Sunday, February 28, 2016

Day 80 waiting and waiting and waiting....

Some of you will remember tonight's headng from the movie Casablanca which many (myself included) think is the best movie ever made by a big margin. The significance for us is that we are waiting for some very serious snow promised in the next 48 hours. Unfortunately it does mean that we have had to sit out some pretty poor conditions while we wait and today was very good example.

As I have said before, if you are a groomer skier conditions like the ones we had today are fine. As me and my buddies are all free riders who don't ski groomers and like to ride the open terrain a day like today is really tough with very poor conditions over most of the hill. The one consolation is that we have some very serious snow forecast over the next couple of days so we are quite happy to hang out while waiting and get the best we can (which wasn't very good) out of the conditions.

We had no new snow overnight which meant that the snowfall for the past 7 days was 7 cms which gave exactly the conditions you would expect from 7 days of skiing on no significant new snow. After yesterday's massive warm up the snow surface temps dropped to -5 during the night meaning that the snow froze to rock hard ugly ungroomed snow away from the groomers. On the way to the hill it was +3 but that was never going to have much affect on the hard snow. Conditions were overcast so there was never going to be any help from the sun. Things stayed that way until lunch time when it started to rain at the base but came down a white grauppel up in White Pass.

Our strategy was to go to the Old Side where we figured that with the ungroomed as hard as rocks it would start to soften there first with the atmospheric warming. We were totally wrong in that the warming never had any effect on the ungroomed snow which remained hard and ugly all the way up to lunch time. I spent my time poking around on groomers looking for good skiing off to the sides and failing. Places I failed included Cedar Ridge, New Lift Line, Cruiser Left, Lizard Bowl all over and lower Easter Bowl.

The only two places that were any fun were Kangaroo (it skied just as usual, hard ugly icy bumps) and Boomerang which was very hard and icy and challenging but skiable and as such just the sort of challenge I like. After a morning of very hard icy skiing it started raining at the base and we decided  to go up the New Side for a quick loop before lunch. Alpha Centauri skied way better than I expected with sift on a hard base and then it was time for a rather late lunch.

After lunch we went to the New Side with no great expectations of the snow being any good but as it was raining at the base we figured it would better to be up in the snow (even if the viz in White Pass was socked in) rather than be down in the rain. In the event the snow was accumulating very lightly on top and sifting a bit in the wind. In those brutal conditions it was hardly surprising that Polar Peak was closed.

After a couple of loops of White Pass and some soft snow in Lift Line we started to loop out along the Reverse Traverse. The traverse was a bit sketchy but with some blow in sifting across our tracks so that each time out we had fresh tracks on the way out. Easter Bowl was hard underneath but smooth and good skiing all the way down although it got a bit icy low down. Decline skied ok most of the way down but just got softer as we went down so that the last three turns were decidedly mushy, but nothing like yesterday.

This brought us to Skydive and the end of the day. Skydive skied as good bumps with a slick grauppel surface on top. As you went down it just became more crusty and set up and then in the final pitch it softened a bit on the surface but remained tough. This is a very good cipher for the day in that it was mixed, tricky and tough but actually ok if you worked at it.

All reports say that we are due for a big cool down and significant snowfalls over night with more to come over the next few days. We are all on the edge of our seats as the precip certainly seems to have started but so far it's all rain - if we are going to get the forecast 15 cms overnight we certainly need some changes to start pretty soon - waiting etc......

On a personal note I was laid low by what felt like some form of food poisoning last night and was ill all night. Today my energy levels were low to put it mildly and I am only just staring to recover. I was so weak that I hung up my Wailers for a day and had an easy time on my old Shoguns which were actually great fun. Just saying this for information for all those who asked me why I was on different skis.

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