Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Day 116 a New Side day

In contrast to yesterday when I skied exclusively on the Old side today all my runs were off the New Side. I wasn't sure that the skiing would be better on the New Side (although it was pretty good) but I felt I had to make a change just for the appearance of things. As it was we might have had the New Side all to ourselves as we hardly saw anyone all morning and I wonder if skier numbers on the hill overall exceeded 50 from the reports I hear.

It was forecast to be similar to yesterday at least to start with being slightly overcast and warm but with the possibility of precip later in the day. Things started off as planned with temps of +4 on the way to the hill after an overnight cool down which hardly amounted to freeze, at least down here in the valley. During the morning it became more overcast but continued to warm until just before lunch when we got precip which fell initially as snow on top and then rain all the way down the hill. Just as we went to lunch it really started to rain hard, and I do mean hard, so that we extended out lunch hour to an hour and a half to wait for the rain to stop. When we went out in the afternoon things had cooled with temps of only +2 up the mountain and there was evidence of a cm or two of wet snow at the top. All afternoon the rain came and went and it did just about come down white at the very top but it was a close call. By the end of the day it back to raining quite hard in the valley with temps of +5 and occasional hail - who knows what this might be falling as at the top of the hill. It was a total contrast from the past few days and made for some very interesting skiing.

As I said we went to the New Side and found that Lift Line was closed so we dropped Puff which was ok soft bumps. At the top of White Pass we saw that Polar Peak was open but when we got there it was the Coaster only which we took and it was soft in poor light. We did a loop and tried Crusty Chute which was a bit lumpy in the top but ok. When we were on top of Polar we noticed some significant weather out beyond Lake Koocanusa and commented that it looked like it was coming our way - we were not wrong as that was the snow/rain mix that hit us during the day and is still hitting us now. We went out to try the Big 3 and found closed signs across the track so we dropped Currie Creek which skied ok on a crisp covering on a soft base of spring snow.

Next loop we didn't think Polar was worth the effort so we ran out to Concussion which skied pretty soft through the chutes and even softer down into bowl on the untracked spring snow. Next time up we decided to give Polar peak another go and it was still only open at the Coaster which skied ok  but was very chunky and soft. We hadn't quite decided how to run to lunch so we ended up dropping off the Skydive Traverse into Tom's and similar areas which was soft snow on top getting a little firmer low down and actually great skiing,

After lunch we were back up the New Side and found Lift Line open which skied soft enough all the way through to the end of the day. We hit the Reverse Traverse and found the signs showing closed at the Currie Creek line. Given that last year I was (wrongly) accused of poaching I need to make today;s position clear on the closures at Currie Creek. The closure signs were avi signs and the rule is that you must not ski above or between the signs or step up above them after going below. I did none of these things and always skied below the lowest sign in Currie Creek and traversed at speed to get to where I wanted to go - as far as I am concerned I obeyed all closures just like you are meant to.

It had started to rain hard while we were at lunch and we delayed our return for quite a long time before returning to the hill. It eventually stopped raining but even then we put on full wet weather kit (including calf length garbage sacks) in order to stay dry and the rain came and went all afternoon. On the very top of the hill it looked like the precip had come down as a cm or two of very wet snow so watch out for tomorrow's powder alert.

We hit Cougar Glade which were soft and untracked and then traversed into the lower parts of Stag Leap which skied very nicely and rather strangely got slightly firmer the lower you went down. Next was Alpha Centauri which skied very soft and was rather tricky in the poor light - did I mention that the top of the hill had really started to sock in by now. Next was Cougar/Stag again which skied just as well as before and if anything the lower pitch of Stag was softer and better.

Final run I made it out to Skydive and still stayed legal by carrying a lot of speed as I traversed under the closure signs - see earlier remarks. Skydive skied very well with some softer turns on top and the firmer turns low down on a soft surface making for the best skiing on the hill. The beers were well deserved tonight.

As I sit here late having had a great evening with buddies Rob and Kerry (apologies for the late blog) it's still raining outside and the temp is about +5. I have no great hopes for what this portends up the hill but I live in hopes.

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