Friday, February 16, 2018

Day 77 Awesome even by Fernie's standards

The day didn't seem to promise much as we drank our morning coffee. The hill was reporting only 1 cm of new snow overnight with a temp of -4 and a few isolated flurries. In the event it started snowing as we drove in to Lot 2 just before 9 and continued until about 3 in the afternoon. The snow just puked down all day and at one time they were recording a 6 cm an hour fall rate. I don't have a figure for the final accumulation but it had to be well in excess of 20 cms.

I think the snow fall surprised everyone as the hill was not particularly busy and if anything was rather quieter than a normal Friday. We feared that this was the promised winter storm arriving early but forecasters are confident that this was just the "light flurries" and the main event is still due to hit us over the next 24 hours.

As usual in these conditions we headed to the New Side and found everything open except Polar Peak (the chair was turning so we are optimistic), and Siberia Ridge of which more later. Most importantly the Reverse Traverse was open as were the Saddles so we had lots of new terrain. There is little point in describing the condition of each of the runs in detail, they were all awesome deep untracked powder. In some cases we were getting genuine first tracks and in others we were just getting fresh tracks as the snow filled in but it was all so good who cares.

We started with a drop of Corner Pocket and then High Saddle and exited both via Easter and Freeway. The snow under the Saddles hadn't been skied in over a week and felt like it. Then it was loops of Stag Leap, Cougar Glades, Touque Chutes/Spinal Tap and Decline. All these were soft deep untracked snow just getting deeper all of the time.

My ski buddies decided to lunch but I skied on. When I got to the top of Timber I found that the Lazy Locals Traverse was open and I headed up hoping Siberia Ridge was open but it wasn't. No matter as the drop into the unskied upper portion of Big Bang was spectacular face shots all the way. I hiked up to Lone Fir and noticed that the Saddles had been closed and guessed correctly that the sign line into Lizard would also be down. Lone Fir was a bit scratchy in the chute but the snow in the fan was super deep and again it was face shots all the way down through Easter.

Just when you think things can't get any better they do. We all met up after lunch and headed up Lazy Locals. On the way we were passed by a couple of ski patrol buddies who advised us to "hold back a moment". We did and when we got to the end of the traverse we found them taking down the closed signs at the top of Siberia Ridge. Sib Ridge had been closed for about 10 days and our first run down the super deep untracked powder was out the other side of awesome - we pretty much could straight line the run.

Next time up we made our only bad call of the day and dropped off the top of Sib Ridge into the Fraser Tooth that was untracked. Whether it was due to the pitch or the aspect I don't know but pretty well everything in the trees above North East Glades that we were making for let go while we were in there and two of our party were carried a long way down in huge sloughs. It was all rather scary although I imagine that after out unofficial ski cutting things were much improved. We went back and had another run at Sib Ridge which was a bit more tracked up but still had deep untracked lines if you worked the sides of the run.

As the snow had stopped and the light improved we decided on a change of scenery and hit the Tight Knot (hardly tracked) Anaconda 0.5 (soft and deep) and Don't Lose Me Trees ( awesome deep snow) as a final loop. Skydive was of course the final rip of the day and the club had expanded to 7. A great rip down at warp speed with buddies in big soft rolling snow mounds.

And so a perfect day ended with a few orange and sodas in the Griz and then a long soak in the hot tub with temps holding at about -2. The forecast is still for another major snow event over the next 24 hours and although tomorrow on the hill will be a zoo (Alberta Family Weekend, US Presidents Day etc) I say bring it on.


  1. Hey Bill - Genuine question: What's your trick to having the stamina to ski all day every day? I'm half your age and envy that kind of energy. Maybe snowboarding just requires a heavier kind of exertion?

    1. Ski in a way that conserves energy. Ski all the steep stuff and ski it fast but make the hill do the work. Don't ski hard, ski smart.

  2. Nice to see your back Bill. As usual I read your blog's with envy. I am just about to book to be there with a group of Aussies for next year February 8th.