Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Day 95 Unlimited refills

It snowed all day today and as I ran into (not literally) a patrol buddy as we skied out of the fan in Lone Fir he said "unlimited refills" and I thought that summed up what we have been getting over the past couple of days.

Before I get started perhaps I could answer a question that has been raised by a number of people and that is Why don't you publish any pictures? There are two answers to that question - firstly a lot of followers access the blog on mobile devices with limited data capabilities and pictures place a strain on the download capabilities of the devices and any data limits. Most people say they just want to be able to get the words fast and cheaply. The second point is that there are no pictures because I don't stop and take any. I don't need pics for myself as I was there and know what it was like. Awesome days being the norm rather than the exception in Fernie I don't need to be reminded how good things get. That would mean I would need to stop skiing and enjoying myself in order to set up a shoot to show friends (most of whom would not be that interested) how much fun I was having. Having less fun just to show this off to others strikes me as a pretty dumb decision. Back to business.

Overnight we had 6 cms and it was -6 on the way to the hill. More importantly it was snowing and it snowed all day eventually giving a day time accumulation of around 10 cms. Some times the snow was falling harder than others but it came down all day without a break and only tapered off after we had finished. This was nothing like the forecast which had been threatening us with clear skies this afternoon which fortunately did not materialise. Temps rose during the day so that as we drove away we were getting a reading of zero but the snow stayed in great shape. This was a great day of fill in powder with the 10 cms on top of the overnight 6 and that on top of all the soft snow over the past few days - in other words it was a really good powder day.

As you would expect mid week the crowds were non existent. Just like yesterday it was a few regulars, Non Stop groups and vacation skiers mostly from Europe - I really must find out what they carry in those back packs as they are enormous, bigger than the bags I bring with me on the flight for the whole winter. The lack of crowds combined with the new snow meant that we had untracked skiing all day in most places we went and the hill was very quiet indeed.

Having had a long session on the Old Side yesterday we decided to have a New Side day today. I was amused to overhear someone in the locker room saying that they would not be going to the New Side because the viz in White Pass would be bad, which it was all day. This rather ignores the fact that you only ever go to White Pass to access all the skiing available off of it and a few poor viz turns at the top are a small price to pay for awesome Big 3 loops, still if that is what they want to think then no problems with me. We just spent all day looping in snow that was falling steadily and an ever increasing depth of powder in all runs. We hit -
Stag Leap - untracked deep soft snow particularly on the left hand side.
Decline/Window Chute - one track ahead of us and none in the chute. The snow in the chute was very soft and deep and even the choke had good coverage.
The Brain - lovely soft untracked lines and we held the right shoulder above the creek bed all the way down to the exit into Skydive.
Touque Chutes/Spinal Tap - the only track in the top was where a board had side slipped (I still don't understand why they do that, ride it don't slide it) and after that it was very deep powder. Spinal Tap had a few tracks in but was soft and deep and I think someone may have been knocking a few branches off the dead fall across the lower creek as we were still able to get under, just.
Lone Fir - final run before lunch and the chute was the most mellow I have ever seen with soft snow making turning so easy. The fan was just awesome deep powder and the run down through Easter and Freeway was getting pretty deep by then.
Cougar Glades - untracked on the skiers left and I took the trees  all the way down to the old logging trail and then out into the bottom of Stag Leap getting face shots most of the way.
Nameless Trees - good skiing with some untracked lines. The open field above the creek was deep and awesome and I held the creek bed down to the dead fall before cutting left into the trees down to the cat track. The powder really was getting deep by now.
Skydive - Lynda was going off the hill a little early to get her skis serviced so she wanted to finish off on Skydive. This suited me as it was soft powder particularly on the final pitch and I was able to scope it out for the real final run.
White Rabbit - what can I say about the bunny that hasn't already been said. Untracked steep tight tree skiing to the left of the creek bed.
Skydive - made the White Pass chair with 4 minutes to go and met up with four buddies for the final Skydive rip. It was a great ending to the day and the scoping of the run worked as the right hand side of the last pitch is now flatter and faster than the left of centre and I was able to take advantage of that.

That was a really good day's skiing with about 35,000 vertical feet of good powder without really pushing things too hard, The snow has now stopped but the forecast is for -13 overnight and more snow to come. Today we passed the 1000 cm snowfall mark which is always the sign of a good season. I seem to be going down with a cold which explains yesterday's low energy levels but an early night should help put me right.


  1. Some of us ski with packs containing companion rescue equipment. (and not much else).
    Seconds count in a burial situation.

    Just saying..


  2. I have had this discussion on many occasions. When skiing inbounds in Fernie ski patrol will always be on the scene in a couple of minutes in the event of an avalanche if they are contacted promptly. When you have a companion burial you call in the professionals and then secure the area (to make sure you are not going to be hit by a secondary), make a visual search and start a transceiver search - we all carry transceivers. Long before you are in a position to start probing and digging ski patrol will be on the scene and all that rescue equipment is pointless. This why none of the locals, no ski instructors and no off duty ski patrollers ski with back packs if they are staying inbounds. If you have ever been involved in real avalanches as most of us have you will know that the first few minutes are vital but they are not spent digging without having gone through the above proper preparatory procedures

  3. As always we will agree to disagree.
    Every second counts and you make your own way in the world.

  4. We actually agree that time is vital, it's how you spend that time. Digging before you have carried out a search to know where to dig or checked to see if a secondary is going to hit you is a dangerous waste of time and energy. By the time you have carried out the correct procedures you will have all the digging and probing help you need. Andy, I agree that in Europe where "off piste" takes you well away from controlled areas then you carry a pack and rely on companion rescue.