Friday, February 9, 2018

Day 70 Dust on Crust

We woke up this morning to temps on the deck of -12 where it had stayed most of the night. As the sun rose it became apparent that we were in for a bluebird day although cold as the arctic air mass continued to assert itself. We concluded (correctly) that this meant that most of the hill that had been affect by the rain would be rock hard boiler plate. The overnight report was giving 7 cms of fresh snow which looking at our drive appeared about right although it was clear that this would be nothing like enough to give a satisfactory cushion on the ice - unfortunately another totally correct conclusion.

As I was having my morning coffee an advertisement (please note the emphasis on the second syllable in the English fashion and not the third as in the Canadian) for Fernie Alpine Resort came on. I almost choked on my coffee when I heard what was being said. They mentioned the metre of snow we have had in last 7 days which is true but they then went on to say "and things are getting even better" which is a palpable untruth - things are getting a lot worse. Two days ago rain covered most of the hill and then it froze hard in a matter of an hour giving very ugly skiing everywhere except the very top of White Pass. Yesterday the whole of the upper hill was closed as being too ugly to allow guests to ski it and today patrol had warnings about the poor conditions off the groomers - getting better eh?

We drove to the hill with temps of about-14 and whilst it did cloud over slightly for a short while it soon cleared to give a bluebird day. We figured that as the whole of the Old Side had been below the rain line that the only hope was to go high in White Pass and buddies who tried the Old Side first confirmed this was a good call. Lift line was closed due to conditions and Puff had been groomed and was very slick.

We made our way to the top and found Currie Bowl open but only as far as the County Line so no Concussion and beyond. Based on yesterday we hit the Knot Chutes and struck gold. The 7 cms of overnight snow had added to the soft snow in the chutes which had been high enough to not be rain affected. The conditions were soft, deep and initially untracked powder. Unfortunately this only held good down to about half way down the I bowl and it was crunchy and scratchy from that point on down to the White Pass load. We hit the chutes many time over all the way across, Fraid, Tight, Slim, Thin and Jim and when the chutes got to trashed we high sided the shoulders in between them. It was all awesome powder but very short lived before we hit the crunch.

Late morning we dropped Currie and found Currie Glades off the Polar load nice and soft and lightly tracked down to a crunch line about two thirds of the way down. After that it was scratchy ugly ice and although Gilmar Trail was better than yesterday it was still pretty slick. Then it was back up for more Knot loops before a Currie run to lunch which was getting slicker by the moment.

After lunch we went back up for more Knot chutes which despite the traffic was still good soft powder. As I said we had to run off the hill at about 2:30 to pick up my buddies from Cranbrook airport so we ran down Summer Road and found Diamond Back had been groomed. It was hard and icy but way better than some of the sheet ice elsewhere so we took it to base.

Just about an ok day but how long Knot Chutes will hold up when they are the only place worth skiing is anyone's guess. We currently face an arctic high for a few days so nothing is likely to change unless it gets even colder than it has been over night. Tuesday looks like the first time that we might get some new snow to cover the rock had rain affected lower mountain although it will take quite a lot to have any effect.


  1. What does it take to reset a refreezing like this back to good conditions?

  2. Either about 25 cms of good old sierra cement or a warming to soften the surface and then a slow cool with small but regular snow falls.

  3. Now this is why we all need Bill's blog! The only accurate and truthful report of the skiing conditions in Fernie. Thank you Bill, and welcome back.

  4. Just discovered you're blog back up and running. I am very grateful. I love Fernie and their staff, but am incredibly frustrated and disappointed with their inaccurate snow reports. And of course, you have always provided information not found anywhere which is conditions on actual ski runs. You provide a valued and needed service. Thanks Bill.