Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Day 33 wind sift for better or worse

Last night the wind that had been blowing around the hill all day clearly got up and we had a major wind event on the hill. The wind continued today and with no new snow the result was that the old snow got moved around as some nice fresh untracked sift. The problem was that in some places the sift had resulted from the wind dying and the snow settling nice and soft and in other places it was blown in and packed by the wind. In the former case it was soft snow and in the latter hard slabby wind pack which was hard to ski. The real problem was that it was not obvious from visual observation which was which.

It was overcast to start and temps had warmed up so that it was only -2 at the base at the start. During the day temps on the hill got up to about zero at the base and maybe -5 up in White Pass. The main feature of the weather was totally socked in conditions on White Pass and pretty poor light all over. We had a little light flurry activity but not enough to give a measurable accumulation although we are promised much more in the next few days. It remains that the temps are much warmer than forecast (it's -3 on my deck at the moment) and we have precip on the way. Last year similar conditions led to our first (of many)  rain days and I am so hoping we are not in for more of the same this year.

I went to the Old Side having observed that the wind was blowing snow out of Fish and Redtree and looked like it was depositing it in Steep and Deep. There was great sifted deep snow in Steep and Deep and by taking the left exit and then cutting right I missed the worst of the alders and actually had a half way decent exit from the bowl.

I had a good morning playing in Cedar Ridge, Lone Fir and Linda's all of which had plenty of soft sifted snow and even went out to Steep and Deep for another deep snow run which should convince everyone how good it was. Returns as always were through Kangaroo  (ok soft bumps but a bit technical dropping on to the Cat track) and Boom Bowl - ok soft bumps skiing with some sift.

After lunch I linked up with my buddy Brad and we hit the New Side, The light was very poor up top and the wind was still moving snow, We hit Cougar Glades which has nice sift and went some way below the cat track in super soft deep snow before cutting out to Stag Leap. Lower Stag was twiggy but ok.

The Brain/Window chutes was a nice line with the snow soft under the trees and things icy in the chokes. Lone Fir skied very mellow with the new snow having been deposited in the chute. The pillow below was much tougher with hard wind packed snow giving a smooth but challenging surface. Spinal Tap had benefited from a load of new snow being blown in through the trees and settling down in the creek bed.

We just had time for quick loops of Siberia Ridge off Timber and Surprise Trees off White Pass which were both very similar with soft tracked wind sift, the only difference being that the access to Surprise via the Gun Bowl was about the most socked in skiing I had ever seen.

It was time for a final Traverse out to Skydive which remained challenging in the light which only gave about 10 ft of viz in any direction. Skydive was ok soft sift but still not enough in the lower section to make any real difference - it was twiggy. Five of us made it to Skydive and as has now become the norm we dropped it in a single rather high speed rip.

We had good beers in the Griz and all got a bit pumped up about the snow promised for this week. For my part I am very nervous of the rise in temps and I think if we get away with no rain in the cycle we will be lucky. Perhaps I am just being too pessimistic but I will feel much better if we get into the cooling trend at the end of the week with none of the R word.

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