Monday, February 1, 2016

Day 53 no new snow and rather scratchy

Yup. no new snow overnight so we had just what we had yesterday but affected by falling temps and bit of skier traffic. Actually there was very little skier traffic as except for few kids on the lower hill there was hardly anyone on the hill. In the bar tonight I was speaking to buddies and they had hit out into to the side country as far as Outer Mongolia on one side and Ridge 2000 on the other. If the lack of new snow keeps up I can see myself joining them sometime this week.

On the way to the hill it was -7 and on the way back tonight about -3. It was a sun cloud mix all day but with temps as low as they were there was no sun damage even in the direct sunlight. Up on top it remained cold and I noticed at the White Pass load in the afternoon it was still -7. On one of my many trips up Polar Peak (of which more later) I was told that the temp at the top was -10 on the mercury but with 25 klick winds and 100% humidity which by my calculations gave us something south of -20 allowing for windchill - it certainly felt like it around tower 8 on the Polar chair.

I went to the New Side as I didn't think there would be much worth trashing on the Old Side. Reports from buddies who started over there and ended up pretty quickly on the New Side tended to confirm this was a good call. It was immediately apparent that even with no new snow there had been a bit of wind sift that continued throughout the day. First drop of many down Lift Line to the White Pass load confirmed that we had a bit of sifted dust on chunky skied up snow mixed with a slick icy base. I could almost end here and now as that was more or less the story of the day everywhere we went.

We did a few loops in White Pass through Gun Bowl, Quite Right, Knot Chutes and Surprise Trees all of which skied ok on a hard icy base. Our day then proceeded as -

Decline - really good soft skiing in the top two sections but hard icy bumps under and inadequate layer of soft snow in the lower part. We now appear to have reversal of fortunes in that the the lower part of Decline which was the best of the Big 3 is now the worst and Stag Leap which was the worst is now the best although still not very good. Skydive remains as somewhere between the other two both geographically and in terms of how easy the the skiing is low down.

Cougar Glades/ Stag Leap - Cougar was tracked and so bit technical in the tight sections but Stag skied well down to the final pitch and then didn't completely suck even there.

Polar Peak - next time up I found Polar Peak was open with lots of condition warnings. These were totally justified as the chutes were crusty hard snow which at least did take and edge and patches of quite severe ice in between. Just as with yesterday the Clown Chutes were the best skiing with soft deep snow and the entrance just about as mellow as I can remember it. After several loops of the chutes and Clown Chutes I headed for lunch.

Lone Fir - the lunch run was Lone Fir which is getting decidedly scratchy in the chute. Underneath of course it was soft and mellow and this held all the way down to Freeway with some great soft bump skiing.

After lunch I was back up Polar for more loops. the viz in the afternoon was just as it had been in the morning. Rolling cloud came and went so some runs were fantastic clear viz and other were really groping down in thick fog - the joys of alpine skiing in Fernie.

After a few loops I just had to run to base because it was so cold on top. I did so throughbCougar Glades and Stag Leap which skied just like before. After another Polar loop in deteriorating light I ran down Decline which again was fantastic and then dropped into Window Chutes which were very mellow if a bit firm but got very icy in the final choke getting out.

I dropped down Siberia Ridge and as anticipated found good lightly track snow down to the grooming in lower Sib Ridge which started just about where the icy crap line would have begun. Just time for one last run up Polar and drop of Papa Bear in what was now very flat light but with the surface still firm in places and icy in others. We looped to base through Currie Glades and Gilmar Trail where the light was very flat due to the reflected sunlight from the far side of the valley.

Last run was Skydive and just two of us had a rather gentle run down (by our standards) after a pretty tough day. A couple of beers in the bar as I am under restrictions with Lynda in the UK and me driving. I went down town to the ever helpful Straight Line to fix a demo on the DPS Wailer RP2 112s Pures. I currently have the Hybrids that are 200 days old and could do with being retired and I want to see if the Pures are worth the extra money before I buy. See tomorrow's blog for a full report, or my totally biased opinion if you prefer. Some people are surprised I should be demoing big skies in the current conditions. My answer is that these are exactly the conditions you have to demo them in. No point in trying skis on a big powder day, you could strap two planks of wood to your feet and have a good time then. The real test is how they work in these marginal conditions and that is what I intend to find out.

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