Saturday, December 26, 2015

Day 16 all a bit tougher today

There was a certain amount of debate as to why the conditions today seemed a bit tougher. Was it that there was no new snow and the hill was a little tracked up ? Was it that in the very cold conditions we were all bundled up and our muscles were cold and not working so well ? Was it because we got unbelievably drunk last night over an excellent Christmas dinner with our buddies ? You decide.

Overnight things got cold, we had no new snow and on the way to the hill this morning we were registering temps of -20 in the truck. They said there was an inversion with temps about 10 degrees warmer on top and it is certainly true to say that things did warm up quite quickly so that very soon we had temps of about -12 all over the hill. It was high misty cloud to start with giving fairly flat light and as the day wore on it clouded over more and by the last run it was actually snowing quite hard although that does seem to have petered out in the valley this evening.

I had expected today to be a complete zoo with the start of the holiday crowds but not so. If anything it was rather quieter than a usual Saturday and whilst the parking lots seemed to be quite busy at no time did I have to line up at any lift anywhere on the hill.

For rather obvious reasons we started about an hour late this morning and I headed over to the Old Side as I thought the light might be better there. I did two loops of Snake Ridge which skied very soft in the top section but is getting a bit bumpy in the narrow newly cut pitch. The exit was through Kangaroo which is getting rather icy on the drop to the cat track and at the bottom there were several new moose tracks which suggests that moosey didn't head off to Cedar Valley as I thought after I saw her a few days ago. The loops were completed through Boomerang which was soft and chopped up powder on a firm base.

As a final loop before lunch I headed out to Steep and Deep which I had tried about 10 days ago and found it too twiggy. This time it was really good deep lightly tracked powder most of the way down. My mistake was to try and exit via the chute on skiers right into Lower Gorby. It was very twiggy and finding away through took a fair bit of bushwhacking. Exits for lunch once again were through Kangaroo and Boomerang.

After lunch I headed to the New Side, Polar peak had just opened and I felt obliged to give it a try. In Papa Bear there was bit of blow in but the light was very poor and flat. I would have skied it several times but the ride up in the chair was about the coldest I have ever known. Even though I was dressed for it (fleece balaclava, 5 layers, boot gloves and hot shots in the mitts) I could only manage one ride up and that was my lot for the day. After that  I just did standard New Side loops -
Cougar Glades - ok tracked up powder. Below the cat track I tried the exit left chute which was deep snow and just about skiable but so many alders that it was difficult to get any kind of flow going.
Decline - I figured I needed a rest and just hit the run top to bottom and it was very mellow soft skiing.
The Brain/Window Chutes - Top of the Brain was a little more tracked up than yesterday but there was still plenty of soft snow. Window Chutes were tracked up but soft although rather scratchy in the choke.
Touque Chutes/Spinal Tap - The top of the chutes are becoming icy on the old rain base which I think is going to be something of a feature for the remainder of the season. Spinal Tap remains deep but a few twigs in the lower section.

Drops to White Pass from Timber were usually down Lift Line which was starting to become slick in places but last time I hiked up to Mitchy Chutes which were very soft and deep until the lower chokes which were pretty icy and twiggy.

Last run was Skydive which was just as it has been but with more tracks than before. Soft snow in the top section, nice undulating bumps in the middle and the lower section is still twiggy but getting better every day.

Now after a hot tub an early night and a (comparatively) sober one while deck temps are showing -15. Tomorrow should be another rather tougher day but good fun.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Day 15 Merry Christmas Everyone

Just a very brief report tonight as we have just had about the best day's skiing on the hill imaginable and we are waiting for the taxi to go to our good buddies Dan and Ruth for Christmas dinner - UK readers please not this is something that happens in the evening in Canada.

What a day. Overnight we had another 10 cms of snow on top of all of the powder that came down over the past two days. The result was that everything was filled in and where we hadn't skied over the past two days the powder was bottomless. Temps overnight dropped to -15 and never got above -10 during the day anywhere on the hill. Driving back from the hill it was -16 which suggests another cold night but with the snow staying in great shape. The viz improved so that we had a bluebird day most of the morning and just a little light haze in the afternoon. This meant we could really rip the areas that were poor viz yesterday (Polar Peak) in the improved light.

In summary we had a cold bluebird day in great new snow conditions and hardly anyone on the hill. What more could anyone want from a Christmas present.

I had a couple of rips round White Pass which was all deep hero snow and then they opened Polar Peak. I got second tracks in Grand Papa Bear which were spectacular ant then just looped that, Papa Bear and just once Barely Legal. The chutes out of Barely legal were the only bad skiing on the hill being super icy and well worth avoiding. As Polar became tracked I ran to base through Mamma Bear and the Skydive which was hardly tracked and very deep in the top.

I looped around the Big Three with particularly good skiing in Touque Chutes and Spinal Tap. Last run before lunch was a ride up Polar for Baby Bear (awesome) then a hike up Lone Fir (even more awesome) and then a cut across to Spinal Tap which was still deep and trying to take you out with your own slough.

After lunch I hit Gotta Go/ Bootleg Glades - lost for words on how good and deep the snow was. Knot Chutes - deep but getting scratchy in the Tight Knot. Then Triple Trees which was probably the deepest snow on the hill as no one had skied it due to the dubious exit. As It was I dropped on the Trespass Trail with no major incident after getting spectacular deep untracked skiing all the way down

Last rip one hour early down Skydive was still deep and soft. I have probably fogoten a few runs but the taxi is here. Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Day 14 the best days skiing ever

So what made it the best day's skiing ever? Was it the fact that we had about 20 cms of snow at -8 overnight giving us awesome powder? Was it the fact that the crowds have still not arrived so we had most of the hill to ourselves for the day? Was it the fact that it puked snow all day despite the forecasts only saying we were in for a light dusting and as a result everything filled in and the base went over 2 metres? No, it was the fact that today Lynda skied for the first time after her hip replacement op almost 3 months ago to the day and had no problems.

Lynda's first plan was to ski before the end of the season, then before the end of January, then on Christmas day and finally today on Christmas Eve. The conditions were very favourable but even allowing for that it was great to get my best ski buddy back and that she was able to last for 3 and a half hours was a bonus - we are now both really looking forward to the rest of the season.

Overnight we had 13 cms of fresh snow which came down at around -8 making it just about perfect powder. As we drove to the hill it was -6 at the base and -10 on top and stayed that way all day. It snowed all day despite the forecasters only calling for a light dusting. When I say it snowed, it just puked down all day filling in existing tracks and giving some super deep deep skiing. It is just starting to slacken off a bit now in the evening but we must have had at least 20 cms of fresh which was confirmed in the bar tonight as having taken us past the 2 metre base mark, an awesome start to the season.

Because I was helping Lynda in the morning my skiing was limited to the Old Side on such runs as Bear, Arrow, Dancer, Cruiser, Cedar Centre, North Ridge and similar gentle skiing. It wasn't all that bad as the powder had piled up along side these runs and we were able to ski powder on a flat base most of the morning. We even tried a few of the ungroomed areas such as Boomerang and Bear Chutes which we super soft and deep.Not my usual type of skiing but time well spent to get my best ski buddy back on her skis.

In the afternoon I decided to make up for lost time and went to the New Side where I found Lift Line very deep if a little tracked but filling in - that set the pattern for the afternoon.

Polar Peak was open but very socked in. I took a run back through Grand Papa Bear which was very deep and soft before hitting out to Papa Bear which was similarly spectacular. Because of the poor light I couldn't really pull the trigger in either of these runs so decided to stay below the tree line for the rest of the afternoon.
Decline - very soft deep and mellow all the way down
Cougar Glades/Stag Leap - soft deep skiing with the bottom of Stag almost acceptable.
The Brain/Window Chutes - a great pitch through the upper Brain spoilt only when I had the most spectacular burial in the deep snow above the cat track. Windows were great deep snow in the entrance and even better through the chute.
Touque chutes/Spinal Tap - deep and becoming deeper all the way down
Knot Chutes/Surprise Trees - a great fill in run in what had probably been tracked powder early on but by the time we got to it we just had deep soft snow.

The final run of the day was of Course Skydive but what a Skydive. I hardly took my skis out of the fall line in the top section allowing the deep snow to brake me and had one of the best runs in there ever. The rest of the run was still very good and over all it was a great way to finish the day.

Beers in the Griz with buddies to round of one of the most awesome powder days ever. As it was Christmas Eve we took ourselves out to the Bridge Bistro which in my opinion does the best burger in town. Now settled down at home listening to Carols from Kings on Spotify ( they announce today that have the Beatles catalog available for streaming) do Christmases get any better than this. Still snowing, could be a good Christmas Day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Day 13 Polar Express

No, I am not giving a plug to the kids movie of the above name which we have already successfully avoided several times this Christmas, I am making reference to the fact that today we had Polar Peak Chair opened for us for the first time this year. Of course the chair isn't an express ( it's an old fashioned triple chair) but I think I am allowed a little poetic licence given the awesome day I have had, of which more later.

We had about 7 cms of fresh overnight and the base is creeping up towards 185 cms. Temps to start were -6 in the valley and were about the same as we drove away and my guess is that they didn't change much during the day. Up the mountain I saw temps of -8/9 but I guess that up Polar Peak it was way colder and when you factor in wind chill it wouldn't surprise me if it wasn't as low as -15. the weather was overcast with light flurries all day which didn't really give any accumulations but did keep everything fresh and looking nice and Christmasy.

I went to the New Side partly because I thought the best snow would be there but mostly because my inside information told me that we would be getting Polar Peak today. The drop from Timber Top to White Pass load was all day through Lift Line or Big Bang or some combination of the two. It was ok soft snow with a few sketchy ice patches but overall very good.

I looped the New Side waiting for Polar Peak -
Decline/Window chutes - nice soft snow with no new tracks in the top and very deep snow through the trees and in the chute
Cougar Glades/Stag Leap - Cougar had no new tracks and you could even find some untracked lines in the trees to the left. The lower part of Stag was surprisingly untwiggy and skied ok on the left side.
Stag Leap - encouraged by our experience in the lower section we hit Stag top to bottom and the upper skiing was really good and lightly tracked and the lower was as before.
Touque Chutes/Spinal Tap - Great soft snow skiing in the chutes and after a short traverse into the creek bed it was good tight deep snow creek bed skiing.
Skydive - as always great terrain hugging soft snow in the top and the lower section is getting almost mellow in places.

I was about to go to lunch when they opened Polar Peak. We had thought that maybe we would only get the Coaster side but in the event we got the full Polar Chutes all the way across. The snow was super deep as it had not been skied at all this season and with only a few small icy patches to catch you out the rest was very deep (and when I first got in) untracked powder. The viz wasn't great and got worse during the afternoon but this didn't bother me and just served to keep some of the more timid skiers out.

I hit Grand Papa Bear, Barely Legal and Papa Bear 3 times each so a total of 9 runs - all great deep powder skiing. I ran to a very late lunch via Mama Bear and then Touque Chutes and Spinal Tap which were just as good as before.

After lunch I had very little time but went back up to Polar peak and had 2x Grand Papa and 1x Papa Bear. It was time to close on Polar so my run off was via Baby Bear which was just as good as all the other chutes. A quick trip round Trespass Trail to White Pass via Currie Glades (very mellow) gave me a chance for a last rip down through Surprise Trees which were surprisingly lightly tracked.

Final run was Skydive of course which was just as good as earlier in the day. We had beers with buddies in the Griz Bar and then had awell deserved hot tub on the back deck in snow that was still lightly falling and temps of -7. A near perfect day in  my view with 14 runs down Polar Chutes.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Day 12 free skiing from now on

First of all I have to apologise for the late post tonight. It isn't for the usual reason of having drunk too much beer with buddies but for the rather more uplifting reason that we have been out finishing off Christmas preparations. We now have all decorations and lights up, presents bought and wrapped, food and drink ready to go so let the jollifications commence.

Today's heading does not refer to some really generous offer by the hill but instead it refers to the fact that after 12 days skiing the season pass has paid for itself. Of course this depends on the fact that the price of the pass is calculated at earlybird prices and the daily cost of skiing is undisccounted which is a pretty safe bet even at this time of year. So with the pass covered it is time to sit back and enjoy the rest of the season.

We had about 8 cms of snow overnight and starting temps were -6 on the way to the hill. Things stayed pretty cold all day with temps a couple of degrees colder up the hill and still down at -5 as we drove away tonight. It was overcast with light flurries to start the day and as the morning wore on we had an inversion with clearer skies on top and valley cloud - we even had some angel dust at the top of the cloud level. This didn't last long and by lunch time it was starting to sock in and the flurries returned. There were no great accumulations but it has been snowing quite consistently in the valley all evening and with the low temps we might have some fresh snow for the morning.

The result of last night's activity was that most of the tracking had filled in although it still showed through and the only truly untracked snow was what had not yet been skied in the season. As promised last night I went to the Old Side and had a great morning's skiing over there. First drop was Snake Ridge all the way down which only had a couple of tracks in and the newly cleared shoulder was excellent tracked powder. Kangaroo was interesting if only because of the appearance of a moose on the lower section who quickly became bored with skiers and headed off down the run and into the trees below. If this is the same moose that we encountered on the New Side last week then she is moving in the right direction away from the ski hill and will avoid conflict which could have unfortunate results for both skiers and moosey alike.

The rest of the morning was spent looping in no particular order and some runs several times - Linda's, Boomerang, Boom Ridge, Cedar Ridge, Kangaroo, King Fir and Snake Ridge. Everything was nice deep tracked powder and there was nothing you would say was anything but good skiing. A special mention has to go the the Fish Bowl which I dipped into for the first time this season. I only hit the Poppa Chutes just beyond the boundary fence and cut back into Redtree (not easy to find the cut back this early in the season) but the snow was thigh deep and well worth the excursion.

After lunch I went to the New Side in the hope that we would get Polar Peak for the first time and although it did look promising for some time Polar remains a treat yet to be experienced. We ran -
White Pass - a straight run back through the Gun Bowl and under the Chair still had lots of fresh snow.
Decline/ Window Chutes - Great packed powder in the top of Decline and Window chutes remain lightly tracked and deep.
Siberia Ridge - In great shape and very lightly tracked. It was so good that I was tempted the drop the face in the choke but eventually opted for the right/left shift. Very good powder.
Cougar Glades/ Stag Leap - still lots of untracked lines to be found in Cougar and lower Stag a bit more skiable than yesterday.
Touque Chutes/Spinal Tap - rapidly becoming one of my favourite combinations due to the nice lines in the chute and the fact that Spinal Tap remains very deep unskied snow in many places.
The Brain/Lower Decline - not a combination I had tried before and upper Brain was spectacularly deep snow particularly in the roll above Megasaurus. Lower Decline is still the most mellow of the Big Three.

For last run I hiked up to Mitchy Chutes rather than drop from Timber through Lift Line as I had been doing all day. Unfortunately I got tempted by Big Bang which had some lovely steep untracked skiing off the Lazy Locals traverse. The very last run of course was Skydive which remains great terrain hugging skiing most of the way down and just a bit twiggy in the bottom section.

Beers with a few buddies in the Griz and with everyone having some good stories about the day. Looking out on the deck it is still snowing at about -6 so who knows what tomorrow may bring.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Day 11 the longest shortest day ever

As most people will appreciate today as the solstice was the shortest day of the year and as we hit the hill at 9 and skied to the last chair which was at 4 we could not have made it much longer - case proved.

Last night's snow didn't come down in quite the quantities hoped for but we did get at least 16 cms out of the cycle with a significant proportion falling after close of play yesterday. Today dawned at about -2 in the valley and during the day temps rose so that we may have just got to +1 at the base for a short time but up on top we stayed at -4/5 most of the day and so the snow stayed in good shape. As we drove away from the hill tonight it was -3 so temps are starting to fall as forecast and things should stay in pretty good condition for the foreseeable future.

It was overcast for all of the day and the viz at the top of the hill came and went so we had conditions that ranged from ok to totally socked in and back again. We had flurries off and on all day so there was some accumulation but I doubt it was much more than 3 cms but with the base we already have this made for great skiing - the ski base at the snow plot is now about 175 cms and increasing daily.

We went to the New Side (sorry Old Side fans I really really promise to go there tomorrow) and found good deep untracked snow. The crowds were rather more than I expected for a Monday but I guess it was a combination of early Christmas vacationers and the local crowd taking advantage of the 20 centimetre (sort of ) rule. That having been said we didn't really have to line up and were able to find fresh tracks all day.

A lot of the morning was spent looping Knot Chutes and Surprise Trees as Currie Bowl was not open and White Pass was all that was available to us. The Knot Chutes were for the most part great deep skiing but the Jim Chute was hard blue ice ( something which is a clear under layer all over the hill) and not a lot of fun. Surprise Trees were great deep powder skiing anyway you wanted to try them.

Currie Bowl opened late morning and we had time for -
Cougar Glades/Stag Leap - there were a couple of tracks in Cougar Glades ahead of us but they soon disappeared in the many lines you could take. We all had untracked lines in awesome tree skiing down to the Megasaurus Trail. After that we cut into lower Stag Leap which was all but untracked and getting much better in the lower pitch which is now totally skiable.
Decline/Window Chutes - The top of Decline was lightly tacked soft powder and Window Chutes were deep and untracked in the drop in and very deep soft snow all the way through the chute.
Skydive - great deep powder and terrain hugging skiing all the way down and the lower section becoming less twiggy every run.

Lunch. After lunch we went to the New Side and continued to drop from Timber Top the White Pass load through Lift Line, Big Bang, Puff Trees or some combination of all of the above which were very good skiing. The rest of the afternoon ( which I am having trouble remembering) was -
Lone Fir/Easter Bowl - a bit scratchy in the lower section of the chute but with some excellent skiing on the soft snow roll underneath and all the way down Easter Bowl.
Knot Chutes/Anaconda/Bootleg Glades - the Knot chute still had plenty of soft snow. We hit the 5 chute in Anaconda and had mostly untracked deep snow all the way down. Bootleg was untracked in the chutes to the left of the main Glades so we trashed them, the ski out was very mellow and soft.
Low Saddle - the entrance was blue ice and made for 3 or 4 rather exciting turns before we could cut right into some deep untracked chutes. The ski out through Easter and Freeway was great if a little twiggy in the bottom.
Touque chutes/Spinal Tap - considering how late in the day we skied these the initial drop in was remarkably untracked. Spinal Tap was way better than two days ago and even if the creek bed was not fully filled in the shoulders were great very deep snow and all the dead fall does appear to have been removed.
Stag Leap - It suddenly occurred to us that we hadn't skied Stag Leap all the way down, just cutting in from Cougar Glads up until now. We remedied this with a straight drop of the top of Skydive and found the trees at the top full of deep snow and perfectly spaced. The rest of the run was only lightly tracked deep snow and even the last pitch was just about acceptable.

We just had time for a quick Whute Pass loop to fill in time before catching pretty well the last chair to the top and then traverse across to Skydive. I hit Skydive top to bottom in one shot for the first time this year and it was great. Beers in the Griz ans an early night. Forecasts are very undecided on just how much snow we are going to get in the next 24 but rest assured no matter how much or little it is we will be out there playing in it.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Day 10 a seriously awesome powder day

Today started rather unpromisingly with an overnight snowfall of only about 4 cms and not much forecast for the day. For once I was so happy that forecasters get it so wrong as we had an awesome powder day which just got better as the day went on.

On the way to the hill it was -1 and temps stayed at about that at base all day. Up the mountain they were about -5 and again there was very little change as the day wore on. I had a bad start in that I only took one ski boot to the hill (don't ask, it's a mixture of old age and incompetence) so I had to wait while Lynda ran home and came back with the boot - just over half an hour in all.

This didn't matter as it was only starting to snow in what was supposed to be a convective cell giving us a couple of cms. In the event the snow just got stronger as the day went on and by the time  we came off the hill we must have had at least 10 cms and it was still puking snow. Actually it has been puking snow ever since and looks like it might never stop. The rather obvious result was that things just got better all day as the snow got deeper and the tracks from yesterday disappeared.

I don't intend to do a run by run account of today's skiing which was all on the New Side partly because I don't think that would be the best way of capturing the spirit of such a great powder day and partly because I got so pissed with buddies after skiing that I am not sure I could remember - North American readers please note I am using the English meaning of pissed (drunk) and not the North American (annoyed) which in English would be "pissed off with".

We skied all over the New Side skiing runs (some several times) such as Decline, Window Chutes, Cougar Glades, Skydive, Touque Chutes, Stag Leap, Anaconda Glades, Surprise Trees, Knot Chutes etc. No real point in commenting on the snow in that the best run anyone would have experienced would have been their last of the day as the snow was accumulating all the time but everywhere was deep lightly, or intracked powder and totally spectacular skiing. We avoided the Saddles as the light was rather socked in up high as you would have expected and the snow fields under the Saddles would have been very flat light.

Special moments get special comments as follows -
Cougar Glades - in one of the afternoon runs through I was tempted to try the lower section along the right side of Stag Leap. The upper section had not been skied all season and was sensational. Lower down I ran into some serious timber of all descriptions that should act as a warning to others,
Window Chutes - every time through was super deep in the drop in, and still very deep in the chute. Some of the best snow of the day.
Anaconda - must get a special mention as the snow in chute 5 was probably the deepest on the hill.

The Big 3 (don't let me hear anyone calling them the fingers, yuck,) are all now really good skiing but remain a little twiggy in the final pitches. Decline - almost winter conditions, Skydive - still a bit twiggy, Stag Leap - still sucks and needs about 20 cms of new snow.

Final run of the day was Skydive which was great soft skiing. This was followed by far too many beers celebrating a powder day in the Griz Bar as is easily detectable from this report. Home for a hot tub and more beers.

The good news is that it is still puking snow as it has been all day and valley temps are about -3. Current thinking is 15 cms more over night, 10 cms during the day tomorrow and more tomorrow night, The longer range forecast is calling for snow on every day for the next 10 days so it looks like things could be pretty good at least for the next week. I'm off for an early night and early start tomorrow.