Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Day 110 the head wall better late than never

Today was the day I hit the Currie head wall for the first time this season and after 110 days many people would say " about bloody time". I had been thinking about the Lizard head wall after closing time but the conditions in the Polar Chutes made me think that maybe these would be a bit sketchy and conversations with buddies who had skied confirmed that maybe I was right.

On the way to the hill today it was +2 at the base and just about zero when we got up the hill. For the morning with quite a lot of cloud cover things stayed pretty much the same and south facing slopes which had softened were hard and icy. Around lunch time the cloud cleared and we got a bluebird finish to the day and temps became very warm in the direct sunlight and even quite warm from atmospheric warming. As we drove away from the hill it was +12 and unsurprisingly we had softening snow and spring skiing conditions particularly on the lower parts of the hill and on any slopes in the direct sunlight.

I went to the New side with my full back country pack on just to make sure I could ski with it in case I decided to hit Lizard head wall at the end of the day - this made for some very hot and sweaty skiing during the day. Lift Line was a bit harder than usual but ok. I tried a few loops of White Pass and found the Gun bowl was very icy but Pillow Talk skied nicely. Polar Peak hadn't opened so I ran to base via Anaconda Glades which were still good soft deep snow and Bootleg Glades which skied ok if a bit chunky in the last couple of turns.

Next time up Polar had opened but only in the Coaster so I dropped it and it was crusty but ok. Next I made my big mistake of the day by traversing across to under the lift from the Coaster/Cat Track intersection. It might have looked ok from the lift but it was hard ugly icy crust and the nastiest skiing on the hill all day. I went back up Polar and tried the Coaster which was better but not much on ungroomed crust. I had intended to run out to the Saddles but as I skied under the chair my buddy Brad was shouting "head wall" at me so being easily led I went back up and we took the long hard and very crusty hike out along the Currie head wall. We dropped Up Right which I have to say was steep and mellow with only about 4 tracks in  front of us in soft deep snow.

We ran to base through High Saddle which was still skiing very mellow with edge to edge jumps and the fan underneath still having untracked lines. The cut into lower Easter was not a success as it was hard ugly refrozen crud. Next time up I ran out to Anaconda and dropped the shoulder just over the hump for the first time this year and got some very tight steep tree skiing in there. I took Bootleg down to lunch which was still skiing ok if a bit chunky.

After lunch it was back up Polar Peak where the Chutes had just been opened. Obviously they had previously been ugly crust and now were softening quickly in the direct sunlight. We ran Papa Bear and in my opinion the skiing was not that good. The surface had softened but was separating from the underbase and the skiing was subject the wet snow sloughs, ugly tufted wet snow and the surface sliding out under you when you least expected it. Three loops were quite enough to convince us it was time to move on and that the Lizard head wall was not going to be much fun and so was off the agenda.

We ran to base through Lone Fir which was ok but a bit scratchy in the chute and then good skiing in the fan below. This time the cut into Easter found that the surface had softened and it was ok slightly mushy skiing. Next loop we tried Gotta Go which in the Google Earth chute was untracked and very good skiing down to the bottom of 3's. Boot Leg continued to be good skiing down to Gilmar Trail.

We just had time for a White Pass loop through a softening Gun Bowl and an ok Pillow Talk and a very icy Morgan's Dilemma before it was time for a last run through Skydive. Skydive skied pretty well all things considered as it was quite soft in the top, setting up a bit in the mid section, setting up a lot at the top of the final section and then getting very mellow and soft in the last six turns or so.

With temps of +12 and a lot of sun the locals deck was a good place to have a few beers after a hard day which included a head wall run. No new snow forecast so tomorrow could be the first day of summer skiing.

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