Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Day 19 no new snow but still good conditions for early season

We had no new snow (at least none I could detect) over night and during the day whilst flurries were promised we only had the odd light dusting which didn't amount to anything in terms of accumulation. The big surprise was the temperature which was down at -13 on the way to the hill this morning and -10 as we drove back and which was way lower than anticipated. To be fair temps did get up during the day so that we saw maybe as high as -4 at the Timber load but at at the Polar load it was never warmer than -10 and for most of the time way lower than that.

It was lightly overcast with a high misty cloud which gave way to hazy sunshine during the day but towards the close the conditions started to sock in a bit so that it almost looked like another weather cycle was on the way although we haven't had anything yet. People think that sunshine in these conditions means good viz but that is only partially true. In the direct sunlight things are good but in the shade (particularly when the light come through haze and therefore is diffused white light) the light is very flat making skiing quite difficult. This happened to me as I dropped into Cedar ridge this morning and I had reports from buddies of similar experiences as they dropped into 1-2-3s about the same time. Just making the point that the light did make for some problems today.

The crowds didn't show up first thing but by mid day things were busy and at lunch the day lodge was packed. Whilst there were a lot of people around at the base the upper mountain remained fairly crowd free and the Griz bar was busy but with no problems finding a seat tonight. I was solo today and only had a couple of lifts where there were crowds but both times by taking the singles line I was able to ride the lift with no delay.

I went to the Old Side for the morning hoping to get some runs ahead of the crowds. For the first time this year I tried my standard warm up through Sun Up and China Wall both of which skied well through the twiggy bits which were quite prominent. A trip out to Snake ridge gave good soft snow in the top and big soft bumps in the ski out which I understand is now being called the Waterfall, although I did hear it referred to as Gorby Gap a few days ago. My theory is that as the way out is now so much better there is more traffic in there and as a result the terrain is getting much more bumped up and we are just going to have to get used to it. Kangaroo which was always skied as the route down to Boom load is getting a bit woody and the drop onto the cat track is icy and twiggy and takes some planning.

I skied all over the Old Side with drops through Boom (always soft and good) Cedar Ridge (light problems but skiing ok) Snake (see above) Boom Ridge ( ok but twiggy low down) and all lines in between. Just once I dropped off the Goat Trail into Buck Shot and found good deep snow but twiggy in the top and the lower section looked like a Christmas Tree sale lot - we need a little more snow before I try that again.

After an early lunch I hit the New Side and found Polar Peak open and in good light - a rare combination. I lost count of the number of times I hit the various chutes but as before Grandpapa bear was the run of the day with no ice if you knew where to go. Papa Bear was mellow and Barely Legal was still very icy in the chutes. I tried two more lines than before - Shale Slope (nice on top but slick ice low down) and the Clown Chutes where Crusty was bit technical in the entrance but great soft skiing below that.

By late afternoon it was getting busy on Polar so I dropped the less tracked Baby Bear and had a great run to base through Decline where the skiing was good but the highlight was the appearance of two pileated woodpeckers - made my day.

We just had time for a couple more runs on the Polar Chutes before another drop to base via Currie Creek which was great deep skiing all the way down and some nice tight technical turns to exit. Last run was Skydive of course which we (or at least me) hit top to bottom in one and the skiing was good all the way.

A good days skiing considering the base is still only about 195 cms and despite the crowds still plenty of places to go where you didn't see anyone.

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