Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Day 69 yet another warm wet day

I might have added to the heading that the conditions were marginal but I really didn't need to as ski patrol had done this for me on their notices to skiers which said that groomers were recommended but off the groomers conditions were challenging - official speak for pretty crap.

We had yet another day of wet warm conditions which would be more in place in April rather than February. On the way to the hill today it was +1 which meant everything had set up on the upper hill over night. Conditions were over cast and called for showers or flurries all day and that was pretty much what we got depending on the elevation. During the day base temps got up to +5 and the Timber Top was +3 and the White Pass Load +4 so everything was turning steadily to mush as the day went on.

We had another 5 cms of wet something at the snow plot overnight and it was warm at the base as we got to the hill. We went to the Old Side on the grounds that this had been reported as quite good yesterday. It was a mistake because yesterday's break down of Bear Chair meant that not all that much of the area had been skied. Where the surface had not been skied it was hard rain crust, where it had been it was refrozen crud - all in all not much fun.

We poked around and found the Sunny Side Shoulder just about skiable, Cedar Ridge was ok but difficult low down and Kangaroo was ugly crust even by Kangaroo's own standard. Everything else was really ugly as nothing had softened but I would imagine that by late afternoon everything was soft and mellow in the atmospheric warming. About 11 it started to rain so we hit the New Side with a view to getting above the rain line for the rest of the day.

Going back to my theme of a few days ago things have changed with the weather. Back in the day when we had rain at the base the snow line would start at about the top of the Deer Chair and by the White Pass load we would be getting full on winter conditions. Now (like today) the snow line doesn't start until the White Pass load so all the White Pass skiing is in wet heavy mushy non winter snow. This was the case today where we had this heavy wet snow in White Pass all day. Maybe things would have been great in Polar Peak but for obvious reasons we were never going to get an opening there.

We looped White Pass several times through Gun Bowl (hard and ugly) and Highline/Pillow Talk etc which was all ok in the new snow. It's worth talking about the new snow as it seemed to come down white and then melt softening the existing base very quickly - I am not quite sure what was going on but it meant that very quickly we had soft deep melted Sierra Cement at best and Elephant Snot at worst.

Just before lunch we ran down Alpha Centauri and found it very soft and mushy all the way down. It was raining at the base and snowing wet snow on top and with a few breaks that was the pattern for the rest of the day. After lunch it was back up the New Side to try the new wet snow and it panned out as -
Lift Line - wet heavy sloughs almost taking me out.
Decline - as was apparent from the traverse which was like a wet ploughed field it was apparent that crust which was the problem yesterday was not going to be a major problem today. It was ok at first but just got heavier and wetter as we went down and was pure elephant snot by the end.
Cougar Glades/Stag Leap - Good in the top but heavy and quite challenging trees skiing lower down. Stag Leap skiing soft and mushy but was ok in the final steep pitch due to earlier skier traffic
Concussion - by this time things were getting very wet and heavy and I had to undertake some serious slough management by moving about in the chutes to avoid being taken out by my own slough.

Avi risks were obviously increasing in the wet heavy snow and the Saddles were closed and then a sign line was erected below Knot Chutes preventing anyone skiing the I bowl or the Idiot Traverse, and also Anaconda and Surprise. Only to be expected in heavy wet snow conditions.

Last run of course was Skydive which was just starting to set up a little but was very heavy and wet and was only really skiable because of the bumps in the terrain which allowed me to get air to pull the skis round, a tough way to end the day.

So there you have it, a tough, not very good day's skiing. That having been said I bumped into some visiting groomer skiers who were having the time of their lives so I guess it all depends on what you are looking for. Hopefully this is the end of the really warm weather and we will now see more precip in cooling temps which should mean snow - fingers crossed.

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