Monday, January 19, 2015

Day 46 and I simply can't believe how good today was

We didn't have high hopes for today as overnight there was no real accumulation and on the deck this morning the temps was +2 suggesting to me that it had been above zero all night in the valley. On the way to the hill it was confirmed as +2 and with temps up the hill forecast to start at about -3 and get up to around zero during the day (which they did) things didn't looked good. Against that background we fully expected chopped up crud on top and hard refrozen crust lower down. In the event we got some awesome wind groomed snow all over the hill with the freeze line below all the major run outs so the crust was groomed in.

So what happened - well. there was obviously a major wind event up the hill overnight but strangely it seemed to have blown in fantastic deep, untracked wind sift everywhere with no icy places from where the snow had been blown. Can't quite work out how this could have happened but it did. The result was that all over the upper mountain we had untracked wind sift which skied so smooth, mellow and easy it was almost embarrassing to ski it as it requires so little effort. The weekend crowds had gone and there was hardly anyone on the hill and when you looked at the sort of places we wanted to ski you could almost say there was no one.

We went to the New Side looking for Polar Peak (it didn't open) and the Saddles (more later) and my view was that the Old Side would be too low to get much good skiing. From reports from buddies I was totally wrong and there was some fantastic wind sift all over the Old Side. White Pass was fully open but Currie Bowl was closed so after a fantastic smooth Lift Line we just looped Knot Chutes, Surprise Chutes and back to the load while we waited. It was immediately obvious that the deep wind sift was providing great untracked skiing everywhere.

I was traversing out to try Surprise Trees when they dropped the fence on Anaconda Glades just as I arrived and I grabbed first tracks in the chute over the hump, just awesome. The run to base was through Bootleg which was deep in the trees if a bit twiggy on the ski out. I next took a Surprise Trees loop to link back up with Lynda and was amazed how mellow and easy the trees were skiing in deep sift.

At this point Currie Bowl opened and we went out the High Saddle which was a bit scraped out but just about skiable. The snow under the Saddle was awesome deep powder and I cut right into lower Easter Bowl which was full of soft sift. Next loop we took the Reverse Traverse out all the way and I was staggered to find only one set of tracks in front of me in Cougar Glades. These soon disappeared so I had first tracks in Cougar and then cut left the Stag Leap to get first tracks there - not a bad run.

We then did a simple Decline loop and found Decline skiing as mellow as I have ever known it in the sift, it was so easy to push through the hero conditions. Next loop I hiked up to Lone Fir and found the chute filled in with fantastic sift. I took the whole thing in about 6 turns which is only possible in conditions like today - at least for me. The fan underneath was deep and untracked and gave face shots all the way down. I traversed Easter Bowl and dropped into Spinal Tap which was also very soft and even at the bottom where I thought we might encounter crunch the mild temps kept the surface soft.

After lunch I had the idea that Gotta Go would be the best snow as it had the same aspect as Anaconda and the gnarly approach through the Knot Chutes would have prevented skier traffic. I had one abortive attempt to get across which ended up with me dropping the Tight Knot and Surprise Trees which was no bad second prize. Next time I got the line right and snaked my way across the chutes with some pretty testing drop offs. Gotta Go was all I had hoped for and more. It was untracked and deep (there may have been traffic in before but the sift had filled in) and smooth. I didn't even notice the choke which I hit at speed with GS turns, something I have never been able to do before - totally run of the day by a huge margin. The run to base was via Bootleg Glades which skied just as well as they had in the morning.

With just time for one more loop I repeated the Cougar Glades/Stag Leap run of the morning and found only a few more tracks. Things were so good I took a few turns down into the lower parts of Cougar but after a few turns found that there was just too much deadfall so I cut into Stag. And so we came to 4 o'clock and Skydive. After yesterday's big group it was just the three of us today, Dan, Rob and me, just like the old days. The sift was still untracked in most of the run and you could just point the skis in the fall line and let them go - so we did.

A really fantastic day from what looked like they would be not very promising conditions. Temps are falling and I am worried that all my fears of yesterday may yet come home to roost but who knows, tomorrow is another day.

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