Saturday, March 25, 2017

Day 108 a full on powder day

As I was saying earlier in the week, just when you think that the season is drawing to a close and the hill has been beaten up beyond recovery by a weather event we get an unexpected turn round and like today have an awesome full on powder day when we least expected it. That is what we all love about living in Fernie.

Overnight the hill was calling 15 cms of new snow and given that it had rained most of the night in town and was +1 on my deck as I had my morning coffee I expected at best some heavy wet elephant snot. As I drove to the hill I noticed that the snow line was very far down, indeed almost at the base and conditions were overcast but the precip had stopped. By the time I had got my boots on in the locker room it was hosing down a wet snow storm at the base which became proper snow almost as soon as we got on the lift. During the day we had repeated graupel storms which had the effect of renewing the skiing surface and repairing some of the lower slopes which were starting to get a bit soft in rising temps.

At no time during the day did the precip at the base come down as anything other than snow/graupel which was a bit surprising given the temps. At the base the temp rose very quickly in the morning to about +5 before falling back around lunch time to +2. At the White Pass load it stayed at or just below zero all day so the snow on the upper mountain stayed in very good shape. Lower down it did look like things were going to soften quite a lot but the repeated coverings in graupel had the effect of keeping the skiing surface in good winter condition.

Saturday is my day of rest as far as treadmill running in the gym goes so it was straight to the hill. We went to the New Side partly because I thought it would be a good idea to get as high as possible and partly because at the weekend the Old Side would have been trashed by the various pay for powder groups who indulge in the immoral practice (in my view) of getting untracked skiing by paying for it rather than working for it. The Griz has away of taking care of those of us who are true to the principles of mountain culture and as we got to the top of the White Pass chair they lifted the fence on Currie Bowl so we skied straight through to claim our reward. That set the pattern for the day which worked out as 10 New Side loops which for the statistically minded comes out as around 34,000 vertical feet of awesome skiing -

Skydive - there were 4 tracks ahead of us at the top of the Big Three but luckily 3 went into Decline and 1 into Stag Leap so Lynda and I had Skydive untracked in 15 cms of fresh snow. We thought it might get a bit claggy lower down but it actually was awesome all the way.
Cougar Glades - there were 2 tracks in front of us so there was plenty of untracked snow in the trees on the left and in the left hand exit chutes, equally awesome.
The Brain - again there were a couple of tracks in the trees but the area is so large that I had untracked skiing all the way down. For a change at the very end I dropped into the creek bed and then worked left to come out at the bottom of Decline. Just a bit of deadfall to negotiate but very good.
Gotta Go - the High IT was in good shape and we were nearly tempted by the Knot Chutes but we pressed on. Gotta Go had a few tracks in so we hopped the left hand shoulder into Google Earth and had great soft untracked skiing where the only problem was to beat your own slough. I exited through Diamond Leg Trees (the trees between Bootleg and Diamond Back) which were mostly untracked and just bit soft and mushy in the final couple of turns.
High Saddle - we had intended to try Lone Fir as the Saddles were closed but as we skied past High Saddle it had just opened so we dropped it and it was as soft and mellow as I can remember. Better still underneath there was soft deep untracked skiing in all the fans and for a change the light was almost ok. We cut across into Spinal Tap which was ok but getting a bit chunky in the final few turns.
Corner Pocket - we had skied past this before assuming it was closed but it wasn't. Like High Saddle the chute skied easy and mellow with no tires showing and the fans were as soft, deep and untracked as before. We exited through Easter which was ok and Freeway which was a bit lumpy.
Low Saddle - after lunch we decided to complete the Saddles with a drop of Low which was easy soft skiing and great untracked lines below after the sharp cut to skiers right. Exit was Easter and Freeway which were as before.
Decline/Window Chutes - although Decline was tracked there was plenty of soft snow and some untracked areas. Windows was untracked through the trees at the top and in the chute itself it was lightly tracked but had a soft surface in the chokes which made them about as mellow as I can remember.
Nameless Trees - these are the trees between Skydive and Stag Leap which don't have a name so I have named them. In the trees there were many untracked lines down to the Megasauraus Trail. In the opening and the creek below there were tracks and I had to work quite hard to stay in the creek bed with about 30 tight turns until I bailed to the left to avoid deadfall. The final few turns to ski out were bit mushy in the trees.
Skydive - in a return to normality we hit Skydive for last run which was obviously rather more tracked up than first run of the day. It was soft in the top but chunked up in the mid section before softening again in the final pitch. An awesome finish to an awesome day.

Tonight there is no significant precip called for and temps on the hill should be -5 or below. I think that tomorrow I will be back in the gym first thing for my daily 10 kms before hitting the hill.

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