Saturday, March 3, 2018

Day 92 Too busy to be awesome but still good

Today was the busiest day I can ever remember on the hill. I think it was a combination of a huge dump of snow on top of what has already been a great powder week, Griz days weekend, just the fact it was a weekend and as I understand it a long weekend in some parts of Alberta. We arrived at the hill at 8:30 but were still unable to get in parking lot 2 but did manage a space in the road near the Mountain Pantry. The line up for Timber was the longest ever seen and backed up to the ski school meeting place. Even riding singles it was 9:20 before we got on our first lift. There were lift lines all morning and into the early afternoon before the usual late day tail off began. All of this and the restricted terrain meant for me that despite snow conditions that have to rate among some of the best I have ever experienced today could only be considered as very good and not awesome.

We had 44 cms of snow overnight and with a starting temp in the valley of -6 the snow was light and dry and almost perfect powder. The official site gave a powder alert of 54 cms which considering the overnight 44 and that the 24 hour figure was 47 and the 48 hour figure was 52 (all figures from the official snow report) had us scratching our heads. I would genuinely welcome someone from the hill to explain via the comments section of this blog how they arrive at the powder alerts numbers which always differ from their own snow report.

It is hard to describe the changing weather during the day. Temps warmed so that the lower mountain definitely had some plus temps by the afternoon making the snow heavier and more resistant. By the end of the day things had cooled and we drove home in valley temps of -1 and cooler by a degree or two up top. We had poor viz that cleared in the afternoon and even some weak sunshine. We had snow showers that came and went and a wind that got up for a while but dropped by the end of the day. In other words we had a bit of everything today.

It was a good sign that as we lined up at Timber Chair ski patrol were warning parents of small (and not so small come to that) children to keep an eye on their kids as the snow "up there" was deeper than the child - and it was. We dropped back to White Pass through Puff Trees which was over the head face shots all the way. There was a delay on White Pass but we decided to stick it out and eventually loaded at about 10 o'clock.

The whole of the White Pass core was open with Knot Chutes and Currie Bowl closed. We dropped the Gun Bowl looped out to Surprise Trees in thigh deep powder where the face shots were so thick that you couldn't breath and eventually had to stop. Today was never going to be a record day for vert as the line ups were just too long but we amused ourselves repeating the first loop and checking to see if Anaconda was open. After a while when it was apparent that Anaconda wasn't going to open we went to base via Triple Trees which was tracked but very deep all the way down.

Next time up Big Bang and Sib Ridge had opened so I treated myself to two loops of White Rabbit where some of the landings off the log rolls were so deep that the snow seemed more than head height at times. Perhaps it was all the excitement that caused me not to pay attention and get a branch in mouth second time round - it didn't bleed too much so no worries. We then went back to White Pass Where they had opened the Knot Chutes which were full of very soft deep snow. All the traverses but particularly the Idiot traverse and the high IT were a nightmare. The combination of heavy snowfall, very high skier traffic and very flat light made for challenging conditions which only improved late in the day not because the traverses got better but in the improved light you could at least see what you were about to hit.

After a more loops on Knot Chutes/Surprise which remained in good shape they dropped the fence on Anaconda and we had the most awesome rip through there and into Don't Lose Me Trees - I think I shall revert to my previous name of Diamond Leg Trees as it more accurately places them between the two areas. We looped it again, and again there were deep untracked lines to be had and the Helter Skelter by Bootleg whilst tracked was soft and deep.

Lynda went for a very late lunch so I went out and tried Gotta Go as the light had made the high IT more pleasant. There were many tracks in Gotta Go and to be fair the skiing wasn't great as there was considerable avi control debris below the chute. Below that it was soft and untracked as most people had traversed out and that was face shots as well. I went back to Sib Ridge and hit the Fraser Tooth which looked to me like it had slide but the soft snow lower down was super deep as was the thin chute to the right of North East Glades.

For the final run I linked up with my buddy Rod and Lynda and we went for a crazy idea. We crossed the High IT and dropped Google Earth which was very scraped out and bit of a slither. We then traversed as hard as we could to Currie Powder took a few turns and below the final closed sign worked our way out on a side step traverse to Skydive which we intercepted about two thirds of the way down from the Decline split and the Megasaurus. We weren't the first there by a long shout but there were still untracked lines and the snow was super deep. It was great to finish the day as we had started in Surprise with face shots so thick that after a while you had to stop just to be able to breath.

So ended a very good day's skiing. The limited terrain and the reduced number of runs because of the crowds detracted from the day but awesome snow kind of balanced it out. Currie Bowl should be officially awesome if it opens tomorrow.


  1. One thing I wish the hill would do on very busy days is either reopen the second maze into the timber lift or just put out some bamboo and rope to extend the existing one (the lifties could do that before the lift opens). The confusing line spread, with people joining half way down, is just a mess.