Sunday, January 29, 2017

Day 59 the snow drought continues

As tonight's title implies there was no new snow overnight making it a little under three weeks since we saw any significant accumulation. The base is down to 168 cms which places us only 30 cms ahead of two years ago which was the worst year for over 40 years. Put another way we desperately need new snow and to a certain extent it is pretty amazing that the skiing is as good as it is which is just about on the right side of ok.

We got to the hill in temps of -3 and bluebird conditions. As the day wore on things clouded over but temps up the mountain stayed quite low (I noted -2 at the White Pass load quite late in the day) although at the base it just about reached into plus territory. I don't know if things warmed up after we finished or if has always been warm in the valley but as I am typing this it is +3 on our front deck. Whatever the case at no time did the temps soften the skiing base so all day it ok on top and hard and icy low down.

Once again the feature of the weather was the wind which was strong. When we got to the hill we were told that Boomerang Chair wasn't running although I am not sure if this was just the wind, or mechanical or something else, there were reports of two trees down in Boomerang. We went to the New Side and found it was windy from half way up Timber to the top and above. It was so windy that the Polar Peak chair which was open at first was closed for about an hour mid morning before being opened for the rest of the day. I was on one of the last chairs up before it closed and the wind was the strongest I have ever seen up there, it seemed to be a real possibility that the chair would hit one of the towers up around towers 7 and 8.

I managed to get two runs in the Polar Chutes (one Papa Bear, one Spirit Bear) before the lift closed. I had hoped that the wind would have sifted some snow into the chutes. I was out of luck, the chutes were scoured out although during the day some soft sift found it's way into Mama and Baby Bear. The conditions were challenging with the bumps proving to be big and hard although you could get an edge but any mistake would have had very severe consequences.

I ran to base through Concussion which did seem to be of the receiving end of the sift so the skiing was soft and smooth. The exit through Gilmar Trail was very hard and icy and you could point your skis in pretty well any direction and you slid down the fall line. With Polar closed the next loop was Lone Fir which was interesting. The sift had blown in to the chute so where it was normally a bit scratchy it was soft, deep and untracked. In the fan which is normally good the wind had scoured out all the soft snow leaving it hard and icy and in the trees below which are normally hard and tracked out the soft sift had blown in - in other words everything was the opposite of usual.

Polar Peak reopened and I did all possible variations of Shale Slope, Crusty Chute, Grand Papa and Papa Bear before running down to a late lunch through Spirit Bear which was hard but taking an edge. Cougar Glades were a bit crusty but the crust was consistent so it skied ok. Stag Leap was firm but ok in the top becoming hard icy bumps in the lower section but like yesterday these skied surprisingly well.

After lunch we went back up Polar for more loops before dropping Mama Bear (now full of soft sift) Decline (crunchy but taking and edge all the way down to the Megasauraus) and Window Chutes which were still in remarkably good shape but got a bit technical in both of the chokes.  We killed time in White Pass with a couple of loops, one through Surprise Trees (nice soft crunch) and one through Pillow Talk which was good fun dropping out under the lift. Last run of course was Skydive which showed no sign of softening in the slightly warmer temps and just like all of the last week or so it was good in the top turning to refrozen crud low down.

Sunday's are may favourite night in the Griz Bar. The weekend crowds have gone and been replaced by the staff enjoying a discounted staff night plus a few of us every day skiers. There is live music but not so loud you can't have a conversation and all in all it is a great place to share skiing experiences and ideas with like minded folk.

The Weather Network is scaling back it's forecast for snow over the next few days but looking at the sky and wind from Polar Peak it definitely feels like there is something on it's way - here's hoping.

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