Friday, April 8, 2016

Day 120 seriously hot

Yes were had been prepared for a hot day today but what we got was really hot. It was a blue bird day from start to finish and the snow was disappearing so fast that we all were grateful that it only has to hold out two more days which it just might about make.

Overnight temps got down to -2 in the valley but on top they did not get below zero. On the way to the hill it was +4 and getting warmer all the time. During the day we had temps of +18 at the base and +15 up the hill. As we drove away from the hill it had got up to +23 as we sat on the deck drinking beer.

We went to the Old Side and as usual got to Sunny Side Shoulder fast and found it softening as was China Wall. We did a couple more laps of Sunny Side and ran the chutes to the left of China Wall which were soft and good fun between the twigs,

For the rest of the morning we looped New Lift Line, Kangaroo, Boom Ridge and Boom Guts many times and they were all starting to get soft and in some cases too soft as we skied them. By lunch time we were skiing pure mush on these lines and tried Buck Shot which we hoped was also soft but was actually pretty hard in the shade. We rode the Boom lift with a patroller buddy and heard on his radio that the whole New Side was shutting down due to the surfaces becoming unstable - Polar Chutes, Concussion, County Line and Knot Chutes had all gone red so it seemed to us that we should stay with the Old Side which we did for the rest of the morning.

We lunched at Rusty Edge with their excellent offer of beer and a steak sandwich for 14 bucks. Yes, we actually drank beer at lunch time for only the second time this year. After a very sunny lunch we were back up the Old Side for more very very mushy Boom Ridge, Boom Guts, New Lift Line and Kangaroo skiing, all several times. The only run that was any different was the classic Cedar Ridge Line off North Ridge which was rather icy in the top even in these conditions but became softer lower down. Last run was Boom Guts and down to base.

We went to the locals deck for more beers in the sun and it was very hot indeed. In summary we had summer skiing all day and the snow is disappearing fast. Two more days to go and some fun events coming up this weekend. The water splash on the skiers left of Boom Chair did seem to be good preparation for the Slope Soaker on Sunday.

Out on my deck it is still +23 on the mercury and looking out towards Mount Hosmer I can see the first real Ghost Rider of the year forming on the cliff face. Summer is really on the way.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Day 119 a great day's spring skiing

Now, as every one knows I am not the greatest fan of spring skiing, in fact I much prefer full on winter conditions however when you get to the second week in April even I have to face reality and accept that this is as good as it is going to get. Today it actually got very good despite the spring (some might say summer) temps that hit us.

After yesterday's spectacular Hot Dog Day drinking today (Hot Dog Boxing Day) was bound to be a bit quieter. Many regular faces were missing from the hill first thing and several stayed missing all day. We didn't get to the hill until about 9:30 which given the events of yesterday was something of a miracle.

It was a bluebird day and temps when we arrived at the base were already +3 and rising fast. It had frozen overnight so it was hard and icy in the shade before the sun hit it but as soon as the sun did hit everything softened so fast it was quite scary. By afternoon we were seeing temps of +16 at the base and even +10 at the Polar Load and bearing mind that these were temps in the shade - in the direct sunlight the temps could well have been 10 degrees higher, as I said, summer skiing.

We went to the Old Side and hit Sunny Side shoulder and China Wall both of which had just started to soften and what we got was not short of corn snow. The untracked skiing in Cedar around New Lift Line was surprisingly firm so we cut into Cedar Centre which was way softer. Kangaroo was open (at least the closed sign was turned round) and skied surprisingly soft until the last few turns and although navigation was a slight problem with holes appearing in the snow it was great soft bump skiing.

After that we tried Boom Ridge which was soft bumps and getting softer and skiing just about as well as I have ever experienced it. That set the scene for the morning with loops in Boom Guts, Cedar Ridge, Cedar Centre and Kanagroo but particularly Boom Ridge which we must have hit 5 times and was skiing so mellow with the soft bumps coming at you in perfect timing.

After Lunch we went up the New Side and with Lift Line closed we dropped Puff as we did all afternoon which was also soft easy bumps. We did a White Pass loop back through the Gun Bowl (soft and easy), Pillow Talk (taking a great edge) and Morgans Dilemma which was also skiing pretty easy.

Polar Peak was open and the Polar Chutes were available so we hit Papa Bear which was soft easy slow motion skiing. For the rest of the afternoon we looped Papa, Grand Papa and Barely Legal which were all skiing beautifully every time on soft snow although the rocks were starting to come through in places so the lines we had to thread were tighter in places than they had been. Our final run off the Peak was Spirit Bear for only the second time this year which was very tight in the chokes but in the conditions you could just drop the skis in the fall line and let them run. We dropped to base via Tom's run where we seemed to have got first tracks in the rather soft snow.

Last time up White pass we had a loop to kill so dropped the Knot Chutes which were soft but not excessively so and just rolled out through a very soft I bowl. Final run was Skydive which was perhaps the best skiing on the hill. I am not sure if it was hard getting softer or soft and starting to reform but the result was that the bumps had mostly gone, It was untracked and there was firm under base with a soft surface taking an edge on top. It got softer in some places and harder in others but over all it was excellent skiing, the best on the hill today.

So as we sat on the locals deck drinking beer in the very warm sun we contemplated a day where it was hard to think of a bad run we had taken and overall it was excellent spring skiing where ever we went.

Tomorrow is due to be even warmer and the lower hill in particular is going to struggle to stay in shape but with only three days to go we should just about make it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Day 118 Hot dog day

Just like I forecast last night it was very drunken day and has not got any better as we move into the evening.

It was overcast to start with and we had some wind but nowhere near as much wind as we had overnight which brought down several big trees particularly on the Old Side. It was a hard surface which softened steadily during the day so our early runs off places like Sunny Side shoulder were tough but fun.

At 11 Brad and me and Lynda met at the top of Timber in the Lost Boys Cafe to make our usual political point on Hot Dog Day. That point is that they have huge signs saying no alcohol is allowed on the hill and have very heavy handed security searching everyone going up the hill to make sure that you are not carrying beer but if you go to Lost Boys Cafe they are more than happy to serve you with as much beer as you can drink. Perhaps it's the cynic in me but I can't help but think that their willingness to waive the rules may have something to do with the fact that you are paying them 7 bucks for every beer you drink.

We tracked over to the Old Side and checked the beers we had buried yesterday and found that they were ok and where we had left them. We ran to lunch at Rusty Edge which was a Hot dog and more beer,

In the afternoon we picked up our beers and went to Wallaby for the party. The sun had come out, the snow was soft and the beers were good and the jumps had a mellow landing. After way too much to drink we took the last run down lower Kangaroo which was very mellow and then to base through Boom Guts which skied ok even with loads of alcohol on board.

Many more beers on the deck as the sun set and things started to get warmer than they had been at any time during the day. A picture (Kevin, Lynda, Brad and me)is worth a thousand words

Day 117 happy Hot Dog Eve

Yes, to day is Hot Dog eve and tomorrow is Hot Dog day which I guess makes the day after Hot Dog Boxing Day but let's consider that on the day. Hot Dog day is the day when we celebrate the truly awful 1980's movie of the same name which in case anyone hasn't seen it is a mixture of skiing and soft pornography. We celebrated by dressing in our 1980's ski gear (always amazes me just how much my one piece shrinks each year just hanging in the closet) and skiing around the hill getting unbelievably drunk and pulling jumps and other stupid stunts at every opportunity. That is what tomorrow holds.

The reason I am giving this explanation tonight is that after tomorrows celebration it is quite possible that the blog will be incoherent, short or possibly even non existent. I offer my apologies in advance.

Today we were promised a warming trend which never really materialised and in fact on arriving in the locker room pretty well everyone commented that they needed to put on an extra layer. It had snowed on top over night with the official report calling for 4 cms which seemed about right. It was hard to tell as there had obviously been a major wind event overnight and the wind continued during the day so there were bare patches in some places and some substantial wind sift in others.

On the way to the hill it was +3 and overcast. We had hoped that the clouds would clear but if anything it became more overcast as the day went on. Things warmed a little on the Old Side first thing but by the middle of the day temps up in White Pass were only just over zero and it was not until later in the afternoon we saw temps at mid mountain rise to around +7. This range of temps and weather conditions led to a very varied set of skiing conditions not only from run to run but from turn to turn on any individual run.

We started on the Old Side and skied over to Wallaby as I had a small task to perform there ahead of tomorrow. Much of the Old Side was hard and icy and there was a cold wind blowing. Wallaby was ungroomed and starting to soften in the sun and was good skiing.  I needed to run to base to drop off my ruck sack and put on an extra layer so we dropped into Boomerang which was untracked. The conditions were such that where it appeared icy it had in fact softened and in the wind sift it was slabby and grippy - just about the toughest first tracks I have skied.

We went to the New Side and found Lift Line open and with soft new snow. After that we started looping White Pass through the Gun Bowl which was soft snow and virtually untracked due to the absence of crowds (or actually anyone at all much) on the hill today. Quite Right and Pillow Talk all skied well. After a while Knot Chutes opened and we skied them all the way across from Tight Knot to Jim and back again. Below that we had the I bowl, Surprise Trees (several ways) and Fiery Hornet all untracked until we hit them. The snow varied from softening crust to wind sift and back again and actually was pretty good skiing.

Polar Peak was closed as were the Saddles so we ran to a late lunch via the Big 3. Skydive had one track in it so we had first tracks in Decline which were very mellow and soft down to the Megasaurus Trail and after that things got very mushy and sticky to the point where it just about qualified as elephant snot.

After lunch we went back up the New Side as the Currie Chutes had looked pretty good and untracked earlier. We dropped Tom's Run or thereabouts and found that we had been right, it was soft but not  too much and was untracked all the way down to Gilmar Trail. We had intended more New Side loops but the Timber Chair was broken down so we went to the Old Side. The sunny Side Shoulder and China Wall were good soft skiing and I ran back down to Timber to find it was still broken down. I had a choice to keep running back to base to check on Timber and miss out on good skiing or just accept that it was to be an Old Side afternoon, I chose the latter.

Bear Cave Chutes, New Lift Line and Cedar Centre were all soft and off the groomer mostly untracked. Kangaroo was still excellent soft bumps although the melting snow did raise some navigation issues. Boomerang was very sticky even down in the guts. Last run was up Bear then down North Ridge (very soft groomed skiing) and then Boom Ridge. The ridge was great soft bumps skiing for the most part but in some places the new soft snow had tufted to the point of making it slow and a bit tricky. The push to base along Cedar Trail was probably the hardest part of the run.

Only time for a couple of beers in the Griz before we headed out for a meal at the Bridge Bistro with Brad and family hence tonight's late report. All set for a big Hot Dog day tomorrow in what should be warmer conditions.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Day 116 a New Side day

In contrast to yesterday when I skied exclusively on the Old side today all my runs were off the New Side. I wasn't sure that the skiing would be better on the New Side (although it was pretty good) but I felt I had to make a change just for the appearance of things. As it was we might have had the New Side all to ourselves as we hardly saw anyone all morning and I wonder if skier numbers on the hill overall exceeded 50 from the reports I hear.

It was forecast to be similar to yesterday at least to start with being slightly overcast and warm but with the possibility of precip later in the day. Things started off as planned with temps of +4 on the way to the hill after an overnight cool down which hardly amounted to freeze, at least down here in the valley. During the morning it became more overcast but continued to warm until just before lunch when we got precip which fell initially as snow on top and then rain all the way down the hill. Just as we went to lunch it really started to rain hard, and I do mean hard, so that we extended out lunch hour to an hour and a half to wait for the rain to stop. When we went out in the afternoon things had cooled with temps of only +2 up the mountain and there was evidence of a cm or two of wet snow at the top. All afternoon the rain came and went and it did just about come down white at the very top but it was a close call. By the end of the day it back to raining quite hard in the valley with temps of +5 and occasional hail - who knows what this might be falling as at the top of the hill. It was a total contrast from the past few days and made for some very interesting skiing.

As I said we went to the New Side and found that Lift Line was closed so we dropped Puff which was ok soft bumps. At the top of White Pass we saw that Polar Peak was open but when we got there it was the Coaster only which we took and it was soft in poor light. We did a loop and tried Crusty Chute which was a bit lumpy in the top but ok. When we were on top of Polar we noticed some significant weather out beyond Lake Koocanusa and commented that it looked like it was coming our way - we were not wrong as that was the snow/rain mix that hit us during the day and is still hitting us now. We went out to try the Big 3 and found closed signs across the track so we dropped Currie Creek which skied ok on a crisp covering on a soft base of spring snow.

Next loop we didn't think Polar was worth the effort so we ran out to Concussion which skied pretty soft through the chutes and even softer down into bowl on the untracked spring snow. Next time up we decided to give Polar peak another go and it was still only open at the Coaster which skied ok  but was very chunky and soft. We hadn't quite decided how to run to lunch so we ended up dropping off the Skydive Traverse into Tom's and similar areas which was soft snow on top getting a little firmer low down and actually great skiing,

After lunch we were back up the New Side and found Lift Line open which skied soft enough all the way through to the end of the day. We hit the Reverse Traverse and found the signs showing closed at the Currie Creek line. Given that last year I was (wrongly) accused of poaching I need to make today;s position clear on the closures at Currie Creek. The closure signs were avi signs and the rule is that you must not ski above or between the signs or step up above them after going below. I did none of these things and always skied below the lowest sign in Currie Creek and traversed at speed to get to where I wanted to go - as far as I am concerned I obeyed all closures just like you are meant to.

It had started to rain hard while we were at lunch and we delayed our return for quite a long time before returning to the hill. It eventually stopped raining but even then we put on full wet weather kit (including calf length garbage sacks) in order to stay dry and the rain came and went all afternoon. On the very top of the hill it looked like the precip had come down as a cm or two of very wet snow so watch out for tomorrow's powder alert.

We hit Cougar Glade which were soft and untracked and then traversed into the lower parts of Stag Leap which skied very nicely and rather strangely got slightly firmer the lower you went down. Next was Alpha Centauri which skied very soft and was rather tricky in the poor light - did I mention that the top of the hill had really started to sock in by now. Next was Cougar/Stag again which skied just as well as before and if anything the lower pitch of Stag was softer and better.

Final run I made it out to Skydive and still stayed legal by carrying a lot of speed as I traversed under the closure signs - see earlier remarks. Skydive skied very well with some softer turns on top and the firmer turns low down on a soft surface making for the best skiing on the hill. The beers were well deserved tonight.

As I sit here late having had a great evening with buddies Rob and Kerry (apologies for the late blog) it's still raining outside and the temp is about +5. I have no great hopes for what this portends up the hill but I live in hopes.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Day 115 an Old Side day

Yes, today was perhaps the only day this season that I spent all my time on the Old Side which I did for no other reason than I thought that would be where the best skiing was and that my favourite lines on the New Side were for the most part closed.

Just for the record today was the day that the base dropped below 3 meters but what the snow depth was at the snow plot had very little if anything to do with what the spring skiing was like all over the hill. There was no new snow just like the past 7 days and we were facing a bluebird day. In the event we had some cloud but it was warm to start with and got a lot warmer as the day went on. Overnight temps up the mountain had dropped to about zero so we did have frozen off groomer skiing to contend with but it wasn't really hard boiler plate and the day was warm enough to soften it pretty fast.

On the way to the hill it was +3 and warmed fast. During the day I saw temps of well over +10 on the Old Side and in the direct sunlight (which came and went) it was warmer. Tonight on my front deck as I was getting down my Christmas lights (yes, well I have been busy) I noticed the temp was +13 so the overall picture was one of softening snow.

I went to the Old Side and immediately tried the Sunny Side shoulder which I figured would be the first place to soften. I was right and the surface softened on a hard ice base which gave something approximating to corn snow and made for some really good skiing. I ran many variations on the shoulder always trying to find the steepest chutes I could and the exit was at first through China Wall but later in the chutes to the skiers left which were twiggy but good and soft.

I then dropped Bear Cave Chutes and New Lift Line which were just still a little crusted on top but good untracked spring mush skiing underneath. I cut into Cedar Centre which hadn't been groomed but was soft on a firm base and easy skiing. Kangaroo was very soft and mellow on the firm bumps but with some twigs starting to poke through.

After that it was repeated loops of Boom Guts, Boom Ridge, Cedar Ridge, Kangaroo and then Boom Ridge again. These were great soft snow on firm bumpy bases and were just fantastic spring skiing if a bit of work in the bumps. Having dome these loops several times I was joined by some buddies from the New Side and repeated the loops which remained just as good. I was just about to go to lunch when I ran into some more buddies who had been instructing on the Non Stop programme but were now free skiing and did the loops all over again which if anything were better than before - particularly Kangaroo and all were now big soft spring bumps.

The result of this was a very late lunch (about 2 o'clock) and a short afternoon. I did consider the New Side but I ran in to a patroller buddy who said he had been closing a lot of stuff up there so knowing how good the Old Side was I went back there. The Cedar Ridge, Boom, Boom Ridge, Kangaroo loops continued in nice soft bumps which were just setting up a little by the end. Towards the end of the day we speculatively dropped Buck Shot off the Goat Trail as it looked good and looks didn't deceive. Maybe the best untracked softish skiing surface we encountered all day.

For a final run we hit Boom Guts which unbelievably was still skiing perfectly in soft bumps. Just for the crack of it we dropped Kodiak and did a line I had done just before lunch by skiing the now disused bump course that the racers and been using up until yesterday. It was really great hard bump skiing and although we didn't ski it like the racers (we didn't try inverted aerials for a start) we did at least hold the fall line before drifting off the hill along Cedar Trail.

Considering the conditions we had a great day as long as you liked soft spring bumps skiing. Whilst I may have liked it I am not so sure about my legs which are complaining about what I guess was a very tough day of bump skiing. Beers with buddies and couple of goodbyes where buddies were having their last day of the season. For my part we have 7 more days to go and if they are like today there will be no complaints from me.