Monday, March 21, 2016

Day 101 the first day of spring

Well of course technically today it the first day of spring and skied very much like it. Actually we have been having spring skiing pretty much since the first of February and I for one could have done with a rather longer winter than the one that we actually had. That having been said it was a very interesting day's skiing in some quite varied conditions.

Overnight things didn't get all that cold and it was only -3 on the way to the hill. It was a bluebird day with a little morning haze and some light afternoon cloud but for the most part it was sunny and hot. Temps at the base rose to +9 and it was +6 late afternoon at the White Pass Load and even up Polar Peak we were getting plus temps. As we drove away from the hill tonight it was +7 and of course everything had been much hotter in the direct sunlight. The effect on the snow was to give us some very quick spring softening which just got softer as the day went on and in truth didn't really appear to be setting up much by last run of the day.

Sorry for the late report but the first two paragraphs were typed before we went out to meet buddies and enjoy a uniquely Canadian delicacy of a barbecued chicken cooked with a half full can of beer stuck up it's ass - I have to say that the end result is way more enjoyable than the description may first suggest.

I was skiing on my own today and went to the New Side with a view to looping the Big 3 as I felt a bit Polar Peaked out after the past few days, needless to say things didn't quite work out as planned.  When I got to the top of White Pass Polar Peak was closed as was Knot Chutes. I ran down 1-2-3s which skied great in the top and bit chunky lower down by way of a warm up. The only run off the hill was via a very slick and hard Diamond Back where I did my good deed for the day by calling in two skiers who were stuck in there way over their heads to dispatch - I understand they were walked out of there by patrol.

Next loop I intended to head out on the Reverse Traverse but found everything closed at the County Line so I just dropped down the edge of Currie Powder. I discovered the reason was that the conditions in Concussion and the surrounding runs were "industrial" to quote a ski patrol buddy and it was that reason that Polar Peak had to remain closed until the lower slopes were a little more user friendly. This was no hardship as at about that time the Gun Bowl and Knot Chutes opened as they were just softening. I had numerous excellent loops through the Knot Chutes all the way from Tight Knot to Jim and Back again always running out through the I Bowl - it was very mellow soft snow in all the chutes.

Just after mid day Polar opened and it was the most mellow skiing in the chutes I can remember. The surface was firm just like yesterday but soft on top (not mushy) and taking and easy edge. I looped Papa Bear, Barely Legal and Grand Papa Bear as usual and found them very mellow. So mellow that I went looking for tougher lines and found a nice line through the rocks directly under the lift in the cut across from Shale Slope to Grand Papa and then hit Barely Legal from the Grand Papa side, both lines I had never skied before. It says it all when you poke around in the Polar Chutes looking for more difficult lines.

I ran to a very late lunch through Mama Bear ( the steep chute between Mama and Papa was hit for the first time in many weeks and was untracked) and then dropped Low Saddle which was a little scratchy but ok even if the ski out underneath was only tracked up crud. The ski out through Easter was firm bumps and Freeway was slick groomed ice.

After lunch I had intended to try a few quick loops of Polar but it was closed for the rest of the day as all of the patrollers had been called to a very serious incident in D2 - some things are more important than keeping a ski run open. I contented myself with looping Knot Chutes which were still very mellow and not to mushy as long as you stuck to the shoulders and gave the troughs of the bowls a miss. Just by way of variation I dropped Gotta Go after crossing the top of the Knot Chutes and found it a bit scratchy but just about ok with some soft areas on the way down - the exit was Diamond Back which was still slick but getting softer.

After a couple more Knot Chute loops it was time for Skydive which was what I had intended to ski in the morning. By the time we skied it the soft snow of yesterday had turned to glue but the base was still slick where it had been skied. The result was that when you turned you were never sure if you would come to a halt or be off on a crazy sleigh ride. This made for some very interesting skiing but nothing that couldn't be handled as long as you paid attention.

The forecasters tell us that we are coming to the end of the bluebird conditions and that we are due precip over night although they are calling the precip in mils and not cms which is never a good sign. We are supposed to be getting a cooling trend and below average temps with precip this week - we can but hope.

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