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.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Day 91 What, only 5 cms

That was very much the feeling this morning as we read the overnight new snow figure of 5 cms which for a change seemed to be about right. In a normal year 5 cms would be considered a pretty good day but this year we have been spoilt.

It was -3 as we drove to the hill and was overcast and remained so all day. We had flurries on and off all morning but with only a light accumulation. In the afternoon the snow became heavier and as we sat in the Griz Bar tonight it was puking down. It was a snowy drive back from the hill and although it has eased of a bit now it is still coming down and more is forecast overnight. Around the middle of the day temps dropped quite quickly and at one time they were getting -11 at the Bear Top. By the time we were driving home it was -4 in the valley and -7 up the hill. I guess what I am saying is that there is no danger of any precip we get coming down as anything but white.

When we arrived at the hill it was apparent that there had been a big wind event overnight and there were some significant windrows. Most impressive was at the top of High Saddle where the blast debris had blown back up the chute so the windrow at the top was actually black - a very strange sight. The Haul Back lift was still broken down so we headed to the New Side. I know that you can do Old Side loops and avoid the Haul Back by tracking out on Cedar Trail but to be honest I haven't got time for that kind of hassle when the New Side is fully functioning with the exception of Polar Peak which remains closed.

The parking lot was busy and although we were not particularly early we had to park much further back than I expected. There were no lift lines during the day, the day lodge was not particularly busy and we didn't see many people in the areas we were skiing so what happened to all those car drivers is a mystery to me.

We dropped to White Pass via Lift Line and it is worth mentioning that all day the direct drop and the trees to skiers right all the way out to and including Big Bang were soft and lightly tracked. The Reverse Traverse was open but the Saddles were close so we tracked out to Skydive. We had Skydive untracked down to the final pitch when a couple of tracks appeared out of the trees on the left but that still left plenty of untracked. The 5 cms of new snow on top of yesterday's tracked powder made for a great skiing surface which like everywhere we went today was very mellow and easy.

Next loop we dropped Decline which only had a couple of tracks in and skied just as good as Skydive. To complete the set we hit Stag Leap which was mostly untracked and the left hand side of the final pitch has terrain that comes at you so nicely to allow you to take lots of air it is rapidly becoming one of my favourite parts of the hill.

The Saddles opened as always a huge rush of mainly boarders went to Corner Pocket and trashed it in minutes. I am not sure why Corner Pocket is so much the "go to" for so many people. Perhaps it's because it's the first one you get to or maybe because it is the shortest but for whatever reason it always gets the lion's share of the traffic. I dropped High Saddle which was only lightly tracked to begin with three times. The chute was soft snow all the way through and it was easy edge to edge jumping to get through. Under the Saddle the fans were super deep snow with many untracked lines. My exits were Easter Trees left, Easter Bowl itself and on the final loop Spinal Tap which you got to with a hard traverse. The creek bed was still soft and the duck under the tree just doable. Just beyond the tree there were some huge chunks of snow/ice that had to be avoided and I can't really imagine how they got there in the first place.

After a late lunch we tried Cougar Glades left which were good with some untracked lines then dropped the far left exit below the Megasauraus to get tight untracked lines into the disused logging trail along side Stag Leap. Next we hit Nameless Trees which were still soft enough to take at warp speed down to the creek bed. We followed the creek jumping in and out off the sides until the deadfall then went left and then right dropping back into the creek after each piece of deadfall only to find more. Eventually we worked our way our in the trees on the left but there has to be a better line to be found.

On a day like this who could resist White Rabbit - we couldn't and had great soft deep tight tree skiing down to Fallout. Once again the snow was so good that we could take the left hand side of the choke in Sib Ridge. We had time for a fill in White Pass loop and having told everyone I wouldn't take the Knot Chutes because of the poor viz I hit Tight Knot and rode the remains of the windrow spine all the way down which was great. Surprise Trees were also good with some soft deep snow particularly in the top.

Last run was of course Skydive with 7 of us there and it was soft and easy all the way through. In the Griz the trend of  Friday being the new Saturday continued although the fact that today is the start of Griz Days may have had something to do with it. It was great to be with a crowd of hard core skiers totally pumped after a great day of powder. We sat there watching the snow heave down an got more excited about tomorrow's prospects as the evening wore on. I think the crowds will turn up so it's time for an early night and an early morning.

PS on the lift today I met up with Janina Kuzma just back from the women's ski half pipe at the Olympics. It was great to meet up with an old buddy again and we are glad to have her back in Fernie.

Day 90 Star Wars was right

When I was compelled to suspend this blog early this season due to threats to suspend my pass by RCR I was genuinely surprised by the support I got and just how big the blog had become. I don't just mean the comments on the blog and the emails but the personal views given to me on the hill and in the bar not to mention being contacted by the press and radio. Now I have restarted I am even more surprised that the audience and influence of the blog appears to have expanded beyond any expectations I ever had. There are of course the messages of support (particularly from the Calgary weekend crowd who felt deprived of their daily fix of skiing) but also the site is now referenced as the authoritative source of information on skiing in Fernie by a number of very serious ski sites. This among other things has driven the number of daily hits up to just short of 1000 a day which is way ahead of anything that went before. Perhaps those who were instrumental in silencing the blog might like to reflect on Obi-Wan Kenobi's final words "If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine" - he was right.

Of course not everybody is pleased to see the blog back, the trolls are again crawling out of the wood work. The trolls (and one of them does bear a remarkable resemblance to a little troll) are spreading the stories that I don't ski what I say and the blog is made up. My offer remains to these individuals that any day they want they can join me in the locker room at 9 and we will ski all of those runs that they say I don't ski for as long as their legs will last. In the meanwhile they may like to read this independent account of a day with Lynda and me that does tend to suggest that we ski what we say we do.

It was -4 as we drank coffee this morning and we were getting ready for the day. The joke of the day was provided by the official web site which claimed 55 cms of fresh powder both on the site and on alerts sent to registered guests. I know many of my buddies who dashed out to get ready for a big day skiing only to discover that there was nothing like this much new snow. The actual snow report called 11 cms of overnight snow which seemed about right to us. Perhaps I could suggest that the person who produces the powder snow alerts actually reads their own snow report first - just a suggestion.

We had the decision to make of which side to go but this was made for us with the news of yet another lift break down. This time it was the Haul Back which was down all day and will be down for a number of days to come. Not fancying the additional exercise of the hike up from the Haul Back load we went to the New Side. It was overcast all day with the occasional non accumulating flurry and viz that came and went at the top of White Pass.

The 11 cms overnight had given a good new covering and on top of the 80 cms that we have had in the last 7 days meant that everywhere was soft deep powder. Everything was open except for Polar Peak and the Saddles. First loop only the Polar Sink Traverse was open but after that the Reverse Traverse was open all day.

We went out the Skydive and found one board track going in and out of the trees on the left so we had the whole of the run untracked to ourselves. It was soft and mellow with lots of face shots. Next we went to Cougar Glades which was untracked after the start on the hard left. I dropped the trees below the Megasauraus which were very deep and just cut left into the disused logging trail which was ok but still with some dead fall waiting to catch you out.

Of course Lynda insisted of Touque Chutes which as always had deeper snow than in most other places. Afterwards we exited through Spinal Tap and had to duck very low to get under the fallen tree in the bottom but it was worth it as the whole chute was soft lightly tracked powder. Next was Nameless Trees which had many untracked lines of deep snow and we held the creek bed all the way down to just above the dead fall as it was so good. We bailed right onto the bottom of Stag Leap but I have a feeling there may be an exit in the trees to the left if we look hard enough.

As tree skiing was going so well we went to White Rabbit and once again the snow was so good you could take the left side of the choke in Sib Ridge which I have only rarely been able to ski. The usual right the left line in the Rabbit was great steep tight untracked tree skiing. For the final run before lunch we took the high IT (which was in ok shape) out to Gotta Go which was ok in the choke and sensational above and below. The final drop through Don't Lose Me Trees on Bootleg right was as mellow as it has been all season with a line now working right through the dead fall.

After lunch we were up into the Fraser Tooth for great fall line tree skiing and then dropping the tight line to the right of North East Glades which is now very full of deep snow. Just for a change next loop we took the high IT and the ridge line all the way out the Cobra Rock which was very lightly tracked. For the first time ever instead of holding the left hand line under the cliff I dropped right into the steep tight chutes and made it through fine if perhaps with a little more speed than I had planned. We pushed hard right in the Don't Lose Me Trees and eventually found untracked trees all the way down to almost the end of the Gilmar trail

I had decided to try the hike up to Lone Fir but when I got there a Non Stop group was stopped and taking their time in the chute so I decided to take the next chute Easter Meadow. I had always thought the name was a joke by ski patrol as this is one of the tightest and steepest lines on the hill but today it was full of snow and so mellow that the name meadow seemed appropriate. The final pitch was almost as wide as High Saddle and only a bit steeper so it was a surprisingly easy drop. I then cut across Easter to take the trees between Window Chutes and Spinal Tap which still had some nice steep untracked lines.

I am sure I have forgotten one of the afternoon runs but I don't want to be accused of over reporting so let's let it go. Final run was Skydive with 5 of us there and although it was tracked up since the first morning run it was still very mellow. On the way back from the hill the temp was zero and has now fallen to about -3. With significant precip in the forecast we are still on the edge but a cooling trend seems to be coming in so maybe we will be ok - I hope so.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Day 89 Yet another awesome day

Today showed to me why a site like mine is needed. When I looked at the official site this morning it showed 30 cms of snow in the last 24 hours but all of it coming yesterday and none overnight. As it was puking snow from when I left the hill last night until I went to bed this didn't make any sense. Furthermore the snow base was showing as 331 cms which is exactly what it was showing yesterday so the snowfall apparently didn't add to the base. By the time I was leaving for the hill the figures had been revised to 23 cms but all overnight and none during the day which was equally incorrect and the base remained unaltered at 331 cms. How anyone is supposed to understand such random (mis) information is a mystery to me and convinces me of the need for an independent view. Of course the more important reason is that on a ski hill web site, and here I mean any ski hill, what you see (with the exception of the date and road reports) is all advertising by another name and as we all know in advertising as in war truth is the first casualty.

It was -5 on the way to the hill and clearly had snowed. As we moved around the New Side during the day the new snow depth varied with aspect and terrain but I would accept that it was in the 20-30 cm range. During the day it was overcast and we had few flurries, some quite hard off and on giving a minor accumulation. During the afternoon things brightened up and we had some brief sunshine but fortunately not enough to damage the skiing surfaces. Temps rose briefly to above freezing but quickly dropped back and on the way home it was -1 in the car and forecast to go much lower tonight.

With my new found interest in stats I estimate that today was a really big day with over 40k ft of vert. I skied from just after 9 when I arrived on the hill to 4 with no breaks of any kind so a big day was to be expected. We stuck to the New Side and did loops all day. With Currie Bowl closed at first we had to cut back through Anaconda but straight after that Currie opened and the Skydive Traverse was open from the Polar Sink all day. This meant that the Saddles were never going to be an option but the Big 3 and similar runs would be available all day. The snow of course was soft deep and untracked in most places due to the usual mid week lack of crowds.

In keeping with tradition I started with a jump off Hollywood Rock which I landed with a bit of a hip check and after that this is how the day panned out -
Slim/Anaconda 1/Bootleg Helter Skelter/Gilmar Gully - A great first run in deep hero snow so you could just snake the tight chutes. The Helter Skelter was untracked and the gully only had a couple of tracks in. Officially an awesome start.
Decline - one track in front of us but once again about three tracks came in from the left in the final pitch. face shots all the way down
Cougar Glades - tracks in the top but untracked lines as you worked left and the straight drop into the left hand exit chute was very deep and untracked.
Nameless Trees - great untracked skiing and super deep snow at the start of the creek. Followed the creek much further than usual which was very skiable in this much snow before cutting out into lower Stag Leap.
White Rabbit - the snow in Sib Ridge was so good that I could ski the left face of the choke before cutting right into the Rabbit. As always it was soft thigh deep untracked snow which got better as you moved left of the creek bed to extend the run.
Touque Chutes/Spinal Tap - Lynda's favourite run and with good reason as the snow is so deep in the chute. Spinal Tap was only lightly tracked and today could be the last time we get under the fallen tree at the bottom as we all had to duck big time to make it.
The Brain - as I expected there were tracks but with so many different lines available it was deep untracked tree skiing most of the way.
Google Earth/Don't Lose Me Trees - This is a chute to the left of Gotta Go which you can access by hopping over a shoulder and it was untracked, very steep and totally awesome. The DLMTs to the right of Bootleg were lightly tracked and soft snow which sloughed hard all the way through.
Cougar Glades/Logging Trail - I stayed very hard left in Cougar Glades where the trees are tighter and therefore it have less traffic. In the lower section I took the pitch between the left exit and Stag Leap which was mostly untracked and got into the old disused logging trail that spits you out just above the First Aid Trail. Awesome soft deep snow and the first time I have hit it this year,
Nameless Trees - I linked up with some buddies and as this had been so good I had to take them there. They were not disappointed as the trees were still untracked in many places. This time we held the creek bed further than ever and I am thinking that the next dump will allow us to clear the last bit of dead fall and take it all the way down.
The Brain - for much the same reasons I showed off the Brain which was still in great shape and with some minor variations on the morning still had untracked lines.
White Rabbit - The funny thing about this run is that it is so vast and complex that you never take the same line twice and the quality of the lines do vary. This time I found a great untracked fall line with tight trees, thigh deep powder and not much dead fall. It was way better at the end of the day than it had been earlier.

We just had time for a ripper loop in White Pass before heading out to Skydive for last run. There were 9 of us today as despite the fact that Lynda said she was going to have a short day she stayed on tempted but the powder. It was great run and everyone admitted that their legs were screaming by the end of the non stop rip.

We went to the Griz where everyone was pumped up by another great powder day. The forecast is for loads more precip between here and the weekend but temps are rising and few of us are getting nervous. Time to get out the prayer mat.                                          

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.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Day 87 Well worth 10 bucks

Yes, today is the day that even allowing for the tax on my season's pass the average cost of skiing drops below 10 bucks - if things go to plan the average daily cost of skiing to me should be below 6 bucks by the end of the season. When I tell people this the reaction is usually a variation on "the hill don't make anything out of you then". This attitude is so completely ingrained even in those involved in running the ski hill that it is hard to explain that this view point is 180 degrees incorrect. A ski hill is a high fixed cost operation so that once a ski pass has been sold the cost to the hill is the same for a 30 day a year skier (considered a good customer) as for a 130 day a year skier like me. The difference is in the income line where the 130 day a year skier spends way more on the extra visits which in my case would amount to an extra $2500 minimum over the 30 day skier making me one of their best customers. The view that just because I am getting good value has to mean that the hill is getting bad value has been around for so long now I don't expect it to change no matter how wrong it is.

Before I launch into today's skiing I have to add a PS to yesterday's in that late in the day I hit Hollywood Rock for the 14th time this season and improved my average to 10 landings v 4 stacks - just saying.

The final tally for yesterday's snow cycle was 27 cms in 24 hours but with only 5 cms of that falling overnight after the hill had closed. This wasn't too bad as there were significant closures (at least in the areas I want to ski) from about lunch time yesterday and several areas that didn't open at all meaning that there would be some good untracked runs to be had. It was -7 on the way to the hill and a mix of sun and cloud during the day. There was rather too much sun for my liking but we appeared to have dodged the bullet and the surface did not get too sun affected. I am always amazed at the uncritical delight with which people greet sunny days when skiing. Snow doesn't fall out of blue skies (usually) and sun and warm temps are destroyers of good skiing (usually) a fact that so many seem to fail to appreciate. It clouded over by late afternoon and as we drove away tonight it was starting to snow again and the temps was a steady -3.

The Cedar High Traverse was closed all day so the whole Snake Ridge area remains a promise for tomorrow and on that basis we headed for the New Side. We headed across to Stag Leap and found the trees at the top untracked and only a couple of tracks in the run itself giving us deep untracked lines with face shots to start the day. Next loop the Saddles had opened and in the few minutes before I got there Corner Pocket had been totally trashed by skiers and boarders side slipping it. We have strong views on side slipping which are that if you are not good enough to ski or ride a chute you shouldn't be in there. In our group anyone caught side slipping rather than turning in a tight line has to buy a round. The whole situation turned out well as it forced me to check out High Saddle which was skiing beautifully with soft snow and just about as mellow as I can remember. The snow under the Saddle was soft and deep and I cut across to Spinal Tap which like yesterday was full of soft snow.

For a change we took the High IT across the Knot Chutes which was very mellow and dropped Gotta Go which was a little scratchy in the choke but great soft untracked skiing both above and below. The Don't Lose Me Trees to the right of Bootleg had a couple of turns in the top affected by cat debris and after that it was soft and lightly tracked all the way down. Next we hiked Lone Fir which had good coverage in the chute and then after that the fan was just awesome as always. The exit through Easter was good soft tracked powder. Our final run before lunch was Decline where we considered dropping Window Chutes but the lower run looked (and in fact was) so good we couldn't resist.

After lunch we started the afternoon on Cougar Glades which had untracked lines if you were prepared to push hard enough left into the tight trees and the straight drop into the left hand exit was chopped up deep powder. Next we went to the Fraser Tooth which was good tree skiing and hit the tight chute to skiers right of North East Glades which had filled up with soft powder. Lynda was going to go off the hill to do some shopping so we went to her favourite run Touque Chutes which as always had some of the deepest snow on the hill. The exit through Spinal Tap was just as good as the morning but with a few more tracks.

We decided to gamble on The Brain which we figured would be either very good or very bad. As it was we struck gold and had a great tree run in soft snow with many untracked lines. It was so good that we pretty well got to the cat track at the bottom of Skydive before we left the trees. We just had time for a quick loop of the Fraser Tooth which was just as good as before and headed back up the Timber Chair. The chair stopped twice and ran slow which was not what we needed but we made the final White Pass chair with less than a minute to spare - I might not have been so phlegmatic about the stoppages if we had missed it.

Final rip down Skydive was as always great fun with a group of 6 of us which is not bad for a Monday. The Griz Bar was not too busy considering how many people had been on the hill during the day and it was fun to lay in the hot tub tonight and watch the light snow falling. We should be at the start of the next snow cycle tonight so lets keep our fingers crossed.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Day 86 A full on awesome day

As a change I thought I would start todays blog with a picture. It is a picture of yesterday's avalanche and you can clearly see the crown all the way across the top of Mamma Bear and the massive avi debris trail below. The only reason for including this is that as the official sites appear to be in complete denial of the existence of an avalanche yesterday I had thought that maybe me, and my buddies had imagined everything and this pic does at least confirm that we weren't dreaming.

Temps warmed over night so that it was -5 on the way to the hill and snowing. Overnight figures reported that we had 1 cm of new snow although it looked way more by the time we were driving to the hill. I think this was because the snow had started late in the morning and not because the ski hill had decided to under report the amount of new snow - that will be the day.

The day was an amazing day and perhaps one of the top days ever. It was snowing when we got to the hill and puked snow all day in full on winter conditions. I have no idea what the snow fall total was but we had to be looking at more than 20 cms. It tapered off a little towards the end of the day but by that time we had been swamped by as much deep powder as anyone could want. The crowds should all have gone home but I guess the conditions made them hold on and who could blame them, that having been said it never got that busy at any time during the day.

We went to the New Side for all the reasons I explored yesterday to do with the iniquitous practice of selling first tracks to the highest bidder which takes place on the Old Side and which I find totally reprehensible. The New Side was great and everything was open, except of course Polar Peak and the Saddles. We hit out to Skydive and had first tracks all the way down which were of course awesome but when I say this was not the best run of the day it gives you an idea of just how good things got.

After that first tracks became irrelevant as the snow was filling in so fast that we had first tracks everywhere even if others had been there first. We hit Cougar Glades and Touque/Chutes and Spinal Tap before they closed the Reverse Traverse. After that we hit Stag Leap and Decline/Window Chutes before they closed Currie Bowl for the day. The guys did their best to keep it open for as long as they could but with that much snow the closure was inevitable. There is no point in reporting on any of the snow as it was all deep, awesome and untracked where ever you went.

Obviously we were not going to stop for lunch today so with Currie closed we hit Anaconda 1 followed by Don't Lose Me Trees . Next loop was Triple Trees and it would be an unnecessary waste of space to describe conditions in these area as snow was just getting deeper and more awesome as it did all day.

We then decided to try the Siberia Ridge area and hit the Fraser Tooth into North East Glades and this was probably the best and deepest snow of the day. After that it was my good old favourite White Rabbit which was a little tracked up but actually was still deep and untracked off to the left of the creek bed.

For the rest of the day we went into loops of Knot Chutes (mostly the Tight Knot, very deep) Anaconda Glades (Chutes 1,2and 3 all good and deep) and then trees off to the right of Bootleg which had loads of untracked lines.

We had a great time in Griz bar after skiing which was more crowded than usual but good fun. As Sunday is my drinking day I had a few beers which may account for the slightly incoherent nature of tonight's blog. On the way home it was -3 with more snow called for tonight so tomorrow could be even better.