Saturday, February 7, 2015

Day 65 and today's conditions sucked a bit less than yesterday

Now, let me make this clear, I am not talking about how much I enjoyed the skiing, I actually enjoyed both days very much but for different reasons, I am talking about the underlying conditions that really sucked yesterday (poor viz and rain all over the hill) and sucked rather less today. The reason today sucked less was threefold - firstly the slightly lower temps meant that the skiing surface was a bit better, secondly the snow line was lower so we actually had some snow (ok, very wet) but it definitely came down as white, and thirdly we had more terrain in the form of the New Side open, more of which later.

As an aside, sometime around now we will be passing the half way mark of the season, possibly on Monday.  I don't think this will have any significance other than the fact that we are now on the down hill run to the end of the season. Thinking about it a bit more, it may mean that Patrol will have to replace all the signs warning us of early season hazards with signs warning us about late season hazards but I am not sure that is going to happen.

Last night the rain eased up but it came back with a vengeance in the morning and rained all day in the valley and over the lower hill. On the way to the hill the temp was +3 as it was on the way back home which was a bit cooler than yesterday. Up the mountain I noticed that temps were just about at plus figures at the White Pass load and maybe a degree or two cooler at White Pass top. Conditions were overcast and raining for the most part with cloud descending on the New Side late afternoon to give pretty poor viz and flat light by the end of the day.

We got to the hill in rain and found that there were limited openings on both the Old and New Side. We went to the Old Side and found the openings were just like yesterday, Bear, Kodiak, North Ridge, Emily's, Lower Linda's and Lower North Ridge. Everything else was closed so no Boom, Boom Ridge, Linda's, Cedar Ridge, Cedar bowl, Lizard bowl, etc. One improvement on yesterday was that we had the precip that was rain at the base coming down as very wet snow from all points above about half way up the Bear which of course benefitted almost none of the Old Side. After a few loops it was obvious that if there was any snow it would be up in White Pass so that is where we headed.

Puff was soft very heavy mushy new snow but skied ok, if in slow motion. White Pass had very limited openings with the Gun Bowl and the Zig Zag closed which of course meant no Knot Chutes or Surprise Trees. In fact the only things open were the drop offs from Falling Star after the Heartland split, Milky Way Trees, Highline, Puff and Puff Trees on both sides. We looped these in poor viz and found deep soft mushy snow which when chopped up skied like heavy elephant snot. We loop several times using various permutations of runs but always finding the wet snow just before the White Pass load particularly heavy and hard work.

We ran to base for lunch via Highline, Silver Lining and Summer Road which were all just about passable in the rapidly deteriorating conditions below the snow line. I exited via the Meadow and found huge areas of melted snow and uncovered ground - there can't be may days of skiing in this kind of weather left in that area.

In the afternoon we went back up the New Side and just looped White Pass in very wet snowy conditions which turned to rain just about a the White Pass load giving super sticky conditions for the last few turns. The runs were Milky Way Trees, Puff, Puff Trees, Highline, Heartland, and Highline Trees. The majority of the area remained closed just like the morning. The areas we skied were deep soft mushy spring snow which was very wet and had some very deep areas where the skier traffic had pushed snow into berms. The skiing was very tough and technical in poor light and rain/ wet snow but to be fair we enjoyed it even if most folks would not have.

By 3:40 we had had enough of wet snow and rain and ran to base as before through Silver Lining and Summer Road which were deteriorating in the rain. The ski out in the Meadow was worse than the morning and we had to jump a couple of streams just to get out. Overall it was a tough day in heavy ACL snapping snow where you had to watch what you were doing all the time just to avoid injury. If you stayed on your game there was good fun to be had as long as you were not fazed by super heavy chopped up elephant snot.

It's still raining in the valley and temps are still above zero so tomorrow looks like it could be even more challenging.

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