Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Day 88 Lies, damned lies and statistics

I have never been a great fan of these electronic devices that tell you the vital statistics of your skiing as I have seen too many people get sucked in to the numbers game and actually ski less good terrain in order to boost their daily "vert". On Sunday which was a big powder day I was skiing with Tony Crocker from the web site and his buddy Tony who were in town and wanted to have a rip round the hill with Lynda and me. They were very keen (for obvious reasons ) to measure what we did and I was surprised when the day's total vert came out at 35,720 ft of which at least 25k had to be deep untracked powder. Given that we get a minimum of 30 days a season like that and this is my 14th season in Fernie it seems that I have had over 10 million vertical feet of awesome untracked powder since all this started - not a bad total.

While on the subject of stats another buddy of mine pointed out that today was day 88 of the season and we have had 903 cms of snow so far. You don't have to be a genius to work out that this averages at just over 10 cms a day and when you consider that the first 20 days of the season were a bit of a snow drought things are even more impressive. I suppose all these numbers confirm what we all know in our gut that this is turning out to be a pretty good season.

There was no new snow over night despite forecasts to the contrary. It was -3 on the deck as we had coffee as it was on the way to the hill and as it also was as we drove away in the evening. It might have warmed up a little during the day but the newly installed thermometer at the White Pass load indicated about -6 all day. It was windy in the morning but the wind died down a lot in the afternoon. Conditions were overcast and all morning we had a type of light snow which didn't really seem to accumulate. In the afternoon the snow seemed to stiffen it's resolve and by the time we were sitting in the Griz it was snowing and accumulating quite well. This has continued into the evening and having just looked out on the back deck the snow is still falling.

We had been hoping for an opening of Snake Ridge for the first time in three days so we went to the Old Side but a natural slide had let go overnight high in Cedar Bowl crossing the traverse out and put paid to any chance of the high traverse being opened today. We decided to stick with the Old Side anyway and had a great morning. Conditions were more or less the same everywhere we went with soft tracked snow, some gentle soft bumps and a fair amount of wind sift providing a very mellow cover. Yesterday crowds had disappeared and although there seemed to be quite few destination skiers around things were more or less deserted in the areas that we were interested in.

We did a series of loops into Cedar via Bear Cave Chutes, New Lift Line, the Gulch, Cedar Ridge Left, Cedar Ridge Centre and King Fir - as I said all were very easy mellow skiing. In between the Cedar loops we ran back to Boom Chair via Boom Ridge, Alligator Glades (newly opened and so many untracked areas in between the dead fall), Linda's (particularly good in Linda's Private Parts) Boom Guts and Buck Shot. Every return was through Kangaroo (was it 4 or 5 times, I can't remember) which had it's hard icy moments but had enough soft snow to make it a very pleasant experience. We ran off for lunch with a Boomerang, cut into Boom Ridge, Alligator Glades from the top down to the creek bed and then out on the Cedar Trail - not a bad way to finish.

In the afternoon we went to the New Side where we found things much the same as the Old with a good covering of wind sift on soft snow and things getting better as the now settling snow starting to make a difference. We had time for some loops and although the Reverse Traverse had been closed a lower line just above the usual low traverse was available and it worked for us -
Touque Chutes/Spinal Tap - still very deep all the way down and we hit the right shoulder of Spinal Tap which appeared to be untracked today. The tree across the chute is getting lower all the time and it won't be many days before we have to find an alternative route.
Nameless Trees/Creek - great untracked lines in the trees to the Megasaurus and even better in the entrance to the creek probably because of the gnarly exit. The creek bed was ok for a while but you had to hit a steep exit on the right into lower Stag Leap before you got to all the dead fall.
The Brain - I tried some different lines and found some very deep soft snow on the right of the creek bed before holding the line all the way down to the cat track.

We needed a White Pass fill in so I dropped into the Knot Chutes and skied Jim before taking the Idiot Traverse into Surprise Trees which were soft and deep and with untracked lines in the trees on the right. Last run of course was Skydive which we ripped and found it in the best condition for days with soft snow in all sections.

We had a good evening at the Pub for wings night with friends and now back for a good night's rest before what looks like another powder day.


  1. I am curious what device or app they were using to track the elevation skied? Did they cross reference the data against lifts riden to double check their devices?

  2. Ben - not sure what devices they used as I am not into this stuff but we did cross reference the numbers against the lifts ridden (which I guess we could do any day) and came up with a number that had a variance of less than a half of a percent so I am pretty confident in the figures.

  3. I have had the Vertech watch since it came on the market in 1995 and it matches up to chairlift count quite consistently within 1-2%. I had to do chairlift count before then, and having the watch makes vertical not something I monitor so much during the ski day but just record at the the end.

    I looked a couple of time during Sunday due to the pace Bill was setting and was in general pleased I wasn't tiring out too fast given that I'm an amateur from SoCal and this was the last day of a 10-day trip. The hero powder was a big part of that and on a less forgiving day I might be lucky to keep up with Bill until lunch. I missed a couple of runs late but still ended up with 30,870.

    What I do have is a good visual memory, and on my 10th lifetime day at Fernie Bill expanded my horizons greatly into terrain I had not skied before but surely will when I come back.