Saturday, February 6, 2016

Day 58 better than I expected

With some overnight rain in the valley and temps on the way to the hill of +2 I had pretty low expectations when it came to skiing today particularly in relation to the past couple of days. In the event I was pleasantly surprised by the conditions which were ok over most of the hill and rather good in some specific places.

It was cloudy all day with sunny breaks and some graupel flurries off and on all day which gave a covering but no significant accumulation. Temps at the base rose to around +3 and hung in at zero at White Pass load and a couple of degrees colder on top. The official figures claimed 3 cms which I now see has been revised to 5 cms but there had clearly been a wind event during the night which continued during the day giving a constant source of renewed wind sift. Tonight temps are on the way down and are about -4 now and due to fall lower so what we have at the moment should remain in good shape for at least one more day.

We went to the New Side as we had word that Polar Peak had opened. It had and we did 6 loops switching from Papa Bear to the Crusty Clown chute and back. The Clown chutes were great deep untracked snow. Papa Bear was chunky snow in a slightly icy base and half way down switched to an icy hard base presumably as a result of some avi work. It the poor light this all made for some very interesting skiing. Last time up on the chair I commented to my buddy that the wind (which had been getting stronger all morning) had to be getting close to the limit of operation. Sure enough next time round Polar Peak chair was closed and stayed that way for the rest of the day.

We took a run down Concussion far left chutes on the grounds that the strong down draft wind would be sifting in snow and were weren't disappointed. It was deep wind grooming all the way down and even extended up to a point in the Gilmar Gully. We then played for while in White Pass running Gun Bowl, Knot Chutes, Quite Right, Surprise Trees etc in several permutations. The snow was all sifted and mellow and very easy skiing.

Before lunch I hiked Lone Fir and found a lot of soft snow in the chute which appeared untracked and there was only one slick turn towards the end of the chute. Below the chute the cushion was sensational deep snow and even as the tracks appeared lower down it was still pretty good as long as you hugged the sign line on the left down to Freeway.

Perhaps after lunch I should have gone to the Old Side. Reports from Buddies suggested that Snake and KC Chutes were particularly good but as a creature of habit I went back to the New Side. We did more White Pass loops as before and as before they were all good with soft snow blowing in. The afternoon ran on with loops to base of -
Touque Chutes/Spinal Tap - great soft snow that you could really rip in the top and even the creek bed was pretty soft tracked up snow.
Decline - probably the best run on the hill with great soft bump skiing on top and the bottom part well repaired by the new snow and skiing the best of the Big 3 lower sections once again.
Cougar Glades/Stag Leap - tracked up but great soft snow skiing only getting a bit scratchy in the final pitch of Stag.
Currie Creek - I was tempted by the deep snow in the top and even in the choke at the ski out the snow was no worse than a bit firm.

It was time for the for the Skydive rip which I approached with some trepidation. The reason for this was that every time I had gone out on the traverse before I had encountered idiots behaving, well, like idiots at or near the bridge. I wonder if anyone understands the basics of traverse etiquette, the most important parts being that you never stop on a traverse and if you want to wait for friends you do it either above or below the traverse.  Part of the problem has to be skiers and riders of limited ability heading out that way and I am not sure what can be done about it other than those of us who know the rules providing a brief, if somewhat profane, abbreviated version of the traverse rules as we pass.

Skydive with a couple of buddies was great as was the beer (limited as it was my turn to drive) in the Griz afterwards. I think tomorrow could be just as good as today but then we are facing a quite significant warm up although praise to the Griz there does not appear to be any precip due until temps cool at the end of next week - not that anyone really knows what will happen. Enjoy.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Day 57 a pretty good day

Yesterday you may remember I was speculating on which extra areas of the hill might be open today. Well, we got the Saddles and Lone Fir but Polar remained closed. Reports from ski patrol buddies who actually went up Polar tended to confirm that we didn't miss much unless you are in to icy and crusty skiing.

We had no real new snow over night but there was a pretty significant wind event up the hill which continued into the day giving quite a lot of wind sift in some places, and of course wind crust/slab in others. It was about -1 on the way to the hill but base temps rose during the day so that by mid afternoon we had temps of +3 and some light wet precip. As we drove away from the hill tonight it was +5 in the valley which has to be a worrying trend. Up the hill it stayed cool in the overcast conditions with it never getting warmer than -1 at White Pass Load and -3 at the top. It was socked in poor viz at the top of White Pass and although things came and went during the day we had some very white conditions on top particularly with the down draft wind sift coming out of the Polar Chutes across the Reverse Traverse.

We went to the New Side as that promised the best of the new openings. I hit out to the Saddles even though they were shown as closed on the basis that the boards are not always up to date. It was good call as Corner Pocket had just opened and we had a good drop through followed by some slightly wind crusted powder in not too good viz below, but at least we were getting firstish tracks. The ski down through the lower part of Easter left was deep and convinced us that there would be better options.

Next Loops we hiked Lone Fir which was deep soft snow with one small ice patch on the exit so very mellow. The cushion under Lone Fir which of course is what we all go there for was sensational deep untracked snow and we ripped it all the way down to Freeway even though a few more tracks drifted in from the left lower down. Next loop we hiked back up and did almost the same again but hit the chute to the left of Lone Fir (Easter Meadow, One Step beyond etc, what ever you want to call it) and had first tracks in the chute. Biggest problem was being taken out by you own slough and of course the exit was over the same cushion that we had just had such an awesome time on below Lone Fir.

We just had time for a quick loop in  Touque Chutes/Spinal Tap where we tried the different lines out to the right of our usual tracks which we tried yesterday. There were some very nice lines that were untracked in the trees and we stayed right of the main Spinal Tap pitch in some very interesting and untried tree lines. just goes to show you should always be prepared to try new lines on the hill.

We decided to cut across to the Old Side and pushed out the Snake Ridge. Despite having been open for a day Snake still had a lot of untracked lines and the final pitch had a few firm parts but mostly skied really nicely as long as you had the skill to hold an edge on reasonably steep pitches. It was so good that after a drop down Kangaroo (a bit icy but really very tame) and Boomerang (so easy it was skiing more like a groomer) we went out for another go. This time we hit Gorby, Curve Ball, Steep and Deep and it was good after a couple of wind crust turns in the top. Lower down the powder was fantastic and untracked with lots of face shots. Even the exit on the right chute of Steep and Deep was ok jump turns, if a bit technical in places. We ran of through Kangaroo and Boom Ridge which was particularly nice wind affected snow.

In the afternoon after a late lunch I headed up the New Side again and hit Cougar Glades/Stag Leap which were good skiing in most areas and even the final pitch of Stag skied ok after a fashion. On the way across the Reverse Traverse next time I noticed big down draft winds grooming the snow early on so I dropped one of the harder far Concussion chutes and found it skied smooth and deep just like a dream - or at least the kind of dreams that I have. It was so good I went back and did it again next loop with the added bonus that Gilmar Gully skied pretty well both loops as well.

I was tempted again next time round and hiked Lone Fir which was still good with some tight jumping in the last chute and only a tiny piece of blue ice (which was easily avoided) to spoil the fun. The ski down to Freeway was still soft and deep and very lightly tracked. Timing meant that we just had time for a White Pass rip and we hit the Gun Bowl and under the lift in improving light which made for easy skiing and I was staggered at just how good the snow was in the wind sift all the way down.

Final rip of course was Skydive which we hit in one with no breaks. Unsurprisingly it was great in the top and a little scratchy in the lower pitch. Friday in the Griz is getting more like a mini version of Saturday and as it was Simon's turn to drive I have a very good time with buddies bullshitting about the days skiing.

It's +4 on the deck and some precip is in the forecast. It's all very worrying but what the hell can we do except ski whatever the Griz decides to send us.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Day 56 an awesome powder day

Not sure just how many awesomes today should get on my scale but it should have been something getting on for two and half which isn't bad when you consider that the scale only goes up to three.

It snowed all night and just how much we got depends on which report you read. Numbers come in at anything between 20 and 30 cms with the official figure at 23. My own observations suggested about 25 cms with a bit less in wind swept areas and way more in some of the wind deposit stashes. The forecast had been for some very light low moisture snow and whilst what we got was by no means heavy it did have a good moisture content giving it the substance needed to hold you up on the steep pitches and in many places qualify as hero snow. I think this may have been down to things not being quite so cold overnight as anticipated.

It snowed all night and the starting temp was -5 on the way to the hill. higher up it was bit cooler but as the day wore on it warmed up so that we had zero at the base and -5 at the White Pass load. As a result the snow stayed in pretty good shape all day all over the hill. The snow stopped mid morning and to everyone's surprise the forecasters got it right and we had a cloudy afternoon with the odd flash of sun but not enough to do any damage to the skiing surface.

I went to the New Side for all the well explored reasons that keep me away from the Old Side on a good powder day and this certainly was one of them. I skied all day from lining up at ten to nine at the Timber Chair through to dropping Skydive just after 4 with no breaks of any kind during the day - lunch was taken in the Griz Bar after skiing. All day drops from Timber top to White Pass load were through a variety of routes ranging from Puff Trees on one side to Mitchy Chutes on the other and they were all super soft deep mellow snow with many untracked lines particularly early in the day.

Currie Bowl wasn't open but Knot Chutes and all of Surprise Trees were so we had three loops taking Knot chutes from Tight Knot to Jim Chute and the Trees from the Surprise near shoulder to the top section of Triple Trees. needless to say we had deep powder with a lot of untracked lines with the deepest snow in Triple Trees which made the push back along Trespass Trail well worth while.

As we arrived at the top of White Pass for the fifth time (we did one straight White Pass loop due to pilot error) they dropped the Currie Bowl fence and we raced out on the Reverse Traverse to get first tracks in Cougar Glades which were out the other side of awesome with face shots all the way. We cut out into Stag Leap and with only one track in front of us had more face shots all the way down with the lower section still scratchy underneath. After that the day panned out as -
Decline/ Window Chutes - great untracked skiing on the sided of Decline and super deep tracked snow in the chute and but icy in the choke.
Touque Chutes/Spinal Tap - sensational deep powder with many untracked lines. The last few turns in the creek bed were a bit scratchy.
Skydive - super deep lightly tracked powder and only a bit crunchy in the final pitch
Gotta Go/Bootleg Glades - Very deep in Gotta Go and as there was a blast line in 3s below the drop in which people didn't want to cross the right hand side of 3s below was deep untracked powder. Bootleg near trees only had one track and I soon lost that for some great untracked tree skiing.
Triple Trees - I tried it all the way to the final run out above Summer Road. The top was fantastic as no one seems to ski that area and even low down there was enough deep untracked snow to make the final pitch ok.
Touque Chutes/Spinal Tap - I did a lot of variations here, hitting the chutes to the far right almost getting back onto Decline, going right in the trees and joining Spinal Tap from the steep slope on skiers right and even hitting the trees to the right rather than skiing the creek bed in the final section which was bit scratchy but ok. A very interesting variation.
The Brain - very deep lightly tracked snow in the top getting a bit firm under the new snow lower down. The sensational top made the bottom worth while.
Siberia Ridge - as always rather neglected and so plenty of untracked lines if you cut the trees on either side of the run.

Final run was Skydive and there were still three of us with enough left in our legs to give it a rip. Soft and deep to the final pitch where it was a little icy under the new snow. The end to a fantastic day of deep powder skiing. Beers in the Griz (limited for me as I was driving) home for a hot tub and an early night. Today we didn't get Polar Peak, The Saddles or Lone Fir so plenty to look forward to tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Day 55 dust on crust

As I understand it the new official description is Champagne (powder) on ice. Being a more traditional soul I tend to refer to it as dust on crust which is what we have been calling it for just about as long as I can remember.

It was cold overnight and about -14 on the way to the hill. The temps rose a bit so that by the end of the day it was -5/-8 up the hill and by early evening it was -4 in the valley. None of that can disguise the fact that it was bloody cold up the hill all day and even with an extra fleece and thin balaclava I was no better than ok. It was overcast all day and actually snowed to a greater or lesser degree all the time. In the cold temps the snow was very low moisture light snow hence the dust on crust remark. I am told that we might get 10 cms out of tonight's cycle which would be good as today's snow didn't really accumulate to any great extent. The only problem is that what we are going to get will be light and dry whilst what we  really want is something a bit wet and heavy particularly low down but hey - I'll take anything we get and be grateful.

My first day on the DPS Wailer 112 Pures was just as good as I had hoped. The only draw back was that because they skied so light and fast I tended to throw down hard every where I went so that by the end of the day I was pretty well knackered. Of course having edges was a plus and I did push it hard on some hard ice surfaces to see how the skis performed and I was not disappointed. A definite eleven out of ten as far as I was concerned.

We went to the Old Side and cut first tracks out to Snake Ridge which was soft and filled in on top and a bit firm lower down in Gorby Gap which was dust covered bumps. We hit Boom and Boom Ridge which like everything was soft on top and firm bumps below, before heading out the try Gorby Bowl. It was the first time this year I had skied Gorby all the way down and it was ok if a bit aldery in the mid section and the ski out through the waterfall was decidedly a bit technical in places.

After that it was Boom, Boom Ridge, Linda's, Cedar Ridge twice and bear Chutes, All exits were through Kangaroo which was a little icy in places but no problem as long as you dropped to the cat track on the chutes on the far skiers left. In summary great soft skiing up top and icy bumps low down,

After lunch we headed for the New Side and much the same could have been said about conditions there. Cougar Glades, Stag Leap, Touque Chutes, Spinal Tap. Surprise Trees, Anaconda Glades, Bootleg Glades etc were all ok soft snow on top albeit in some poor viz before becoming hard and bumpy although with a thin dust covering of the new snow lower down.

Only two runs warrant special mention -
Siberia Ridge - this was good snow and even less tracked and deeper today. I think it just gets left alone which is why it is so soft and deep.
Triple Trees - the first pitch just beyond Surprise Trees is soft and deep with many untracked lines and no one can work out why it is so much better than Surprise. My own view is that most people don't fancy the push back round Trespass Trail and so leave it to those few of us who are stupid enough to give it a go.

Last run was Skydive which totally unsurprisingly skied soft and mellow in the top and hard icy bumps in the final pitch. We still think that either the lower section is getting better or we are getting better at skiing that icy pitch - it would be nice to think it was the latter.

Quite a few of us got in the Griz for beers. The view was that we will get 10 cms of dry snow out of this cycle and looking out of the window I don't see anything to contradict that, The longer term forecast is most uncertain so lets just take one day at a time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Day 54 Happy Groundhog Day

To those who don't know Groundhog Day is not just the title of a Bill Murray movie but also a real living and breathing event here in Canada and the Northern States of America where groundhogs are used to predict the likely length of the current winter. Today there was no consensus with some groundhogs saying it will be an early spring and other forecasting a long winter - it all depends on whether or not they see their shadow.  Over in Manitoba one of the poor little brutes was found to be dead when they pulled it from their burrow (or whatever they live in) so god alone knows what that means for the weather. I did occur to me that America has to be the only country where a large number of people would refuse to believe what scientists say about the weather (global warming) but are quite prepared to listen to what a rodent has to say on the subject.

Keen followers of this blog will remember that today I was demoing the pure versions of my DPS Wailers 112s as the old ones (after 200 days) are rather on the way home. The really bad news was that the pures are a much lighter faster turning ski as you would expect from pure carbon fibre skis and performed well all day. This is bad news as I had hoped that the skies would be no better than my hybrids and I could just do a like for like replacement. As it was the pures were way better so tonight I had no choice but to fork out the thick edge of 1800 bucks for a new pair of arguably the best skis in the world - including bindings and tax. I tested them all day in some pretty marginal and sketchy conditions (which of course we know officially don't exist on the hill) and they out performed my best expectations.

It was -10 on the way to the hill and overcast.During the day temps rose to-3 at the base and about -5 up the hill. The conditions were a sun cloud mix which generally gave some very varied light conditions. Particularly when the sun came out through clouds and you were skiing  a shadow slope in dissipated white light you were skiing light so flat that there was no chance of seeing any terrain features before you hit them. As you would expect with no new snow the upper mountain remained in good soft shape although things are getting pretty tracked up and packed in snow. The lower mountain remained as some soft snow on top of last Friday's rain crust which was just about getting to bullet proof boiler plate and will stay that way until we get some significant precip which doesn't look like any time soon.

We went to the New Side as it was important to test the demo skis against conditions that we were used to. Our first couple of loops were through Gun Bowl and Surprise Trees which were tough skiing in very flat light and a rather hard and bumpy low down. After that we hit Stag Leap which was good soft skiing to the final pitch which was very sketchy ice.

Next was Knot chutes/Anaconda 2/Bootleg Glades which all skied ok in hard packed powder before hitting the lower ice line. The ski out on Gilmar Trail was actually much better than it has been and I fact the whole lower hill seemed much less icy although that may just be a function of having skies with actual edges.

After that I hiked Lone Fir as it had been pretty sketchy yesterday and I wanted to test the skis. It was way more sketchy and the skis performed well all the way down to Freeway and even the final drop on to the cat track skied ok. I had intended to go to lunch but found Polar Peak open in not too good light and I could not resist the chance to test the skies in the mixed deep snow/breakable ice and they performed well in Papa Bear, Crusty and again in Papa Bear. Final run before a late lunch was Skydive which unsurprisingly was good on top and icy in the final pitch.

After lunch we went to Siberia Ridge where perhaps we found the best snow on the hill which was still soft and only lightly tracked - I think people overlook this part of the hill. We then went up Polar Peak for several loops in Papa bear and Crusty alternatively where the light was much improved and the skiing although a bit marginal in ice and crust was a lot of fun.

We had run down Cougar Glades which was very good packed in hard snow and then another run down lower Stag leap which was bumpy then icy and good tough skiing. We just had time to catch the last lift up Polar and then rip the chutes, followed by Currie Powder and Gilmar Trail to get us back up Timber just in time for a final loop. Actually we made such good time that we could side step out to Mitchy Chutes for a final drop to White Pass load which was very soft and only a bit scratchy in the choke.

Final run of course was Skydive which skied just like it has since last Fridays rain event but seemed a bit easier in the final pitch - perhaps we are just getting used to ugly icy conditions. No beers as we had some skis to buy - Simon was buying his demo Rossi Super 7s from Ski Base as well. The guys in Straight Line were as good as ever and mounted my new skis while I had a few beers in the Kodiak Lounge and then it was time for celebratory pint and burger for 10 bucks at the Northern.

No new snow in the forecast so it looks like my new skis will be in for as baptism of fire tomorrow - lets see.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Day 53 no new snow and rather scratchy

Yup. no new snow overnight so we had just what we had yesterday but affected by falling temps and bit of skier traffic. Actually there was very little skier traffic as except for few kids on the lower hill there was hardly anyone on the hill. In the bar tonight I was speaking to buddies and they had hit out into to the side country as far as Outer Mongolia on one side and Ridge 2000 on the other. If the lack of new snow keeps up I can see myself joining them sometime this week.

On the way to the hill it was -7 and on the way back tonight about -3. It was a sun cloud mix all day but with temps as low as they were there was no sun damage even in the direct sunlight. Up on top it remained cold and I noticed at the White Pass load in the afternoon it was still -7. On one of my many trips up Polar Peak (of which more later) I was told that the temp at the top was -10 on the mercury but with 25 klick winds and 100% humidity which by my calculations gave us something south of -20 allowing for windchill - it certainly felt like it around tower 8 on the Polar chair.

I went to the New Side as I didn't think there would be much worth trashing on the Old Side. Reports from buddies who started over there and ended up pretty quickly on the New Side tended to confirm this was a good call. It was immediately apparent that even with no new snow there had been a bit of wind sift that continued throughout the day. First drop of many down Lift Line to the White Pass load confirmed that we had a bit of sifted dust on chunky skied up snow mixed with a slick icy base. I could almost end here and now as that was more or less the story of the day everywhere we went.

We did a few loops in White Pass through Gun Bowl, Quite Right, Knot Chutes and Surprise Trees all of which skied ok on a hard icy base. Our day then proceeded as -

Decline - really good soft skiing in the top two sections but hard icy bumps under and inadequate layer of soft snow in the lower part. We now appear to have reversal of fortunes in that the the lower part of Decline which was the best of the Big 3 is now the worst and Stag Leap which was the worst is now the best although still not very good. Skydive remains as somewhere between the other two both geographically and in terms of how easy the the skiing is low down.

Cougar Glades/ Stag Leap - Cougar was tracked and so bit technical in the tight sections but Stag skied well down to the final pitch and then didn't completely suck even there.

Polar Peak - next time up I found Polar Peak was open with lots of condition warnings. These were totally justified as the chutes were crusty hard snow which at least did take and edge and patches of quite severe ice in between. Just as with yesterday the Clown Chutes were the best skiing with soft deep snow and the entrance just about as mellow as I can remember it. After several loops of the chutes and Clown Chutes I headed for lunch.

Lone Fir - the lunch run was Lone Fir which is getting decidedly scratchy in the chute. Underneath of course it was soft and mellow and this held all the way down to Freeway with some great soft bump skiing.

After lunch I was back up Polar for more loops. the viz in the afternoon was just as it had been in the morning. Rolling cloud came and went so some runs were fantastic clear viz and other were really groping down in thick fog - the joys of alpine skiing in Fernie.

After a few loops I just had to run to base because it was so cold on top. I did so throughbCougar Glades and Stag Leap which skied just like before. After another Polar loop in deteriorating light I ran down Decline which again was fantastic and then dropped into Window Chutes which were very mellow if a bit firm but got very icy in the final choke getting out.

I dropped down Siberia Ridge and as anticipated found good lightly track snow down to the grooming in lower Sib Ridge which started just about where the icy crap line would have begun. Just time for one last run up Polar and drop of Papa Bear in what was now very flat light but with the surface still firm in places and icy in others. We looped to base through Currie Glades and Gilmar Trail where the light was very flat due to the reflected sunlight from the far side of the valley.

Last run was Skydive and just two of us had a rather gentle run down (by our standards) after a pretty tough day. A couple of beers in the bar as I am under restrictions with Lynda in the UK and me driving. I went down town to the ever helpful Straight Line to fix a demo on the DPS Wailer RP2 112s Pures. I currently have the Hybrids that are 200 days old and could do with being retired and I want to see if the Pures are worth the extra money before I buy. See tomorrow's blog for a full report, or my totally biased opinion if you prefer. Some people are surprised I should be demoing big skies in the current conditions. My answer is that these are exactly the conditions you have to demo them in. No point in trying skis on a big powder day, you could strap two planks of wood to your feet and have a good time then. The real test is how they work in these marginal conditions and that is what I intend to find out.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Day 52 a short day for me

First of all an apology for yesterday's blog. To make it clear I am not apologising for the sentiments expressed regarding the lift break downs, I still back my views there 100%. No, I am apologising (stupid spell check on this lap top should realise that apologise is spelled with and s an not a z - as indeed is realise) for the drunken and rambling nature of the post. This was caused by the celebrations of Lynda's last day in Canada for about 10 days as she had to head back to the UK today to attend to some family stuff and we all felt we should send her on her way in style. Unfortunately the result was a less than coherent post last night.

The reason for today being a short one for me was that I had to run Lynda to Cranbrook for her flight and missed the middle of the day. As it was I skied until 11 and then ran her to the airport and was back on the hill by 1:30. This meant that I only had a four and a half hour day today but as a buddy pointed out to me many people (perhaps the majority) would look on that as full day's skiing.

Overnight there was only 1 cm of snow but actually there appeared to be bit of wind sift to make the most of the dusting. Temps on the way to the hill were -5 and driving back tonight they were -3. During the day base temps did rise to just below zero but up the hill things stayed well below that and I noticed about -6 at the Polar load late afternoon. It was cloudy and a little socked in on top but during the day the cloud broke a bit and we even had some short periods of sunshine but luckily not enough to do any damage to the snow. I am always amazed at the number of (well you pick a name for them) who go on about how nice it is when the sun comes out. Fact - the direct sunlight creates a crust on the snow that doesn't go away and out of the direct sunlight you get flat light that makes skiing very tough - sun is the enemy of good skiing in Fernie.

We went to the New Side in the hope of getting Polar Peak but had to make do with a few loops of Knot Chutes and Surprise Trees which were soft snow on an icy base and ok skiing. We ran to base through Anaconda (nice fresh blow in to be had in the chutes) and Bootleg which was bit chunkier than yesterday but still ok. It was time to leave the hill and as I was skiing off I heard that Polar was just about to open, well that's how things go. I took the exit down Skydive which just like yesterday was great in the top and pretty challenging mixed snow and ice bumps in the bottom.

The drive to Cranbrook was uneventful and temps got up to +1 but I suspect that was due to getting in the direct sunlight on the tarmac surface of Highway 3. By the time I got back to Fernie it was -1 at the base and things were in good shape.

Polar Peak was open so up I went. I have to say I will never understand people who get to the top of White Pass, see Polar open and then don't go up. No one knows the conditions without testing them so why wouldn't you do that ? If they suck you don't go up again and if they are awesome you can loop them having great skiing. As it turned out today the conditions varied from awesome to really sucking and that could be in the space of a couple of turns.

I ran 3 or 4 loops of Papa Bear and found the best snow in the lee of the ridge on skiers right. Skiers left was bit icy in places. I decided to give Grandpapa Bear ago and it was untracked and awesome deep snow in the top. Two turns later I was on breakable ice crust which wouldn't take an edge. I just manged to bail into Papa although I was told that if I had persisted things did get better. On the next lift a patroller buddy told me that they had just opened the Clown Chutes and they were good. At the entrance I thought that maybe he was having a laugh as it was hard crusty and icy. I kept faith and jumped into Crusty Chute blind and found soft deep untracked powder in the chute. It took 4 more laps before I saw anyone else's tracks in there.

I took Mamma Bear as my final drop and it was mostly soft snow but still some icy patches to catch you out. I hiked Lone Fir and the chute skied ok but not as good as the past few days. The cushion underneath of course was soft and deep, great skiing. I tracked across to Spinal Tap and found it a whole lot tougher than yesterday - some of it was soft and other parts were hard ice and there were no obvious visual signs (at least to me) which were which.

We had time for a White Pass loop which we took as Knot Chutes (still good skiing but with the now familiar soft snow/ice mix) and then The first pitch of Triple trees which was super and deep and untracked in many places. Final run was Skydive with 4 of us and as before it was good in the top and hard icy work low down.

With Lynda gone I am having to drive myself so drinking was severely curtailed in the Griz after skiing. When I said I was looking for ways of reducing my beer costs after skiing I didn't mean by drinking less. No real snow in the outlook so I guess it will be more of the same - not entirely inappropriate considering the day after tomorrow is Ground Hog Day - not bad two movie titles in one sentence ! Head for the hills.