Saturday, March 11, 2017

Day 94 spring skiing

So I guess all of you must be asking how come we have spring skiing when temps on the way to the hill were -11 and the upper mountain forecast temp was -10. The reason is that over the past couple of days there has been a battle of wills between the forecasters and reality. An inversion has existed for the last 48 hours meaning that up the mountain temps are a good 10/15 degrees warmer than at the base. The forecasters have refused to accept this presumably because their computer models say something else (to be fair they at now coming round to accept the situation) and have been confidently predicting cold temps up the hill. This leads to the rather odd situation at White Pass load today where the white board stated that the upper mountain temp would be -10 and this was standing along side a thermometer saying quite clearly the temp was +3. I guess sooner or later either the forecasters will accept reality and start dealing with the inversion or reality will accept that it has been wrong and start doing what the forecasters say it should do.

Yesterday's grauppel showers had produced 8 cms of snow in 24 hours but only 1 cm over night. On the way to the hill it was -11 and overcast with viz actually socked in at White Pass top. The inversion meant that up the hill we had plus temps and as the day wore on the viz line rose and all skiing surfaces softened quite a lot. During the afternoon we had some precip that fell as rain low down and wet snow up high suggesting the inversion was dissipating. Unfortunately that dissipation seemed to be a case of the warm air moving all the way down the mountain and displacing the cold air rather than vice versa. Driving away from the hill it was +2 and on the deck a moment ago it was +1.

As anticipated there were large Saturday crowds, no doubt inspired by the awesome week of skiing that we have just had. We also had a new guest with us on his first day so what with one thing and another we put rather less snow under our skis today than we would have done on a normal ski day.

We started on Cougar Glades which were ok and soft with a transition line just before the exit. Next was Tight Knot/Anaconda/Diamond Leg Trees all of which were soft and easy skiing and just above the crud line. Decline was next on the agenda and it skied very soft and mellow in the top becoming a little crusty about half way down the final pitch. We then tried Gotta Go which was just a little scratchy in the choke but the snow underneath was so soft you could just ignore it and straight line through. Last run before a late lunch was to drop High Saddle which was open for the first time in two days as Corner Pocket had already been trashed by side slippers. The chute was ok and the snow underneath was soft and deep although the light was a bit flat. We then hit across to Spinal Tap which was very soft and gave the first indication that the hill was starting to turn to spring mush.

After lunch things started to go wrong. It started raining and Timber Chair broke down. We cut across to the Old Side only to be told that Timber was back up so we had a very slushy and slow motion drop of Sunny Side. I linked up with some buddies who had never skied the Brian so I took them in. - big mistake. it was ok down to the Megasauraus but after that it turned to pure elephant snot and was hard work to jump turns through the trees. We bailed just before the end in Skydive and no one could blame us.

This only gave me time for a quick hike up to Mitchy's chutes which were ok and soft before finishing on Skydive. We just about made it down Skydive in one with the snow getting heavier all the way down. The line up to get into the Griz was just stupid long so we went to our usual Saturday evening haunt at the Kodiak Lounge down town and had a very pleasant time.

Tonight's forecast is calling for up to 18 cms of snow but who knows. If the hill cools down and the surfaces freeze we will certainly need the new snow as other wise the conditions will be very ugly refrozen crud. On the other hand if things stay warm we may get the precip as rain and then who knows what we will be facing tomorrow. Watch this space to find out.

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