Monday, February 23, 2015

Day 81 Conditions

As there has been no significant change I thought I would return to the subject of just how good/bad this seasons skiing conditions are. I am prompted by a number of people who are trying to tell me that conditions are no worse than 2005 and I am afraid that is just rubbish. It is true that in 2004/5 we were down loading Timber Chair in January just like we were this year but may I quote from Lynda's journal which in the days before the blog was just about as authoritative a document as you could get.... "5th Feb Great Powder Day ! and then 6th Feb another great powder day - 64 cms in 48 hours"

I rest my case, we have had nothing to match that and if my memory serves me correctly that dump remained preserved by some pretty cold conditions until the spring snow arrived "27 Mar POW, 28 Mar POW, heavy snow Timber not open, 29 Mar POW Currie not open for 2 days 30 Mar POW getting tired" so the answer is no, this is not just about as bad as 2005, it's much worse.

Now to be fair things have improved a lot over the past week for three reasons - firstly we had 9 cms of new snow which always helps if only to make things look a bit prettier - secondly the temps have dropped to minus double figure at night and don't really get that warm during the day so the snow has hung on for the most part - thirdly the colder temps have allowed snow making on the lower hill all night and for significant chunks of the day so the ski outs have got a lot less sketchy. That having been said it is still far from even acceptable conditions.

To be even fairer, if you are a groomer skier you will be having a great time. Huge tracts of the hill have been groomed and in the lower temps the groomers are in great shape for the most part and way better than the icy surfaces we had last week. However if you want off groomer free riding (which is all I want to do as do most of my buddies) then the conditions are simply diabolical. Hard bumpy ice surfaces under some dust on crust with hazards that can really hurt if you get it wrong. Don't just take my word for it, we were scheduled to have the junior free ski competition here the weekend just gone and it was relocated to Kicking Horse due to conditions. Put another way even official sources think the free riding in Fernie is totally sub standard.

It was -8 on the way to the hill today and overcast although it became bluebird later in the day - needless to say we had no precip of any kind over night. Base temps rose to +4 but it remained minus temps up the mountain all day. More importantly a light cold wind was blowing across the surface all day so that even in the direct sunlight the surface temp of the snow remained down at around -8. The result unsurprisingly was that even in the areas exposed to direct sunlight the ungroomed snow remained bullet hard with some dust on crust and the only variation was that were the snow had been skied in the warm weather 10 days ago it was tracked up ice bumps and where it hadn't at least the base was smooth.

We went to the New Side and did loops comprising a couple of White Pass loops, a couple of Polar Peak loops and then a run to base through Diamond Back and Lower Sib Ridge. We did this three times and the only way things had changed from yesterday was that the Coaster was in a bit better shape probably due to less traffic. I did experiment by dropping into the Gun bowl and the I bowl on various laps but these proved to be very bad decisions and I found myself skiing ugly frozen avi debris covered by some light dust just to hide the problems.

In the afternoon I hit out on the Old Side and skied Red Tree a couple of times and as anticipated it was dust on crust but at least the crust was smooth so the skiing was just about acceptable but no stroll in the park. I took a run down North Ridge to see if Cedar Ridge was tempting which it wasn't so I gave it a miss. Back on the New Side I did 4 more Polar Peak loops which were ok and just like yesterday the best ungroomed skiing was skier's left of the Polar Chair in the lower section where there was a small (and I do mean small) line of tracked up soft snow.

We ended the day with a Currie rip through Down Right which was smooth and fast. The ski off via Trespass Trail. Diamond Back, Summer Road and Lower Sib Ridge were fine except that Diamond Back was getting rather slick in the mid section. Another day over and beers in the Griz. I have a horrible feeling that I will just be able to copy and paste this report for tomorrow.

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