Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Day 34 when quite lot of people discover there is more to the sport of skiing than they first imagined

No new snow overnight and temps of -13 on the way to the hill. When we got there we discovered that the unusual temp layers were there just as yesterday but at least with none of them seeming to be above zero. On the way back from the hill it was -10 which meant that base temps had been cold all day even if some pretty strange things had happened up the hill.

I went to the Old Side on the grounds that it might be different from the New Side conditions I skied yesterday but it wasn't really. Obviously it was cold going up Bear but just at the top it seemed to get a lot warmer. I took a run down Boom and it was ugly refrozen crud all the way down. Next time up I encountered the upper warm layer again and on that basis went to the New Side on the grounds that more of this would be above the warming layer and the snow up there may not be so brutal and icy.

On the New Side we encountered the warming layer on the Timber Chair at about the level of the White Pass load but it was nowhere near as warm as yesterday and so even on the upper hill the snow remained hard and refrozen. We dropped to White Pass through Lift Line which was hard icy and ugly and remained that way all day and as a result was the route we always chose to take the drop.

I had a few warm ups through White Pass via the Gun Bowl, Highline, Heartland, the I bowl, etc. They were all hard bumpy and to some extent icy skiing but good practice for the tests to come. It was then a case of looping Currie Bowl to base -
1-2-3s - very poor light but ok skiing in the top which became crust just before 3's and made for some very testing ice crust skiing.
Alpha Centauri - Just like yesterday it was unskied  breakable ice crust which could only be skied with your very best ice crust skiing techniques. Conditions were rather more testing than yesterday as the crust had frozen more firmly and you just had to ski better (not other word for it) to negotiate the breakable crust. Saw a pileated woodpecker while I was in there which is quite rare and very interesting.
Decline - on the way to Decline I noticed that the Saddles were open and decided to come back next time round after lunch and give them a go. Decline was much tougher than Skydive had been yesterday with only one track in front on hard breakable ice crust. It was so bad that I bailed into Easter half way down, not because of the run where I was but because I know the ski out is very flat and ice crust in those circumstances is all but unskiable on the flats.

After lunch we went back to the New Side for some more punishment. As before it was a couple of runs back through White Pass to warm up and then 1-2-3s which skied just like the morning but with a bit better light . After that we found that the high Reverse Traverse was open and headed out to the Saddles only to find them closed. That was a pity as I guessed that the Saddles after a bit of light traffic might actually have been the only place on the hill to have actually have been improved by the recent conditions.

From the higher vantage point we dropped an untracked Concussion which was just as challenging as you might expect with the ice crust if anything getting thicker. We pushed out to Tom's run next time and found it equally untracked but again slightly more technical as a result. Last run of the day was of course  Skydive where I was joined by my buddy Brad who is just about the only other guy stupid enough to be skiing this stuff at the moment. There had been a couple of new tracks since I skied it last night but it remained mostly untracked, Very difficult technical breakable crust skiing all the way down, a great challenge.

So another very tough day although to be fair I have to say that if you are one of those people who counts skiing groomers as skiing then the conditions today would have been very good. For the rest of us it was hard ugly challenging skiing which personally I find to be the most enjoyable skiing after deep powder.

There is nothing in the forecast so it looks like we are stuck with these conditions for a few days. The only way it looks like the crusty conditions are going to be improved is by skier traffic but because of the sort of places we ski in skier traffic is likely to be pretty thin on the ground. Just a half day from me tomorrow as I have to pick up buddies from Calgary Airport and I don't really think I will be missing that much.

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