Thursday, March 3, 2016

Day 84 way better that I thought it would be

Before looking at why things were better today it is worth exploring why I thought they might not be quite so good. Overnight we had been promised 4-8 cms of new snow but in the event we got nothing. Forecasts called for temps of +7 in the valley with any precip coming down as showers. I think it is fair to say the even a pretty positive guy like myself might be forgiven for thinking that we were in for a rather crap days skiing. As it was we had a rather good one.

On the way to the hill it started to snow with some very wet snow/rain mix in the valley and temps of +1. The precip continued all morning falling as rain/snow at the base and full on winter conditions in -2 temps up top in White Pass. It didn't take a genius to work out that White Pass was going to be the place to ski. A few die hard Old Side fans tried to tell me it was ok over there, but I spoke to several trusted buddies who bailed on the Old Side to come over to the New Side who confirmed my guess that it was ok for the first few turns on top but it quickly became a wet heavy horrible mess lower down.

Only a few days ago I complained that we didn't seem to get traditional wet White Pass days any more. These are days when it rains at the base stopping people coming up the hill but with full on winter conditions in great powder snow up in White Pass. Well, as if to prove me a liar that is exactly what we had today, at least for the morning. Below it was +5 and raining but up in White Pass it never got warmer than -1 and as result we had great soft powder snow accumulating pretty quickly all morning. Of course the downside was some rather poor viz which came and went on top but over all I felt this was an acceptable trade off.

So we went up White Pass and immediately found that Lift Line was soft and untracked which was a good indicator for the rest of the morning. It was snowing really hard up in White Pass and I would speculate that what we got was the 4-8 cms called for during the night coming in a bit late. Unfortunately this meant that it came down at daytime temps but the rain line was well below the White Pass load. There was no chance that I was going to run to base in the low mountain rain so it was a White Pass morning.

There was excellent deep untracked snow in Gun Bowl. Knot Chutes, Surprise Trees (many different lines) Pillow Talk, Quite Right, Highline under the lift and in fact everywhere we could ski. To mix things up a bit I did a few laps out into Anaconda (always trying the steeper far chutes to put a bit of pressure on myself which all skied very nicely and deep) and pushed back round Trespass Trail to avoid the run to base and the push back sucked far less than I thought it would, being not too slow. It was an excellent mornings skiing in soft accumulating snow with yesterday's tracks filled in.

Around lunch time the snow stopped on top and therefore the rain stopped in the base. I took a run to lunch through Cougar Glades which were very lightly tracked and had filled in so well that for the first time this year I rolled through the Megasaurus cat track without realising it. I tracked left just in time to get into Stag Leap for the final pitch which was a a little soft but skied ok.

After lunch I figured that the best lines would be going high and running to base now that the rain had stopped. Polar Peak and the Saddles were closed so it was always going to be loops down the Reverse Traverse. I hiked Lone Fir and had third tracks in (thanks Brad and Paul) which were excellent as was the fan underneath and the skiing all the way down which was untracked and soft and deep as the Lizard sign line was still down.

For a change I took the high IT across the top of the Knot Chutes which skied about as mellow as I can remember. I dropped Gotta Go which was soft in the top, very scratchy in the choke and then soft deep snow below. I ran to base through Bootleg Glades in my usual near chutes which were deep and soft.

I had decided to hike up to Easter Meadow but on the Reverse Traverse I noticed that High Saddle had just opened and a Non Stop Group were looking in. They dropped and made a pretty good job of it so there was still plenty of fresh snow for me to make some nice jump turns in. Below the chute it was spectacular untracked deep powder all the way down. I hit out on a hard traverse to Spinal Tap which was a bit of a mistake as the skiing was heavy and soft but more importantly it put me up against the clock for getting another loop. I went for it and dropped Corner Pocket ignoring tires and ropes so I had another awesome run underneath the chutes in the deep untracked powder and still got to Timber just in time for one last lap.

Skydive was of course the final run of choice but there were only 3 of us there as everyone else had been drawn into trying one more saddle loop. Skydive actually skied quite well but as you would have expected it got softer as you went down and may prove to be a piece of work if it sets up tomorrow. Beers of course to celebrate a day that was so much better than it promised as we drove to the hill this morning. As we sat in the bar the precip was coming down in quite hard grauppel storms and the hill was shrouded in what looked like winter conditions. In town it's + 3 so what we get up there is anyone's guess.

Footnote - tonight's footnote is a thanks to a follower I met on the lift today who said some really nice things about the blog. Thanks Curtis it does help to know my efforts are appreciated in some circles.

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