Saturday, January 23, 2016

Day 44 good skiing in limited areas = ugly line ups

Before I start I have to make a point which I have made before and that is that my blog is not a ski report. It is an account of what I have found on the hill and how I skied it. When I look into the future I am thinking about how skiing will be for me and not for anyone else. Put another way, when I say skiing was ugly and looks like it's getting worse I am talking about the free riding terrain all over the hill that I enjoy. A groomer skier may find conditions exactly to their liking and the hard groomed ice an ideal surface from their point of view. In a nutshell I can never tell anyone what it will be like for them, only what I think it will be like for me.

My comments at the end of the blog yesterday that things would get a lot worse when temps dropped and the surfaces firmed up proved to be dead right, more of which later. The heading relates to the fact that we had weekend crowds and the only terrain worth skiing (in my view) was the top of White Pass so the line ups at the White Pass load were just about as big as I have ever seen them. To put that in perspective they would bee seen as light weekend traffic in places such as Whistler, Lake Louis and most of Europe.

On the way to the hill it was -2 with a sun/cloud mix. The result was that everything that had been deep elephant snot yesterday (basically everything below White Pass load and even some stuff just above it) was boot deep breakable rain crust and very ugly skiing away from the groomers. During the day temps rose slightly and it clouded over so that by about 2 o'clock it started to snow and is still snowing heavily even down here in the valley as I am writing this. As the ridge lines had been in the clouds for the last 7 days and if the forecasts are to be believed may be socked in for another 7 days the hill took the opportunity to heli bomb the ridge lines this morning. I am not sure if I have ever heard so many explosions or seen so much debris come down off the head walls but it was pretty spectacular sight. Temps in the valley tonight are supposed to stay below zero and we may be getting 15 cms of fresh snow on the hill out of this cycle.

I went up to White Pass and stayed there partly because I thought it would be the only good skiing on the hill (I was right) and partly because I thought they might open Polar Peak (I was wrong) - unfortunately pretty well everyone else on the hill came to the same conclusion.

Lift line was soft snow on top and a bit crusty lower down. I then skied the Tight Knot from the traverse which was slightly slabby but untracked. Surprise Trees was ok in the top but getting crusty on the exits. I then had a couple of loops through the Gun Bowl and Quite Right which all skied as nice soft snow. On my next loop Anaconda Glades opened and I put first track into Anaconda 2 which was soft and deep but got crunchy on the last few turns. The good news about today's conditions was that as Trespass Trail was an icy track you could push and skate back to White Pass just about as easily as I can remember so that is what we did.

The crowds at White Pass were huge and even though I was riding single I had a long delay at the load each time - credit to the lift team who made sure that every chair went up fully loaded and so did the best they could with the hand they had been dealt. For the first time this year year I decided to hike the boot pack up to the the top of Knot Chutes just to avoid the crowds and spent the rest of the morning dropping various Knot Chutes from the very top and then doing all the lower chutes from Tight to Jim. My loops were completed by doing variations on Anaconda Glades in some of the tight lines between 2 and 5 which all skied well in the top and with a couple of crunchy turns in the bottom. Trespass trail held up as an quick icy track and a relatively easy return the White Pass.

Last run before lunch I hit the Reverse Traverse out to the general area of Tom's Run which skied soft and mellow in the top with a little rain crust at the very end.

In the afternoon I went back to White Pass and continued much as the morning hiking Knot Chutes and skiing Anaconda variations. About 2 o'clock it started to snow and by 2:30 it was puking down. We stopped hiking Knot Chutes due to the poor viz but kept on traversing in and running Anaconda. Mid afternoon we decided to try the Big 3 and I chose Decline on the grounds that if it went wrong we could always bail on the Megasauraus Trail. Just as we got to the trail things were starting to get crunchy but with the new snow accumulating fast I thought it might be ok to ski the lower section. I have never been more wrong in my life. The lower section was boot deep rain crust with the new snow not giving any kind of support and it was real survival skiing all the way down. Great just to get out of it with no injuries and what ever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

For the rest of the afternoon we just went back to Knot Chutes ( very nice skiing if you don't try and take maximum air at high speed on the way in and stack it) Anaconda (really starting to get into some very tight and steep lines) and Trespass Trail (getting slower in the new snow but then that has to be a good sign) until it was time to leave. In a departure from usual we decided that as the Big 3 were all going to be crap we just did another another Anaconda drop to finish - by this time the new snow accumulation had removed all crunch from the lower turns in Anaconda.

I skipped the bar tonight as it was the Snow Dreams party which means it would be packed with people I don't know and the music would be too loud to talk about skiing - I'll be back tomorrow. Snow is still puking down on the deck and if we get the promised 15 cms then even the lower sections of the Big 3 will be skiable tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Fair enough on the disclosure - but your report covers all the bases for me. It is the best coverage (pun intended)going. Thanks !