull the trigger in either of these runs so decided to stay below the tree line for the rest of the afternoon.
Decline - very soft deep and mellow all the way down
Cougar Glades/Stag Leap - soft deep skiing with the bottom of Stag almost acceptable.
The Brain/Window Chutes - a great pitch through the upper Brain spoilt only when I had the most spectacular burial in the deep snow above the cat track. Windows were great deep snow in the entrance and even better through the chute.
Touque chutes/Spinal Tap - deep and becoming deeper all the way down
Knot Chutes/Surprise Trees - a great fill in run in what had probably been tracked powder early on but by the time we got to it we just had deep soft snow.

The final run of the day was of Course Skydive but what a Skydive. I hardly took my skis out of the fall line in the top section allowing the deep snow to brake me and had one of the best runs in there ever. The rest of the run was still very good and over all it was a great way to finish the day.

Beers in the Griz with buddies to round of one of the most awesome powder days ever. As it was Christmas Eve we took ourselves out to the Bridge Bistro which in my opinion does the best burger in town. Now settled down at home listening to Carols from Kings on Spotify ( they announce today that have the Beatles catalog available for streaming) do Christmases get any better than this. Still snowing, could be a good Christmas Day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Day 13 Polar Express

No, I am not giving a plug to the kids movie of the above name which we have already successfully avoided several times this Christmas, I am making reference to the fact that today we had Polar Peak Chair opened for us for the first time this year. Of course the chair isn't an express ( it's an old fashioned triple chair) but I think I am allowed a little poetic licence given the awesome day I have had, of which more later.

We had about 7 cms of fresh overnight and the base is creeping up towards 185 cms. Temps to start were -6 in the valley and were about the same as we drove away and my guess is that they didn't change much during the day. Up the mountain I saw temps of -8/9 but I guess that up Polar Peak it was way colder and when you factor in wind chill it wouldn't surprise me if it wasn't as low as -15. the weather was overcast with light flurries all day which didn't really give any accumulations but did keep everything fresh and looking nice and Christmasy.

I went to the New Side partly because I thought the best snow would be there but mostly because my inside information told me that we would be getting Polar Peak today. The drop from Timber Top to White Pass load was all day through Lift Line or Big Bang or some combination of the two. It was ok soft snow with a few sketchy ice patches but overall very good.

I looped the New Side waiting for Polar Peak -
Decline/Window chutes - nice soft snow with no new tracks in the top and very deep snow through the trees and in the chute
Cougar Glades/Stag Leap - Cougar had no new tracks and you could even find some untracked lines in the trees to the left. The lower part of Stag was surprisingly untwiggy and skied ok on the left side.
Stag Leap - encouraged by our experience in the lower section we hit Stag top to bottom and the upper skiing was really good and lightly tracked and the lower was as before.
Touque Chutes/Spinal Tap - Great soft snow skiing in the chutes and after a short traverse into the creek bed it was good tight deep snow creek bed skiing.
Skydive - as always great terrain hugging soft snow in the top and the lower section is getting almost mellow in places.

I was about to go to lunch when they opened Polar Peak. We had thought that maybe we would only get the Coaster side but in the event we got the full Polar Chutes all the way across. The snow was super deep as it had not been skied at all this season and with only a few small icy patches to catch you out the rest was very deep (and when I first got in) untracked powder. The viz wasn't great and got worse during the afternoon but this didn't bother me and just served to keep some of the more timid skiers out.

I hit Grand Papa Bear, Barely Legal and Papa Bear 3 times each so a total of 9 runs - all great deep powder skiing. I ran to a very late lunch via Mama Bear and then Touque Chutes and Spinal Tap which were just as good as before.

After lunch I had very little time but went back up to Polar peak and had 2x Grand Papa and 1x Papa Bear. It was time to close on Polar so my run off was via Baby Bear which was just as good as all the other chutes. A quick trip round Trespass Trail to White Pass via Currie Glades (very mellow) gave me a chance for a last rip down through Surprise Trees which were surprisingly lightly tracked.

Final run was Skydive of course which was just as good as earlier in the day. We had beers with buddies in the Griz Bar and then had awell deserved hot tub on the back deck in snow that was still lightly falling and temps of -7. A near perfect day in  my view with 14 runs down Polar Chutes.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Day 12 free skiing from now on

First of all I have to apologise for the late post tonight. It isn't for the usual reason of having drunk too much beer with buddies but for the rather more uplifting reason that we have been out finishing off Christmas preparations. We now have all decorations and lights up, presents bought and wrapped, food and drink ready to go so let the jollifications commence.

Today's heading does not refer to some really generous offer by the hill but instead it refers to the fact that after 12 days skiing the season pass has paid for itself. Of course this depends on the fact that the price of the pass is calculated at earlybird prices and the daily cost of skiing is undisccounted which is a pretty safe bet even at this time of year. So with the pass covered it is time to sit back and enjoy the rest of the season.

We had about 8 cms of snow overnight and starting temps were -6 on the way to the hill. Things stayed pretty cold all day with temps a couple of degrees colder up the hill and still down at -5 as we drove away tonight. It was overcast with light flurries to start the day and as the morning wore on we had an inversion with clearer skies on top and valley cloud - we even had some angel dust at the top of the cloud level. This didn't last long and by lunch time it was starting to sock in and the flurries returned. There were no great accumulations but it has been snowing quite consistently in the valley all evening and with the low temps we might have some fresh snow for the morning.

The result of last night's activity was that most of the tracking had filled in although it still showed through and the only truly untracked snow was what had not yet been skied in the season. As promised last night I went to the Old Side and had a great morning's skiing over there. First drop was Snake Ridge all the way down which only had a couple of tracks in and the newly cleared shoulder was excellent tracked powder. Kangaroo was interesting if only because of the appearance of a moose on the lower section who quickly became bored with skiers and headed off down the run and into the trees below. If this is the same moose that we encountered on the New Side last week then she is moving in the right direction away from the ski hill and will avoid conflict which could have unfortunate results for both skiers and moosey alike.

The rest of the morning was spent looping in no particular order and some runs several times - Linda's, Boomerang, Boom Ridge, Cedar Ridge, Kangaroo, King Fir and Snake Ridge. Everything was nice deep tracked powder and there was nothing you would say was anything but good skiing. A special mention has to go the the Fish Bowl which I dipped into for the first time this season. I only hit the Poppa Chutes just beyond the boundary fence and cut back into Redtree (not easy to find the cut back this early in the season) but the snow was thigh deep and well worth the excursion.

After lunch I went to the New Side in the hope that we would get Polar Peak for the first time and although it did look promising for some time Polar remains a treat yet to be experienced. We ran -
White Pass - a straight run back through the Gun Bowl and under the Chair still had lots of fresh snow.
Decline/ Window Chutes - Great packed powder in the top of Decline and Window chutes remain lightly tracked and deep.
Siberia Ridge - In great shape and very lightly tracked. It was so good that I was tempted the drop the face in the choke but eventually opted for the right/left shift. Very good powder.
Cougar Glades/ Stag Leap - still lots of untracked lines to be found in Cougar and lower Stag a bit more skiable than yesterday.
Touque Chutes/Spinal Tap - rapidly becoming one of my favourite combinations due to the nice lines in the chute and the fact that Spinal Tap remains very deep unskied snow in many places.
The Brain/Lower Decline - not a combination I had tried before and upper Brain was spectacularly deep snow particularly in the roll above Megasaurus. Lower Decline is still the most mellow of the Big Three.

For last run I hiked up to Mitchy Chutes rather than drop from Timber through Lift Line as I had been doing all day. Unfortunately I got tempted by Big Bang which had some lovely steep untracked skiing off the Lazy Locals traverse. The very last run of course was Skydive which remains great terrain hugging skiing most of the way down and just a bit twiggy in the bottom section.

Beers with a few buddies in the Griz and with everyone having some good stories about the day. Looking out on the deck it is still snowing at about -6 so who knows what tomorrow may bring.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Day 11 the longest shortest day ever

As most people will appreciate today as the solstice was the shortest day of the year and as we hit the hill at 9 and skied to the last chair which was at 4 we could not have made it much longer - case proved.

Last night's snow didn't come down in quite the quantities hoped for but we did get at least 16 cms out of the cycle with a significant proportion falling after close of play yesterday. Today dawned at about -2 in the valley and during the day temps rose so that we may have just got to +1 at the base for a short time but up on top we stayed at -4/5 most of the day and so the snow stayed in good shape. As we drove away from the hill tonight it was -3 so temps are starting to fall as forecast and things should stay in pretty good condition for the foreseeable future.

It was overcast for all of the day and the viz at the top of the hill came and went so we had conditions that ranged from ok to totally socked in and back again. We had flurries off and on all day so there was some accumulation but I doubt it was much more than 3 cms but with the base we already have this made for great skiing - the ski base at the snow plot is now about 175 cms and increasing daily.

We went to the New Side (sorry Old Side fans I really really promise to go there tomorrow) and found good deep untracked snow. The crowds were rather more than I expected for a Monday but I guess it was a combination of early Christmas vacationers and the local crowd taking advantage of the 20 centimetre (sort of ) rule. That having been said we didn't really have to line up and were able to find fresh tracks all day.

A lot of the morning was spent looping Knot Chutes and Surprise Trees as Currie Bowl was not open and White Pass was all that was available to us. The Knot Chutes were for the most part great deep skiing but the Jim Chute was hard blue ice ( something which is a clear under layer all over the hill) and not a lot of fun. Surprise Trees were great deep powder skiing anyway you wanted to try them.

Currie Bowl opened late morning and we had time for -
Cougar Glades/Stag Leap - there were a couple of tracks in Cougar Glades ahead of us but they soon disappeared in the many lines you could take. We all had untracked lines in awesome tree skiing down to the Megasaurus Trail. After that we cut into lower Stag Leap which was all but untracked and getting much better in the lower pitch which is now totally skiable.
Decline/Window Chutes - The top of Decline was lightly tacked soft powder and Window Chutes were deep and untracked in the drop in and very deep soft snow all the way through the chute.
Skydive - great deep powder and terrain hugging skiing all the way down and the lower section becoming less twiggy every run.

Lunch. After lunch we went to the New Side and continued to drop from Timber Top the White Pass load through Lift Line, Big Bang, Puff Trees or some combination of all of the above which were very good skiing. The rest of the afternoon ( which I am having trouble remembering) was -
Lone Fir/Easter Bowl - a bit scratchy in the lower section of the chute but with some excellent skiing on the soft snow roll underneath and all the way down Easter Bowl.
Knot Chutes/Anaconda/Bootleg Glades - the Knot chute still had plenty of soft snow. We hit the 5 chute in Anaconda and had mostly untracked deep snow all the way down. Bootleg was untracked in the chutes to the left of the main Glades so we trashed them, the ski out was very mellow and soft.
Low Saddle - the entrance was blue ice and made for 3 or 4 rather exciting turns before we could cut right into some deep untracked chutes. The ski out through Easter and Freeway was great if a little twiggy in the bottom.
Touque chutes/Spinal Tap - considering how late in the day we skied these the initial drop in was remarkably untracked. Spinal Tap was way better than two days ago and even if the creek bed was not fully filled in the shoulders were great very deep snow and all the dead fall does appear to have been removed.
Stag Leap - It suddenly occurred to us that we hadn't skied Stag Leap all the way down, just cutting in from Cougar Glads up until now. We remedied this with a straight drop of the top of Skydive and found the trees at the top full of deep snow and perfectly spaced. The rest of the run was only lightly tracked deep snow and even the last pitch was just about acceptable.

We just had time for a quick Whute Pass loop to fill in time before catching pretty well the last chair to the top and then traverse across to Skydive. I hit Skydive top to bottom in one shot for the first time this year and it was great. Beers in the Griz ans an early night. Forecasts are very undecided on just how much snow we are going to get in the next 24 but rest assured no matter how much or little it is we will be out there playing in it.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Day 10 a seriously awesome powder day

Today started rather unpromisingly with an overnight snowfall of only about 4 cms and not much forecast for the day. For once I was so happy that forecasters get it so wrong as we had an awesome powder day which just got better as the day went on.

On the way to the hill it was -1 and temps stayed at about that at base all day. Up the mountain they were about -5 and again there was very little change as the day wore on. I had a bad start in that I only took one ski boot to the hill (don't ask, it's a mixture of old age and incompetence) so I had to wait while Lynda ran home and came back with the boot - just over half an hour in all.

This didn't matter as it was only starting to snow in what was supposed to be a convective cell giving us a couple of cms. In the event the snow just got stronger as the day went on and by the time  we came off the hill we must have had at least 10 cms and it was still puking snow. Actually it has been puking snow ever since and looks like it might never stop. The rather obvious result was that things just got better all day as the snow got deeper and the tracks from yesterday disappeared.

I don't intend to do a run by run account of today's skiing which was all on the New Side partly because I don't think that would be the best way of capturing the spirit of such a great powder day and partly because I got so pissed with buddies after skiing that I am not sure I could remember - North American readers please note I am using the English meaning of pissed (drunk) and not the North American (annoyed) which in English would be "pissed off with".

We skied all over the New Side skiing runs (some several times) such as Decline, Window Chutes, Cougar Glades, Skydive, Touque Chutes, Stag Leap, Anaconda Glades, Surprise Trees, Knot Chutes etc. No real point in commenting on the snow in that the best run anyone would have experienced would have been their last of the day as the snow was accumulating all the time but everywhere was deep lightly, or intracked powder and totally spectacular skiing. We avoided the Saddles as the light was rather socked in up high as you would have expected and the snow fields under the Saddles would have been very flat light.

Special moments get special comments as follows -
Cougar Glades - in one of the afternoon runs through I was tempted to try the lower section along the right side of Stag Leap. The upper section had not been skied all season and was sensational. Lower down I ran into some serious timber of all descriptions that should act as a warning to others,
Window Chutes - every time through was super deep in the drop in, and still very deep in the chute. Some of the best snow of the day.
Anaconda - must get a special mention as the snow in chute 5 was probably the deepest on the hill.

The Big 3 (don't let me hear anyone calling them the fingers, yuck,) are all now really good skiing but remain a little twiggy in the final pitches. Decline - almost winter conditions, Skydive - still a bit twiggy, Stag Leap - still sucks and needs about 20 cms of new snow.

Final run of the day was Skydive which was great soft skiing. This was followed by far too many beers celebrating a powder day in the Griz Bar as is easily detectable from this report. Home for a hot tub and more beers.

The good news is that it is still puking snow as it has been all day and valley temps are about -3. Current thinking is 15 cms more over night, 10 cms during the day tomorrow and more tomorrow night, The longer range forecast is calling for snow on every day for the next 10 days so it looks like things could be pretty good at least for the next week. I'm off for an early night and early start tomorrow.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Day 9 a good day for a weekend powder day

Today was the first really good powder weekend of the season and we all wondered just how busy it would be. Of course as the last weekend before Christmas we expected (hoped) that family pressures would keep some of the crowds away. In the event it was quite busy first thing but after the crowds dissipated from the Timber load in the first 5 minutes of the day there were no real line ups although I can only speak for the New Side because that I where I spent the day.

Part of my New Side bias was because I thought that Polar Peak might open - it didn't but a lot of preparatory work seemed to be going on so I am optimistic that it won't be long before we are skiing the hill from the Peak to the Plazza. Even limiting myself to the New Side there were plenty of fresh lines to be had and even as the day wore on and the crows diminished (most weekend warriors don't have 7 hour legs) there were still fresh lines if you knew where to look.

The snow last night continued for at least 3 hours after the close and we probably got about 20 cms out of the cycle and at least 5 since last nights close. Not that the base has much to do with what we ski on but it is getting on for 170 cms and a very rough yardstick is a 2 metre base by the end of the year would be considered a good snow year. Rather worryingly the temps by morning were much warmer than forecast at about -1 in the valley and -5 up the hill. During the day base temps got to plus figures (maybe +1) but things stayed cold on top (-4) and by the close things were getting much colder so we may have dodged the bullet on that minor warming trend. Conditions all day were overcast with quite poor viz in White Pass to begin with and we had light flurries off and on which never gave anything you could call an accumulation.

The day for us worked out this way and as I have said it was all New Side -
White Pass Quite Right and Lift Line - the fence was closed at the Zig Zag but we got good lightly tracked deep snow in Quite Right and untracked snow in the trees on skiers left under the lift.
Decline - next time up the fence had dropped on Currie bowl so we hit out to the Big Three and chose Decline. It was just as good as last run yesterday with deep untracked snow all the way down and the final pitch now pretty well clear of alders.
Cougar Glades - for whatever reason no one seemed to be  tracking all the way out to the glades and we  had another deep untracked line down Cougar where you could just put your skis in the fall line in the tight trees. The lower section was a bit twiggy but we judged that it would be better than cutting left into lower Stag Leap which we figured would suck until we got a bit more snow
Low Saddle/Easter/ Freeway - The Saddles opened next time and we took Low Saddle. We were second tracks in but on the right cut below the chute we were first tracks and had the run of the season so far in deep untracked chutes as far as the eye could see. Easter was soft deep snow and Freeway had just opened for the first time and was rather lumpy in the top and twiggy low down
Knot Chutes/Anaconda 5/Bootleg Glades - Tight Knot was super deep snow as was Anaconda where your biggest danger was being barreled out by your own slough. Bootleg was open for the first time and the hellter skelter through the trees on skiers left was awesome deep powder. Alders in the lower part of Bootleg have all been cleared out so it was very mellow skiing to the Gilmar Trail.
Touque Chutes - not even sure if these are official dropping off the top of Skydive into the trees to the skiers left. Great deep powder all the way down and quick cut out into Easter to achieve the ski out.
Lone Fir/Spinal Tap - for the first time this year I hiked up to Lone Fir and dropped the chute. As you would expect the chute was a bit tight and technical but the role below was just fantastic soft snow. I cut a traverse across to Spinal Tap more as a personal challenge than anything else.The chute was full of deep snow with few tracks but very skiable. The only problem was that the snow hadn't filled the stream bed so you could only jump half way down before turning out. A bit of work but good fun.

After I very late lunch I had a short afternoon -
High Saddle - very scratchy, icy and hard work but great skiing below in deep powder. The exit via Easter and Freeway was just as before.
Siberia Ridge - I decided to give Sib Ridge a lash and was not disappointed. It was ok in the top section and the choke was no worse than it usually is even with way more snow than we have now.
Decline/Window Chutes - Decline was of course excellent and the drop through the trees to Window chutes had enough snow to have all the dead fall covered. The chute itself was as good as I have ever seen it in tracked powder, even the choke wasn't too scratchy.
Knot Chutes/ Surprise Trees - a quick loop to get our last run on time and we found good deep tracked snow in both areas.

All day drops from Timber top were via Lift Line and Big Bang and the various lines in there had been good. Last run of course was Skydive which was great deep rolling snow and now even the final pitch isn't all that twiggy as long as you stay left.

All in all another good day with more snow forecast over the next few days.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Day 8 just another day of typical Fernie flurries

Of course the title of today is ironical, we had one of the most awesome powder days for years which just kept getting better at things went on,but on the other hand you could just say that what we had was typical Fernie flurries.

Overnight they were giving us a total of 7 cms in the last 24 but with 4 of that overnight. As we drove to the hill it was -10 and even though it warmed to about -6 during the day things remained very cold and as a result the snow stayed in good shape. The conditions were snow which came down all day. Late morning the snow started to get light which was the forecast but then it came back for the rest of the day and just puked all over the hill all afternoon which was a real bonus. Current thinking is that we got well over 10 cms during the day and as it is still snowing there is talk of another 10 cms overnight. The actual numbers aren't important - we had tons of snow with more in the outlook.

We went to the New Side and had great untracked lines in Surprise Trees. Next loop we dropped Skydive which was very soft deep snow in top just holding the early season terrain and a bit twiggy on the lower section. Next loop I dropped Low Saddle which was as expected a bit icy in the top but after the cut right in the chute the fields of snow that opened up were untracked and super deep. The ski out to base through lower Easter was very mellow as well.

Remembering that Decline had been very good a couple of days ago I hit it and found the new snow had added to the soft rolls in the top and the mid section was twiggy but ok. The lower section was far and away the best of the big three and in my opinion could count as full on winter conditions. Next loop was Cougar Glades which by that time had filled in to untracked deep snow. I took the exit on the cat rack to the right as something told me that the lower part of Stag Leap was going to be just too ugly to contemplate.

Last run before lunch was a bit of a mistake as I decided to give the Brain a try for the first time in the season. The top section was sensational with the jump off the big roll above Megsaurus awesome with a landing in waist deep snow. The mistake was to try the lower section which looked ok off the trail but 10 turns in I was surrounded by trees, dead fall, alders, devils club etc. It was really hard work to hop, jump and traverse my way out on to the lower part of Decline.

After lunch I was back up the New Side hoping for the Polar chair to open but with no luck - maybe tomorrow I am told. Corner Pocket was the first chute which was rather icy but below the new snow had built up to some very deep powder and the traverse across to Easter gave more powder as no one seemed to be skiing it.

I then did a couple of White Pass loops which were Knot Chutes (Tight Knot) Anaconda ( chutes 4 then 5) and return through Trespass trail. The conditions were getting just fantastic a with wind sift the Knot Chutes were untracked both times and if anyone had been in Anaconda before their tracks were long since gone in the new snow.

I pushed out to the top of Skydive but for a change hit the Touque Chutes which were untracked in the now deep powder. Just time for a quick White Pass loop through Tight Knot (still untracked no matter how many times I skied it) and the far side of Surprise which was getting really seriously deep. Just a mention here that on one of my many drops through Lift Line from Timber Top to White Pass load I found a Budweiser can just like yesterday which I picked up out of respect for the Griz. If anyone has any idea who the asshole is who is dropping this trash please let me know as I have two big sacks of garbage in my garage which I would like to take round to them and dump on their doorstep and see how they like it - asshole is way to good a term for them.

Last run was Skydive which had filled in to epic proportions during the afternoon. I had deep face shots all the way down the first two sections and even the last pitch was just about ok in the new snow. As I look out on my deck it is still snowing and the temp is -6 so who knows how good it will be tomorrow. Whatever it is I will be out in it.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Day 7 another ok day

Today we had no new openings and no really significant new snow so the conditions were ok, but no better which is still pretty good for early season.

We had about 4 cms of fresh snow out of yesterday's cycle which freshened up the hill. Temps on the way to the hill were -9 and all day we had temps in the -9/-7 range all over the hill. Conditions were overcast and flurries continued throughout the day with no really significant accumulation. If this was the start of the next weather cycle I would be rather worried but as it just appears to be some bonus precip then I will take it thankfully for what it is.

We went to the Old side and had -
Snake Ridge - great soft skiing all the way down.
Kangaroo - lovely as ever in it's new form
Cedar Ridge - I have now discovered from a Patrol buddy that they did a lot of brush work in Cedar Ridge during the summer and it shows. Nice soft untracked snow in many lines.
Kangaroo - ditto
Boom Guts - snow seems to have accumulated to give nice soft lines particularly on the left hand side.
Bear Cave chutes/Cedar Ridge - some of the best soft snow in the top and very mellow lightly tracked snow all the way down. Marred only by a complete dumbass on a snow board who was sat on the snow just under the entrance chute and seemed to think it was my fault he got covered in snow as I avoided his stupid position.
Kangaroo - ditto
Bear Chutes -(don't shoot the Bear) first time of the season which were a bit bushy but some good soft snow in between.
Snake Ridge - we went further left and got even better good deep snow before skiing out on the spine.
Kangaroo - ditto
Bear Chutes - with a better idea we found a rather better line and as a result got some even better lines all the way down to the ski out on the Goat Trail.
Lunch Time.

After lunch we headed over to the New Side. My run down Lift Line was spoilt by finding a beer can dropped from the lift. I can only say that this shows such disrespect for the hill that if the Griz decides to give us a bad snow year for this kind of behaviour I wouldn't be surprised. If I ever catch the twats who throw this garbage I can promise them I will return it to them in just the place they don't want it with all the sharp corners exposed. Rant over.

Tight Knot was great deep snow and when we pushed out to Surprise Trees the snow was actually starting to accumulate. Next stop was Corner Pocket which was still in pretty good shape with a couple of icy jumps. Underneath it was great deep powder and after cutting right into lower Easter it was still alright conditions.

Next loop I made my only big mistake of the day - I decided to try the far Concussion Chutes. They had obviously slide big time and were down to a hard icy base with logs, root, stumps and rocks, all a bit of a slither to get through. Below of course was the result of the slide which was refrozen avi debris in the form of death cookies - even more fun. Not a place to go back to for a day or two.

After that it was a couple of rips up and down White Pass looking for soft snow and then it was time for the last run which has to be Skydive. Actually this was delayed as I was stuck on White Pass chair for long enough to make me think that maybe they had shut down and forgotten about me - as it was everything was ok. Skydive was hardly tracked and some of the best skiing of the day in the upper section. The bottom was unsurprisingly hard work but then after a great time someone always presents the bill so I guess that was ok.

The outlook is foe about 5 cms overnight on slightly increased temps and then 10 during the day tomorrow dying out early evening. Clearly we are going to have to work hard to trash everything out before the weekend crowds arrive but I am prepared to give it my best shot. Maybe we get Polar Peak tomorrow as well, who knows.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Day 6 more snow and more great openings

Yes, yet another great day's skiing and I am almost running out of great things to say about how much fun I am having here early season.

Overnight we had 4 cms of new snow and on the way to the hill it was snowing and continued for an hour or so which I guess gave us another 3 cms out of that cycle. Temps on the way to the hill were -6 and although the base temps may have warmed to around -3 I think the upper mountain temps stayed in the -7/-8 region all day which of course meant that the snow stayed in great shape. After the snow stopped mid morning things brightened up and we had intermittent sunshine through the clouds for the rest of the day.

I wasn't quite sure where the best skiing would be but with the hill very socked in I went to the Old Side and ran Snake Ridge and the newly cut lower section exit which is rapidly becoming one of my favourite runs on the hill. The logic was that it hadn't been really tracked up yesterday and the new snow would give even better untracked lines - the logic was dead right, it was great. Kangaroo to the Boom Load was very mellow and I was so glad to be able to speak to Fraser who headed the crew this summer that worked on Kangaroo and Snake and express my personal thanks for a good job well done - he did mention that my name cropped up more than once when they were working on Kangaroo so thanks guys.

After that that the day played out as -
Cedar Ridge - no new tracks and lovely soft snow all the way through the trees.
Kangaroo - again just really nice
Boomerang - as route back to Bear via the Goat Trail and mostly no new tracks on a soft snow base.
Snake Ridge - just as good as before and the lower newly cleaned section skiing just like a deep tracked snow dream.
Kangaroo - still good
Boomerang - also just like before, was I the only one going in there ?

After that I got word that the Saddles were about to open so I hit across to the New Side as quickly as possible to take advantage of it. Sure enough Corner Pocket was open with no tires showing and only about 5 easy jump turns to access the good stuff below. The good stuff was very very good being untracked deep powder and as far as I could see no avi debris or other hazards. I cut right into Easter Bowl which was tracked up but great soft snow skiing and a really nice way off the mountain.

I repeated the loops through High Saddle ( a bit tight because of the low snow base early season and icy about 5 turns in) and then Low Saddle ( as always steep with some icy bits but if you cut right as soon as you could there were untracked lines in deep powder snow all the way down the chutes. As with all the other Saddle loops it was an exit through lower Easter Bowl and then it was time for a short late lunch break.

After lunch I went back to the New Side and this is how it played out -
Knot Chutes - I took the traverse into the Tight Knot which was mostly untouched since it opened yesterday and I had some nice steep and deep powder skiing.
Corner Pocket - it had been so good that I revisited and found that the tires were still covered but you need to jump a bit tighter to get through the chute, after that the snow underneath and lower Easter were just as good as before.
Gotta Go - I decided to traverse across the top of the Knot Chutes ( which involved some quite big drop offs) and have a look at Gotta Go as I figured it would be untouched. I was wrong and I suspect my buddy Brad had been in there as he is the only other person I know besides me who is stupid enough to try this line this early in the season. In the event I jumped into the chute one to left called Google Earth and had deep untracked powder all the way down into Currie Bowl where my biggest danger was being taken out by my own slough.
Decline/Window Chutes - I had a crazy plan. I knew that Decline down to the Megasaurus Trail was good and having looked the the Window Chutes from the Bear Chair then the two areas linked would only not work if the top of the chute just below Decline was problem. In the event Decline only had two new tracks and was great skiing. The link through the trees was a bit sketchy with some deadfall but lovely deep tree skiing if you took care. The Window Chutes themselves were very good deep snow with just two tracks in front of me - awesome deep powder skiing and only a bit scratchy in the choke on the way out.

So it was last run of the day time. I should have mentioned that Lift Line under Timber had opened during the day and as usual had become my preferred drop from Timber Top to White Pass Load with the occasional detour into lower Big Bang - all deep untracked lines. For the final run I hiked up to take the Lazy Locals Traverse into Mitchy Chutes which were also very nice deep powder but a bit technical in the choke.

Final run of course was a rip down Skydive which still only had about 3 new tracks in it on a soft deep base. the lower section remained twiggy but more than compensated for by the awesome skiing in the upper sections. Beers in Griz with buddies then a hot tub at home, It's forecast to get pretty cold (-14) tonight and a few flurries tomorrow. The outlook is for fairly significant weather event just before the weekend so that we may get yet another good fresh snow cycle before the weekend crowds arrive, This season is just getting better.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Day 5 officially awesome, but why

Yes today's question is why was today so awesome when there was no new snow, at least not until the late day flurries we had in the afternoon. The reason is that we had huge areas of the hill opened up for the first time this season so that we had first tracks of the season all over the hill. The truth is that we were so spoilt for choice that we had to not ski the Knot Chutes (always one of my favourites) because there was so much good stuff to be had in other parts of the hill.

As I said there was no new snow but conditions were overcast and we had a few flurries in the afternoon and some wind sift which gave us a little fill in snow in the areas already open. The forecast is for lots of snow over the next few days so we are getting quite excited, even ignoring that there are areas of the hill that were  not open today such as Polar Peak and the Saddles which should mean some great skiing no matter what happens. The temps had dropped and we had -5 at the base and -7 up the hill most of the day. This meant that the snow stayed in great condition and they were able to make artificial snow on the lower hill all day.

We went to the New Side and had a couple of loops through Puff, Gun Bowl, Highline and Surprise Trees all of which were ok, but not what we were really there for. Mid morning we tracked a buddy from patrol to the edge of the Reverse Traverse and were rewarded by getting the first fence drop on that area for the season. Awesome untracked powder everywhere with a warning of death cookies low down in places. It was a day when I just went from first bell to last bell with no breaks or stopping and as a result had a huge and total awesome day. The day then panned out as -
Decline - awesome untracked skiing and even the lower section was not totally twiggy.
Cougar Glades/Stag Leap - awesome totally untracked skiing in Cougar down to the Megasaurus Trail which showed signs of very recent moose activity. Lower Stag Leap was deep and untracked but very twiggy in the lower section.
Skydive - a couple of tracks in front of us soon lost in the run which was great early season contour hugging skiing. Twiggy but skiable in the lower section.
Cougar Glades - we met up with my buddy Brad and had another run through Cougar Glades which was only a little more tracked than before so the right side in the trees was totally untracked deep powder.
We decided not to ski out in Stag leap but worked our way down through the lower parts to the Bear Connecter where we had heard that Snake Ridge had opened on the Old Side.
Snake Ridge - loads of untracked lines and for the first time in the season we could try the newly cleaned up lower section which made it way better than before when you either had to cut out left or right.
Next Loop Steep and Deep which was great untracked powder most of the way down with a rather technical section towards the end which required a bit of bush whacking.

Both our loops were exited through Kangaroo which with it's new haircut is one of the nicest runs on the Old Side and Boomerang which was still soft snow between all the alders. We went to the New Side to finish off the day.

Skydive - as Brad was leaving the hill it had to be done and was just as good as before and only slightly more tracked up.
Currie Creek - totally awesome untracked powder in the top and then suddenly big death cookies from avi debris which blew off one of my skis at speed but with no lasting ill effects.

Just time for a couple of loops in White Pass where the new flurries and wind sift had softened the surface then it was time for the traditional last run down Skydive. I'm afraid I was the only member of the Skydive club at 4 o'clock so it was a case of the third time down that run in the day and once again it was lightly tracked and awesome but with a few twigs in the lower section..

So overall it was a fantastic day followed by beers with buddies and then a good soak in the hot tub, Tomorrow is forecast to bring more snow and more openings although we are still dealing with early season conditions - no one should under estimate the daily challenge of tree stumps, rocks, alders, death cookies etc which every run still has. On balance things are pretty good and tomorrow should bring even more fun.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Day 4 no new snow but still ok

First of all apologies for this report being a bit late. It is because I was at the Rusty Edge enjoying their Monday night 10 bucks for a beer and burger offer which is an excellent deal. Unlike most places which skimp on the burger with these kinds of deals, this one is a full on burger with all the trimmings. Before anyone gets the idea that I might have been given some incentive to say this it is perhaps worth stating the policy of my blog which is that I will never accept any form of reward to make me express anything but my true opinions. That having been said I am drinking a glass of Jameson's Irish Whiskey while typing this and if the good folk at Jameson's want to send me a case I am open to offers.

We had no new snow overnight although they were calling for 4 cms of fresh from yesterday's cycle and that seemed about right to me. It was overcast on the way to the hill and a little socked in at the top of White Pass. By late afternoon this had lifted and we got some great late in the day sunshine which also provided some good views of Polar Peak. Temps were -4 on the way to the hill and stayed cool all day with closing temps of -4 at the base and about -7 up the hill. As I put the car in the garage tonight I noticed that the temps had fallen even further to around -10.

With my guest from Vermont we decided to try the Old Side first and had a couple of runs down Bear to get his early season legs in the right place. After that we hit out across Cedar Bowl which was ok but tracked up. Further loops were through Boom Ridge ( great soft snow on skiers left) Cedar Ridge was very mellow deep tracked snow all the way down and finally Boom which was tracked but still with soft stuff in the alders. Every loop back (three in total) was via Kangaroo which with it's new haircut is fast becoming run of the day for me - we went to the New Side.

Nothing new was open on the New Side although for a while it did look as though Knot chutes might open. A friend of mine that I met confirmed that Easter Bowl had opened on the Old Side and whilst I was tempted to investigate I stuck with the New Side. We looped White Pass several times using Highline Trees and the runs in that area to provide some very good soft snow skiing. Surprise Trees remained ok tracked skiing.

Finally by lunch time we hiked the hump at Anaconda and had a great, albeit short run down through the chutes. The ski out down Gilmar was challenging due to the soft bumps and twigs but was ok as long as you paid attention. Having had a good ski on both the Old and New side lunch was predictably late.

In the afternoon it was back up the New Side mainly because it did look like the Knot Chutes were going to open for a long while but it never quite happened. We spent the afternoon all over the White Pass area with some excellent deep powder on Gun bowl skiers left. Surprise trees, still some good lines, Pillow Talk, great line in between the trees. We even ran to base one more time through Gilmar despite the conditions.

Late afternoon we were still looping White Pass (Surprise, Anaconda, Highline, Pillow Talk etc. ) and for the last run of the day decided on a run off through Currie Glades which were soft and tracked and yet another run out through Gilmar which was getting decidedly sketchy. We were late off the hill having got the very last chair up White Pass so beers in the Griz were late as was the evening in Rusty Edge and hence this blog. Yet another really good day's skiing even if we didn't have any new snow.

The outlook is for it to stay cool and for some more snow. More importantly we are promised some more openings on the hill tomorrow and I am really looking forward to that.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Day 3 even more awesome powder

Today was the best day of the season so far (ok so I have only skied 3) but given just how good things have been so far that is still a pretty good reference. Overnight we had more snow ( reports varied but they seemed to cluster around 15 cms) and it was good deep powder which meant that the whole hill was once again awesome skiing.

The temps on the way to the hill were zero and stayed there all day and in fact were -1 on the way back. As with the past couple of days temps up the hill were a few degrees lower and similarly stayed there all day so as a result all the surfaces stayed in great shape. It was over cast on the way to the hill and stayed that way. We had flurries all day which came down as grauple in the morning which was lovely heavy pellets and by the afternoon it was an icy snow accumulation. I would guess that during the course of the day we had about 4 cms of fresh snow to add to the overnight precip.

I went to the New Side and grabbed early tracks in Puff which were nice steep terrain hugging lines all the way down the the White Pass load. In White Pass the sign line was down at the Zig Zag so all we had was the Highline/Heartland area which was deep with loads of untracked snow. The Zig Zag sign line soon opened and I helped to cut the traverse out to Surprise Trees which as a result gave me untracked, ski anywhere lines through Surprise. Next time round I cut the first side step up Anaconda hump and this time had first tracks in the second Anaconda chute which was as deep and good as I can remember. The only downside was the hike back through Trespass Trail which unsurprisingly sucked just as much as it usually does.

After that the whole morning was spend in variations through Surprise which still had many untracked lines in the trees even at the end of the morning. Anaconda remained in good shape moving across the chutes and the rest of White Pass (Highline, Heartland, Pillow Talk etc) had many great soft areas to jump into as the crowds were far less than I had expected. I went for a late lunch via Currie Glades which were tracked up but still a lot of fun and Gilmar Trail which was still very twiggy and marginal but totally skiable as a route to base.

After a late lunch I headed over to the Old Side for the rest of the day. The crowds (if indeed there had been any in the first place) had gone and for long periods of time it seemed like perhaps I was the only person on the Old Side. I looped out into Cedar Centre off the top of Bear and had some good deep powder skiing in the Centre trees. After that I just looped Boom Ridge and Cedar Ridge until last bell. Cedar Ridge had many cool lines tight to the trees as long as you didn't push too far right into the lower avi debris. Boom Ridge was lovely deep powder and good as long as you picked a line through the alders in the lower section.

Every loop back to Boom load (3 or 4 in all) was through the newly trimmed Kangaroo which was just sensational. With all the crap that had been allowed to accumulate in there removed Kangaroo is one of the best runs on the hill with steep tight lines and lovely deep powder - the only issue is the drop on to the cat track which can get a bit technical.

Final run was through Boom itself and then out down the Goat Trail which was much the same as Boom Ridge, good but a bit twiggy. After skiing we had intended to go down town to see the Christmas Train but after a day like this beer was the only way to go. It worked out well as my buddy Ray from Vermont turned up (the east Coast is having a crap start to the season) to stay with us and the party started just that bit early.

The outlook is for more flurries tonight with temps dropping to about -5. Accumulations could be as much as 10 cms but looking further out there are lower temps and more snow in the forecast for 11 out of the next 14 days so I am one happy bunny.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Day 2 Still pretty good

Yes, today wasn't as good as yesterday, but then it was never going to be, but it still was a pretty good day by any definition.

Overnight we had about 4/5 cms of new snow which tended to fill everything in and at the very least made everything thing look very pretty and wintery. On the way to the hill temps once again were -1 and a few degrees colder up top. During the day temps got up to just over zero at the base but remained a round -2 at the top giving us some well preserved snow. It was overcast for most of the day but during the morning it socked in at the top of the hill and the fog line moved down the hill as the day went on. By late afternoon flurries had started all over the hill and continued into the evening.

I went to the New Side to see if there had been much traffic since yesterday. All of White Pass was open and I spent most of the morning looping back through Surprise Trees where there were still many untracked lines with the new 5 cms of snow on top of yesterday's 17 cms giving some great skiing. All the rest of White Pass was tracked up but not tracked out powder and the return to the load was via Highline, Heartland, Pillow Talk and all lines in between. The Gun bowl was in particularly good shape with deep powder in the lines back under the White Pass chair.

About half way through the morning I dropped Anaconda Glades which were tracked but with some super steep and untracked lines in the chutes just over the first hump. The only way out was ski to base through Gilmar Trail and the Meadow. Now Gilmar Trail can be a bit sketchy in the best of conditions and today it was rather marginal. In it's favour I would say the snow had all the rocks covered so the only obstructions were wood in it's various forms but some parts were so woody that you could have put away your ski poles and used a chain saw to better effect.

I returned to White Pass via Puff Trees off the top of Timber and found they were very challenging being a mix of deadfall, powder and avi debris. The rest of the morning was spent looping White Pass and Surprise Trees as already described. Just once I pushed further into Triple Trees and found the top half to be totally awesome untracked deep powder. Unfortunately the lower half required serious bush whacking through some very tight and woody chutes before finally dropping on to Trespass Trail.

For lunch I headed down through Currie Glades off the Polar Load and found some great soft tracked snow all the way through the Glades. The ski out was again through Gilmar Trail which was no better or worse than earlier in the day.

After lunch I headed over to the Old Side as I had heard that they had opened Cedar High Traverse. The rumour proved to be true so I skied the trees in Cedar Centre which were pretty good and very like Curried Glades but rather less skied and with slightly deeper snow. The return was via Boom Guts which was still tracked but ok if you could dodge the alders.

To finish the day I headed back to the New Side and looped Surprise Trees via the ever excellent Gun Bowl and alternated this with a drop down Anaconda and a return through Trespass Trail - the only trail on the hill which is up hill in both directions. At the end of the day we chose to finish with Currie Glades and Gilmar Trail just like the last run before lunch and just like that run the upper part was good tracked powder and the lower part rather sketchy.

After a few beers in the Griz it was time for more beer with buddies at their house then home. As I sit here looking out it is continuing to snow and we will probably have a modest accumulation overnight. Temps are -1 so the snow should stay in good shape and tomorrow could be yet another very good day for early season.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Day 1 a full on powder day

Yes, the first day on the hill today (just 7 days after official opening) was a full on powder day with 17 cms of good powder on the upper mountain. Just to make it clear, this was not a case of it being good for the time of year, it was good by any definition and would stand comparison with any powder day on the hill at any stage of the season.

The wet weather we have been having in the valley over the past few days gave us fresh snow on the hill. This shouldn't be entirely surprising as the precip turned to snow in the valley for both of the past two nights which meant that it would have been powder up the hill and even during the day when it fell as rain in the valley it would have been snow at some point up the hill.

The day dawned overcast and stayed that way most of the day with some very light flurries around mid day and brightened a bit towards the close. Temps on the way to the hill were -1 with the upper mountain temps probably around -3. The temps rose a couple of degrees during the day so that the lower hill snow became a little heavy but on top it remained in great condition.

The official snow figures were for 17 cms of new snow which if anything slightly understated how good things were, and a base of 150 cms. Now, I have explained snow bases before but as it is early season it is worth making the point again. At any ski hill the snow base is reported at a plot very high up the hill which is more or less level and never subject to any skier traffic. The result is that the snow base recorded at any ski hill has little or nothing to do with the snow you may actually find yourself skiing on. If you use the ski base as a cypher for just how much snow is around fine, if you think that a base of 150 cms means that you will be sliding around on a meter and a half of snow all over the hill then you are in for one hell of a surprise. The 150 cm snow base for Fernie means some good coverage up high but pretty thin low down and lots of early season hazards still poking through.

I hit the Old Side and found Lizard across to Dancer and the main Bear runs open. The 17 cms of new snow rested either on a groomed base or the ungroomed snow between the main runs and was for the most part untracked because of the low numbers of skier traffic this early in the season, Of course the first few turns of the season were as usual rather tough but after a run or two things got back to normal and the skiing on the deep untracked snow all over Bear and Lizard was awesome.

Just as most of the open areas had been skied they opened Boom Guts and Boom Ridge which gave a load more untracked skiing. Ok, most of it was fairly twiggy but if you kept you wits about you there was some great deep powder to be had. By late morning most of the new areas had been skied and I was thinking about a break when I found myself at the top of Alpine Way just as they dropped the fence on Cedar Ridge. This gave excellent loops in deep hero snow which was untracked as you pushed across towards King Fir as the day wore on. The only bad skiing of the whole day was in the bottom of King Fir where some refrozen avi debris made for some tough skiing.

The lower parts of Cedar down to Haul Back were all deep lightly tracked powder with some great skiing. I even managed to ski the lower part of Kangaroo (the upper part was closed) which was very mellow after it's significant summer hair cut. It was time for a late lunch.

After lunch I tried the New Side and found the whole of the White Pass area was excellent soft snow which had been tracked up a bit during the morning. I did several White Pass loops and then was tipped the wink by a ski patrol buddy that it might be a good idea to stand by the sign line by Firy Hornet which was the limit of skiing up to that point. My reward was that the fence dropped a couple of minutes later and gave us first tracks in Surprise Trees which was truly awesome. We just spent the rest of the day looping Surprise Trees back to White Pass and finding new lines in the trees every run.

Close of the day was a run off the hill through Falling Star and then beers with buddies in the Griz bar. In summary it was one of the best first days I can remember and even though there are numerous early season hazards in the form of alders, rocks, tree stumps etc there are areas which are truly excellent full on winter powder conditions. Can't wait to see what tomorrow holds.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

First Day in Fernie

You will all note that I have headed this post as my first day in Fernie (which it is) and not Day 1 which will be used on my first day skiing which looks likely to be the day after tomorrow - Friday. After that it looks like it will be just over 120 days skiing but lets not get ahead of ourselves.

We arrived late last night in Fernie after a very long day which involved flying from Dublin to Heathrow, Heathrow to Calgary and Calgary to Cranbrook. Then it was just over an hours drive in pouring rain from Cranbrook (I'm sorry I mean Rocky Mountain International) Airport to our house in Fernie. Everything went amazingly well with flights connecting and luggage turning up on time and the only down side being the incredible turbulence in the last hour of the flight to Calgary and for the whole of the Cranbrook leg due to some very strong Chinook winds that were blowing down the East side of the Rockies.

The only bad experience in the whole journey was the car rental from Truro to Bristol airport for the hop to Dublin thanks to Budget. When I picked the car up there was damage to the nearside wheel due to a previous renter hitting a kerb pretty hard which was marked on the Vehicle Condition Report. When I dropped the car off they tried to stiff me with the price of a new tyre in respect of the damage notwithstanding the fact that it had been already marked on the VCR. I am currently in dispute with them but those who know me will rest assured that it will be a cold day in hell before they con money out of me in this way.

Today we got an amazing amount done as we always do on our first day if only because we are wide awake a 5 in the morning and raring to go. The house is all sorted out, TV, wifi all set up and running, phones reconnected, heating and water turned on, radios and cell phones charged, hot tub fired up and ready to be used in a few minutes, food and drink stocked up, seasons passes picked up, ski gear taken to the hill, truck insured and back on the road even if it did need a new battery, etc etc. All that remains is for tomorrow to return the rental car to the airport and put the Christmas lights up outside and we will be ready to kick the season off properly on Friday.

The conditions so far are quite warm and very wet. Yesterday it was +4 when we landed and it rained until we went to bed - I would imagine it was falling as snow about half way up the hill. By morning temps were down to +1 in the valley and the precip was coming down as really wet snow which accumulated to the extent of about 5 cms. Reports from up the mountain suggest it was heavy but ok skiing high up although I was told that they never got the New Side open today.

As I am typing this the rain snow mix has stopped and there is a covering of very wet snow in the valley. I am guessing that the snow on the hill has accumulated fairly well and if it was open White Pass would have some ok powder. The temp on the deck is +2 and likely to go lower through the night so if there is any more precip it will certainly come as snow. The outlook is for temps to fall so that by mid next week we will be in the minus teens and at least three days are likely to give us some snow.

Of course while I was picking up my seasons pass this afternoon I did drop into the Griz Bar for just one quick beer and unsurprisingly found all the usual suspects in there looking forward to the season. General consensus was that things up top were ok for the time of year but the lower hill needs a lot more snow.

So all that remains is a relax in the hot tub, have meal and an early night ready for one last days preparatory work. After that it will be business as usual so look out on Friday evening for the first real report.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Opening Day

Still here in the UK on opening day for the first time in 12 years. Just so no one misses their opening day fix I have copied below an email from a buddy which says in a few words what I would have taken a long report to say. Normal service will be resumed next week when I get to Fernie although it doesn't sound like I am missing much yet,

Hi Bill

   I thought I would let you know what I saw out there today. I got to the elk chair at 8:45 and the line was only halfway through the maze I think the rain scared everyone away, by the time we got to the top of the elk it was snow and we got fresh cream cheese from top of bear to the Bears den it quit raining by 10:30 , all and all it was a good day with limited skiing. Looking forward to seeing you and lynda when you get here

                    Cheers Brad

Sunday, November 29, 2015

T minus 5 and still counting

So here we are entering the last week before the hill opens and everyone is getting excited about the season ahead. Normally by this time I would be in Fernie with the truck back on the road, the house stocked up, the hot tub fired up and all the ski gear shifted to the hill but as it is I am still here in Cornwall getting ready to fly to Dublin next Monday before flying on the next day to Cranbrook via London and Calgary arriving on the evening of Tuesday 8th December.

As I have said before the delay is due to Lynda having her right hip replaced 10 weeks ago and this being the earliest time that the docs will let her fly long haul. I think she will need a couple of weeks strengthening exercises when she gets there and be ready to ski at or shortly after Christmas.

The prospects for opening day this Friday continues to look ok but no more than that. The snow base is reported at 68 cms with very little snow in the last 7 days. The outlook for the next 5 days does not suggest there will be significant new snow between now and opening day so what we have is what it looks like what we will be opening on. This is not the lowest opening base we have had (I seem to remember opening on 35 cms a few years ago) but nor is it one of the best, or anything like.

On the plus side things remain cold so snow is being made on the lower hill and we should be able to ski in most of the bowls even if the coverage is not going to allow the great off piste snow that we all want. Of course things could change overnight and a massive storm move in without warning and improve things - we can but hope. As a measure of how much the forecasters can get it wrong I have been posting on Facebook every day as to what the conditions on the day I arrive will be. In a week the high has ranged from 0 to -5, the low from 0 to -8 and the conditions from Sunny to snow with all stations in between.

Reports from my buddies tell me that there isn't much snow around town and we really need a big Fernie event if things are going to get anything like good. I will be expecting reports on opening day.

So it's a final view of racing the working boat here in Cornwall before we head off next week. See you all then,

Friday, November 20, 2015

T minus 14 and counting

Oh, yes things are getting very exciting as we move towards the opening of the ski hill scheduled for just 14 days from today. The question everyone is asking is will things open on time and what will conditions be like? Here I have to put in a warning and say everything I have learned comes second hand from friends based in Fernie plus what I can glean from the internet. My conclusion is that we will get an on time opening but it probably won't be one of the awesome openings like some of those in the past.

Things were looking pretty good until about a week ago when we were hit with a rain event which went right to the top of the hill. The severity of the event was apparent from the Mountain Cams which showed all the trees as snow free ( all the snow washed off by the rain) and the rain runnels in the snow at the top of the Bear Chair which were visible even on cam.

Since then things have got better with some more snow covering the rain affected areas and things generally looking a bit more wintery although we may come to regret the layer that will have been created later in the season. The Bear load cam is up and running (having been down during the worst of the conditions) and showing ok conditions in the upper Lizard are but still rather sparse lower down. Significantly there is a large white cloud in the lower left cam which means that snow is being made on the lower hill and with good sub zero temps forecast between now and opening day snow making should continue and the ski offs will be covered even if it is only by artificial snow.

The current conditions show a base of 61 cms which would be at the snow plot just above Tower 6 by the Bear with a lot less snow as you move down the hill. As I said this would make for an ok, but not spectacular opening on the upper hill with the lower hill covered on the ski offs by artificial snow. There is a bit of snow in the forecast over the next 7days. Beyond that time frame the forecast shows a cloud/snow/sun mix which experienced readers of the forecast know means that they have no idea whatsoever what is going to happen and the forecasters are just coving their bets. For us that means that the final 7 days before opening are still up in the air and depending on how the Griz treats us we could be getting a significant change from the current position for the better (hopefully) or worse.

From my point of view none of this is going to matter too much. We will be flying out and arrive at Cranbrook on the 8th as this is the earliest the docs will let Lynda fly after her hip op. I figure it will take a couple of days to sort out our winter lives such a stock up the house, fire up the hot tub, get the truck insured and on the road etc. So my first day on the hill should be exactly one week after opening assuming everything goes to plan.

So lets keep our fingers crossed that the next 14 days do bring some heavy natural snow and we get a spectacular opening on time with a1 metre plus base - we can always hope. At the moment last weeks rain scores things 1-0 to El Nino and we want to even to score and get ahead if we can.