Sunday, December 4, 2016

Days 2-3 Opening Weekend

Ok, this is something new for me as well, trying to write about more than one day at a time so please bear with me. I will try and cover the topics in a kind of logical order but I can't promise anything.

Lets start with the crowds first. I had anticipated that Saturday would be even busier than opening day but I was wrong. We got to the hill about half past 8 and parked in line 2 of lot 2. It was more like a weekday than a weekend. As the day wore on more people turned up so there were a few short line ups but nothing to get excited about and by afternoon the hill was quiet as was the Griz Bar for a Saturday night. Sunday was just as quiet with no crowds at any time and the Griz was busy but this was due to the happy hour offers to staff which are going to be a feature of Sundays, my guess is that there were about half a dozen non staff in there tonight. So a pretty quiet opening weekend Some people said they thought it may be down to folks doing their Christmas shopping but as it isn't Christmas Eve yet that doesn't make sense to me.

Now terrain. On the New Side we got Falling Star on Saturday as an additional way off the hill but apart from that things stayed the same and very limited for both days. The White Pass core was open between Puff and Surprise Trees (both closed)  although the Knot chutes were open. In Currie it was open as far as Concussion but with a sign line half way down that didn't allow skiing to base and the only way back was round Trespass Trail - not my favourite piece of polling. The Old Side opened Saturday but I didn't ski it and understand it was really just Bear and some of the lower hill. On Sunday we got Boomerang to the cut out by the Goat Trail and North Ridge and Cedar Ridge but with no Haul Back or Boom Chair the only way back was a long slow run along Cedar Trail all the way to base. Later we got Arrow down to Tower 6 trail and all of Lizard below Tower 6. In summary still very limited opening.

The weather for both days was very similar to Friday until the end of Sunday. We had 10 cms of fresh snow overnight Friday and 7 on Saturday with a bit more both days in on/off showers that blew through during the day. Temps on the upper mountain stayed at about -5 both days keeping the snow in good condition and even at the base things never got much above zero, Viz was poorer up high meaning that we never got Polar peak despite all the pre opening publicity. Conditions were overcast with some brighter periods and on Saturday like Friday the viz closed in later in the day and the viz line moved down the hill. Late on Sunday afternoon everything changed as the first major storm of the winter came in bringing high winds and heavy snowfall which is continuing as I type this. Conditions driving back from the hill were so bad that even in the truck in 4x4 with winter tires it was still a challenge. On the road back to town I kept getting one wheel on the rumble strip but couldn't tell whether it was the centre or side strip I was on - it was that bad. There is about 20 cms of snow on the top of my hot tube already and this are forecast to continue like this all night.

Skiing on the hill was just like Friday, limited but where you found it then it was very good. On both days on the New Side Anaconda was always sifted in, 1-2-3s were soft and deep as were Currie Glades and Alpha Centauri and the Gun Bowl had deep soft snow. Everywhere else was good and deep and with the crowds staying away you could find fresh tracks both days quite late in the day. The only disappointment was Tight Knot which looked good from a distance but close up had some very marginal conditions with twigs, rocks, etc which were only apparent once you were committed. Last run Sunday I ran through the Nick, or the Niche, or the Crotch, or whatever you want to call it (it seems to have a number of names) just above 2 in 1-2-3. It was a bit icy in the choke but otherwise super deep and soft untracked snow, a great way to finish.

The Old Side was also very good, Bear was soft and relatively untracked early on. Runs into Cedar Ridge gave us loads of untracked deep lines but with a bit of bushwhacking to do just at the end to get out onto Cedar Trail Boomerang was also good but twiggy however there were enough open lines for everyone to get good untracked skiing. The only downside was the long push round Cedar Trail which did thin down the number of runs possible. Arrow and Lizard were also good soft lightly tracked snow when they opened late on Sunday morning.

So in summary the weekend was one of limited terrain but what there was gave us us some very good powder lines lots of which were untracked. In most places there were "early season hazards", rocks, stumps, and alders to you and me and I was pleased to get the first major stack of the season out of the way by hitting something under the snow and blowing a ski off with no major injury. 

Even if it stopped snowing now (and it shows no signs of that) we would be in for a spectacular powder day tomorrow and with the forecast saying snow all night things could be very good indeed. I anticipate that a lot of the upper mountain will be closed for avi control as normal (although we don't seem to have the usual November ice layer that causes so much trouble each year) but I hope this will be compensated by a lot of the lower mountain which has been closed due to poor coverage and is not in an avi risk area becoming available, I am very optimistic about the rest of this week with temps forecast to fall to -15 keeping the snow in good shape. Next blog will be Thursday evening with a report on the week and the outlook for the weekend.

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