Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Day 104 perhaps the most demanding conditions of the season

As always happens after a big snowfall in spring we end up having a couple of very demanding days as the new snow assimilates with the existing snow pack and conditions start to move back to spring skiing. That having been said there was still some very good skiing to be had as you will hear later.

Overnight it rained in the valley and for a short time it turned to snow so that we had a smattering of white stuff across the valley floor when we woke up this morning. On the hill they were calling for 5 cms of new snow at the snow plot but what we saw was a maximum of 5 cms of very wet snow in some places and rather less lower down. On the way to the hill it was +1 and driving away +7 but the idea that we just had a straight forward warming spring day doesn't really tell the whole story.

On the Old Side temps did warm steadily and things just got softer in the sunlight as the day went on. On the New Side it was overcast and very very socked in at the top of White Pass (couldn't see the ground from the chair in the Gun Bowl) so it stayed more like winter up there most of the day with the viz only getting a bit better late afternoon before socking in again. Temps at the White Pass load never seemed to get above +1.  Along the reverse traverse there was a point where New Side Winter became Old Side Summer but this changed all day so that you found some very soft snow which set up on your next loop and was soft again after that.

The reason conditions were so challenging was the variability of the skiing surfaces. Where grooming had taken place after the snow fall you had hard icy groomers that softened during the day. Where grooming took place before the snow you had a hard icy base with wet snow on top which may have set up or may have stayed wet and soft - didn't seem to be any logic to how this happened. Where the snow fell on refrozen ungroomed snow you got a surface on a hard ugly icy base which may have set up or may have stayed soft and wet - see above. Finally where you had snow on an ungroomed base that hadn't set up (and there appeared to be no logic to where this was either) you had deep soft elephant snot. Understand that these conditions could come and go on all runs at any time, hence the title of tonight's piece.

We went to the Old Side and had runs down Bear (groomed) Arrow (not groomed) Bow several times (soft snow on a variable base) and Dancer (refrozen snow on a hard base) before deciding to try our luck on the New Side. The New Side was socked in and the first run down Lift Line (always the drop to White Pass base for the rest of the day) was pretty challenging tracked up softish snow. We only had a couple of loops through Gun Bowl (total white flat viz) Quite Right (softish bumps) and the I bowl which was actually quite nice soft skiing.

I made my big mistake of the day dropping to base through Concussion which was pure elephant snot and I swear that there were times when I had my skis in the fall line and they weren't moving. Gilmar Trail was very sketchy, but no worse than a number of other places on the lower mountain. We went back to the Old Side and had a great run down New Lift Line where the snow was soft but ok and I even got some face shots. Lower Cedar Centre was soft groomer and Lower North Ridge was soft and only just about skiable on the final corner. Last run out was through Boom which skied ok in the high traffic areas on the right and in the guts where skier traffic had ponded the rather mixed conditions into a firm base. We went to a fairly late lunch at the ever excellent Big Bang Bagels which was crowded - I guess this is as a result of the day lodge having been closed for the past two days.

After lunch I put on my fleece which was not altogether a good idea. Today you could wear a jacket and be ok at the top and hot on the way down or wear a fleece and be a bit cool on top but ok on the way down - I went for the latter. After a couple of White Pass loops in pretty poor viz (particularly the Gun Bowl) but ok soft snow I hit out along the Reverse Traverse. I hiked up to Lone Fir and found it open despite some rather ambiguous signage and had a great rip through the chute which was super deep soft snow and the fan in lightly tracked snow which was soft but not mushy. I had a good run down below the chute which did become rather mushy in the last few turns.

Next time round was a couple of White Pass loops back through the chutes in Pillow Talk which were skiing very easily and some nice practice for tight chute skiing. I went out to Easter Bowl and found some good soft skiing in the top and good skiing all the way down as long as you avoided the avi debris on the skiers right. I couldn't understand the number of people down loading Timber because of the dreadful ski outs in Timber and Siberia when there were such mellow exits to be had by cutting across the Reverse Traverse.

Last run I thought I was being stupid but tradition demands that Skydive has to be the final rip of the day. In the event this was the best skiing on the hill by a big margin. The first two pitches were deep soft snow with only a couple of tracks in from today and still plenty of untracked lines dating from yesterday. I just had an awesome time ripping down in fast GS turns all the way to the top of the final pitch. The last section was a little technical with lots of alders and devils club showing to try and trip you up but by that time the snow was so heavy that you could just push your skis in the fall line and shimmy through the various wood obstructions until you got into the very bottom section which opened up to be easy soft skiing. Best skiing on the hill by a million miles and it looked like only 3 of us had tried it.

Beers in the Griz and a quiet night. Driving away from the hill it was +7 and spitting with rain in the valley. Maybe some more precip on the way but who knows in what form - it will be fun finding out.

No comments:

Post a Comment