Friday, March 10, 2017

Day 93 now that's what I call an inversion

Today was a day of weird weather so that will be my main topic for tonight. It snowed hard all night and we fully expected to see and overnight snowfall figure of at least 25 cms so we were very surprised to see and accumulation of only 14 cms. On the way to the hill temps were -15 confirming to us that the snow should be light and fluffy and if anything even deeper than our original estimate. On our first chair up Timber all became clear.

The temps at the base and all the way up the hill was -15. After we passed the White Pass load and before we got to Timber top we hit and inversion line which felt like we had entered a sauna all in the space of about 50 vertical feet. There is no thermometer at the Timber top so I can't be certain of the temperature but as the inversion line drifted down the hill during the day the thermometer at White Pass load went from -16 to zero which I guess is a as good a measure of the inversion as we are going to get.

This of course explained the riddle of the snow. It was in fact snow falling from a very warm cloud with a high moisture content (13 mm of water in the 14 cms of snow) so the snow was heavy and compacted well beyond what you would expect from the cold valley temps. As the day wore on it continued to snow hard with low density snow giving us a significant accumulation and even in the afternoon as things eased off we had repeated grauppel showers.

The resulting skiing surface was quite heavy jersey cream powder on the upper mountain becoming more normal powder lower down - a complete reversal of the usual situation. The accumulating snow filled in and added to the powder and the grauppel gave a fairly grippy feel to the snow even where it was untracked, The conditions were overcast with poor viz above the inversion transition so we had no Polar Peak and even the top of White Pass was a bit of a challenge at times.

We did a White Pass loop and had Surprise Trees untracked on the right shoulder in the heavy powder. With Currie close we did a Knot Chute/Triple Trees run all the way down which had many deep untracked lines. As Currie Bowl had been closed  we lined up for the fence drop which was the usual mad race. Everyone seemed intent on hitting the Big 3 today so I dropped down a little early and grabbed first tracks in Cougar Glades which were awesome with the main problem being beating your own slough on the exit.

After that we spent the day looping around the New Side getting great deep powder. In no particular order we had great runs in Lone Fir, Cougar Glades (again) The Brain, Nameless Trees, Decline, Window Chutes, Touque Chutes, Spinal Tap, Gotta Go, Cobra Rock, Anaconda and Diamond Leg Trees. As I said all were awesome with many untracked lines with the best snow being under Gotta Go and the only disappointment being Cobra Rock which despite all the snow remains scratchy on the exit.

We needed a quick White Pass loop at the end and so hit Slim in the Knot Chutes which was amazingly deep and Surprise Trees that were still pretty good. Last run of course was Skydive which had some variable surfaces on the way down but over all was soft and deep.

It was another good evening in the Griz Bar with everybody pumped by the conditions. The main worry is that today's conditions were not in any of the forecast so if the forecasting models are so wrong what chance of anything else that is being called for turning out to be correct. We are very worried with some major warm ups in the outlook and some precip things could go very wrong in the not too distant future despite the valley temps of -7 as we drove away from the hill.

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