Thursday, February 8, 2018

Day 69 a brutal day

I am sorry that in the middle of a season that has given us so much good, no great, skiing I have to come back on line on a day where the conditions were brutal and the skiing was ok in places and just cruddy in others.

Last night as I recounted the weather forecasters promised us 25 cms of snow and a full on winter storm with more to come today and temps of -5 or lower - well the best you can say is that they got the date right but apart from that they were hopelessly wrong. There must be another occupation where you can be wrong a significant part of the time and still keep your job but I can't think of one off hand.

It was +2 on my deck when I went to bed and raining. When I got up this morning it was +3 and still raining, and I don't mean a light drizzle. When I got up a couple of times in the night (an inevitable consequence of getting older I have found) it was pouring with rain then as well. I looked out of the window in the hope that this had been valley rain and we had a huge dump of snow on top but no such luck - the rain line went so far up the hill I couldn't se the top of it.

As I got ready for the hill I appeared to be in parallel universe with the forecasters telling me that the current conditions were -3 and snowing and not +3 and raining as I could see. On the radio they were talking about a winter storm and school closures all of which flew in the face of all the evidence. As I understand it the problem was that the modified arctic air mass that was supposed to move in from the east didn't, so you see the forecasters got it right, it was the weather that got it wrong.

We headed off to the hill with pretty low expectations and on the way there the temp even flicked up to +4 for a second or two. The good news was that the rain stopped as we got to the hill and held off for the whole morning. Obviously with the rain line so high the Old Side was going to be a bust so we headed for the New Side. Lift Line was thick jersey cream on the way down to White Pass. When we got to the top of White Pass we found Currie Bowl closed so we just looped White Pass which was ok soft snow to about half way down turning to mush after that.

Our loops were mainly through Knot Chutes which were skiing very nicely, perhaps the best so far this season. I got first track down the Tight Knot where slough management was the main problem and after that next time we hit the drop off into the Fraid Knot which looked rather intimidating but skied very easy and mellow. Slim and Jim were very deep and we had to high side it onto the shoulders and make few turns to let our slough pass and then drop back into the chutes to avoid our slough from the shoulder. I did try Surprise Trees but it turned to elephant snot about half way down.

About 11 something weird happened. The arctic air mass moved in and the temp dropped like a stone in the course of one run and it started to snow and continued for the rest of the day. We had been at about +3 but when we left the hill at the end of the day it was -12 and I think it got close to that in just that one run. The result was that everything that had been soft went to refrozen crud and we headed down to layer up with some more appropriate gear. Currie Bowl had opened and we took it and whilst it was ok light powder on a firm base at the top the Gilmar Trail was sheet ice with many out of control skiers failing to hold and edge, it only needed a Zamboni to complete the scene.

Having layered up I headed back up only to find Siberia Ridge and Currie Bowl closed. This seemed a sensible precaution to me after what I had seen on Gilmar. When Currie had opened it had been closed at the county line and Anaconda had remained closed. This was because patrol were farming the hill to preserve soft slopes to refreeze smooth so not much snow is needed to repair them. I know some of my buddies object to thus but I have no problem taking one for the team today to give us better skiing tomorrow. Just a thought here is that if Polar had been open it would have been awesome but that can't be helped and will have to wait.

Viz had deteriorated with the cold front so loops continued sometimes in Knot Chutes and sometimes in the Gun bowl depending on what you could see but lower White Pass was all ok if a bit scratchy. At 1 a strange decision was taken to close White Pass. It was the only part of the hill not affected by the rain/freeze/thaw and was skiing well particularly in the Knot Chutes. It was suggested that the problem was access to the area but I don't see that as we exited via Summer Road with was nothing to write home about but I have seen it way worse. In fact the only ugly part of the exit was the final 200 meters of sheet ice which was the part of the mountain they decided to keep open for the rest of the day - strange.

After lunch the hill was pretty well shut down with only the Deer and Elk Chairs running and the whole of the lower mountain rock hard sheet ice with some new snow starting to accumulate. I had hoped that as there was so little to ski the hill would have made the effort to open the rail park and skier cross course but no such luck. I spent the rest of the afternoon looping Elk on the only black diamond run available (Upper Kodiak and back on Cedar Trail) or other easier runs made more difficult by the ice such as Power Trip - and so ended a not very good and rather tough day.

As I type this it is -12 on the deck and the winter storm continues if somewhat abated. The hill has shown an amazing ability to recover in the past and we have to hope that enough snow will fall overnight to allow it to do so again. Tomorrow's blog might be a bit late as I am picking up Irish buddies from the airport but it will be done - assuming that tonight's remarks haven't upset the powers that be too much.


  1. Hey Bill, really glad you're back, you have my support!

  2. great to see you are back, always a fan Khog

  3. Keep on blogging in the free world

  4. 'Elephant snot...' I'm gonna use that one sometime.

  5. good to see you back Bill
    Tell it like it is

  6. Grt to see you back too hopefully back up there in a couple of weeks rehab permitting!