Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Day 47 a very happy Australia Day

Now this isn't just me wishing my friends from all parts of the world a very happy day (although naturally I do just that) it is a statement of fact. Today was Australia Day and I did have a very happy day. It was just a very nice day's skiing which may well have passed as awesome in many places in the world.

There was no new snow overnight and temps on the way to the hill were -2. The lower mountain temps got up to +1 during the day but at the tops it was -4 on the mercury and in the wind chill we had to be looking at -7. It was overcast and the top of White Pass was just about as socked in as I can remember it. They had called a possibility of flurries and we had some very slight activity during the afternoon which initially fell as freezing rain but was icy fill in snow crystals later on. As we drove away tonight it was +2 in the valley and light rain which I hope was coming down white pretty well from the base area upwards.

The real feature of the weather was wind with a wind warning for the Crows Nest Pass in force all day. There wasn't much wind in town but on the hill there was a cold quite strong wind all day which at times was whipping up the snow and providing some good sift under the ridge lines. One of the effects of this was the number of trees already under strain from the heavy snow fall on the branches just giving up and snapping at the base. I was particularly sad to see the tree on the side step up to Cornice Chute lying on it's side - I almost felt like I had lost an old friend.

I went to the New Side hoping for an opening of Polar Peak but long before I got to the top it was apparent that this just would not be a starter in the strong winds. I imagine the shoulder up by tower 8 today would have been just brutal. I decided just to do loops of the Big 3 (anyone calling them the Fingers please stop reading here) as a relaxing and mellow day. The drop from Timber top to White Pass load was always through Lift Line which was filling in all day with blow in off the ridge line and very relaxing soft bump skiing.

The viz down to the Reverse Traverse was terrible all day and not much better until you got down to Skydive Traverse. The far side of the bridge in Currie Creek was bit of a dip so a low speed approach was the best way to go all day. All of the runs off the end of the traverse were much the same all day. Great soft tracked powder in the top becoming a little crunchy low down, I think the overnight conditions had either drawn some moisture from the snow or provided a hoar frost. Whatever the cause the tracked snow was for the most part skiing much softer than yesterday. Actually in my view the lower sections were skiing beautifully but there was an under crunch which made a pretty ugly noise and it was the noise and not the actual surface that was spooking people. I am sure if we had all been deaf we would have sworn the the runs skied well all the way down.

The day panned out as -
Decline - lovely GS turns in the top getting harder low down
Stag leap - excellent skiing in the trees, soft for most of the run and crunchy in the final pitch.
Skydive - just like Decline
Cougar Glades - quite chunky down to the cat track and lower Stag just as before.
Decline/Window Chutes - top section of Decline still excellent and the Window Chutes ok but a but scratchy in the chokes.
I had a fairly late lunch and with my buddy Brad headed back for more of the same -
Decline - as before
Stag Leap - as before
Lone Fir - we hiked up and noticed Shaun's Chute was open. I have never skied it with lass than a 3 metre base (we have 2.5 at the moment) so I continued to hike Lone Fir. You have to respect any chute where the closed sign when flipped doesn't say open, but rather says "extreme hazard". As we stood at the top of Lone Fir wondering what it would be like a snow devil blew past us and down the chute which convinced us that the blow in would be good. That was right and we had great soft powder skiing all the way down the sign line to Freeway.
Touque Chute/Spinal Tap - lovey soft sift in the top but the creek bed was a bit scratchy in places.

I just had time for a quick White Pass loop in soft snow and poor viz before heading out to Skydive. There were only two of us (Rod and me) at Skydive but it skied just as well as it had earlier.

On the way home we treated ourselves to a take away Chinese from the Cedar Garden and I have to say that I have never seen such large portions of good quality food in my life, our meal for 2 could easily have fed 4.

We are now facing a precip event this week and I'm afraid that it is shaping up as a possible rain event followed by snow which at least is better than the other way round. I checked out my water proof gear today so even in a worst case I will be out on the hill - as I have always said, there is no such thing as bad conditions, only inappropriate equipment.


  1. No, meal was standard meal for two, chicken chow main, sweet and sour pork and chicken fried rice and spring rolls. Awesome