Sunday, January 31, 2016

Day 52 a short day for me

First of all an apology for yesterday's blog. To make it clear I am not apologising for the sentiments expressed regarding the lift break downs, I still back my views there 100%. No, I am apologising (stupid spell check on this lap top should realise that apologise is spelled with and s an not a z - as indeed is realise) for the drunken and rambling nature of the post. This was caused by the celebrations of Lynda's last day in Canada for about 10 days as she had to head back to the UK today to attend to some family stuff and we all felt we should send her on her way in style. Unfortunately the result was a less than coherent post last night.

The reason for today being a short one for me was that I had to run Lynda to Cranbrook for her flight and missed the middle of the day. As it was I skied until 11 and then ran her to the airport and was back on the hill by 1:30. This meant that I only had a four and a half hour day today but as a buddy pointed out to me many people (perhaps the majority) would look on that as full day's skiing.

Overnight there was only 1 cm of snow but actually there appeared to be bit of wind sift to make the most of the dusting. Temps on the way to the hill were -5 and driving back tonight they were -3. During the day base temps did rise to just below zero but up the hill things stayed well below that and I noticed about -6 at the Polar load late afternoon. It was cloudy and a little socked in on top but during the day the cloud broke a bit and we even had some short periods of sunshine but luckily not enough to do any damage to the snow. I am always amazed at the number of (well you pick a name for them) who go on about how nice it is when the sun comes out. Fact - the direct sunlight creates a crust on the snow that doesn't go away and out of the direct sunlight you get flat light that makes skiing very tough - sun is the enemy of good skiing in Fernie.

We went to the New Side in the hope of getting Polar Peak but had to make do with a few loops of Knot Chutes and Surprise Trees which were soft snow on an icy base and ok skiing. We ran to base through Anaconda (nice fresh blow in to be had in the chutes) and Bootleg which was bit chunkier than yesterday but still ok. It was time to leave the hill and as I was skiing off I heard that Polar was just about to open, well that's how things go. I took the exit down Skydive which just like yesterday was great in the top and pretty challenging mixed snow and ice bumps in the bottom.

The drive to Cranbrook was uneventful and temps got up to +1 but I suspect that was due to getting in the direct sunlight on the tarmac surface of Highway 3. By the time I got back to Fernie it was -1 at the base and things were in good shape.

Polar Peak was open so up I went. I have to say I will never understand people who get to the top of White Pass, see Polar open and then don't go up. No one knows the conditions without testing them so why wouldn't you do that ? If they suck you don't go up again and if they are awesome you can loop them having great skiing. As it turned out today the conditions varied from awesome to really sucking and that could be in the space of a couple of turns.

I ran 3 or 4 loops of Papa Bear and found the best snow in the lee of the ridge on skiers right. Skiers left was bit icy in places. I decided to give Grandpapa Bear ago and it was untracked and awesome deep snow in the top. Two turns later I was on breakable ice crust which wouldn't take an edge. I just manged to bail into Papa although I was told that if I had persisted things did get better. On the next lift a patroller buddy told me that they had just opened the Clown Chutes and they were good. At the entrance I thought that maybe he was having a laugh as it was hard crusty and icy. I kept faith and jumped into Crusty Chute blind and found soft deep untracked powder in the chute. It took 4 more laps before I saw anyone else's tracks in there.

I took Mamma Bear as my final drop and it was mostly soft snow but still some icy patches to catch you out. I hiked Lone Fir and the chute skied ok but not as good as the past few days. The cushion underneath of course was soft and deep, great skiing. I tracked across to Spinal Tap and found it a whole lot tougher than yesterday - some of it was soft and other parts were hard ice and there were no obvious visual signs (at least to me) which were which.

We had time for a White Pass loop which we took as Knot Chutes (still good skiing but with the now familiar soft snow/ice mix) and then The first pitch of Triple trees which was super and deep and untracked in many places. Final run was Skydive with 4 of us and as before it was good in the top and hard icy work low down.

With Lynda gone I am having to drive myself so drinking was severely curtailed in the Griz after skiing. When I said I was looking for ways of reducing my beer costs after skiing I didn't mean by drinking less. No real snow in the outlook so I guess it will be more of the same - not entirely inappropriate considering the day after tomorrow is Ground Hog Day - not bad two movie titles in one sentence ! Head for the hills.

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