Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Day 89 way better than I expected

Yes, today I had no great expectations of good skiing and although things were still a long way short of being awesome or anything like there was some pretty good skiing to be had in the overnight snow.

Overnight they were calling 5 cms of fresh which seemed about right and during the day off and on we had flurries which gave us grauppel all over the hill. This was particularly amazing as base temps during the day got to +4 but the precip still came down white - just about. It was strange as with plus temps over most of the hill the new snow was soft but the underbase was quite hard high up and becoming mushy lower down. I am not doing a very good job of describing the conditions but they were so varied and strange that it is hard to find any normal parameters to describe what we had. Let us say it was soft fresh snow with a very varied under layer and leave it at that.

Temps on the way to the hill were +1 and it warmed slightly during the day. Even on top we had just about plus temps but with no direct sunlight the snow stayed in good condition. It was overcast with the odd break in the clouds but for the most part were were getting flurries. Even as we drove away it was +3 with a rain snow mix and obviously some wintery showers up the hill. On the downside it does look as if all precip has stopped for the moment.

We went to the Old Side and found good untracked skiing on a firm base in New Lift Line although by the lower sections the under surface was becoming soft. Kangaroo only had one track in and was firm bumps with a soft covering. We put first tracks in Boom Ridge which was also soft on top and getting softer lower down. Boomerang was also very lightly tracked.

Next loop we went all the way out to Snake Ridge where there was just one track in front of us and the skiing was fine as the new snow provided a bridge on the breakable crust underneath but it was touch and go as to whether this bridge would hold on every turn. We the hit Cedar Ridge (lightly tracked and soft mellow skiing) Linda's (ditto) and Cedar Ridge Left (also ditto). I even dropped an untracked chute into the Gulch which was just about ok soft snow on crust and totally trashed after just one run through.

All exits were through Kangaroo which got softer as the morning wore on and was ok if rather unusual skiing. Our final run before lunch was through Bear Chutes which were unracked but with a bit of debris in them and skiing ok. We went for lunch and afterwards went to the New Side on the grounds that the flurries were likely to turn to rain low down so going high for the afternoon was a good plan - by and large it worked.

Lift Line was ok soft snow on a very firm base as were all the variations of drops from Timber Top to White Pass load. Polar Peak was closed so our first loop out was Easter Bowl which was mostly untracked and great soft snow as long as you kept your speed up to stay on top. We next dropped Decline which was tracked but with lots of untracked lines to be found in the trees along side. Window Chutes  only had two tracks in front of us and skied very mellow even to the point of the base softening as we got to the chokes to make for about the easiest transit of the year.

We decided to try Cougar Glades and as always found that the few tracks in the top soon disappeared and we found great untracked lines down to the cat track. Just as things were getting soft and tree skiing didn't seem like such a good idea we cut out into the lower parts of Stag Leap which skied very soft and mellow.

With some time to kill I looped White Pass and had my only disappointment of the day in Knot Chutes which I found a bit chunky on top and scratchy underneath. Surprise Trees skied ok with a rather firmer base than was ideal.

Last run was Skydive which skied much better than any of us anticipated. The top two sections were very soft and smooth and you could rip fast GS turns all the way through. The final pitch was still soft snow but the base was a bit firm and lumpy and hard work for the end of the day. Good job there was plenty of beer to revive us in the Griz afterwards. Who knows what we will see tomorrow as no one predicted what we actually got today.

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