Sunday, January 24, 2016

Day 45 back to full on powder skiing

After the past few day's rain event and then freeze up we rather inevitably had a major snow accumulation. Overnight we had 16 cms and when the snow finally finished early morning I would imagine we had about 20 cms out of the cycle. Conditions were absolutely on the edge with temps of +1/zero on the way to the hill and only a couple of degrees cooler up top. The snow (particularly low down) was heavy with a high moisture content. That having been said it was white all over the hill and that is good enough for me.

During the day conditions changed from overcast to sunny but with an upper mountain cloud curtain. The result was that low down temps got up to +2 and held at zero in the top but with some sun effect where snow was in the direct sunlight. This happened particularly in Knot Chutes and the top of Concussion. By late afternoon temps were falling and were -2 as we drove away from the hill. Luckily as the sun damage had not lasted long and the affected snow reformed as chunky chopped up crud and not as icy death cookies which would have been the worst case scenario.

With a big heavy dump of snow and weekend crowds we headed to the New Side to take advantage of rolling openings. We looped Knot Chutes (many different lines from the traverse in) ,Surprise Trees (very nice deep powder) but did not run to base and looped back to White Pass to try and catch the Currie Bowl opening which we did mid morning.

Only the low traverse side step was open across the bowl which was no bad thing as it kept the uncommitted away. First time out we got third tracks in Cougar Glades (which as everyone knows means first tracks in any of the chutes you choose) and Stag Leap where the new snow had covered the rain crust and enabled good skiing on a crunchy base. Next loop we hit Skydive which was lightly tracked and great skiing on top and acceptable powder covered crunch below. As I said today, this snow fall would not make the lower mountain good on the rain crust that was there. After this cycle has been skied in to soften the base it is the next cycle that will ski really well down low.

I decided to try a drop in Tight Knot (just great) and then take Triple Trees all the way down. Deep soft mostly untracked snow was the order of the day and very good. In the trees it was surprisingly good as the rain had washed snow off the trees which had compressed to make a good firm base to take the new snow fall. Just a bit of deadfall was evident in the lower section but starting to live up to my prediction of becoming one of the best tight tree skiing runs on the hill.

We had just time for a Concussion loop before lunch (Lynda's favourite) which skied ok in the sun affected upper sections (but only slightly affected) and very nice in the guts down to Gilmar Trail. This was so nice that I started the afternoon in just the same way and even though the sun had gone, it still skied ok if a bit chunky all the way down.

Next loop I did something I hadn't done for quite a few years and dropped the Crutch (or the Nick, or Nich) depending on who you talk to. It's the chute to the left of the Knot Chute boot pack that spits you out into the top of 1-2-3's. It was actually steeper than I remembered it and was about as steep as a Saddle and just as narrow. The best thing was that it was totally untracked and gave me the best deep steep powder skiing of the day. I ran to base with a very interesting soft bump run in 3's and then an ok deep powder in Bootleg.

I had noticed that in the top of 3's Gotta Go didn't look too skied out so I tracked across the top of the Knot chutes to get there. The traverse was very sketchy with rock drops and badly sorted terrain being the order of the day. Gotta Go looked a bit skied so I hopped over into Google Earth chute and had a very mellow deep soft powder line all the way into the top of 3's which skied just as well as before. the exit via Bootleg was still very mellow.

I decided to try the Big 3 and Decline was good but the drop into Window Chutes was even better. The ski down in Window Chutes was soft and even the chokes had enough snow even if they did have icy bases. I just had time for a White Pass loop through Tight Knot (getting scratchy and rocky on the way in) and Surprise Trees (still surprisingly good) before heading out to Skydive for last run.

Skydive skied very well in the top and ok on an ice base in the bottom. We had beers in a nice quiet Griz Bar and then came home for more beer and a hot tub. Looks like we are on a cooling trend which should improve the skiing surfaces. More precip but a warm up in the outlook - who knows.

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