Saturday, January 24, 2015

Day 51 spring skiing in January ?

Yes, today was full on spring skiing day of the type we usually get late March or early April and certainly not in January. The only problem is that when this usually happens we have a snow base of at least 3 metres so the hill can take it but now with a base of only 140 cms there has to be questions as to how long the hill can hold out. So what happened ......

Well. last nights rain continued in the valley for most of the night finishing just before dawn. The hill claimed this gave 10 cms of new snow on top although they did have the decency not to call it powder or to claim any increase in the snow base from 140 cms. When we got there we found that there was a new covering of some heavy snow although not all that deep and certainly on top covered with a hard rain crust.

On the way to the hill it was +2 and driving back tonight +4. For most of the day as we looped White Pass load it was showing +3 so the clear message was that temps were in the plus zone all day over the hill hence the spring skiing conditions. We had no precip and for a time it looked like it would go bluebird but in the event the ridge line cloud kept things socked in so we did have some sun related softening and then setting up again, but not quite as much as you might have expected.

We went to the New Side on the grounds that going high and staying high might be the way to go but I suspect that skiing low on the Old Side would have given us much the same results. Currie was closed so we just looped White Pass. Knot chutes were full of super wet snow to the point that I was almost taken out by my own slough a couple of times. Surprise Trees was mushy spring skiing and we looped it three times. The Gun bowl was soft but a firmer base than in most places and Highline was just breakable rain crust. Then they dropped the fence on Currie Bowl........

We cut the first tracks out to the top of Skydive and found ugly breakable rain crust in the top becoming softer light crust taking an edge lower down. We debated whether or not this counted as first tracks given the crusty surface but by a majority vote decided that it was and we had had them. Next loop down Decline was very similar with crust in the top getting crustier for some reason in the mid section before softening in the final pitch.

We then dropped Stag Leap through the trees and as a buddy of mine said, " we had 10 turns through there and no two were the same." When we got in the run it was at least consistent rain crust becoming softer in the mid section and below. Last loop before lunch was Concussion which had softened in the sun but was setting up as the cloud rolled in but took a good edge and was actually the run of the day as far as I was concerned.

After lunch the weekend crowds which had been very big started to drift away because as I have said before most weekend warriors just don't have 7 hours skiing in their legs. We did a Concussion loop which skied just as well as before lunch - still run of the day. Next I tried Decline again and it skied just a bit worse than the morning as everything was starting to set up. Having had a late lunch I just had time one more quick loop which was Anaconda Glades which were still lightly tracked spring mush and skiing pretty well but in typical spring slow motion skiing.

And so we came to Skydive at 4 which, with a bit of skier traffic was skiing rather better than before but still no stroll in the park being a mix of crust on top and mush below. It was good rip and a good end to a day's full on spring skiing. As long as things stay warm and the hill holds up we will be ok nut when (and it is when and not if) the cold weather reasserts itself we are in for some super ugly frozen crud skiing. Before that they are talking about valley temps of +15 on Monday so it looks like I will be skiing in  my spring fleece any day now.

Today was Kokanee Snow Dreams weekend. At the risk of sounding like a real misery this is the worst weekend of the year for me. Huge crowds, a massive line up to get in the bar, a load of strangers taking my usual seats, music so loud that you can only talk to the guy right next to you and that conversation is mostly "what?". I passed and spent a very pleasant evening in the Rusty Edge with a big table of like minded buddies talking about skiing and drinking 4 pint jugs of beer for $12.50 - yes, I know they are only 16 oz pints but this is still a fantastic deal. Back to normal in the Griz tomorrow but this won't be the last busy Saturday I drink in the Rusty Edge.

No clue as to what tomorrow holds but what ever it is I will be there.

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