Saturday, April 4, 2015

Day 121 and winter makes a come back for at least some of the day

So today we went back to winter conditions at least for a while. When we looked out of the window first thing this morning it was snowing. A check on the internet revealed that we had 3 cms of new snow overnight but by the time we got to the hill I guess the snowfall must have been double the overnight figure. The temp on the way to the hill was -2 so the snow was falling hard all the way down to the base.

For the rest of the morning things stayed cold and overcast with frequent heavy snow showers. Temps at the White Pass load remained at or about zero and the conditions as stated were full on winter. In the afternoon things began to change and for a while we had heavy snow showers with blue skies which was a pretty strange experience. By late afternoon it was tending towards blue bird conditions with temps up at +5. After skiing, conditions switched back to heavy snow showers all the way down to the base and temps were down to only +2 as we drove away from the hill. So a very varied day which produced some significant accumulations of snow on the upper hill at times during the day - the lower hill remained bare for the most part after the initial snow fall melted.

We went to the New Side and in the new snow and some very varied viz (which came and went all morning) and dropped down Lift Line which was lightly tracked with soft snow on a hard icy base. This set the trend for the morning as we looped White Pass repeatedly always finding a hard icy base with soft snow accumulating on top. Polar Peak was closed and remained so and Knot Chutes closed early on so we were just skiing the White Pass loop - Gun Bowl, Quite Right, High Line, Surprise Trees, Milky Way Trees, Anaconda Glades etc were all skied several times. Always the base was hard and icy and the soft snow helped a bit but it was not until late morning that the snow had accumulated to the point that it started to feel like a bit of a powder day. Run of the morning was of course Anaconda where new snow and only one track in front of us gave some great powder skiing where we could only just beat out our own sloughs.

We ran to lunch across the Reverse Traverse and decided to try the top of Decline which was smooth and quite deep snow with great untracked skiing. We skied out down Megasaurus Trail and then through the bottom of Lizard Bowl which was soft but rather less sketchy than the last few days.

After lunch we went back to the New Side and into the biggest snow storm of the day for at least half an hour before things started to clear. By the time the snow had stopped we had good winter conditions and took full advantage of it with many more White Pass loops. Surprise Trees, Anaconda Glades, Pillow Talk and Milky Way Trees were high on the agenda and all skied well with the new snow providing a good cushion on the hard base. By the end of the afternoon the warming conditions had started to melt the new snow back into the base and the base itself was starting to soften but not much - just enough to make skiing a bit easier.

Our final run off was through Easter Bowl which was skiing ok and starting to turn soft but still quite challenging. Down in the Plaza the evenings celebrations were starting with a short set from BC/DC before they performed later in the evening in Griz bar. We stopped for a couple of beers but headed off before things really started cooking.

Tomorrow's report may be a bit brief as it is Easter Sunday and by tradition we go for a Sunday Brunch somewhere and this year it's going to be the Rusty Edge. If the brunch is up to standard then there will be little or no skiing after brunch and only a couple of hours before. Still, we have to have these little indulgences.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Day 120 and the cost of skiing drops below 8 bucks a day

Yes, today the average cost of skiing dropped below 8 bucks a day for the season and is due to go lower over the next 10 days. As I have remarked before skiing for 8 bucks a day in a normal season would seem like great bargain but this year it feels like I am getting no more than fair value considering the conditions we have had to suffer during the season.

Today was different from yesterday in a number of significant ways. It was colder so we had a much harder base in most places but we also had some new snow (about 3 cms on top) which continued to accrue during the day but in truth didn't really amount to much. The net result was that nowhere was as bad as the really ugly places yesterday because of the new snow but by the same token nowhere was nearly as good as the good places yesterday like Knot Chutes as all the soft churned up snow had refrozen really hard.

The temp on our deck when we got up was -2 and when we arrived at the hill things had only warmed to +1.It was overcast and snowing off and on as it did all day. Temps warmed during the day so that at one time it was +3 at the White Pass load but remained zero at the Polar load and towards the end of the day things cooled so it was +3 as we drove away from the hill. We had precip off and on all day which always came down as snow on top and very wet snow at the base - because of the lack of snow at the base it failed to settle and to all intents and purposes the lower hill is closed except for one very sketchy ski off. On top the new snow settled on the old and by the end of the day we had an accumulation of maybe 4 cms dust on crust with perhaps more to come.

We went to the New Side after a late start working on the (correct) basis that the soft snow of yesterday would have frozen over night and would need time to soften. In the event this was only a partially  accurate assessment as the surfaces showed no inclination to soften all day so what we had was yesterday's skiing surface preserved in hard ice with a little new snow on top. We looped the Gun Bowl (hard and icy) I bowl (hard and icy) Quite Right (hard and icy) Surprise Trees (hard and icy) - I think everyone gets the picture.

We did a Currie loop through Down Right which was accumulating well on the grooming but the work back round Trespass Trail was hard. Next we found maybe the best skiing of the day in Milky Way Trees which benefitted from not having much traffic yesterday and so was a smooth under surface - we skied it three times as it was good and untracked and the run back down Puff was much the same on the left side. With Polar Peak closed we ran back to base via Easter which was skiing way better than yesterday with the new snow cushioning the hard ice base from yesterday.

After lunch in the ever excellent Big Bang Bagels we went back to the New Side but because the Mighty Moose is so bare of snow we took the Elk all the way up to get us back across. Arriving at the top of White Pass I was amazed to find Polar Peak open as the viz was much worse than the morning. When we got to the Polar load we found that the socked in conditions were centred on White Pass and despite all the evidence to the contrary Polar was just about ok. Only the Coaster was open and whilst the ski down to the top of the Coaster was smooth and ok the Coaster itself totally sucked with poor viz and sheet ice. We ran back under the chair and about half way down the snow softened and was deep so we got some (a very few) great powder turns.

We repeated Polar 4 times before running to base through Easter which was skiing a little better in the accumulating snow but the Lizard ski out was bumpy and sketchy and as I have said before can't have many more days life left in it. We came back to the New Side with a rip down Lift Line which was a bit scratchy in the top but ok low dawn. We just had time for one last Polar loop which skied much better in the final section down to Currie Powder than anywhere else and then skied ok all the way back round to White Pass.

After a final White Pass rip back on Heartland which was starting to get soft we had a final run to base through Easter. This skied the best it had all day as the snow continued to accumulate out of the repeated flurries. The ski out was predictably sketchy.

Beers in the bar which was busy but not greatly so for a holiday weekend. More precip in the forecast so who knows what we might get.

Day 119 still some good stuff but also some bad stuff

We made a rather late start today for obvious reasons after yesterday's celebrations. It was only +2 on the way to the hill but in bluebird conditions. In the sun the temps rose very quickly but there was no atmospheric warming so in the direct sunlight things softened but away from the direct sunlight things stayed hard and icy. During the day things got to +6 at the White Pass load, and a lot warmer in the sun before it clouded over in the afternoon and temps dropped and the surfaces set up although they remained firm on a soft base so taking a nice edge. In true spring fashion just before we left the hill we had a full on winter ice pellet storm at the top of the New Side just before we closed and then things went back to bluebird by the time we were driving away from the hill - you can take you pick of how to describe the day.

We went to the New Side where for a while it looked as though we were going to get Polar Peak as the chair was turning but by lunch time that had stopped and we were just left with the White Pass chair. At first everything was super hard and refrozen from yesterday giving some very ugly conditions. As the sun intensified things started to soften very quickly and soon we were skiing Gun Bowl, I Bowl, Highline and Quite Right in snow that was becoming soft. Particularly in the Gun Bowl you had to choose your face as the different aspects gave different conditions until quite late into the morning but by the end it was all soft spring skiing.

The softening conditions persuaded me to try the Knot Chutes and I found them very soft with an easy access which didn't involve too much air time over rocks. We ran down through Surprise Trees and the chutes on the way to Surprise several times and found the skiing soft in the main but a bit variable in places. We ran to lunch through Easter bowl which as it faced away from the sun remained hard ugly blue ice bumps all the way down and just about the worst skiing on the hill I have had for several weeks. The ski out below Lizard was predictably mushy and sketchy.

In the afternoon we went back for more of the same but majored in the Knot Chutes and the chutes in and around that area which in the softened and reforming snow skied about as mellow and easy as I can ever remember. Bearing in mind the state of Easter we gave all north facing stuff like Gotta Go, Cobra Rock and Anaconda a clear miss. The skiing back in Surprise Trees and the surrounding chutes remained surprisingly good and soft with only the occasional ice patches. Even when it clouded over later in the afternoon and things started to set up the surfaces were still pretty friendly with a reformed light crust on a soft under layer.

We continued to loop White Pass until closing when we were unable to ski out again through Easter because Currie Bowl had been closed for an emergency heli evac of a very serious injury which of course takes priority over skiing. We had no choice but to down load on Timber and go for only a couple of beers in the Griz as none of us had fully recovered from yesterday even after 4 o'clock today.

After skiing we visited our good friend Rob and Katie and 9 month old Joseph (he really is a happy little chappy) for an evening catching up on events, hence the late report tonight. Looks like there may be some precip in the forecast and although I don't think it will good news for the lower mountain it could mean some new snow for those of us who like to go high.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Day 118 Hotdog Day

A very late report - in fact I am sitting up in bed the next morning having my coffee before heading up for Day 119.

We actually has some new snow plus some blow in up on the New Side giving some dust on crust skiing which was ok, a bit deeper in some places. It was quite cold (just above zero) and windy. Luckily my retro one piece was still as warm as ever (good old Killy quality) and double lucky as the precip that did come down came down as ice pellets and not rain up on top - the old suit may be warm but it's about as water proof as a coffee filter.

After an ok mornings skiing in White Pass we had beers in Lost Boys café before running to lunch via a pretty icy Easter bowl. The only reason we have the beers there every Hot Dog Day is to emphasise the contradiction of everyone being searched to make sure that they are not taking alcohol up the hill while the hill themselves are more than happy for you to have all the beer you want at Lost Boys - could the six and a half bucks a can price have anything to do with it I wonder ?

In a huge break from tradition the Hot Dog party and jump was on the New Side half way down Hot Chocolate. The simple reason for this is that there is no snow on the traditional party location on the Old Side at Wallaby. A great party with some of our own beer followed by a final run back down Easter - the sun even came out for a while.

More beers and shots in the Gtiz before heading home for more Jameson's Irish Whiskey, no wonder today is a slow start.

As an aside I lost my pass yesterday, no, I don't mean the hill pulled it, I actually looked down and noticed it was missing. I just want to make it clear that this was nothing to do with the beers we had drunk, the pass must have just snapped and flown off somewhere on the hill. Guest Services were super helpful in fixing another one and the only problem appears to be that when checked the pass showed I was on Day 1 - still we all know better, don't we ?

As a further aside I have just got the stats for  the web site for last month and I am happy to say it was new record by a big margin with 16,540 hits on the blog in the month. You don't have to be a mathematical genius to work out that this is over 500 hits per night. Hits go way down at the weekend as most followers are also skiers and they don't need to read what's going on when they are here. My record day was during the last good snow cycle which happened mid week and I guess everyone wanted to know what conditions were really like - nearly made 1000 hits in the day.

It has now reached the point where I am getting commercial interest in allowing advertising. Everyone may rest assured that this will never happen. I never have and never will accept cash payments, free or reduced price goods and services or any other form of payment in exchange for favourable mentions in the blog. I will always continue to give praise where it is deserved and chastisement where it is needed based on my own view of the world and nothing else.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day 117 and we are still getting some ok skiing on the New Side

In fairness I have to say that I can't comment on the Old Side as the only time I venture over there is to ski out of Easter or the Saddles but from what I have seen the upper parts of Lizard look ok and the lower parts and the ski out just suck with ugly refrozen mush going through to earth in many places - that is why I am spending my days on the New Side.

There was no new snow overnight and on the way to the hill it was + 3 which was way cooler than the past few days. It was overcast with some sunny periods but forecast to cloud over during the day and give us some possible precip in the afternoon. I decided to ski in my fleece for the first part of the day and switch to a jacket as and when conditions demanded. In the event I was down to base to change into my jacket pretty early as the conditions cooled on top. At times during the morning it warmed to +8 at the White Pass load but later in the day things cooled so we had +3 at White Pass and only just plus temps at the Polar load - things must have been way cooler in the wind affected areas on Polar Peak.

Puff was rather firm but ok skiing as a warm up for the day. Polar peak wasn't open so we looped White Pass several times finding that the snow in Gun Bowl had set up a bit but was still soft enough for easy skiing. High Line, Quite Right and the I bowl all skied as easy softening crust turning to rather mushy conditions lower down as we continued to loop. It was getting cold so I had decided to run to base to pick up my jacket and my buddy had decided to pick up and bury his lunch for tomorrow - think about it. As we got to the top of White Pass we noticed that Polar Peak had opened so we ran to base via drop down Papa Bear which was much crisper than yesterday but still skied ok taking a nice edge. Final drop was Easter Bowl which was firm but good GS skiing in my view before hitting lower Lizard which was just soft sketchy and ugly.

Having put on appropriate clothing we went back up the New Side and linked up with several buddies to head to Polar Peak. We had numerous loops - Papa Bear ( always nice and smooth and some great fast easy skiing) Grand Papa Bear (much the same as Papa Bear but a little more crusty) Barely Legal ( really very good all the way down but you had to pay attention in the edge to edge jumps in the exit chutes due to all the sloughing). The Clown Chutes were a nice surprise as it was icy and hard in the cold wind affected snow all the way down to the entrance but once you jumped in it was soft and mellow skiing all the way through. We ran to a very late lunch via the little chute on the right of Mama Bear which everyone misses and was untracked - at one time they were even calling it Bill's chute as no one else seems to go in there and it was good untracked snow today. Easter bowl had softened a little and was skiing even better than before.

We had a late lunch and it was just as well that we had brought our own as the day lodge closed half an hour earlier than usual and we would have been too late had we been relying on the usual service. In the afternoon we went back to Polar Peak and found that things were getting a lot colder in the freshening wind and the light was deteriorating as precip of some kind was certainly threatening. The result was that the top of Papa Bear was getting hard and icy but it remained good low down. Grand Papa Bear was now hard and icy and quite tough. The Clown Chutes were still soft after dropping off the icy cornice.

As Polar closed we had a great rip down to Currie Powder via Papa Bear which was so mellow and smooth that you could just crank up the GS turns almost without limit. We had a bit of a sticky run back via Trespass Trail to White Pass load and a final White Pass loop through Gun Bowl (still soft and good) and then Surprise Trees which were in surprisingly good shape, only being too soft in the exposed faces at the top and every where else reasonably firm. The final run to base was through Low Saddle which had firmed up from yesterday but was still soft and taking an edge - from there I cut into Easter which was yet again a great firm skiing surface where you could just let it rip.

We had some great beers and celebrated my buddy Dan buying some new skis - there are some good bargains to be had at the moment. As we drove home it was +3 and it had started to precip coming down as a very wet icy/rain mix which may reflect some more encouraging conditions further up the hill.

A Warning - tomorrow is Hot Dog Day when we dress in 1980's ski gear to celebrate the truly dreadful ski/soft porn movie of that name. Another activity is that we get unbelievably drunk starting early in the morning and finishing when we fall over. As a result of this there may be no report tomorrow or worse still, there might be ! I ask for everyone's indulgence for the absence of a report or the presence of one which at best will be total bollocks even if I manage to find the "publish" button. Normal service will be resumed on Thursday.

Day 116 still hanging on for not a bad day, but so warm

First of all the usual apologies for a Monday for the late report as a result of having spent the evening at the Rusty Edge treating ourselves to their ever excellent, and excellent value beer and burger for 10 bucks.

Today things started pretty warm and got way warmer as the day went on. On the way to the hill this morning it was +7 and overcast. During the day it remained overcast most of the time although it did become sunny late afternoon. Temps climbed so that by mid afternoon we had +15 at the White Pass load and +9 at the Polar load and as a result everything was getting very soft and mushy.

We went to the New Side and immediately found things much softer and warmer in the Lift Line drop which we took every time and was soft mushy snow. By the time we got to the top of White Pass the snow was a little more wintery and so we had some good runs through the Gun Bowl and the Knot Chutes which were soft winter snow, back to White Pass which was rather soft and slow lower down.

Polar Peak was socked in at the top but open in the chutes so we dropped Papa Bear a couple of times which was a little icy in the top few turns until the light improved half way down. We ran out to Easter along the Reverse Traverse which was in ok shape and ran to base through a very mellow and soft Easter bowl and some very soft and mushy stuff below the Bear load in the ski out from Lizard.

Next time up we had only intended a quick run up Polar Peak but found that the viz had improved beyond measure so that the skiing was better both in terms of what you could see and the surface you were skiing on. Just like yesterday we got trapped into skiing Polar loops in Papa Bear which was soft and the Clown chutes which were ok even if you did have to hang your tails out over a cliff to drop into Crusty. After several good loops we took a great soft line down Mama Bear and ran across and dropped into Lower Saddle which was soft and very mellow and actually starting to train snow in the warming conditions. The ski out to lunch in lower Lizard was in bumpy wet man made snow with water flowing everywhere, hard to see how this will stay together for much longer.

After lunch we went back up the New Side and straight to Polar Peak. It was evident with the warming conditions that some of the runs that had been icy no go areas in the morning were now prime skiing. We looped Papa Bear (always good on the skiers right with soft melting snow on a firm base) Grand Papa Bear (the ice swept surfaces now softening giving great skiing) Barely Legal (ok in the top but a bit unstable lower down and snow sliding in the chutes), Shale Slope (mushy up top but good soft skiing on a firm base low down) Clown Chutes ( steep drop in but ok soft skiing to the cat track) until it was time to finish. We looped and relooped these.

In normal circumstances when Polar Peak closes at 3:30 we push back round Trespass Trail for some more skiing. Today, faced with a situation where we had already had some pretty good skiing off Polar and found that pushing back to the Polar load was fairly hard work in the very soft snow we declined to knacker ourselves in very hot conditions getting back to White Pass and just decided to run to base for slightly early beers which we felt we had earned, We had a final drop down Papa Bear which was skiing as well as it had all day and then cut down via Low Saddle. The snow in the saddle was becoming very wet and unstable so we hopped the ridge into the next chute to the right and had some ok if rather slow and mushy turns down to Dancer.

We skied off for early beers and had a great time on the locals deck at the Griz. Far too many beers before heading to the Rusty Edge for beers and a burger but that's how things go on a hot sunny spring day. More spring skiing tomorrow maybe.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Day 115 and the hill makes come back big time

Yes, you may have thought that after yesterday the hill was finished but today it made a great fight back albeit with only limited terrain available. Today on the Old Side we only had Lizard Bowl with the Elk Chair and the Bear Chair but as my only experience of it was skiing out of Easter bowl I can't make much comment. From what I saw they had done great work to keep the ski off functional but apart from that I can't say much.

They were calling 7 cms of snow at the snow plot in the last 24 hours but I guess most of this fell yesterday in the winter storms but it may have been supplemented by the blow in from the very strong winds that were evident as having hit the upper mountain over night. On the way to the hill it was +4 at the base and overcast, and remained so all day. Actually it did start to rain a little at the base and flurrie lightly off and on all day but this did no more than preserve the existing snow rather than produce any more new snow.

We went to the New Side as I suspected it had got new snow yesterday and not much traffic. As I discovered from a couple of sources just as I left the hill yesterday having established that the New Side was not loading - they started loading. A good buddy of mine estimated that they opened Timber about 30 seconds after I turned away and left - ah well, that's the way things go. In the overall scheme of things I guess I have nothing to complain about.

Puff was crusty and we worried that this was going to be the pattern for the day. When we got up White Pass we discovered that the snow up on top was all soft and deep wind sift with no significant tracking. We looped White Pass several time always either through the Gun Bowl or the Knot chutes at the top and in both places the snow was soft deep and hardly tracked. It has to be a good day for Lynda to want to ski the Knot Chutes repeatedly but this was one of those days. Lower down it was ok becoming a little crusty although the crust was starting to soften even quite early in the day.

We saw that Polar Peak had opened and we went up only to find that the viz was very poor. The ridge and the Coaster were the only way down and they were ugly ice crust. Even after traversing under the lift and to the fence line the snow was only patchy soft spots in a hard ice base. After a couple of loops we decide to run to base via Easter bowl. I was bit worried about the bridge above Currie Creek which was pretty sketchy yesterday. I need not have worried as it had been repaired so that the traverse skied like an easy groomer in that place. I later learned that it had taken 2 and half hours of concerted shovelling by trail crew to get it in that shape and that was a fantastic effort - well done Deb and Annie. Easter bowl had a soft crust on some new snow which skied almost like powder and was a great run down.

Next time up Timber Puff skied much better from a combination of softening crust and skier traffic. We had debated doing more Knot Chute loops but when we got up we discovered that the Polar Chutes had opened and we were straight up there for only the third time this season. Papa Bear was just sensational with the line on the skiers right sheltered by the rock band being full of fresh snow which was being continually renewed by blow in. We looped back to the chair many times and just once I tried Barely Legal which was ok but rather icy through the chokes. Lynda kept insisting that we looped on so that it was about 2 o'clock before we headed down for lunch. This time we went out to Mama Bear which was still full of deep blow in but mostly untracked.

I side stepped up to take Lone Fir but after cutting the first side step tracks I found a close sign in the chute which may or may not have been intended but in those areas closed means closed. Second prize did not exactly suck with an untracked run down Cornice Chute then and untracked run down the top section of Decline which was very sweet but getting a little soggy in the last couple of turns. The ski out through Megasaurus Trail was slow and the ski off was very sketchy.

In the very curtailed afternoon I linked up with buddies Brad and Glen and we just continued to loop Polar Peak mostly through Papa Bear which was excellent but with one run through Barely Legal which as before was ok but no more. I noticed that the temp at Polar load was about zero where it had been all day and with the usual Polar ridge winds gave us full on winter conditions. Final run was Mama Bear which again was really deep and then a Currie ski out via Currie Glades (surprisingly good and lightly tracked but a bit mushy low down) and Trespass Trail which as always was a hard push. Final ski off was up to White Pass top and then out to Easter Bowl which had softened but was skiing as good spring skiing. The Old Side ski out was just as mushy and sketchy as in the morning.

An excellent evening in Griz with ski buddies full of good ski banter. The hill may yet hold more surprises for tomorrow - we have to hope.