Thursday, March 24, 2016

Day 105 a little bit of winter returns

Now, let's not get carried away, we didn't get full on winter conditions today or anything like. What we did get was some colder conditions with precip that came down as what could justifiably be described as powder at least higher up and for the early part of the day. Overnight it rained in the valley and when I got up a couple of times during the night (see earlier references to the problems of us old guys making it through the night without a pee) it was raining hard and we had to hope that it was coming down white up the hill. Around 7 in the morning it suddenly started to puke wet snow in the valley which was big improvement on rain and we started to get a bit optimistic about today's skiing.

On the way to the hill temps actually dropped to -1 and the snow was wet and heavy. The official figures showed an overnight fall of 18 cms of powder and whilst I was very skeptical of that description of the snow I have to admit that we certainly got 18 cms and on the upper mountain it qualified as powder. During the day temps rose to +4 at the base and held at about zero on the upper mountain so the snow tended to get heavier down low but stayed in ok shape on top, The weather varied from showers to a bit of sun but was mostly overcast. Those showers did come down as snow all the way to the base but mostly they were very wet low down but fell as full on winter snow or at worst grauple up in White Pass.

We went to the New Side on the basis that we wanted to get high to get the best of the wet snow conditions and this proved to be a pretty good decision - White Pass was open but we were going to have to wait for Currie Bowl. As always in White Pass on these sort of days the viz was poor on top - it seems to me that this is a price we always have to pay for the good snow high up on the New Side. Lift Line was open and great soft skiing. We looped White Pass many times and in many ways and got great lightly tracked skiing in Knot Chutes, Surprise Trees, I bowl, Pillow Talk and all the areas in between. It seemed that the word that we had a full on powder day had not registered with the usual Fernie crowd so it was getting for 11 before the crowds showed up and by then the fence had dropped on Currie Bowl.

The Saddles were closed (all day) so we hit out to the Big 3 where me and Mark got first tracks in Decline and Lynda hit Skydive which only had one track in tight on the right trees so she more or less had first tracks. Sensational soft skiing which just got softer as you went down but as it was untracked it was easy skiing. Next loop we hit Cougar Glades which had many untracked lines to follow and only just got heavy at the Megasaurus ski out onto Stag Leap. Lower Stag was ok but heavy and trashed by the three tracks that were already in there.

Next we tried the Brain which had a lot of untracked areas in the top and was almost totally untracked lower down as people had bailed after the first pitch. This was very mellow skiing although the final cut out into Skydive was very heavy. Last loop before very late lunch was a hike up Lone Fir. This was a little disappointing as the chute was rather scratchy and I wonder if the whole area had been bombed for avi control. The fan underneath was very good and soft as was Easter Bowl left and Freeway down to the cat track. The run to lunch at the ever excellent (both quality and value) Big Bang Bagels was hard work as the lower mountain was very sticky and in my view much tougher than the double black diamond terrain that I had just skied.

After Lunch there wasn't much time and the precip had set in as rain at the base so I headed to White Pass where the precip was snow or ice pellets both of which made for excellent improving skiing. We spent the whole afternoon looping the Gun Bowl, Knot Chutes, Surprise Trees, Pillow Talk etc determined not to run to base in the rain until the end of the day. The conditions generally improved with the new snow and by the time we left things were looking pretty promising for tomorrow.

Last run was, of course, Skydive which was very different from when we were putting first tracks out there in the morning. It was chopped up powder in top becoming chopped up crud mid way down and chopped up mush in the final pitch. We dropped it in one but very cautiously bearing in mind how condition might change but in the event the transitions were all quite mellow and you have plenty of time to adjust to each new condition. In fact the worst pat of the run off the hill was the ski out below on Bambi which was very sticky - how often is Bambi the toughest run of the day !

After a couple of beers it was time to drive home in temps of +2 and mixed precip in the valley - as I said quite encouraging for tomorrow.

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