Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Day 54 Happy Groundhog Day

To those who don't know Groundhog Day is not just the title of a Bill Murray movie but also a real living and breathing event here in Canada and the Northern States of America where groundhogs are used to predict the likely length of the current winter. Today there was no consensus with some groundhogs saying it will be an early spring and other forecasting a long winter - it all depends on whether or not they see their shadow.  Over in Manitoba one of the poor little brutes was found to be dead when they pulled it from their burrow (or whatever they live in) so god alone knows what that means for the weather. I did occur to me that America has to be the only country where a large number of people would refuse to believe what scientists say about the weather (global warming) but are quite prepared to listen to what a rodent has to say on the subject.

Keen followers of this blog will remember that today I was demoing the pure versions of my DPS Wailers 112s as the old ones (after 200 days) are rather on the way home. The really bad news was that the pures are a much lighter faster turning ski as you would expect from pure carbon fibre skis and performed well all day. This is bad news as I had hoped that the skies would be no better than my hybrids and I could just do a like for like replacement. As it was the pures were way better so tonight I had no choice but to fork out the thick edge of 1800 bucks for a new pair of arguably the best skis in the world - including bindings and tax. I tested them all day in some pretty marginal and sketchy conditions (which of course we know officially don't exist on the hill) and they out performed my best expectations.

It was -10 on the way to the hill and overcast.During the day temps rose to-3 at the base and about -5 up the hill. The conditions were a sun cloud mix which generally gave some very varied light conditions. Particularly when the sun came out through clouds and you were skiing  a shadow slope in dissipated white light you were skiing light so flat that there was no chance of seeing any terrain features before you hit them. As you would expect with no new snow the upper mountain remained in good soft shape although things are getting pretty tracked up and packed in snow. The lower mountain remained as some soft snow on top of last Friday's rain crust which was just about getting to bullet proof boiler plate and will stay that way until we get some significant precip which doesn't look like any time soon.

We went to the New Side as it was important to test the demo skis against conditions that we were used to. Our first couple of loops were through Gun Bowl and Surprise Trees which were tough skiing in very flat light and a rather hard and bumpy low down. After that we hit Stag Leap which was good soft skiing to the final pitch which was very sketchy ice.

Next was Knot chutes/Anaconda 2/Bootleg Glades which all skied ok in hard packed powder before hitting the lower ice line. The ski out on Gilmar Trail was actually much better than it has been and I fact the whole lower hill seemed much less icy although that may just be a function of having skies with actual edges.

After that I hiked Lone Fir as it had been pretty sketchy yesterday and I wanted to test the skis. It was way more sketchy and the skis performed well all the way down to Freeway and even the final drop on to the cat track skied ok. I had intended to go to lunch but found Polar Peak open in not too good light and I could not resist the chance to test the skies in the mixed deep snow/breakable ice and they performed well in Papa Bear, Crusty and again in Papa Bear. Final run before a late lunch was Skydive which unsurprisingly was good on top and icy in the final pitch.

After lunch we went to Siberia Ridge where perhaps we found the best snow on the hill which was still soft and only lightly tracked - I think people overlook this part of the hill. We then went up Polar Peak for several loops in Papa bear and Crusty alternatively where the light was much improved and the skiing although a bit marginal in ice and crust was a lot of fun.

We had run down Cougar Glades which was very good packed in hard snow and then another run down lower Stag leap which was bumpy then icy and good tough skiing. We just had time to catch the last lift up Polar and then rip the chutes, followed by Currie Powder and Gilmar Trail to get us back up Timber just in time for a final loop. Actually we made such good time that we could side step out to Mitchy Chutes for a final drop to White Pass load which was very soft and only a bit scratchy in the choke.

Final run of course was Skydive which skied just like it has since last Fridays rain event but seemed a bit easier in the final pitch - perhaps we are just getting used to ugly icy conditions. No beers as we had some skis to buy - Simon was buying his demo Rossi Super 7s from Ski Base as well. The guys in Straight Line were as good as ever and mounted my new skis while I had a few beers in the Kodiak Lounge and then it was time for celebratory pint and burger for 10 bucks at the Northern.

No new snow in the forecast so it looks like my new skis will be in for as baptism of fire tomorrow - lets see.

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