Saturday, March 4, 2017

Day 87 I spoke too soon

Last night I was pretty pumped as the warm front we were told had passed and the 18:00 hrs forecast confidently predicted that by midnight temps would have been well below zero and the precip would be falling as snow. I should have known better than to think that weather forecasters could see 6 hours in the future, after all that is a totally unrealistic expectation. In the event temps stayed at around +3 all night and the precip when it came fell as heavy rain in the valley finally ending at around 6 in the morning. Luckily the rain line on the hill was relatively low down with the Big 3 only getting crusty in the last few turns as an indication of the level.

On the way to the hill it was +2 and driving away tonight it was +4 although when I last checked it was +1 on the deck and falling fast. The forecast is for temps to drop to -10 tonight but given the forecasters recent record I am not holding my breath. Up the hill today it was around zero for a long time but on the final run up I noticed a temp of -2 at the White Pass load so hopefully we are now in the cooling cycle. Luckily we had no precip during the day and it started overcast. In the late morning the cloud started to break up and there was a real danger that direct sunlight in the warm temps would have a devastating effect of the snow but just in time it clouded over and a cold wind blew up which tended to keep the skiing surface in good shape.

We got to the hill early not because we expected great conditions but on a Griz Day Saturday following a week of fresh snow I anticipated ugly huge crowds and I was not proved wrong. Our skiing in the morning was punctuated with long line ups on the New Side although I am told they were better than the Old Side. The result of this was rather fewer runs than we would have normally expected but the upside was that the conditions were way better than expected. In the afternoon the crowds thinned out as quite a lot of people don't seem to have seven hour legs thank goodness.

An overnight accumulation of 17 cms was reported and I expected this to be heavy snow up top becoming rain effected crud lower down. As it was we had creamy powder all the way down to the bottom of the Big 3 and great skiing over most of the hill at least on the New Side. Whether it was as a result of the heavier snow or an overnight wind event I don't know but everything was smooth with old bumps and tracks having been mostly filled in. This gave easy mellow skiing conditions even on some of the steeper and tougher pitches.

We went to the New Side and first run hit Knot Chutes (Slim) which was soft and deep. We then tracked into Surprise Trees and grabbed first tracks in the trees on the right shoulder which as with everywhere else was untracked deep hero snow. They dropped the fence on Curie Bowl and I got first tracks in Decline and Lynda got second tracks in Skydive. They were both good deep untracked powder skiing down to the last few turns when it went to soft rain crust which was not too bad. After that I went to Cougar Glades where after the initial entry it was easy to find untracked lines in the trees on the left and the left hand exit chutes were just awesome with only one other track to be seen which I didn't have to cross.

As Knot Chutes had been so good we did Tight Knot which was very mellow and then took Triple Trees which had many untracked lines which got fewer as you went down so that by the time I was spat out on to Summer Road under Timber Chair there was only one track to be seen with me. Polar Peak was open in good light but strong winds so we did few Grand Papa and Papa Bear loops which were smooth, soft and deep before running down through Mama Bear which was if anything even better. I tried Stag Leap which was a bit tracked up through the trees and then soft tracked snow and bumps all the way down so even the last few turns were soft and easy.

Last Run before a late lunch (we were being delayed by lift lines) was rip down Papa Bear off Polar Peak and then Decline and into Window Chutes which was all soft tracked deep snow and about as mellow as I can remember.

After lunch it was back up Polar for some more loops which were just as good as before. I then hiked Lone Fir which was in remarkably good shape and the fan underneath was awesome as long as you cut close to the left hand sign line (Saddles remained closed) all the way down. I then cut across to Spinal Tap which like it's fellow Window Chute was very soft and mellow. There was just time for another Tight Knot and left side Surprise Trees before it was time for last run.

Skydive remained in good shape and after the bumps in the top skied very easily. As anticipated there was a long line to get in the Griz bar so we went to the Kodiak Lounge which is a very pleasant and friendly place to have a quiet drink on a Saturday.

The temp on the deck is down to zero now and snow is forecast, perhaps I have better grounds for optimism tonight.

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