Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Day 118 Currie headwall for the first time this season

Yes, today they opened Currie headwall today for the first time this season and that kind of set the tone for the day, but more of that later.

There was no new snow overnight and the temps on the front deck as I was drinking my morning coffee was -7. It was a bluebird day so temps were going to warm up quickly but obviously things were going to be rock hard and frozen at first so I headed off to the gym for my 10 kms on the treadmill. On the way to the hill it was already -2 and things just got warmer all day all over the hill so that by the end of the day it was +10 as we drove away in the truck.

The effect on the skiing surface was predictable. In the direct sunlight low down things got soft quickly but anywhere in the shade things stayed hard for much longer and didn't soften at all until the late afternoon. Higher up and particularly on Polar Peak even in the direct sunlight it remained quite cool and a cold wind kept the skiing surface rather chunky on a scratchy base although by late afternoon there was some signs of softening.

Tomorrow is Hotdog Day when we honour the truly dreadful 80's movie Hotdog (a mixture of skiing and soft porn) by dressing up in 80's ski gear and getting unbelievably drunk. So today is Hotdog Eve when by tradition the white bearded Father Hotdog gets out his naughty and nice list and see which of us boys and girls have been good on the ski hill - helping the pick up lost skis, not side slipping the chutes, not over trashing the powder etc. He rewards the good ones by leaving presents for them in the form of buried beer all over the hill and tomorrow we will go up there and open up our presents and enjoy them. The next day (Hotdog Boxing Day) we have a late start all with hangovers and clear up the previous day's mess. Of course some people don't believe in Father Hotdog and think that the beer is left by the skiers themselves to avoid the security checks at the lifts on Hotdog Day but I know he really exists.

So first run of the day with a fairly late start I had to go up the Old Side and have a little tour round to perform a certain vital task in preparation for tomorrow. After that it was ski down to base to dump the ruck sack and head up to the New Side to see what was happening.

Last run yesterday we had been tipped off that the Currie Head Wall would be opening today and in fact we were delayed in our final run while they blasted three charges in the Wimp Chutes in preparation. I didn't mention this as things could have gone wrong and in any event we didn't want all the head wall skiers in town heading for the hill today. When I got to the top of White Pass the Currie Head Wall was open and a few tracks were evident all the way along.

Before I ski the head wall I like to get a bit of steep practice under my belt so I looped Polar Peak three times always dropping Barely Legal which I reckon to be as steep in the chutes as most of the head wall. The skiing in the chutes was bit varied on a scratchy base and so was probably more challenging that the head wall and so was good preparation. Next I hit the Clown Chutes (Bozo) to take me under the head wall so I could have a look at the best lines.

My preparation coincided with bumping into my buddy Brad who had already had several head wall loops so up we went for the main event. I dropped Wimp Chutes which were a little air on the way in on to an icy steep surface which was pretty interesting. After a couple of turns things improved and the snow was reasonably soft with some untracked lines although you did have to be careful to navigate the rock band just above the cat track near the bottom. Brad had to leave but I managed two more loops where the skiing was about the same every time. I had intended to go on to ski the Up Right chute but didn't as that would have meant one more boot pack (it was already a side step and a boot pack to get to the Wimp Chutes) and in any event Up Right is really only a couple of turns before you are on an open mellow slope. I went to lunch on a high.

After a very late lunch we went back up Polar Peak but the shadows were now on the head wall making it not a very good idea to go back there. Grand Papa Bear was not much better as the surface was setting up in the cold wind and one run was enough to decide us that Polar was not going to be much fun. Corner Pocket had got a bit slick in the chute and the tires were almost showing through but the skiing underneath was soft and deep. Easter bowl was soft skiing although the Freeway exit was so crusty that we bailed onto Dancer.

We had time for a White Pass loop which was a Knot Chute which had obviously been very soft and was setting up and then the I Bowl which was also good and soft. Last run was Skydive which was nice deep snow in the top but just got progressively crusty and scratchy all the way down.

Beers on the deck (OJ and soda in my case) completed a very good day of some very tough and very steep skiing. Tomorrow is Hotdog Day and my report may be a bit disjointed, late or non existant or possibly all three - be warned.

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