Monday, March 14, 2016

Day 95 dust on crust

As I have said before the more politically correct term for today's condition is "champagne on ice" referring to the champagne powder on an ice base. Actually a more accurate description would be slabby snow on a cruddy base. I guess my dust on crust description may just be giving things the best of it when all circumstances are considered.

Overnight we were supposed to have had 7 cms of snow although I have to say that I struggled to see anything like that on the New Side. Of course the wind had blown the snow all over the place so maybe that explains the discrepancy. The result of the wind was that the snow was very slabby and ugly with 4 ft square slabs breaking away under your skis any time you found anything that resembled untracked snow. Not the ideal covering for the icy base left over from yesterday.

On the way to the hill it was +2 and at the base it got up to +5 during the day so that the very lower mountain became soft and mushy. Up the mountain things remained cooler with temps around zero so that the surfaces remained rock hard and ugly for the second day running. We had a little direct sunlight around mid afternoon and then it socked it ensuring that the surfaces remained pretty bullet proof. There was a little flurrie activity with no real accumulation.

We went to the New Side and dropped Puff which seemed to have been groomed not so long ago and was hard but ok. We looped White Pass a few times during which we found that the Gun Bowl was just as hard as ever and way more difficult to ski in the very flat light. Runs to White Pass load were through a number of areas (Quite Right, Heartland, High Line, I bowl etc) and we looped them finding, just as we expected some pretty nasty wind slab on top of a very hard ice base. The warning signs produced by patrol were out today just like yesterday, very strongly recommending that skiers stayed on the groomers -fat chance.

I fell in with my buddy Brad and we heard the rumor that it was good under the Saddles and so went straight to Corner Pocket. Once we had managed to get that stupid cling on rope out of the way (why they don't fit a shock cord tidy away like we would do on the boat is beyond me) it skied very well in the chute and then in the fan below it was soft and untracked on a firm smooth base but with viz a bit of a problem - there were some major death cookies that we only saw as the slipped by us !

Next loop we tried Concussion which proved to be a big mistake as it was ugly refrozen crud under a slabby snow covering which was not enough to cushion anything. It was the worst conditions of the day and a real piece of work down to the top of the Gilmar Trail. Last run before lunch we hit Corner Pocket again which was just as good as before even if it was a bit scratchy in the chute and we could only really get into edge to edge jumping after the tires and when once again we had removed the rope.

In the afternoon we returned to the New Side and put in three more loops through Corner Pocket with the snow in the fans staying good with many untracked lines on a firm base which in the context of all the crappy skiing everywhere else on the hill amounted to "awesome". Our exits were either through lower Easter Bowl or Freeway gully or some combination of the two which all skied well on a firm base all afternoon. Just once in the day we dropped from Timber Top using Lift Line and that was enough - it was slabby, crusty, cruddy and hard ice with many death cookies, just like a mini version of Concussion.

We did s few loops back through White Pass as the sun had come out and we were looking for a bit of softening. We tried various combinations of Gun Bowl, Knot Chutes and the I bowl none of which seemed to show much inclination to soften but they skied about as good as any of the sun facing high traffic slopes did today.

After our final loop of Corner Pocket (the first time I have ever dropped that chute 5 times in one day) it was time to consider Skydive which we feared would be just like Lift Line as final run of the day. In the event it sucked far less than we thought it would with the new snow on a crust base which didn't prove to be too breakable. By the lower section it was just good old dust on crust. Interestingly we put first tracks in the run at 4 o'clock which has to be something of a record. After that our beers in the Griz were well deserved.

So in summary the conditions on the hill were pretty dreadful but by careful planning we were able to ski for most of the day on some pretty ok new snow on a firm rain packed base, all of this without having to ski groomers which as all of you know I do not regard as real skiing.

We are promise some more snow tonight but temps are going to stay low on the hill (they were +4 with graupell storms as we left and falling fast) so the base will remain rock hard and ugly death cookies where it has already been skied. It will take a lot of snow to make the hill as whole a good place to ski away from the groomers. Let's hope we get it.

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