Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Day 69 Spring Skiing

Yes, today was the first time we had what could be called spring skiing this season but unfortunately the effect was that the hill far from improving did in fact get rather worse. Yesterday the upper mountain was soft tracked powder and the mid mountain and below were breakable rain crust. The warming conditions today meant that the upper mountain in the direct sunlight softened and then as the sun went down reformed as fairly ugly refrozen crud. The sun was not warm enough to have much effect on the crust so the conditions as we sit here are refrozen crud on top and rain crust all the way down. The only exceptions are north facing upper slopes, and Polar Peak which were not sun affected today and so remain firm but taking a nice edge.

There was no new snow over night and the base is now down to under 220 cms which is very skinny for this time of year and particularly so when you consider the huge amount of snow (over 100 cms) which fell last week. It was cold overnight and it was -12 on the way to the hill but warming fast in the bluebird conditions. By the end of the day we had +5 at the base and even up at the Polar load during the day I noticed it was +2. It did take some time for things to start warming up so most of the morning not much softened even in the direct sun light until just before lunch.

We went to the Old Side and I spent the morning looping out into Cedar bowl skiing rain crust all the time. There were a number of near loops through Bear Cave Chutes, Cedar Ridge (different ways)  and far loops through Snake Ridge and Steep and Deep. There were no tracks out to Snake so the runs were untracked although untracked crust and as such were really tough but fun. All returns (five times) were through Kangaroo which was actually nicely broken up crust and Boomerang which was also broken crust but starting to get sun softened on the skiers left lower down. I did have time for a couple of drops down Boom Ridge which was hard icy crusty bumps but a bit more broken up than before by some light skier traffic.

After a late lunch we went to the New Side and straight up Polar Peak which was firm but skiing ok. We looped Papa Bear, Grand Papa Bear, Crusty and Mama Bear all of which were firm but taking and edge with a bit of sift blown in. The view from the top of the Peak was just stunning, I can't remember a clearer or sunnier day. We dropped through Decline which was crusty and Window Chutes where we got first tracks (again crust in the chute and ice in the chokes) and some great skiing down to the cat track. I guess no one had been dumb enough to try Window Chutes, any time in the last four days.

We then made our big mistake. We hiked up Knot Chutes (that wasn't the mistake) and then skied across to the top of the Tight Knot and dropped it. An hour or two earlier and we would have had great sun softened snow but by the time we dropped in it had set up and we skied the ugliest refrozen crud I have experienced for some time all the way down the Tight Knot. We got down but in no great style but survived. A good side effect was that when we looped Surprise Trees next time round it seems easy skiing whereas without the Knot Chute experience we would have said it was ugly and icy - there is always an up side to be found.

Last run of course was Skydive which was crusty just as it has been since Thursday's rain but getting slightly easier to ski every day, or perhaps we are just getting better at it.

Plenty of time for a few OJ and sodas in the Griz and then back to the house for the first on time blog in ages - enjoy.

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