Saturday, December 17, 2016

Day 16 Brass Monkeys Beware

Back in the UK we have an expression when things get really cold, we say "Its cold enough to freeze the b---ocks off a brass monkey. Well, today in Fernie there could well have been any number of brass monkeys talking in high pitched voices as it was seriously cold.

The starting temp even in the valley was -30 with no new snow so the base remained at about 115 cms. When I say starting temp of course I don't really mean that as everyone knows that they won't load lifts in those temps to protect customers so I gave it an hour before turning up at the hill. Even driving up Ski Hill Road at 10 o'clock it was still -28 and when I arrived no lifts were running.

By the time I had got my boots on a layered up (something that takes quite some time with the 6 layers needed today) Timber Chair was moving but not loading but the whole of the Old Side lift system was open for business. After a short time Timber stopped and attempts to open the New Side were abandoned for the day due to the cold temps on top. Usually a weekend with only the Old Side open would mean big line ups but the crowds stayed away in the cold and things were so quiet I didn't even share a chair with anyone all day - Lynda decided to have a rest day, and who could blame her.

During the day temps on the Old Side got up to about -22 and it clouded over and snowed. Well, when I say it snowed, we had some very light white powder floating down with almost zero moisture content and no accumulation and for once the forecast of "less than a centimeter" was a very accurate call. The groomers were smooth and hard as you can imagine and the cat tracks were about as slippery as sandpaper due the a condition I believe is technically called " interlocking dendritic crystals" or slow squeaky snow as we know it.

Off the groomers it was just like yesterday with a hard uneven base and highly variable tracked powder which became real hard pack in high traffic areas. Early season hazards were around and were most visible as alders if you were lucky or hidden as tree stumps and rocks if you were not - get well soon Gary. The snow was slow and hard work to move around so again it was a day when the skiing was very tiring on top of the tiredness which comes from skiing all day in such cold temps.

I spent the day in good Old Side Triangle loops mainly off Boomerang hitting Boom, Boom Ridge, Linda's, Cedar Ridge and the occasional dip into Lizard Bowl. About 6 or 7 returns were via Kangaroo which was more or less the run of the day with soft snow although you had to be a bit circumspect on the drop onto the cat track. For those who are not fans of the Roo I guess the choice was between Boom Ridge and Linda's. The traverse out to Snake was open but with the slow snow it would have been just a bit too much hard work for me but probably pretty good when you got there.

On the forecast front I was chatting to some people who should know a bit about this subject and their view is that in this cycle we are going to get early next week we are going to get way more snow than forecast and it is going to come down a heavy Sierra Cement in the warmer temps which is just what the hill needs to cover all the hazards. Heres hoping.

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