Thursday, February 5, 2015

Day 63 a great day's skiing - for me

The reason I added the "for me" in the title is that today was a day where if you skied in the right places it could have been one of the best days skiing of the season and if you skied in the wrong places it could have been one of the worst - we skied in the right places.

It snowed over night and on the web site this morning the hill were claiming a 10 cm fall of fresh snow and this seemed to be born out but the evidence of our own eyes. It was snowing on the way to hill and the temps were +1 in the valley and zero at the base of the hill. Up the hill temps were lower, probably around -3 at the White Pass top.

It was forecast to precipitate in some form all day which indeed it did. To start with we had wet snow at the base and slightly drier snow on top. During the day temps rose and the rain line moved up the hill until it was just below the White Pass load and we had wet snow all day up in White Pass and rain on the lower mountain. We probably had about another 5 cms of snow up top during the day and although it did get a bit heavier it was always powder in some form.

The obvious tactic to me was to get high and stay high - no, this is not some 60's flashback but the way to stay up above the rain line. The result was that we were on the third chair up Timber this morning, skied in White Pass for 7 hours without a break of any kind and only ran to base at the very end of the day for the final run.

Straight off the top of Timber we dropped Puff Trees and had first tracks down in heavy but ok powder. I took the Idiot Traverse out to Surprise but was called back by Patrol who were still cutting above the Knot Chutes and they asked me to ride guard on the traverse and hold any skiers and boarders back. I did this and got my reward in the form of first tracks in Surprise Tress which were good deep powder.

After that the rest of the morning was spent dropping the Gun Bowl in increasing but increasingly heavy powder and then skiing Surprise Trees from the near chutes to Triple Trees and back again, a dozen or more times I would guess, and always finding some untracked lines if you were prepared to cut it tight in the wooded areas.

We had been hoping for Currie bowl to open but it didn't as a result of the rising rain line and temps - by this stage the snow was getting very wet and the temps at the White Pass load had drifted just above zero. Mid afternoon we did get Anaconda and as by that time most people who don't have 7 hour legs had gone home we had it pretty much to ourselves. First time into the untracked chute over the hump there was a massive slab release which I just managed to stay above. There is always the debate of when does a slough become an avalanche and I have to say this this must have got very close to crossing that line, however I was able to ski the soft debris that I had created and it was good.

No way was I going to base in all that rain so it was a hard push round Trespass Trail to the White Pass load. The rest of the afternoon was spent working our way across the Anaconda Chutes which ranged from awesome powder to scraped out avi trail with intermittent trips through Surprise Trees or Triple Trees (still untracked lines to be found) when the push back along the trail just became too much.

Last run we dropped a very far Anaconda Chute which was still untracked and then into Bootleg Glades. By the bottom of the Glades it was raining and the snow was pure elephant snot which confirmed what a great decision it had been to stay up in White Pass all day. The trail out was even worse with some very slow mushy stuff all the way to base.

As I am typing this it is raining in the valley with temps of +3. We have to hope for an overnight cooling that will bring the rain line back to base but my fear is that with this Pineapple Express just starting things will be getting even warmer and tomorrow there will be no hiding place from the mushy conditions.

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