Sunday, January 25, 2015

Day 52 and I have had many days worse skiing than this

The reason for my low expectations was the warm wet weather that we have had over the last 24 hours. Last night it was about +4 and raining, and when I say raining it was pissing down all night. The weather forecast called for precip with a snow line at 2000 metres which students of my recent blog will know translates in English as "it will lash down with rain all over the hill". The forecasters were right and it rained all night right up to the top of the hill.

The rain stopped just before dawn and we headed to the hill in temps of +8. By a happy coincidence as we drove away from the hill tonight it was also +8. During the day it got warmer and the temps at the White Pass load were almost +10 before falling back to +3 mid afternoon (surfaces began to set up) and then warming back to about +8 when surfaces began to soften again.

You don't have to be a genius to work out that the skiing surface was always going to be soft melted rain affected mush off the groomers which is where we ski. In the afternoon it firmed up a bit, but not much, and by the evening it was back to mush spring skiing again. The wind was big feature and Bear Chair was closed until 1 due to big winds on the Old Side. There was not quite so much wind on the New Side but it was still pretty lively and everything stayed open. By the afternoon the ridge line cloud which had been around in the morning dissipated and the winds dropped giving a quite pleasant end to the day and almost bluebird conditions with not much wind.

We went to the New Side on account of the fact that Bear was down and had a great day putting in 9 New Side loops in conditions which should have meant that we were skiing elephant snot but in the event the snow was no worse than typical spring skiing. Given that the traverse out was only open a the Polar sink rather than the Reverse Traverse this was rather good effort.

Not much point in going through the runs in seriatim as they were all much the same. Twice through Concussion was crisp in the top and great soft snow low down. The exit was always through Gilmar gully which was soft and skied way better than the trail. Twice through Decline which skied easy as you could use the bumps to turn in the soft snow but lower down you had to ski soft to avoid breaking through and breaking through the surface. Easter bowl skied very well as skier traffic had pounded in the base and the soft snow on top just made it easy although the ski out through Freeway was bit mushy.

Cougar Glades/ Stag Leap was a little disappointing as I hit it mid afternoon and expected the surface to be setting up, it was mush and pretty hard work but Stag was ok. In Stag Leap which I had hit earlier (good this time shifting isn't it, a bit like watching Pulp Fiction) the upper section had been great untracked rain affected snow which we hit as easy big GS mush turns. Lower down it became a bit more work but that's life. We had two Skydives today, one early and of course the final run which was ok soft rain affect snow (like everywhere else) but with a slight crust forming last time round. The mid section was pretty easy but the lower section was piece of work with a surface you could break through both times.

Somewhere in there early on I did a loop of White Pass (more time shifting) and the snow in Gun Bowl and Highline was soft rain affected snow on a firm base and looked as if it remained that way all day.

In summary we got hit by a good old fashioned pineapple express which has taken a toll on our base now down to 130 cms and exposed lots of brown areas on the lower mountain. Against that background we got in a day of rain affected spring skiing which far from being an awesome day was way better than we may have expected. The forecast calls for an even bigger warm up but with at least no precip - let's do this one day at a time.

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