Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Day 33 the weirdest weather I have ever experienced

I am almost lost for words to describe the weird weather and the even weirder conditions that this has given rise to over past 24 hours - and as anyone will tell you I am rarely lost for words. How a hill can go from hero to zero in 24 hours is a mystery but Fernie managed it. To say "zero" is a bit unfair as it was only a case of very tough conditions. Some people may say "bad conditions" but as I have said so often there is really no such thing as bad conditions, only inappropriate equipment and inadequate skill levels.

Avid followers of this blog may remember that yesterday I was puzzled by the conditions that were temps of -14 and snow which felt more like it came from zero/-1. These conditions continued into today where the valley temps were -7 but the snow did not reflect this. Overnight it snowed in the valley and the hill reported 10 cms of fresh which may well have been true but this gave the impression we were all skiing around on 10 cms of fresh powder which is so very far from the truth.

On the way to the hill it was -7 but it was raining a light drizzle that froze on contact with the ground. Lynda showed me about half a cm thick slab of ice sitting on top of the snow in the drive and we knew things were going to be a bit odd. The reason was that we have had a super warm air mass just above us dropping warm moisture which is not sufficiently cooled by the relatively thin cold layer below to produce snow. The overall result in the lower parts of the hill was that we got 10 cms of last nights snow on yesterdays soft base but with a hard rain crust on top.

As if this wasn't bad enough at about half mountain height we suddenly got an inversion with temps up to may be +4 so that above this layer which was situated below the White Pass load it was spring skiing in overcast conditions with all of the snow going to mush pretty quick. Below that layer as stated it was thick rain crust on some new snow fall. Just to make things really interesting as the day wore on the transition layer rose so that the whole mountain was back to the usual format of cold at the bottom (-7) and colder on top (-9). Obviously everything that had mushed during the day refroze so that the whole hill by the end was a mass of refrozen crud in the top and hard breakable crust lower down - not exactly stellar conditions.

Sorry to take so long in explaining the conditions but they were so strange, and very ugly in places , that some explanation was necessary. We got to the hill in freezing conditions and decided to go to the New Side so the morning was spent spring skiing. Initially White Pass was closed as was Lift Line and Big Bang so we just had a run down Puff and then to base in soft snow,

As soon as White Pass opened we spent the morning looping in soft spring heavy snow including Knot Chutes, Surprise Trees, Heartland, I bowl, Gun Bowl etc. All of these were soft deep wet new snow in pretty poor viz. Just after mid day they dropped the fence on Currie telling us that the Reverse Traverse was closed so we hit 1-2-3s. It was poor light and soft and heavy in the top but quickly became breakable crust from half way down 3s and was very tough skiing. Gilmar Trail was ok as all the crust had been broken up by skier traffic so actually skied like an icy groomer.

After lunch we did another couple of loops of Currie bowl, once through Powder and once through 1-2-3s which as before were soft on top but the amount of soft was getting less as the freeze line was getting higher and the viz on top getting very white. Next time we found the Reverse Traverse was open so we hit out to Alpha Centauri and skied it in hard breakable crust which had very few tracks and was fun but very challenging.

So it came to last run of the day and despite the fact that the traverse out had only been opened for a short time and our one trip out had shown the whole area to be breakable crust I decided in the name of tradition to hit Skydive. It was a side step traverse and when I got to the top of Skydive I was amazed to find one track in there in front of me, how many of us lunatics are there on this hill ? Earlier in the day I had said that I thought the top of Skydive would be awesome but the lower section ugly - I was wrong it was ugly, untracked, breakable rain crust all the way down which took real concentration to ski.

So that was it. Hard to summarise the day as I guess most people would call it ugly and horrible skiing. I found it very challenging (particularly in the breakable crust) but that's the type of skiing I like so for me it was a most enjoyable day although I realise that I might be in a pretty small minority on that one. More snow called for tonight and in my view it would take a minimum of 5 cms to get it to something that may be considered acceptable by most of the skiing public.

1 comment:

  1. Really it Was! I checked the details of its weirdness level through my instrument to measure wind speed & meters and also felt through the changes in weather. I feel everyone should keep such weather gadgets to be conscious about what's happening around.