Monday, January 23, 2017

Day 53 A good day for technical skiing

 It's a funny thing but everyone agrees that the most difficult conditions to ski in are either icy bumps or breakable crust and they all say that they would like to ski them better. On a day like today when those conditions are available everyone I asked told me that they had avoided them like the plague. It puzzles me how they expect to hit their target of improving their skiing in these conditions if they don't go and practice when they can. There is no mystery to getting better at anything, you go out and practice hard and eventually you get better. Today I took the opportunity to spend the morning doing all I could to improve my technique in these tough conditions.

Overnight we had 2 cms of fresh snow which didn't even stick to the trees and made no real difference to the skiing surface. On the way to the hill it was -8 and -5 when we drove away in the evening. During the day temps rose a bit but everywhere was well below zero so the surfaces stayed hard and icy. It was a sun/cloud day but with the sun winning most of the time so viz was pretty good with just the odd flash of flat light in shaded areas. The snow base remains in the mid 170s cms range which is way below last years figure for this day of 233 cms.

I had been told that the whole Snake Ridge area had been ugly breakable crust from about one third of the way down a couple of days ago and I figured that the new snow from yesterday would have improved the lower parts to "skiable" but still leaving them tough and challenging. The skate out along the Cedar High Traverse was nice and slick so not too much hard work and I noticed I was laying first tracks out there. I did 4 loops out, Steep and Deep, Snake Ridge and twice through upper Gorby Bowl and these provided exactly the tricky skiing conditions I was looking for.

Steep and Deep was about 5 good turns then covered breakable crust all the way down. Snake Ridge was much the same but the exit on Gorby Gap was more skied and therefore tended towards icy bumps. The top of Gorby was super soft untracked powder down to the closed sign where I cut left into Steep and Deep. Next time round the only tracks in front of me were my own which says it all about how few people were prepared to try their luck out that way and it skied just as good as before - most certainly the best snow of the day.

All returns were through Kangaroo which was hard ugly icy bumps with a tricky drop on to the cat track half way down. Boomerang completed each loop and that was ok in the top but just got harder and more rutted as you went down with some crust in the mid section just to make it more interesting. I did a couple of run backs down Boom Ridge which was hard bumps all the way down and very unforgiving. All in all it was tough morning of skiing a few good powder turns followed but breakable crust and/or icy bumps - a great way to improve your skiing and to my way of thinking a very enjoyable morning.

In the afternoon I headed up Polar Peak and put in a number of laps of Shale Slope/Grand Papa Bear and Papa Bear. The under surface was getting hard and some of the bumps were quite big although the skiing was pretty mellow by Polar standards. I cut across to Spirt Bear and as anticipated found it the least skied on account of it's narrowness and had a great run down. Lone Fir was next which was a bit chopped up in the chute but good in the fan and even low down it wasn't too hard and icy, or perhaps it was and I was just getting used to it.

I just had time for another Polar loop before dropping Baby Bear (the only chute still in the sun) and then a variation on Concussion which skied really well all things considered. We just had time for a quick hike up Mitchy Chutes which were ok but firm before getting the last chair up for Skydive. General consensus was that Skydive skied a little better than yesterday with the mid section not quite so crunchy and the lower part of refrozen crud being a bit more skied in.

After such a hard day a hot tub was needed hence the rather later report than usual. Looking at the forecasts we don't seem to be getting any new snow for at least a week and with things staying cold it rather looks like the next 7 days could be a repeat of today - who knows.


  1. Bill, with a work ethic and approach like yours it isn't hard to see why you are retired, skiing and sailing year round.

  2. It's a bit like Gary Player the golfer said when he was accused of being lucky "Yes, and the more I practice the luckier I seem to get"