Monday, February 29, 2016

Day 81 a great day with maybe better to come

After a week with no snow we were due some fresh powder plus as the last two dumps have been at the weekend for the benefit of the weekend warriors we were due one on a Monday for the benefit of the locals and that is exactly what happened.

Overnight it started to rain in the valley early evening and continued to well past midnight. When I got up for a pee about 3 in the morning it had turned to snow (the rain, not my pee) and we got a modest accumulation in the valley. The question we all asked ourselves was what had happened up the hill ? The official site claimed 19 cms (the magic number as it is the maximum you can have without triggering the 20 cm rule in town and having a load of ski bums ditching work and turning up to ski) although I was pushed to see much more than 10 cms anywhere even allowing for some wind sift. That having been said we did have fresh snow all the way down to base which skied very nicely indeed.

Temps at the base were +3 when we arrived and may have risen a degree or two during the day. Up top we had -1 or below all the time in overcast conditions which produced some flurry activity all day with no really significant accumulations resulting. The snow stayed in very good shape all over the hill all day and the relatively high moisture content meant that it was near enough hero snow that allowed you to float but in some places you could get through to the base which was a bit scratchy. The wind was a factor most of the day and had a significant effect on the Reverse Traverse which seemed to have fresh wind sifted tracks each time we went out.

We went to the New Side and just as we have seen before on a new snow big crowd day the Timber Chair broke down at 9:10. The last time this happened we were turned away from the chair but this time we had just got on the last chair before the break down. The result was that we were all transported to the top and the lift went down for over an hour while it was repaired. From our point of view this meant we had White Pass to trash with the few people who had made it up which was great skiing. Last time this happened I made some rather vitriolic comments regarding the lift system and while this time it worked for me I do think that serious questions have to be asked about a lift which fails so frequently in exactly the conditions when it is most needed.

We looped White Pass through the Gun Bowl, High Line Lift. Knot Chutes, Surprise Trees all of which were hardly tracked and with many fresh lines as you would expect with so few people actually having made it up there. The only disappointment was Knot Chutes which were scratchy and had obviously been blasted to clear some of the snow. Mid morning we faced a dilemma as they opened Currie Bowl and we were torn between getting first tracks and staying up in White Pass. Luckily a patroller buddy confirmed that Timber had just started to load so we could run to base with no downside.

We hit out along the Reverse Traverse and as always found the number of tracks in front of us reducing the further we went. As we got to Easter the tracks all went up to the top of Easter (I think old Fernie think that they will be cursed if they ski anything other than Easter out there) so we had to cut the trail towards the Big 3. I never made it as Cougar Glades and the Stag leap in about 15 cms of fresh was too much to pass up on and it was awesome. I cut tight lines to leave plenty for the next guy as only an asshole trashes more of the slope than is necessary. Lynda did get out there and said that Decline untracked was just spectacular.

Next time up we decide to try Skydive which we figured would only be lightly tracked. We were wrong, Skydive was totally untracked all the way down and for the first time I can remember I got first tracks in 2 of the Big 3 on the same day, I have no idea where the people had gone but it was also awesome. We then hike Lone Fir only to find that the lower part of the chute was still icy as were the first two turns in Bill's Fan. After that it was soft and untracked all the way down the sign line to Freeway which was some really nice skiing.

We then tried Decline which still had many untracked lines followed by Window Chutes which was very mellow and untracking in the drop in through the trees and only lightly tracked in the chute itself with the chokes holding up well. Last run before a late lunch was Stag Leap which was very deep and lightly tracked through the trees at the top. The rest of the run was soft and lightly tracked but there was evidence of the surface getting crisper in the bottom section as temps started to drop.

In the afternoon we made our only real mistake of the day by dropping High Saddle which was very icy and scratchy and when we got through the light went so that the skiing (which was probably very good) could not be enjoyed in the very flat light. The final exit into lower Easter was actually much better. Next we hit the Brain which most certainly was not a mistake. By taking very tight lines in all sections we were able to very deep untracked snow which only became thinner and firmer in in final few turns before we cut out into lower Skydive.

We just had time for one more loop in Cougar Glades which still had lots of untracked lines down to the cat track. We skied out through the steeper chutes on skiers left and I seemed to be in minority in finding them pretty ok - everyone else seemed to want to complain that they were too scratchy. Finally we came to Skydive and found that it was in surprisingly good shape with many untracked areas which was really surprising. It was great final run before beers.

They are calling for a cool down over night and then another weather cycle starting late tomorrow that could bring us "significant accumulations", I do hope so.

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