Monday, March 28, 2016

Day 109 maybe our last blast of winter

Yes, today we had some very full on winter conditions but by the end of the day we were sitting on the locals deck at the Griz drinking beer in the sun - almost a case of all 4 seasons in just one day. Given the very full on winter conditions that we had for a significant part of the day we managed to have some very good skiing which was way better than we had any right to expect.

Overnight the hill was reporting 8 cms in the last 24 hours which seemed about right and as I drove to the hill it was -1 and snowing. It was a day of two halves with the snow continuing right down to the base until just after lunch and temps stayed well below zero up the hill so we had a continuing accumulation during the day which had to be at least another 5 cms on top of what had already been reported. During the afternoon things cleared up and we had sun between misty cloud cover and base temps rose to +6 with it getting up to +3 in White Pass and a lot of the new snow (particularly on the south facing slopes) starting to soften and get quite chunky. Something for everyone.

We took the view that the snow low down would eventually turn to rain (we were wrong as it turned out) so we went high with the intention of only running to base as long as we found it wasn't raining down there. Up in White Pass it was full on winter conditions with pretty poor viz and snow falling hard. Polar Peak remained closed all day and Knot Chutes were closed in the morning until the new snow had provided a soft base over the chopped up refrozen crud of a few days ago.

We were late to the hill (9:30) because with only two weeks of the season left we  found that real life was starting to intrude and such things as shutting down the hot tub, booking the truck in for a service and suspending the cable and wifi for 6 months had to be attended to before we could start to trash the new snow which was building on the hill.

Lift Line was well filled in as was all he lines through the trees and into Big Bang which was the way we dropped to White Pass load all day. We did a couple of loops of White Pass and found that Gun Bowl was ugly and crusty even with the new snow covering and in any event you couldn't see anything. I bowl was similar but Pillow Talk and the chutes skied very nicely in lots of soft new snow.

Our first run to base was down Anaconda which was untracked in Chute 2 and the only problem was beating out your own slough. Bootleg Glades were untracked in the near side trees so I cut the helter skelter through the trees which was very mellow and easy. The run down through Gilmar Trail and the Meadow was easy skiing in poor light. Next I hiked Lone Fir which had one track in ahead of me and was awesome and deep. The only problem was a large group of snow boarders who had chosen to sit in the fan and I have to apologise for covering hem in deep snow but if you sit there what do you expect. Lower Easter and Freeway were very soft deep skiing.

Next loop we tried the hike up to Easter Bowl and found only two tracks in front of us, a flat surface and not too bad viz. It was so good that Lynda grabbed tracks ahead of me and I had to cut left to get fresh lines - great skiing. The exit via Freeway was just starting to get a little chunky low down. Last loop before lunch I dropped High Saddle which was skiing just as well as yesterday with very mellow edge to edge jumps all the way through. The fan underneath was untracked and deep and the cut across into lower Easter was just as previously described.

After lunch it stopped snowing,the sun came out off and on and things started to soften. I had been tipped off that the High IT above Knot Chutes had just been opened so I took it (it was a bit lumpy) and got to Gotta Go just in time to get first tracks in the Chute which had been closed for several days. It was spectacular ( the best run of the day) and I could even hock off the bump in the middle of the choke and throw in some easy turns in the tight section - slough management was again an issue. Bootleg was the standard exit which skied ok in the near steep chutes and was used all afternoon as the route to the base.

I had decided to hit Cobra Rock next time across the High IT but found it closed. I took the steep shoulder above Anaconda 1 as a consolation prize as it was steep and untracked. I spoke to a patroller buddy as to why Cobra was closed and it turned out that it was just an error so next time the signs had been flipped. Cobra was steep and deep and great skiing. Things were so mellow that instead of cutting out through the left fan as usual I cut right into the very steep tree chutes (I would guess the steepest tree skiing on the hill) and had a really awesome heart stopping run down to the track below.

Back up White Pass we had time for a long loop so I took the Tight Knot Chute but skied the left hand shoulder and tight chute which were all very soft and mellow. A last run through Anaconda was very good in tracked soft snow but the push back round Trespass Trail was predictably hard work and very slow. Last run of course was Skydive.

We approached Skydive fairly carefully as we were not sure what to expect. In the event we got soft new snow in the top and a rather firmer base with ice chunks lower down. It was nowhere near as bad as it has been and perhaps we could have pushed it harder than we did had we known how the surfaces would have worked out.

Beers on the locals deck in what was now warm evening sunshine and a chance to watch the head wall skiers and make plans for tomorrow - watch this space.

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