Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Day 55 Groundhog Day

Well of course it isn't Groundhog Day today (that well known triumph for rodent weather forecasting) that isn't for about a weeks time. I am of course referring to the movie where Bill Murray lives the same day over and over again. With the unchanging conditions here on the hill I think I know how he felt.

For the record, there was no new snow overnight. Starting temps were a bit colder at -13 and leaving temps a bit warmer at-5 but overall everything remained frozen and hard everywhere on the hill. It was a mainly cloudy day but with some sun in the morning. By afternoon it was overcast and getting socked in at the top of Polar Peak and later in the day we even had some very light flurry activity which didn't give us any accumulation. The base remains a very sketchy 174 cms.

With conditions much the same it seemed appropriate to do much the same as yesterday and we headed out to the Old Side. Snake Ridge skied nice and soft in the top and rather harder half way down but in the final pitch it was mass of quite big death cookies. I have no explanation as to where these came from as they looked like the result of a spring melt/freeze and yet temps yesterday never even got close to melting level. Whatever the reason they were there the skiing was tough but good fun.

Next loop out was Gorby/Steep and Deep which is getting a bit tracked up in Gorby top but still with some untracked lines. Steep and Deep just became harder and more crunchy as you went down but no sign of the death cookies that were on Snake. Returns were through Kangaroo which as normal was ugly icy bumps and Boomerang which was ok in the top and very ribby in the lower parts - still good skiing if you have the necessary skill levels. We went to the New Side.

Polar Peak was open so we did a few Shale Slope/Grand Papa/Papa Bear loops.  Just like yesterday the skiing was steep, very firm but taking an edge and with big bumps in the top. really nice skiing but your first mistake was going to be your last in those conditions. Again like yesterday we ran off through Spirt Bear (tight but still the best skiing) and hiked up to Lone Fir which was still good in the chute and very good on the fan on the left side.

Next loop up Polar we did more variations of the chutes before running to base through Cougar Glades which were softer and better than I expected and then cutting into Stag Leap which seemed very lightly tracked and the last pitch was almost ok. It was time for a late lunch.

In the afternoon it was socked in up Polar Peak so I was pretty cautious in my loops and then ran off through Mama Bear which seemed to be softer and flatter than most of the other chutes. I decided to try Touque chutes which were actually rather good and then cut into Spinal Tap which was very crunchy but actually sucked way less than I thought it would. Next we tried the high IT across the Knot Chutes and found a way across although we did have to take quite a lot of air both into the Tight Knot and the Fraid Knot but worked our way across the Gotta Go. It looked a bit worn out in the choke and so we jumped the shoulder into Google Earth and had what might have been the first run by anyone of the season down there in awesome deep snow - beyond doubt run of the day. The ski to base through Bootleg Glades was a bit crusty but ok.

Last time up White Pass and we just had time for a loop through Surprise Trees which were surprisingly good. Then it was time for our final rip down Skydive where we were joined for the first time by snowboarder friends. Skydive was about the same as yesterday, good on top and hard going in the final pitch.

After a few orange and sodas in the Griz it was home for a quiet evening and an early night. Skiing in these tough conditions is really good fun but it is tiring, an early night seems like a very good idea.

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