Saturday, December 2, 2017

Day 1 Happy Opening Day

Yes. today was the day we have all been waiting for all summer an what we had was an opening day way better than anything we could have expected. In fact whilst it wasn't "vintage" it was still pretty good which when you compare Fernie standards to the rest of the world means that it was probably awesome by their standards.

Lets have a look at the hard facts. We had another 10 cms of fresh snow overnight which pushed the base to about 90 cms. Now you have to understand that this is a measurement from a snow plot high up on the hill along side Bear where no one skis. It does not bear much relationship to the snow that you will actually find under your skis which will be way less. It is a kind of cypher for how much snow we have and if I say that Lynda always says that she doesn't relax until the base hits 2 metres you might get a feel of exactly what 90 cms means.

It was overcast with flurries all day and the base temps sat in at around +2 with the up the mountain temps probably staying just below zero for most of the day. Later temps started to fall and we seem to be heading for some fairly consistent sub zero temps which is a bit more like the sort of thing we see and will allow the hill to make some new snow low down on the ski outs.

We only got the Old Side today and that was from the Blueberry sign line on one side to the Dancer/Easter sign line on the other. To restrict things further Boom Ridge and Boom Bowl were closed due to conditions although this closure was (as the bard said) honoured more in the breach than the observance.

We skied all day from fence to fence an had great skiing. There was minimal grooming so we had deep untracked snow over most of the hill which stayed good all the way down to the base. particularly good skiing in the morning was Cedar Bowl (all over) Cedar Ridge (all lines) and Kangaroo - about 5 times and the Roo was as good as it gets. The snow was knee deep with many untracked lines and a not enough people (about 2200 on the hill) to trash it. In most places today would be described as a full on powder day with knee deep snow and very few tracks.

In the afternoon we hit across to Easter/Dancer and hit the sign line which had soft tracked up snow. After that we got to looping Linda's (awesome deep untracked powder) Boomerang (see Linda's) and all parts in between. By the end of the day with our legs hurting from all the deep powder we finished in the Bear chutes which like so much we had skied was deep untracked powder but with dead fall adding to the many early season hazards that we just had to air it over to get down.

Great beers in the Griz with buddies to celebrate opening day. We are told that the plan for the coming week is for a rolling opening of the hill which with any luck will mean new deep untracked powder becoming available on a daily basis and with no one around from Monday onwards to enjoy it - here's hoping.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

T Minus 2 or at least 99%

Yes, it looks pretty certain that we will be getting opening day on Saturday. The official web site still shows it as "tentative" which isn't all that helpful. When I was up at the hill yesterday loading all my gear into my locker I got chatting to a buddy who works up there and he was the one who cane up with the number of 99% certainty as to us opening on Saturday. Looking at the conditions I have only taken my rock skis to the hill, the DPS Wailer Pures are in with the ever reliable Straight Line having a pre season tune up and will not be seeing snow until we have better coverage.

What happened to change things was a nice dump of snow a couple of days ago. Tuesday night we went to bed with no sign of snow in town and yesterday morning we woke up to this -
it was a good 10 cms plus of fresh snow even down here in the valley and I suspect rather more on the hill. With a few skiffs more due over the weekend and temps set to fall to sub zero day and night we should just about have enough to slide around on although it certainly isn't going to be a vintage opening.

On a personal front things are going ok, the Jeep is back on the road and the rental car has been returned. The hot tub has been fired up and I have even got the first 11k treadmill run of the season done in the gym. Today's project is to get the Christmas lights up on the deck and the tree in the front of the house and then tomorrow should be a spare day (originally opening day) to allow for the things that we will have forgotten.

The only worrying thing is that after this weekend looking out in the 14 day forecast there doesn't seem to be much happening. I am not too concerned as the computer modelling seems to be that if there is uncertainty it just defaults to calling for a sun cloud mix with no precip which is what it is now showing. As soon as some weather starts to form out west I am sure things will change but I would be happier if some precip was in the forecast.

So fingers crossed for opening day on Saturday.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

T Minus 3 or maybe 4

Arrived late last night after the usual long day which involved a Gatwick/Calgary flight followed by a Calgary/Cranbrook flight and finally a rental car pick up at Cranbrook airport. It was the first time I had tried West Jet for the long haul and I have to say I was very impressed. Ok, you have to add the cost of hold luggage, pay for your meal and rent a tablet to get in flight entertainment but even with all that it was still £300 for a single flight ( my onward flights to Ecuador at the end of the season are already booked) in an extra leg room seat. Compare that with Air Canada where I would have had to pay £600 for a return flight (standard seat) and not use the return flight. The reason for that strange comparison is that a one way flight with AC would have been £1600 (yes pounds not dollars) and as long as they continue with the insane policy of charging two and a half times as much for a single flight as for a return I will be flying with West Jet.

Of course I only have had a chance to get a very early impression of conditions her but what I see gives me some cause for concern. Around town it doesn't look like winter at all but rather like spring with piles of melted snow and everything bare and brown. The reason of course is that after a great start with good snow we have had two days of pouring rain and very warm temps in the valley. The rain seems to have gone to the top of the hill and although there is snow cover it doesn't look great and the outlook has gone from a bonus weekend last weekend (which was cancelled) to opened day appearing to be put back from this Friday to Saturday (according to the RCR web site) hence the somewhat enigmatic title of today's blog. So even if we go on time it doesn't look like we are going to get a vintage opening.

The Weather Network isn't helping much. The computer model they have for Fernie really seems to struggle when we get these warm westerly air streams when temps just don't go below freezing even at night. I know a few years ago some guys from the hill did sit down with them to try and work out what was wrong but to be honest things haven't got any better. In these conditions we get daytime highs of about +6 and night time lows of +1. The modelling forecasts daytime highs of +1 and night time lows of -5. In my opinion forecasters spend far too much time looking at their computer screens and not enough time looking out of the window. The result is that they see no problem in calling for a daytime high of +1 in a day while at the same time showing a current temp of +5. I guess telling everyone that the Weather Network forecast for Fernie is rubbish will be one of my less controversial statements of the winter.

So, today starts (after coffee of course) with getting the car back on the road, picking up new credit cards from the bank, getting the car insured, getting the cable TV switched back on, arranging for the hot tub to be fired up, laying in some food supplies and getting the skis to the hill and collect the season passes - lets see how much we actually manage.

Watch this space for further reports, particularly on when opening day will be.