Saturday, February 27, 2016

Day 79 a very warm day - and I mean seriously warm

Now this winter (if you can call it that) we have got used to some pretty warm and un-seasonal temps but today was off the scale even by this season's bizarre standards. A private weather station at the foot of the hill showed that we were getting temps of +8 even at about 5 in the morning. By the start things had cooled to +4 but still everything got soft and mushy and stayed that way most of the day. It was overcast and even with some light rain at the start but that cleared and we were just left with cloudy conditions and the odd flurry of grauppel on top which fell as rain at the base right up until things brightened up to bluebird conditions late afternoon. The lack of direct sunlight was irrelevant as the atmospheric warming affected all surfaces whether or not they would have been in the sun.

By the middle of the day we had temps of +7 at the base, +4 in White Pass and even +1 at the Polar Load later in the day. On the way back from the hill it was still +4 so I guess what I am saying is that it was super warm everywhere on the hill with no regard as to the aspect of any slope and things got very soft all over as the day wore on.

We went to the Old Side and tried Cedar Ridge which seemed to have some mushy untracked snow to no great depth and it was good until about half way down. Much the same could be said of New Lift line, Linda's and Boom Ridge which all became very soft and soggy in the lower sections. An honourable mention has to go to Boom Guts which skied really well particularly where the skier traffic had pounded in the snow over the past few days. Returns were always through Kangaroo which had softened to the point of becoming slow mushy bumps which were very mellow skiing but part of my mind couldn't help but think what it will be like when it sets up.

With everything on the Old Side starting to get too soft we headed to the New Side. Lift Line and Puff Trees skied ok in the soft conditions and with White Pass socked in at the top and therefore Polar Peak closed we did a couple of runs out along the Reverse Traverse. First drop was Alpha Centauri into Concussion which was a crunchy base at first but became very soft and mellow lower down. Our next loop which was our final before a quite late lunch we hit Easter Bowl which was soft snow of a firm base and at least until that point was the best skiing we had encountered on the hill.

After lunch we went back to the New Side and this time tried Tom's/Barracuda under the Skydive Traverse which was just about ok skiing on a very variable surface, Next loop we tried Decline which skied well down the the Megasaurus trail but after that it just got softer so that by the lower section it was just pure elephant snot.

We had intended a final loop out the Easter but we found that Polar Peak had opened shortly after 3 in the afternoon. We also noted two casualties requiring attention from patrol at the bottom of Papa Bear which must be something of a record for the short time for skiers getting injured after the opening of Polar. We were informed that the Polar chair would stay open until late because of its late opening and it would close just before 4. We looped Papa Bear which had some soft snow in it but was rather variable skiing surface as you might expect. I had a narrow escape when a boarder lost it in the top and rag dolled down the chute missing me by a few inches - actually going over the backs of my skis. I don't care how good a skier you are, if you get hit like that you are going to get hurt and I was very lucky.

For a last run we dropped Papa bear (I went last with no one behind me) and then went to Skydive. The top of Skydive was quite firm and it was starting to get crisp with some crust as it set up all the way down to the final pitch when it started to get soft and went back to the mush we had been used to all day. We went for some well deserved beers and the bar was not crowded as there really wasn't the numbers on the hill today that we have seen for the past couple of weekends.

I reflected in the bar that I don't mind finishing a day's skiing knackered if I have had some awesome skiing. I don't even mind it if I have had some dreadful skiing - there is a certain satisfaction to beating bad conditions. I do have a problem with a day like today when you really have to ski hard and at your best just to get some average skiing. The forecast seems to be for a cooling trend with precip so we have to keep or fingers crossed.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Day 78 much more spring skiing

Yes, today was really a full on spring skiing day with temps starting and -7 and rising to +7 at the base by mid afternoon. It was a bluebird day with no snow and in general terms exactly the kind of day we would love in late March but in mid February I personally have my doubts.

We went to the Old Side and looped Cedar Ridge,New Lift line. King Fir, Boom Ridge, Boom Bowl, Bear Cave Chutes etc. We stayed on all the north facing slopes and the skiing was excellent in some crisp un-sun affected snow. I did my good deed on Boom Ridge by skiing a lost ski down to a guy who had stacked it from quite a long way up so I am expecting something good to be happening to me quite soon under the rules of karma.

I made 6 returns through Kangaroo which was skiing just about ok for the Roo but did have a lot of moose tracks in there. Maybe it was a lot of kangaroo tracks in the Moose, I am not sure - just kidding, We did consider pushing out to Snake Ridge but we were unconvinced that it would be any better than what we had been skiing so we just kept rolling the Old Side up until lunch. We ran down through Bear Chutes which were in great shape being out of the sun.

In the afternoon we went to the New Side where temps were +5 at the White Pass load and only just minus temps in Polar Peak. After a few laps involving the Knot Chutes (Jim) which was super soft we went to Polar peak for a few laps. Papa Bear and Mama Bear were great skiing in soft firm snow which was taking an edge. As always the penalty for making a mistake up there was a severe slide from top to bottom.

We had a couple of run to base and I think that Easter was the best run in North facing snow which held a nice edge. The whole theme of the day was to either hit slopes early if they were south facing and starting to soften or north facing later in the day when you wanted something that hadn't been sun affected, For the most part we were successful.

The summary for the day was that things got very hot and in the direct sunlight the surfaces became very soft. Away from the sun the surfaces stayed in ok shape even on the lower hill. Tomorrow may be a different story.

Last run was Skydive which skied ok all the way down although I seemed to be gifted with not finding the best line particularly in the top. tomorrow we may have some precip on a cooling trend but who knows what we might actually get.

Day 77 dare I say yet another short report

In my own defence I would say that tonight's report will not be short because I am dashing off somewhere. Quite the opposite, we have been up to the Rusty Edge for some food with friends and it will be short because it is late, I have drunk a lot of beer, not all that much changed on the hill and I am having trouble remembering exactly what happened and in what order. A footnote to last night was that we got back very late from the Riders game which they lost 4-3 in double overtime which of course was much closer than I expected but play off hockey being what it is, it was still a loss.

Overnight there was no new snow and it was cold with starting temps in the valley of -9. It was a bluebird day and valley temps rose to +4 and even at the Polar Load it was only just minus temps all day long although the cold winds in the Polar chutes kept the snow in good condition. Elsewhere things warmed up in the direct sunlight so that we had softening in the Knot Chutes, Concussion, Gun Bowl and Skydive Traverse - sorry for all the New Side references but that is where I spent my day.

Over all the hill became much harder and chunkier than yesterday and generally much tougher skiing. this was evidenced by the very high number of casualties that I witnessed on the hill as people discovered that there is rather more to this sport of skiing than they had first thought. The first indicator was Lift Line which skied tough and chunky with a bit of wind sift and remained the same all day with every drop to the White Pass load.

I went to Polar Peak and found that the openings were just like yesterday with limited access to the Polar Chutes. What was available had stiffened up to being some very firm under base with great wind sift and a few smooth icy patches, Not the greatest skiing in the world but actually rather easy flat skiing but with some very severe consequences for getting it wrong. I spent a long time in the morning on alternate loops of Papa Bear (as described above) and the Crusty Clown chute which was very mellow and deep after a slightly tight entrance.

Mama Bear was a good start as run to base with some very soft deep snow in the top. I tried Stag leap as my lower run but was rather disappointed. Yesterday this had been great soft skiing and today it was no more than ok with some chunky stuff - I guess that's how things go. I bumped into a buddy and we tried the Knot Chutes (Tight Knot) and Surprise Trees that skied remarkably well in softening conditions.

After that I was up Polar aging for the same alternating loops. Just before lunch we encounter two ownerless skis in Papa Bear only to find the owner had taken a header over the cliff band. Ski Patrol attended I don't think the guys injuries were life threatening. After doing our good deed of giving the skis to the buddy of the injured guy we looped one more time then dropped Easter Bowl for lunch which was very good and un- sun affected as a north facing slope.

After lunch Lynda joined me and it was back up Polar Peak for a few more alternating loops which skied just like before following which we did another Easter Bowl which similarly skied firm but taking a nice edge on mellow bumps. We went back for a couple of final alternating loops on Polar and found that on our way down there was the same patroller attending another top to bottom rag doll casualty in exactly the same place as we has seen him attending the skiless guy in the morning - coincidence or what ?

We ran to base through Decline which skied very well all the way down in soft snow and I couldn't help but notice that in the grooming under the run there were only two tracks from whole of the day's traffic, that's a sign of how quiet things are. It was 4 o'clock and time for Skydive. patrol had promised us an exhibition of blowing White Pass cornice just after last chair but the high call on their time from 10-40's (injuries) meant that we didn't get the expected show. Skydive was good soft snow most of the way down but the final pitch was bit scratchy - 6 of us were in attendance.

Looks like more of the same for the next 24 hour at least which looks a bit desperate to me but at least it isn't rain..

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Day 76 another quick report

The reason for today's quick report is that we are off to watch a hockey game. The Riders lost 6-0 last night in their first round playoff game against the Nitros so we are hoping for something better tonight from our home game but to be honest I am not over optimistic. None the less we will have to get there early as this is play off hockey.

Overnight there was no new snow and it was cold and clear. The result was that on the way to the hill this morning we had temps of -9 but a bluebird day all day so that base temps were up at +4 for a time around early afternoon. The good news was that we appeared to have dodged the bullet on any warm up as a cool wind kept everything in very good shape. Even on the last run skiing out over the top of Concussion where you would normally expect to find sun softened snow starting to set up there were no problems. the snow just stayed in good shape all day.

We went to the New Side as we had been promised openings off Polar Peak. We were not disappointed as we got the Currie Head Wall which I didn't ski as I was skiing the Polar Chutes with Lynda which was her first time of skiing them since her op - next snow cycle I will be up there. Polar Peak was open and due to a very clever opening by ski patrol involving closing left side Papa Bear and Barely Legal and Grand Papa Bear as they were so icy we actually got great deep soft skiing in all the other chutes. Great work by ski patrol and some really clever thinking on where the good snow would be. Perhaps more people would have been happier if the lower parts of Shale Slope had been closed as it was icy and really sucked just like yesterday but these things always need a bit of fine tuning.

We looped the chutes over and over again getting great skiing in Papa, Mama and Baby Bear chutes which were all soft and deep skiing. We had one run to base through Alpha Centauri and another through Easter Bowl which skied very mellow with soft bumps before it was time for lunch.

After lunch we looped more times off Polar running to base through Decline/Window Chutes which were good soft bumps and only a bit scratchy in the chokes and Stag Leap which skied very soft and deep all the way down.

We had load of skiing in White Pass through Knot Chutes which remain in good shape and then it was time for Skydive. Just like all of the Big 3 it was very good soft skiing until the final pitch which was a little scratchy. In summary it was great bluebird day in really good snow all over the hill and particularly in the Polar Chutes which have been closed for some time.

Time for the good old hockey game.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Day 75 yet another pretty good day

Overnight temps dropped so that we had -7 on the way to the hill this morning. There was no new snow overnight and by the time we got to the hill it was -3 and with temps rising fast it got to +3 at the base during the day. Up the mountain things stayed a bit cooler particularly in the cooling wind and my best guess it that things stayed a degree or two below freezing all over the upper mountain which kept the snow in pretty good condition. It was overcast for the morning and early afternoon which did sock in the very top of Polar Peak, although things cleared by late afternoon to give bluebird conditions. As I write this temps are down to -5 on the deck in clear skies so I guess we are getting some typical high pressure spring conditions over the next few days.

I was showing a guest round the hill during the morning so much time was spent on groomers in Lizard Bowl and Cedar Bowl which were all very good if you like that kind of thing. The only interesting skiing I had was in Bear Cave Chutes/New Lift Line which was soft mellow and easy, Boom Ridge which skied easy as soft bumps and Boomerang which was skiing soft and just about as mellow as I can remember. Of course I had a couple of trips through Kangaroo which was ok in the top and hard ugly icy bumps in the bottom, or as I would say perfect skiing conditions.

We went to the New Side to try our luck in Lift Line, Big Bang, Puff Trees and all runs in between which skiied well but with some scratchy patches. We had a few loops through White Pass and found that Knot Chutes were a bit scratchy after the Free Ski competition but Surprise Trees were skiing very well with lots of soft snow. It was time for lunch so I dropped via the top of Decline which skied very easily particularly along the sides and Window Chutes.We accessed them by the left hand side drop that was almost untracked and then some very mellow skiing even in the chokes which could almost be classed as easy.

After lunch we headed up Polar Peak as we thought that the head wall might be opened. We were told that it wasn't going to be opened today so we hit the Clown Chutes (Crusty and Side Show Bob) to get some deep soft skiing before heading out to Decline for a top to bottom one step in good soft snow conditions. On the head out we traversed under the Polar Chair to access the lower parts of Papa Bear, the traverse was ugly as sin but the chutes were very good with only a little wind slab.

Next loop round we traversed across the top of the Knot Chutes which were about as mellow as I can remember and dropped Cobra Rock which was a first this year for me. As always you spent so much time fighting the camber on the pitch it was difficult to get good turns in soft powder but we just about managed it and there was some very good skiing below the rock. The run to base was via Bootleg Glades which skied particularly well on the skiers right in the trees.

We went for a final run up Polar Peak and found Shale Slope open and had some very good untracked turns until we hit the hard breakable ice line. I took the opportunity to cut left into the lower Polar Chutes and once again got some great skiing. This time for a change we hit Easter bowl which was great soft bumps all the way down to the Freeway gully which had actually been groomed. We later discovered that the Currie Head Wall had opened at the very end of the day but we must have missed it by being distracted by the opening of Shale slope - very annoying but I am sure that we may get the head wall at some time tomorrow if we are patient.

We just had time for a White Pass loop through Knot Chutes (Jim) and Surprise Trees (still very good) before it was time for Skydive. Tonight I had one of those magic runs down Skydive where the bumps and terrain came at me at exactly the right intervals. The result was that I was able to rip the run way faster than normal although I am sure that tomorrow all the bumps will be in the wrong places and I will be back to checking and jumping my way down.

Another excellent evening drinking in the Griz and an even more excellent take away meal from the Cedar Garden, and it's not just the quantities that make me say that. A beer or two at the Kodiak Lounge while we waited for the meal delayed everything so hence the late report and apologies for that. Tomorrow looks like another sunny warm day in the valley and cool on top.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Day 74 a short day but a pretty good one

Today was short because I had to drive to Cranbrook to pick up our next guest in the morning and what with one thing and another I wasn't on the hill much before noon. We decided to ski all the way through to the finish without a break although Lynda did take a short lunch so she would be in good shape for her first Skydive a 4 o'clock which she was.

Overnight we had another 7 cms of snow which pushed the base to 302 cms. it was time for the 3 metre party but as it was a Monday and not many of us here it was a rather subdued affair. Temps on the hill rose to +3 at the base and zero on top but with overcast conditions and a cold wind every thing stayed in great shape. As we left the hill it was +2 in the valley and although there were a couple of light flurries there was nothing to get excited about and I expect the next few days will give us no new snow and steadily warming conditions although I really hope not.

With limited time we went to the New Side and found the snow remarkably light and low in moisture and very deep in certain places as a result of wind activity. Polar Peak was open so up we went only to find that all the chutes were closed (including the Clown Chutes) and the only way down was the Coaster which was ok but not very exciting even in the marginal viz.

We looped down through Alpha Centauri which was lightly tracked and very soft as was Gilmar Gully below. After that we did a couple of White Pass loops which were good through the Gun Bowl as were all the options below. The next run to base was Cougar Glades which skied ok in the top but was rather sun affected in some of the open areas and had clearly slid in places lower down. We took the cat track to Stag Leap which skied really nicely and soft all the way down.

Next loop was Decline which being slightly more north facing had not been sun affected and skied very nice and soft. There was enough untracked snow on the side of the runs to allow the long sweeping GS turns in which you hold in the fall line for a long time before crossing the central ridge - great fun.

On the way out to the bridge at the end of the Reverse Traverse we had noticed that Currie Creek had looked more or less untouched so next time through we dropped it. Great untracked skiing (perhaps the best of the day) was to be had all the way through the creek and even the exit wasn't too scratchy.

Next time up I noticed that the Clown Chutes had been opened on Polar Peak. I learned later that they had been open for some time which was a bit annoying as having found them closed this morning I assumed they would be that way all day. I only had time for a drop of Crusty which skied soft and deep and even the entrance was just a straight forward drop in. I ran to base through High Saddle which I thought might be icy but turned out to be excellent soft edge to edge jumping all the way down. The skiing under the saddle was very soft and deep and you just had to avoid the blast trails which wasn't difficult as they were obvious with a lot of space in between.

We just had time for a quick White Pass loop and found the snow under the lift to be particularly soft and deep before it was time for Skydive. The conditions were about as mellow as I can remember and maybe that is why seven of us turned up for the run. It was a very easy soft snow run which made a pleasant change from some of the really ugly icy runs we have had there at the end of the day this season. We went for beers in the Griz to celebrate a 3 metre base and Lynda hitting her first 4 o'clock Skydive of the season.

Footnote - some of you will find that a number of people on the hill are addressing me as "Your Holiness" over the next few days. The reason for this is that when a guest arrived about a month ago I commented that due to his general lack of fitness there was more chance of me becoming the next Pope than him making Skydive at 4 o'clock, Well today he made it for the first time, an event not unconnected with the fact that he didn't want to be beaten to it by Lynda in my opinion. I am happy to be proved wrong and freely admit that he really is an awesome athlete, at least when measured against the standards of a post operative female senior.

Lets see what happens tomorrow.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Day 73 the return of the Big 3

Now yesterday we had the whole of the Currie Chutes and the Reverse Traverse closed so despite the poaching which I mentioned in yesterday's report there had been very little traffic out into the Big 3 since the 35 cm snow dump of the night before. While we are on the subject let me return to a favourite rant of mine regarding the collective name for the three runs visible from the base area. They are not, repeat not called the fingers - this is a stupid name invented a few short years ago and only used by morons to describe these runs. They are, and always have been, called the Big 3 and if you don't believe me go and ask ski patrol. I only return to this subject because I heard the F word used several times today by people on their way out to ski the Big 3.

We had no real new snow over night but at least winter conditions reasserted themselves so that it was -5 on the deck this morning when we woke up and stayed that way on the drive to the hill. On our first lift up there seemed to be a bit of an inversion but as the day wore on normality established itself and we had maybe +2 at the base and -2 on top. At first it looked like we would get a bluebird day but luckily it clouded over in the afternoon so the snow stayed in good shape. Once again I had to endure idiots saying how lovely it was to get sunny conditions as if this was something good, rather than just the conditions that destroy the very surface we need to have to be able to ski. I suppose if you are a weekend skier and don't care what it will be like tomorrow it's just about understandable.

As I said I intended to ski the Big 3 so we headed to the New Side. The Knot Chutes and everything underneath were closed for the Junior Free Ski competition and stayed that way all day which meant that Anaconda, Triple Trees and Surprise Trees were all unobtainable. The Reverse Traverse was open but the Saddles were closed and stayed that way all day. Initially Polar Peak was closed but it did open later in the day of which more later. With all skiing taking part in the same general area the day panned out as,
Cougar Glades - A few tracks in the top which soon disappeared and after that it was awesome untracked lines trough the trees. I hit the left hand exit chute for only about the third time this year and found it very deep and untracked if getting a little soft in the last couple of turns.
Lone Fir - this had been closed on the earlier loop but was now open and I was about the third person to side step up it. The chute was ok but had slid out in the bottom part so the exit was edge to edge crusty ice jumping. The cushion below was sensational soft skiing all the way down to Freeway with hardly any tracks due to the closure of high Lizard Bowl.
Stag Leap - great soft deep skiing through the trees in the top and some nice lightly tracked line in the run itself.
Decline/Window Chutes - the snow in Decline was hardly tracked on the sides so you could push your skis in the fall line and hold them there for a long time. Window Chutes skied ok in deep snow and even the choke still had enough snow to cover the icy base.
Polar Peak - the Polar Chair opened but with only the Coaster open ,we didn't even get the Clown Chutes. It took me two runs to establish that what wasn't groomers was good powder away from the wind affected surfaces and either wind slab or ice crust where the wind had got to it. It didn't take me long to work out that there was better skiing to be had.
Touque Chutes/Spinal Tap - fantastic deep skiing through the trees and Spinal Tap itself had some very deep turns in the creek bed. Lunch.
The Brain - this had a few tracks but there are so many lines in there that you can always find untracked snow. The hock off the nose above the Megasaurus Trail was landed in such deep snow that you could take a lot of air and still have a mellow landing.
Namless Trees - these are the trees to the skiers right of Skydive and as everyone tells me they don't have a name, well, they do now. It was a bit tight in the top but fantastic hardly tracked tree skiing through to about half way down when I cut left back into Skydive, I was not sure we had enough untracked deep snow to attempt the creek bed exit so I played it safe.
Cougar Glades - still many untracked area although starting to set up where the snow had been exposed to direct sunlight. With my buddy Thomas we tried to get down to the old logging trail just to skiers right of Stag and although we eventually succeeded it was only after some very serious bush whacking among the alders. The snow itself was soft and deep and mostly untracked.

Just before last run there was time for a very mellow White Pass loop which in many places would be considered awesome but here in today's conditions was just considered ok. Skydive of course was sensational and deep most of the way down with just a couple of scratchy turns at the end and made a perfect finish to the day.

We had beers in the Griz wit buddies then home for an early night. I am picking up a guest from Cranbrook at 9 tomorrow morning so it will be a late start. Lets hope I don't miss a powder start which is an outside possibility looking at the forecasts.