Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Day 111 you don't need sunshine to get warm

Today we had forecasts for very warm conditions but on the way to the hill it was only +1 at the base and obviously much colder up the hill. We had expected sunshine and spring skiing conditions but up until early afternoon what we got was quite heavy cloud and overcast conditions. The result was that everything was frozen rock solid and the warning signs were out telling us to keep to the groomers. What no one appeared to have allowed for was the effect of atmospheric warming so that despite the lack of sun temps rose sharply so that by late morning it was +5 at Timber Top and surfaces were becoming soft despite the lack of direct sunlight. Of course after lunch the sun came out and it was just super soft mush in the sunlight and still some pretty soft stuff in the shade.

We went to he Old Side where the groomers where initially bullet proof and the ungroomed was very hard icy refrozen crud. We poked around for quite long time looking for something good but we were restricted to groomers in the Lizard Bowl where the best skiing was off the right of Dancer into Freeway. On the advice of buddies we hit Cruiser and Cedar Centre which were very good skiing and well groomed. This of course got us to Haul Back and eventually to Kangaroo. I didn't feel that I had any choice but to ski the Roo and was amazed that it was nowhere near as ugly and icy as I thought it would be (it was still pretty bad) but at least taking an edge in the warming temps.

I took this as my sign and skied a lot of ungroomed runs on the Old Side which everyone was avoiding because the sun hadn't come out to soften them and they all skied just about the right side of acceptable with the hard icy tufts softening just a little. The runs included Kangaroo (twice) Bear Cave Chutes, New Lift Line, Cedar Ridge, Boom Ridge and Boomerang (also twice) which were all much the same. No one followed us into them and we didn't encounter anyone else skiing them. A classic case of people not taking the risk to find out that skiing was ok if not stellar.

We went to the New Side and found Lift line quite soft and 1-2-3s getting soft in all the pitches with the atmospheric warming. This is the first time that the high north facing slopes had softened and if we now go into an overnight freezing trend it will mean that pretty well everything will become unskiable until it gets warmed in the morning. Bootleg Glades were soft in the top and very soft by the time you got down to Gilmar Trail.  It was time for a late lunch.

After lunch we went up Polar Peak as Lynda wanted to ski it top to base without stopping and so could justifiably treat herself to a "Peak to Pint" T shirt from the Griz Bar. It turns out that if she snaps herself in it on top of Polar Peak and publishes the pic on social media then we (I) get a free pint - that looks like tomorrow's mission. On a more mundane note I hitched up with my buddy Rob skiing on his split shift from the mine and we hit the newly opened Polar Chutes. We looped Papa and Grand Papa bear 4 times and it is interesting that in those loops it went from marginal crusty to marginal slushy - the sun had just come out and this just shows how quickly things wee getting hot. The skiing in the chutes was ok but mot great.

We had intended to try Low Saddle as it might have softened in the top but as it turned out we didn't get past High Saddle which skied as easy soft bumps and the fan underneath was ok but getting very mushy low down. We cut into Easter and found it was also getting more mushy than was really fun. I ran to base in the sun to ditch my jacket and pick up my light fleece and even then I did feel a bit over dressed.

Getting back up White Pass it was just too late to head up Polar Peak so we looped the Knot Chutes which had only opened late in the day. The chutes all skied very soft and mellow and surprisingly almost no one else seemed interested in skiing them. I had time for a late drop of Tight Knot which was starting to slide out under the skis and then Anaconda which was way softer than it had been over the past few days. The push back round Trespass Trail was very slow and I only just about made the last White Pass chair to get up for the final run down Skydive.

I got to Skydive to find myself alone although I was later assured that at least one other (Rod) was there and left just before I arrived. Skydive was very soft and challenging in the top but in a reversal from previous days things actually got better as you went down and by the final section it was a soft surface on a firm base and skiing very easily.

A pretty good day's skiing and with much warmer temps forecast for the next few days things could get very interesting.

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