Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Day 96 The beginning of the end

No, I am not stopping the blog again (sorry RCR management you will have to keep the champagne on ice for a while) I am just recognising that today was the first day that the inevitable spring melt started and the hill suffer some damage. I know it happens every year and I should expect it and the hill has a great base that will last until the end of the season but that doesn't mean I don't regard it as a black day in the calendar. Up until now we have been able to range over the hill skiing where and when we please but from now on we will have to be going to the North facing slopes in the mornings to avoid the refrozen crud then skiing that crud as it softens before abandoning it as it becomes just too mushy and making our way back to the North facing slopes.

The hill web site was calling 9 cms in the last 24 hours which is correct but they reported it as all having fallen overnight when in fact it fell during the day yesterday and there was no snow overnight. It was -6 as we drove to the hill and the weather was sun with a few clouds as it was all day. Temps rose so that it was +3 by the afternoon and way warmer in the direct sunlight, perhaps even double digit temps. Even now the temp in the valley is still zero. I am worried because the forecast is calling for precip and even the official forecast is calling for rain. Of course they don't put it that way, they call for snow but with the snow line (I prefer the term rain line) some way up the mountain. They don't mention what happens below the snow line but I can assure you that the precip continues and it doesn't come down as fairy dust.

We went to the Old Side because yesterday the Cedar High Traverse had been closed for most, if not all of the day and we figured correctly there would be untracked lines to be had. We hit Snake Ridge, Gorby Bowl and Steep and Deep all of which were more or less untracked although Snake had some tracks low down where traffic had worked it's way in off the low traverse yesterday. The skiing started excellent and soft but by last time through Steep and Deep the exit chute had turned to spring mush and it was time to leave. Exits were through Kangaroo which was skiing ok by Roo standards.

We did one loop through Boom Ridge and Alligator Glades both of which were softening in the rising temps. As we had word That Polar Peak may be opening we went the New Side where we immediately noticed a change. it was much colder and there was a strong wind moving sift around which stayed with us all day. Polar was turning but not open so we went out to Decline and had a very nice run down Decline and an even better one in Window Chutes which appeared untracked and had had deep cover even in the final choke.

For the final run before lunch we took the Lazy Locals Traverse and dropped the Fraser Tooth off Sib Ridge which was North Facing and such good snow that you could take the fall line and exit through the tight little chute skiers right of North East Glades. At the suggestion of my buddy Kevin we went to the top of lower Sib Ridge and just carried on into the trees heading towards White Rabbit. After about 100 metres into the trees we dropped the fall line and had great untracked tree skiing for a much longer pitch than I expected with the trees spaced rather wider than White Rabbit and the pitch nowhere near as steep. We need a name for these trees and are toying with Baby Bunny unless there is an official name anyone can tell us.

After lunch we headed back up and found Polar Peak open but only the Coaster, Cat Track and the Crusty Clown Chute open. We did few laps of Crusty and tracked back to the lift after traversing  under tower 6 and as usual the wind was howling, particularly around tower 8. The chute was soft and deep but the snow lower down although deep was a bit slabby as events proved We ran to base and were staggered to see poachers coming out of the Polar Chutes, and this after what happened last Saturday week - complete and utter grade A tossers. We ran to base through Stag Leap which was soft but was already starting to set up in the mid section where it had softened earlier.

Next time up we discovered that Polar had closed due to a slab out in the bottom of Spirit Bear so I guess my description as slabby was pretty accurate. We went and tried Cougar Glades which surprisingly was very crisp and setting up in the openings that had been exposed to the sun - a sign of what we have coming. We took the Glades all the way through to the logging trail and there was good untracked tree skiing in the lower parts.

We just had time for a final Skydive rip with just 5 of us there. As Skydive is more North Facing that Stag Leap we had no problem with the melt/set up and it skied well but the bumps are getting bigger and going further down the hill every day.  We had a good crowd of us in the Griz and as always the talk was skiing, is there a better way to end the day ? We have to see what tomorrow brings.

PS Added later. I have just remembered a run we did in the afternoon that I had forgot, I thought the afternoon seemed a bit light. Mid afternoon we tracked across the High IT which was very mellow and hit Cobra Rock which was lightly tracked in deep snow and even deeper as you got about half way down. As it was North facing everything was in great shape. We dropped Diamond Leg Trees which after a little cat debris in the top was soft and deep all the way down to the Gilmar Trail. That's better, time for bed.


  1. I know alot of the run names you use are patrol names for their control work since they have to work every pocket on the mountain, just wondering if perhaps one day you would like to define them a little more or maybe you would like skiers to search them out on their own as you have , just asking!

  2. This is a difficult one as it would take up a lot of space and many of the readers know most of the places and I don't know who knows what. The best way seems to be that if you have a query on a number of run names just email me and I will answer any specific enquiries. Hope this helps.