Saturday, February 27, 2016

Day 79 a very warm day - and I mean seriously warm

Now this winter (if you can call it that) we have got used to some pretty warm and un-seasonal temps but today was off the scale even by this season's bizarre standards. A private weather station at the foot of the hill showed that we were getting temps of +8 even at about 5 in the morning. By the start things had cooled to +4 but still everything got soft and mushy and stayed that way most of the day. It was overcast and even with some light rain at the start but that cleared and we were just left with cloudy conditions and the odd flurry of grauppel on top which fell as rain at the base right up until things brightened up to bluebird conditions late afternoon. The lack of direct sunlight was irrelevant as the atmospheric warming affected all surfaces whether or not they would have been in the sun.

By the middle of the day we had temps of +7 at the base, +4 in White Pass and even +1 at the Polar Load later in the day. On the way back from the hill it was still +4 so I guess what I am saying is that it was super warm everywhere on the hill with no regard as to the aspect of any slope and things got very soft all over as the day wore on.

We went to the Old Side and tried Cedar Ridge which seemed to have some mushy untracked snow to no great depth and it was good until about half way down. Much the same could be said of New Lift line, Linda's and Boom Ridge which all became very soft and soggy in the lower sections. An honourable mention has to go to Boom Guts which skied really well particularly where the skier traffic had pounded in the snow over the past few days. Returns were always through Kangaroo which had softened to the point of becoming slow mushy bumps which were very mellow skiing but part of my mind couldn't help but think what it will be like when it sets up.

With everything on the Old Side starting to get too soft we headed to the New Side. Lift Line and Puff Trees skied ok in the soft conditions and with White Pass socked in at the top and therefore Polar Peak closed we did a couple of runs out along the Reverse Traverse. First drop was Alpha Centauri into Concussion which was a crunchy base at first but became very soft and mellow lower down. Our next loop which was our final before a quite late lunch we hit Easter Bowl which was soft snow of a firm base and at least until that point was the best skiing we had encountered on the hill.

After lunch we went back to the New Side and this time tried Tom's/Barracuda under the Skydive Traverse which was just about ok skiing on a very variable surface, Next loop we tried Decline which skied well down the the Megasaurus trail but after that it just got softer so that by the lower section it was just pure elephant snot.

We had intended a final loop out the Easter but we found that Polar Peak had opened shortly after 3 in the afternoon. We also noted two casualties requiring attention from patrol at the bottom of Papa Bear which must be something of a record for the short time for skiers getting injured after the opening of Polar. We were informed that the Polar chair would stay open until late because of its late opening and it would close just before 4. We looped Papa Bear which had some soft snow in it but was rather variable skiing surface as you might expect. I had a narrow escape when a boarder lost it in the top and rag dolled down the chute missing me by a few inches - actually going over the backs of my skis. I don't care how good a skier you are, if you get hit like that you are going to get hurt and I was very lucky.

For a last run we dropped Papa bear (I went last with no one behind me) and then went to Skydive. The top of Skydive was quite firm and it was starting to get crisp with some crust as it set up all the way down to the final pitch when it started to get soft and went back to the mush we had been used to all day. We went for some well deserved beers and the bar was not crowded as there really wasn't the numbers on the hill today that we have seen for the past couple of weekends.

I reflected in the bar that I don't mind finishing a day's skiing knackered if I have had some awesome skiing. I don't even mind it if I have had some dreadful skiing - there is a certain satisfaction to beating bad conditions. I do have a problem with a day like today when you really have to ski hard and at your best just to get some average skiing. The forecast seems to be for a cooling trend with precip so we have to keep or fingers crossed.

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