Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Day 111 one very tough day

Last night I was speculating on how things might change up the hill if it got colder, well today we found out and it didn't make for very easy skiing.

Overnight they were calling about 3 cms of new snow up the hill maintaining the base at 3 metres. On the way to the hill it was +3 according to the truck but as soon as we got skiing it was apparent that the temps on the hill were a fair bit lower. When I checked the mercury thermometer at the top of Bear (I always prefer to trust mercury and a vacuum to the dial or digital types) it was -3 and even down at the Boomerang load it was showing zero. It was overcast all day and late morning it started to snow but as the day wore on the snow/rain line moved up the hill to about half way as temps rose a little.

My guess was that upper mountain would be frozen pretty solid which after we trashed up the hill yesterday would mean some rather ugly skiing anywhere off the groomers. In response I decided to stay low on the Old Side and wait for the atmospheric warming to soften the hill from the bottom upwards. In general the plan was good but the problem was that the warming didn't materialise to any great extent and certainly didn't get very far up the hill so whilst there was some softening at the very bottom for the most part on the hill (even on the Old Side) the ungroomed skiing stayed hard ugly death cookies.

I skied around all morning on the Old Side trying Boom Ridge, Boomerang, Cedar Ridge, Bear Cave Chutes, New Lift Line etc several times over and they were all hard ugly death cookies in most places so you had to look to find the smooth unskied areas to turn as turning in the death cookies was challenging to put it mildly. The only good skiing was in Kangaroo which was firm icy bumps in the top and getting a little softer lower down at first but then as the morning wore on the whole run became softer taking a good edge and was like the skiing I had been hoping for. I returned through Kangaroo about 6 times and it got better and softer every time until it was time for a late lunch. Over all it was very tough skiing.

Late morning it had started to snow even at the base but on the final run down to lunch the snow had turned to rain at the base and the snow lower down was getting sticky even on the groomers. Over lunch the snow line had moved to about half way up the hill so our afternoon strategy was to go high and rely on the new snow (which was coming down pretty hard) to provide cover for the hard surface and death cookies underneath.

We went to the New Side and tried a Knot Chute/Surprise Trees loop which was good and soft although the base was a bit scratchy. Next we tried Concussion which was good, untracked new snow and soft all the way down to the top of the Gilmar Trail although the base remained a bit firm and scratchy. We worked our way out the Cougar Glades which were a bit crusty and chunky at the top but softened with deeper snow lower down so the exits were really nice skiing.

Last run was Skydive which had filled in nicely at the top. The mid section got a bit chunky but the final pitch on the right was softening quite well as the warming daytime temps at last started to have their effect.

It was +3 driving away from the hill and raining in the valley. I am fairly confident that it will be snowing on top but let's see what happens overnight.

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