Thursday, December 8, 2016

Days 4-7 Life in the Freezer

So we continue with my attempts to write up several days at a time and as far as that goes conditions have been pretty  cooperative in that the last 4 days have been rather similar. This has allowed me to get into my new winter regime which involves going to the gym on any morning that isn't a powder day or a Saturday and run 12 klicks on the treadmill before clocking in to the hill about half an hour late. This together with cutting out the booze (nothing drunk in the past 16 days since I landed in Canada) should keep me in ok shape for next summers running season. But I digress.....

Returning to the main theme of this evening's symposium, those who follow the blog closely will remember that Sunday night we were all excited as it was puking snow with more in the forecast and looking good for a powder Monday. Well, our hopes were fulfilled, we had just over 25 cms of fresh deep powder which came down at about -5 and pushed the base to a little over 1 metre where it stayed, only dropping to 98cms today. This gave us great coverage on the upper hill and much improved the situation on the lower hill.

Monday evening temps started falling as an Arctic high moved in and we thought things were cold on Tuesday when daytime highs only reached -12. We didn't know we were born as for Wednesday and Thursday the Arctic high persisted which of course gave us perfect bluebird conditions without a cloud in the sky but very cold. In fact a better description of conditions over the past couple of days could best be described a fricking freezing with daytime highs at the White Pass load never getting above -20 and starting temps even at the base were about -24. All of this kept the snow in great shape but did mean that we were so wrapped up that skiing was tough.

The openings on the hill continued. The Old Side opened Lizard bowl across as far a Freeway and Cedar bowl to about half way across. I can't make much comment on the Old Side as for reasons I will leave others to speculate upon neither Boomerang Chair nor the Haul Back T bar were running. This meant that if you dropped into Cedar the only way back was along traverse round the Cedar Trail which was bad enough but then the only way back into the circuit was via Elk Chair which is so slow that people could die of old age waiting to get to the top. This only left Lizard bowl for quick loops and as I always feel there is better skiing to be had than Lizard I only skied the Old Side a couple of times when Timber Chair went down. Apart from that it has been a New Side opening week where things have been much better.

The New Side story was one of continuing rolling openings as work continued in the newly covered areas. In Timber bowl everything opened up to Timber Lift Line all the way across to Anaconda including all the Knot Chutes and the drop in to Gotta Go. I think Surprise Tress may still have a conditions closure but as I haven't been there for a couple of days I can't be sure. The Reverse traverse was steadily extended giving us the Currie Chutes, then Easter Bowl, Lone Fir and the Big Three (note to new readers don't call them the fingers) including the Window Chutes. Finally the Saddles opened yesterday so we have it all. My only confusion is that for the past two days the lower parts of Skydive and Decline have been open and they have been fine if a bit twiggy in the bottom. Today they were closed which makes no sense to me as conditions certainly have not deteriorated.

The skiing in the newly opened areas has of course been sensational in deep untracked snow where we were laying down first tracks of the season in many places. Particularly good were Corner Pocket (easy in the chute with no tires showing), High Saddle, Low Saddle (amazingly not icy) Lone Fir, Anaconda Glades Easter (many untracked lines in the trees to skiers right) Cougar Glades (sensational and first tracks but a bit twiggy low down) Skydive, Stag Leap, Decline, Window Chutes (almost taken out in the choke by my own slough) and Spinal Tap (first tracks and awesome but a bit technical crossing the creek bed low down) and of course all the Currie Chutes. Even by pre Christmas standards there have been very few people on the hill due to the cold so every day has been a powder day with loads of untracked deep lines to be had.

In case I get accused of painting too rosy a picture it has to be acknowledged that where the snow has ben tracked the skiing is pretty tough and you can end up feeling very beat up. The cold temps have dried out the snow and made it hard and chunky always trying to throw you off balance. Add to this the fact that early season hazards (rocks and twigs) mean that you can't always take the line you want and when you do twigs catch you edges and tails and your pole gets hooked up dragging you into the back seat then the skiing is difficult in places. The cold takes it's toll on the muscles and being in about 6 layers of clothing adds to the workload. In other words it isn't all beer and skittles.

In summary we have had a great opening week as long as you are not an aspiring princess when it comes to cold temps. The outlook for the next week is continuing cold with no daytime high getting above -14 and quite a few lower than that. On the precip front we are promised some flurries over the next three days which should give measurable accumulations although at these temps the snow density will be very low indeed. So I am fairly optimistic although I have to accept that for some the continuing cold means that their season start will be delayed even further.

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