Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Day 125 back to spring skiing

Today was a typical spring skiing day with cold temps overnight setting the surfaces up as bullet hard ice and then bluebird conditions softening them during the day. The forecast had been for bluebird in the morning and rain in the afternoon so it will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Fernie weather forecasting that, with the exception of the odd high cloud early afternoon, it was bluebird all day.

When we woke it was -5 on the deck and on the way to the hill it was -2. During the day temps rose so that by the close we had +11 at the base, +10 at the White Pass load and +6 at the Polar Peak load. Bear in mind that these temps are in shaded areas and in the direct sunlight things must have been way hotter all over the hill.

We went to the New Side and found things softening very quickly. By about 10:30 the Gun bowl was soft as was Quite Right. We looped back through the I bowl several times, always having to wait for some ski cutting by Patrol in the Knot Chutes which produced significant amounts of slough debris which was actually quite soft and surprisingly skied quite well. Most of the White Pass loop became very soft very quick and you had to point the skies way down the hill to get some speed to push through.

Just once we cut out the Surprise Trees which was a real piece of work. The debris was stacked up so high that we almost had to climb over it to get out to the end of the traverse. No one had been in Surprise since last night when we skied it almost untracked. Today was good soft skiing turning to mush in places.

Polar Peak had been open for some time but we left it partly because we didn't think the skiing there would be better than anywhere else and partly to leave it to soften. By the time we got up there Shale Slope and Crusty in the clown chutes were open. There were none of the main chutes open but the Coaster was although we didn't ski it. We alternated several runs between Shale and Crusty and found that Shale had softened and skied just like yesterday afternoon. Crusty was easy and soft after a slightly exciting blind entrance. Each run we skied back to the load under the chair in soft chopped up crud which skied (at least on my big DPS banana skis) almost like powder - the Amada JJ fans told a slightly different story.

For a late lunch we skied down lower Grand Papa Bear which was good for me in the chopped up crud on the DPS's - see previous remarks. We tracked across to Easter Bowl which was almost winter like in the top but softened up down below.  The ski out through Lower Lizard was bumpy tracked up mush but better than it has been.

After lunch it was back up the New Side for Gun Bowl/I Bowl loops back to White Pass load all of which was upper mushy chopped up skiing and great for me. It was during this I had the most spectacular stack for reasons I still don't understand. In the bottom of Highline as I lined up for the jump I caught an edge, blew off a ski, got spun round and smashed the back of my head and right shoulder into the ground. No serious damage thanks entirely to the helmet and just few aches and pains in the neck and shoulder area - a good remainder that we can all stack it when we least expect it.

We went back up Polar and stuck in a few loops back to the chair via Shale slope (starting to get a little rocky) and Crusty (still skiing soft and easy) before heading off for a run to base. We chose Decline which was tracked but soft and a good exit along Megasaurus. Of course the Lizard exit was as sketchy as ever. We went back up White Pass for a quick loop up there as the Gun Bowl and the I bowl were as soft as ever and I had to blast through where I had stacked it just to prove a point to myself.

Last run we decided to be traditional and hit Skydive at least as far as the Megasaurus Trail. The top pitch was amazingly lightly untracked so we had untracked lines all the way down which only became crusty in the last two turns before Megasaurus. The ski off was mushy but no worse than usual.

It was warm and sunny on the locals deck and we had a few beers and even a few nachos in the almost summer like conditions. Strange conditions in the forecast for the last 4 days of the season.

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