Thursday, February 2, 2017

Day 63 Happy Groundhog Day

Yes, today is the day when across a number of small towns in North America they go to their local groundhog, drag the poor little brute out of it's burrow (or where ever they live) and stand it up to see if it can see it's shadow. If it can we are in for more winter and if not we are in for an early spring - actually that might be the other way round, I am never too sure. You don't have to be a genius to work out that based on just random chance ( assuming a 50/50 chance of it seeing it's shadow and a similar chance of spring coming early) the groundhog should be right about half of the time. Most Groundhogs seem to have a rather worse track record than being right 50% of the time which suggests to me that the science of using rodents in long range weather forecasting may need a little refining.

The reason I am rambling on about Groundhogs is that I really have nothing much new to say about skiing on the hill. I had thought of heading today's report "colder and harder" which was yesterday's heading as that is exactly what happened. It was a bluebird day without a cloud in the sky all day (typical arctic high conditions) and on the way to the hill it was -22. Driving back tonight it was -16 and up the hill during the day I didn't see anything warmer that -12 although in the direct sunlight it may have been a degree or two warmer.

Just like yesterday the result was that the skiing surfaces got even harder with many areas now refusing to take an edge and the surface was breaking up into large ugly death cookies. I did pretty well a rerun of yesterday looping out on the Old Side to Steep and Deep and Snake Ridge both of which were ugly hard crust on top and icy bumps covered in death cookies lower down, even tougher skiing than yesterday. Returns were through Kangaroo which I suppose had the merit at least of skiing no worse than usual, it's always hard icy bumps and Boomerang which was hard and smooth on the right but very scratchy on the left. I even found time for a Boom Ridge loop on the hard icy bumps there which were just about ok although no one who watched me from the lift appeared tempted to give it a go.

I went to the New Side and went up Polar Peak only to find that the chutes were closed at the top. I checked with patrol to make sure they were cool about me skiing Shale Slope at the top and cutting the shoulder by tower 8 into Grand Papa Bear and they were as they said it was a conditions closure to try and stop a few "top to bottom bowling balls". What they actually said was that I could ski it if I was dumb enough which I took to be a rhetorical question - of course I am. I looped that route alternating with Crusty Chute (always dropping the steep face on the far side) both of which skied ok but hard with a big penalty for any error of judgement. The drop to lunch was through Cougar Glades (very crusty) and Stag Leap ( crusty followed by very hard bumps) but both quite skiable with care.

After a very late lunch we went back up Polar and played in the Crusty Chute going further to lookers left each time to get a bigger drop on the way in until we ended up over the rocks and had to quit - it was actually very good fun. We looped Decline which actually skied ok in the top before the inevitable sketchy final pitch. We just had time for a quick White Pass loop before having the final run down Skydive where like yesterday I just tried some new lines which actually proved to be quite good, just for something to do.

Time now for an early night with overnight temps forecast to drop to below -20 and the possibility of at least some snow tomorrow.

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