Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Day 104 a strange day what with weird weather and lift break downs

Yes, today was weird day and as I sit here I am really struggling to pull all the parts of the day together and make some sort of sense of it. The weather started as overcast and looked like it was going to rain but during the day it came up with some very heavy ice pellet storms which were wet at the base and just a good graupel skiing surface up high. Later on it almost became sunny but then clouded over and went back to ice pellets although by the time we left the hill in the evening it was good old fashioned rain at the base a goodness knows what was going on at the top of the hill. Quite a mix.

The temps did not freeze overnight and it was +3 as we reached the hill. This meant that we had good atmospheric softening from the base almost from the start so that things were soft low down. Above mid mountain things had become hard and icy and in the absence of any direct sun  it was along time before these softened even slightly. The biggest improvement to these surfaces came around mid day with the covering of graupel on the hard refrozen base. We had limited skiing as closed areas included Polar Peak. Lift Line/Siberia Ridge, Anaconda, Knot Chutes, Saddles and on the Old Side everything beyond Cedar Centre. We even had the traverse beyond Currie Creek to the Big 3 closed although I suspect this had less to do with conditions which were ok and more to do with someone forgetting to remove the closed signs from the Skydive Traverse.

We had intended to go high on the New Side but as we left the locker room we were told that White Pass chair was down for maintenance so we went to the Old Side. Later in the morning we were given notice that White Pass had restarted and then almost immediately got the news that Timber Chair had broken down so the New Side was still unavailable. It was actually about 14;30 that we actually managed to get on the Timber Chair for some late afternoon skiing. As I said at the the start it was a rather weird day for all sorts of reason.

We went to the Old Side with +3 at the base and minus temps giving a hard base on top. During the day things warmed but whilst it must have got to +6 at the base, it was hovering around zero in White Pass all afternoon. Viz was ok and we tried Sunny Side a couple of times which was hard and icy and the China Wall which was much the same, softening only in the last couple of turns. We spent our whole morning doing loops off Cedar Ridge/New Lift Line (ok but hard under base) Kangaroo (soft and as mellow as I have ever known it) Boom Ridge (skiing a bit like Kangaroo) and Boomerang (also very mellow skiing) and looped these area many times. It was great soft skiing in the atmospheric warming.

Over lunch we had some very big ice pellet storms and went back to the Old Side for a typical morning loop which was getting sticky with the new "snow" coming down on the soft surfaces.. We tried a traverse out to Lower Easter which actually was ok skiing on the new surface as was Freeway, followed by a very sticky ski across to Timber which had just started to load.

We decided to stay up in White Pass as it was threatening rain in the valley and the new snow up there (albeit on a hard icy base) was pretty good. We put first tracks in Gun Bowl under the lift and great first tracks in the Pillow Talk chutes followed by more first tracks in Morgan's Dilemma. Not awesome first tracks but at this time of the season I will take anything I can get. We did a few more untracked loops in the I bowl before cutting first tracks out to Surprise Trees where the base was firm but the grauple surface was skiing well. We just had time for one more loop out to Surprise where we dropped a near chute and found untracked snow with our tracks being more or less the only ones around when we cut back into Surprise itself.

It was time for last run and we headed out to Skydive anticipating a good run on the new snow. We were very disappointed to find the closed signs in place on the traverse and I am pretty confident that they had been forgotten and just left there as I can't think that Skydive would have skied badly today. We had to drop Currie Creek which was pretty good but we missed our turn to cut into the Megasaurus Trail and ski the lower Big 3 and ended up bushwhacking out way into the logging trail to the skiers right of lower Stag Leap which had to be way tougher than anything the Big 3 could throw at us.

Beers and an early night on the promise of snow tomorrow.

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