Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fall Report 2016

Yes, it's that time of the year again when I visit the house in Fernie, have a general poke round for a few weeks and give an update on what is happening and the prospects for the up coming ski season. This report will break down into several parts - an update on what Lynda and I have been doing back in the UK, news on our vacation here in BC (both of these should be skipped by those of you only interested in the skiing), an update on what has been happening on the hill and the prospects for the season to come.

Since we went back to the UK at the end of April the summer has really flown by. Lynda's new hip (new last September) has continued to get stronger and now she is totally back to full strength, in fact better than ever even if it does set off the alarms at the airports every time we fly. The sailing has been great in the Falmouth Working Boat and also in the RS400 dinghy with some success in the Working Boat in Falmouth and Fowey weeks. In July we flew up to Bodo in the Arctic Circle in Norway and met a buddy to sail his 44ft Rustler down the coast to Rorvik for 8 days - great fun.

I have taken up the challenge to run three marathons in 4 weeks Oct/Nov so I have been doing some very serious training. I am now up to running 80/100 miles a week  or about 14 miles a day on Cornish hills. I have also given up the booze (let's see if that can last into the winter) or at least cut down to a couple of pints one night a week and am also doing some gym work. Unsurprisingly I have lost about 35 pounds and for the first time in about 30 years my BMI doesn't tell me that I am "overweight" and it's all good news except for my pants falling down unless they are tied up really tight.

As we came home quite quickly after the ski season we had some extra time available to play with this autumn. We flew into Vancouver at the end of August and drove across BC in a couple of days (overnight at the hot springs in Nakusp is always great fun) and arrived here at the house in Fernie last Friday. Since then we have packed a lot of action into the last 8 days. On the last day of summer lift service last Sunday we got a chair up to Timber top and then hiked Polar Peak returning along Timber Ridge. Monday was white water rafting and more hiking and biking during the week interspersed with such tasks as getting the outstanding work done on the truck from the spring service etc

Every day has been at least 14 miles of running training and in fact on Thursday I put in a full marathon distance (26.2 miles) in a time of 3:57 which if I can repeat on race day (first marathon is Dublin at the end of Oct) will qualify me as an elite athlete in view of my age - 65 this year.

We are here for a couple more weeks before driving back to Vancouver and then flying up to Bella Bella for and 8 day bear and whale watching sail on the schooner Maple Leaf After that it will be back to the UK for a couple of weekends theatre at Stratford-on-Avon and running the Dublin, Porto and Cornwall marathons. Then it will be time for the winter

Looking around the hill I have to say that not much appears to have happened in the summer. Going up on Timber Chair I noticed that White Pass Chair had been dismantled and the bull wheel was off - by the way the summer lift rides came free as part of last season's winter pass benefits so worth bearing in mind if they do the same this year. I assume that the White Pass Chair will be put back together some time soon although I hear they are still awaiting parts for the gears.

There were rumours of brush cutting and alder clearance on the Big 3 and at the foot of Steep and Deep and goodness knows both areas could do with a trim. I have to say that on my hikes on the hill I haven't seen any evidence of trimming in those areas. in fact I didn't notice any evidence of much work at all on the runs but then there is still plenty of time before the season begins. If anyone from the hill wants to make some comments on the work that has been done at the foot of this report please feel free.

The weather may be trying to give us some signs for the up coming winter which are in some respects quite encouraging. This year appears to be a record season for berries and on a hike of the Mt Baldy Loop there were still loads of berries to be had. Good berry seasons are usually followed by a good snow winter and at the very least it means the bears get well fed without having to come down into town and risk human conflict - hardly anyone has seen a bear round town this fall. Temps are already below normal with today's high at about 8 degrees and when the cloud and rain clears I expect to see the first significant snowfall of the winter on the mountain tops.

The big news revolves around the El Nino/La Nina situation. The last two winters have been El Ninos which gives warmer winters than usual and the winter before last really sucked and last winter was only a bit better despite the official version. For most of this year the forecast has been for a swing to La Nina cause by colder water temps in the Pacific which would give a colder wetter winter than usual with all that implies for snow conditions. In the last few days Environment Canada have changed their forecast from a La Nina to a neutral oscillation winter due to the cooler water not yet having had the anticipated effect on air in the weather systems. Put in simple terms tis means that the winter will probably be an average one which while being nothing to hang out the flags about should be a vast improvement on the past couple of years.

So it really comes down to an old fashioned Fernie crap shoot this winter when no doubt we will have some awesome days, some average days and one or two that suck - in there somewhere we will probably get a week of -30 temps, in fact a normal Fernie winter. We will be back late November to catch the possible bonus weekend if conditions allow other than that I expect a season kick off first weekend in December as usual. This year I qualify for a Senior's pass for the first time (as does Lynda but don't tell anyone) so with the reduced price if I can't get my daily cost of skiing below 5 bucks a day I am not the man I think I am. We have already booked our flights which will involve returning to UK in the spring via the Galapagos Islands (makes a change from going round the world and it's one more thing of the bucket list) so see you all in Fernie at the end of November.

In the meanwhile Keep Your Stick on the Ice.