Friday, March 13, 2015

Day 99 still getting away with it - just

Yes, in the face of a host of factors acting to the contrary we actually had some good skiing in spring conditions today. Of course the forecast calls for a minimum of 30 mm of rain over the weekend (some of this may actually fall as snow for a short while at the snow plot but don't be fooled by any claims of new snow/powder etc) which may present a whole new level of challenges but for the time being the day was ok - but only ok, so let's not get carried away.

It was about +2 on the way to the hill and hazy. During the day it eventually became bluebird and from low plus temps all morning we suddenly experienced a real change at around 1 o'clock when temps rocketed particularly in the direct sunlight. Driving away from the hill it was still +11 and sunny so no sign of any rain yet. All over the hill we had temps of around +6.

The effect of the conditions on the snow was that with hazy cold conditions to start with everything was rather hard and icy. We poked around the Old Side on the limited number of groomers open and noted that most of the lower mountain was now shut and there were very few runs back to the Bear Chair or the base. It seems to me that there has been a significant change to the policy on opening areas which does not seem to have been announced or debated anywhere. In the past if runs were ugly and icy warning signs were put up and individuals could decide if and when it was a good idea to ski them. Now it seems that a decision is being taken not to open areas when they are icy (Boom and Sunny Side today) and then they are only opened when they become soft and easy to ski and if it is decided that they remain icy (Cedar Ridge) then they are not opened. This shift away from people taking personal responsibility seems to have rather crept up on us without anyone really having debated it's desirability.

After some loops on a softening Lizard side in the limited number of runs we hit out towards Snake Ridge where we hit it just right - hard but starting to take an edge. We looped Snake three times and it was great spring skiing. Exits were via Lower North Ridge which was decidedly sketchy and may only have a couple of days life left in it, First loop back the Bear had to be down Bear as Boom was closed but the next two were via Boom which was skiing soft and easy by the time it was opened - see above remarks.

After lunch I headed up the New Side and arrived at Polar just in time for them to be opening the Polar Chutes for only the second time this year. It was very warm and sunny by that time and the chutes were starting to get bit fluid in places. In a strange reversal of normality (and what else would you expect in a crazy year like this) Papa Bear had some significant rocks showing which cost me a big core shot and Grand Papa Bear was soft deep snow all the way down with some nice soft bumps skiing in the lower section. I only tried Barely Legal once as the chutes out through the rocks were very sketchy with lots of rocks showing. I did try the chute on the shoulder between Papa and Mama Bear which is tight and steep and I used to be about the only one to ski it to the point that people started to call it Bill's chute a few years back. It was still there, steep, unskied and untracked.

After an afternoon playing off Polar we ran Spirit Bear (hardly skied and very soft) followed by Concussion and the a Trespass loop back to White Pass. Just time for a quick White Pass loop then a run to base through a very mellow Alpha Centauri then , Diamond Back (rocks showing) Summer Road (large bare patches to avoid) Sib Ridge (getting a bit thin in places) and the ski out ( just turning to brown snowless patches in places ) and finally to base.

Beers on the locals deck in warm sunshine and some good ski chat. A quiet night in dreading what this weekend may hold.

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