Saturday, February 10, 2018

Day 71 Cold, Windy and Another Brutal Day

Before I start I have to deal with a rumour that I have ben asked about several times over the past couple of weeks. The rumour is that this is my last season in Fernie and at the end of the season I will be selling up and moving on. Let me make it clear that I have no intention of quitting Fernie and will be skiing here every day for many seasons to come, the good lord willing. I think this is just a case of wishful thinking on the part of RCR.

On the way to the hill today it was -19 with no new snow over night. We were supposed to be getting an arctic high which would mean clear skies and no wind but in the event we had ridgeline cloud which gave some light snow (don't get excited it didn't even amount to a dusting) and strong ridgeline winds which moved down the hill as the day progressed. The winds drove a lot of blowing snow and whilst I think the mercury up top rose to about -10 the wind chill must have been in the -20s all day.

We went to the New Side and found some wind sift in Puff Trees but not enough to disguise the fact that we were skiing hard icy bumps. After yesterday the go to was Knot Chutes but today they were a mixed bag. The wind had scoured some of the surfaces but deposited some sift in other places - overall the soft deep snow had gone and we were getting firm chunky snow taking a good edge with a little sift at best. That having been said this looked a way better bet than the lower mountain so we looped them finding the crunch line had moved down to the bottom of the I bowl presumably where the wind and cold had dried out the surface a bit.

We ran down to base through Currie Glades which were ok and soft most of the way down and in any event the best option (or so we thought) as Currie was closed at the County Line. Final run down was through a groomed Diamond Back which was hard and icy with a few death cookies but to our minds a better bet than trying the ever icy Gilmar Trail. Next time round I headed out to look for Gotta Go or Anaconda on the grounds that with the crunch line now much lower on the hill these may have been open. No such luck and I had to get down a rather ugly Surprise Trees to run Down Diamond Back.

While I had been checking out runs Lynda and my visiting Irish buddies had tried 1-2-3s and had found them surprisingly good with lots of blown in sift almost to the bottom of 3s where the crunch began. After a couple more loops of Knot Chutes where we were starting to see some soft wind grooming we went to a late lunch via 1-2-3s where the skiing was good but the viz was poor in the top, and Gilmar Trail which confirmed all out worst fears of being a slick hard track.

After lunch we were told that the Timber Chair was down for repairs and would be at least 40 mins. Unsurprisingly there was a large line up at Elk which we bypassed as singles only to be told that Timber was back up and running - we decided to investigate the Old Side anyway. We might as well have saved our time as it was a complete bust and the very cold wind that had been a feature of the morning skiing in White Pass was now there to chill us going up Bear.

To give the guests a tour round we went out to Dancer and found it rock hard un groomed ice with irregular sifted or swept snow and the light was pretty poor as well. We dropped down North Ridge with everything on either side subject to (quite understandably ) conditions closures - it was slick but just about ok. We came back up Boom and after a very slick run down Bear decided that the Old Side was not worth it and headed to the New. In fairness I heard from a patroller buddy that by the very end of the day some sift was getting into Cedar but that was as good as it got.

We finished the day with some more Knot Chute loops and as the viz was now poor we were more or less on our own. To be fair I had expected today to be busy but for whatever reason it was much quieter than even a normal Saturday and not much busier than a week day. We had a few drinks (non alcoholic for me) in the Griz where the band there was very good .

Tomorrow is forecast to get really cold with maybe temps of -25 by the night. Some flurries are forecast but at those temps the moisture content of any snow will be so low that it will not help much even if it isn't blown away in the wind. Fingers crossed for something better.

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