Saturday, February 13, 2016

Day 65 much better than I thought it was going to be.

I mean that it was better in a couple of ways over and above what I thought it might be. Last night keen followers may remember that I was heading off to Cranbrook airport to pick up a guest. On the way back as I was driving past the hill at about 10 at night it was +3 and pouring with rain. I assumed that the conditions would be a complete write off but in the event they were tricky but had their redeeming features. I was also worried about the crowds which I thought would be the biggest and the ugliest of the season. Although some of my buddies reported huge line ups and slow lift lines I didn't really find anything worse than a normal Saturday - perhaps I was lucky.

On the way to the hill it was +3 but over cast. During the day temps seemed to stay about the same all over the hill and in fact started to drop to nearer zero by the afternoon so that a lot of the upper mountain was setting up but the lower mountain was staying soft. We had grauple showers all day which didn't amount to anything but did at least indicated that more snow was a possibility. It really was a day to poke around and look for good stuff but to be prepared to suck it up and ski some crud if that is how it turned out. A combination a of a busy Saturday and showing guests round the hill (who did like a lunch in the Rusty Edge) meant that I did not put a huge amount of snow under my skis but what I did was actually ok in places.

We went to the New Side and immediately found that Lift Line was rain crust and better where it had been tracked - this was a recurring theme all day on the upper mountain. We had several loops down White Pass which were all a mix of hard refrozen snow, some fresh (4 cms claimed by the hill overnight) hard ice bases and bit of blow in.

We eventually tried Concussion which was still hard and icy and we were a little early in there. Next loop we tried Tom's run which was still rather firm but getting better and easier skiing in the more open lines. After a couple more White Pass loops which were getting softer we drooped to lunch through Easter Bowl and Freeway both of which were starting to soften in some atmospheric warming and gave us good soft bump skiing.

After lunch we headed up to Polar Peak which had just opened and found that only the Coaster was open and it was very icy - not really worth the trip at all. We dropped Decline which was quite crusty rain crust in the top but softened below the Megasauraus Trail and became easy soft skiing.This gave us the idea that the Old Side might have soft runs at the same elevation so off we went to investigate.

Unlike most of my buddies who I spoke to I didn't find ugly icy runs on the Old Side or even uglier huge crowds - in fact I found some rather nice skiing on surfaces softened by the atmospheric warming at the lower elevations. Great skiing in Bear Cave Chutes, New Lift Line, Cedar Ridge, Boomerang and Boom Ridge all soft and mellow. Once again a special mention has to go to Kangaroo which due to low elevation was very mellow soft bump skiing and we hit it three times.

We went back to the New Side for a final rip down White Pass followed by the final Skydive run. We found temps dropping and everything starting to set up much harder than before. the grauple was coming down harder and it gave every impression of being winter at least up high. Skydive actually skied ok in he top, crust in the mid section and soft low down. We had a really good final run.

With everything on the hill packed out with the holiday weekend we went down to the Kodiak Lounge at the Raging Elk for beers and had some great $4 pints (ok only 16 oz) but great value. Home for a hot tub and more beers and we are now waiting for a Boston Pizza delivery, not a bad day. I am told that we are due more precip than forecast and the freezing line should be down to base so we just have to keep our fingers crossed.

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