Saturday, April 7, 2018

Day 127 Even more snow

I don't often include pictures in the blog but tonight I have made an exception. My buddy Kevin took this at the top of Skydive tonight and I think it shows just what the conditions are like and how the snow just continues to puke down. On a different topic there is good news. The hill have had a change of heart and it now looks like we will be getting a full Old Side opening for the final week and not just the very limited opening advised to me by the Calgary Office of RCR in their email to me of last week.

It didn't get as cold as they were forecasting overnight so it was only -2 as we arrived at the hill and a few degrees colder up the hill. It was overcast all day and at about 2 o'clock (a couple of hours later than forecast) it started snowing and has been snowing hard ever since. The temp did warm in the middle of the day and as we drove home it was -1 in the valley so what we got was once again full on winter conditions.

The ski surfaces had hardened up a bit over night so we had to poke around with mixed success to find some really good skiing although everywhere was well on the right side of ok. The snow came too late to have that much effect but the last couple of runs were greatly improved but more of that later. Light was a problem on the early runs with the top of the hill socked in but this improved during the day before socking back in at the end of the day as the snow developed.

This is the final weekend for the New Side which shuts down tomorrow for the season. With this in mind and as they had mechanical problems on Boomerang we decided to have a New Side day where we just did loops of anything that we thought would be good. The loops were -

Gun Bowl/Anaconda 1/Diamond Leg Trees - it all skied fine although the light was very flat. The top of Anaconda was scratchy but it got quite soft as you went down and Diamond Leg Trees were still soft.
Cougar Glades - on the advice of a buddy I tried Cougar Glades and found them very lightly tracked so there were some great untracked lines. They were crusty in the last few turns of the left hand exit chute.
The Brain - great untracked skiing in the trees as usual in soft snow but scratchy in the final pitch.
Decline/Window Chutes - Decline was soft bumps down to the Megasauraus  Window Chutes were in great shape and even in the choke there was more soft snow than was usual.
Gotta Go/Diamond Leg Trees - The High IT was just about in ok shape and the drop through Gotta Go was deep but not quite as soft as yesterday. In the Trees we worked hard right across a couple of chutes and skied the low trees almost all the way down to the end of Gilmar Trail, it was great untracked tree skiing.
Touque Chutes/Spinal Tap - There was good untracked deep snow as long as you stayed tight on the trees in the chute. Spinal Tap actually skied surprisingly well although it was of course very hard and icy after the dead fall.
Barracuda - I didn't intend to ski Barracuda but on Skydive Traverse I found a guy sitting with only one ski, the other one having disappeared down Barracuda. I dropped in and had a poke around and eventually found the ski which I carried out into the open, stuck it in the ground and pointed at it. Having done this good turn I expect the snow gods to reward me with some great powder lines tomorrow. Barracuda was just about ok but was very hard refrozen lumps underneath and in fact the best bit was Gilmar Gully which skied ok.
Nameless Trees - This was where I had been heading and it was obviously a good plan. There was good soft snow in the trees and the creek bed was in ok shape all the way down to the dead fall where I bailed right on to the final pitch of Stag Leap.
The Fraser Tooth - By now the new snow was starting to have effect and slough management was an issue but by moving about the chutes things stayed in control. Great soft steep tree skiing.
Skydive - Last run of course was Skydive but with only three of us there. By this time the snow was really starting to build up and it skied soft and mellow all the way down.

It was a good Saturday night in the Griz with just the right numbers to make a crowd but not too busy. The snow continued to fall and even as I am typing this at about 8:30 it's still coming down hard. Tomorrow is forecast to warm up in the afternoon so it looks like and early night and an early start for us.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Day 126 January the 96th

That was the joke going round the hill today because the weather is just like a January day although when it was told to me they said January 94th so I guess someone forgot that January and March have 31 days.

On the way back from the gym it was -8 and stayed that way on the drive to the hill but a patroller buddy of mine told me that their starting temp up the hill this morning was -15. That isn't a cold day for April, that's a cold day at any time of the year. Temps came up slowly during the day so that by the time we were driving home this evening is was +1 but we have yet another cold night forecast for tonight.

They were reporting 3 cms overnight but as seems to have happened recently it started to snow as we arrived at the hill and although it didn't last that long I would have thought that we would have got about another 2 cms out of the cycle before it stopped. Actually what we had was very deep valley snow which more or less petered out by the time you got to White Pass top. For a while the sun came out high up and it looked like we might get some sun affected snow but a cold wind kept things ok until it clouded over later morning and then we just had the gentle atmospheric warming after that.

The parking lot was almost empty when we arrived and this was reflected on the hill where there was hardly anyone to be seen. We went to the New Side and had a couple of loops of White Pass with untracked lines in the Gun Bowl and Pillow Talk and the Dilemma totally untracked. The snow had firmed up a bit in the cold temps and the new snow only partially softened it. There had clearly been a major wind event last night and windrows and slabby snow were evident everywhere.

We headed out to the Big 3 and cut first tracks to the top of Skydive. We could have had any of them untracked and chose Decline which was ok but firmer of late and scratchy in the final pitch. I decided to try High Saddle which after getting over a huge windrow in the top was bit trenched for the first couple of turns but settled down to nice edge to edge jumping in the chute. Underneath was awesome deep untracked powder and the exit through Easter was soft bumps. Lynda had hit Concussion and said it was very soft and mellow all the way down.

Next loop was Touque Chutes which true to form were untracked and awesome deep snow. We traversed into Spinal Tap but found it a bit more tracked up than we expected and rather scratchy after the dead fall. Last run before lunch we hit Gotta Go which had soft snow in the chute and was the deepest and softest snow of the day all the way down to the cat track. Diamond Leg Trees were still soft snow and great skiing. Lunch was in the ever excellent Big Bang Bagels.

As we were near the Old Side we decided to go up and give Snake Ridge a try and we were glad we did. We looped Snake twice finding at least some deep untracked snow both times particularly as we worked our way over to KC Chutes the second time round. Kangaroo was good both times if you like hard ugly icy bumps - I do. Boomerang was soft bumps and Bear Chutes was still mostly untracked even that late in the day. We made our final exit to the New Side via Buck Shot which was mostly soft bumps with the odd icy patch to keep you on your toes.

I decided to hike up to Lone Fir and found the chute just as soft and mellow as it has been for weeks and the fan underneath was of course awesome soft snow - Easter remained just as good as the morning. We just had time to take loop of the Fraser Tooth off Timber and found is great soft steep tree skiing. As usual we dropped the thin chute to the skiers right of North East Glades which was full of soft snow - must try and discover if it has a name sometime.

Last run was Skydive which we made in good time as the clock problem at White Pass was address this morning at my suggestion. There were 5 of us making the trip tonight and it skied very nicely with lots of soft snow in the mid section only getting really rattly about half way down the final pitch. The Griz Bar was quiet tonight but there was strong local presence so we had a very good time.

The forecast is for it to get cold and then warm up a bit with quite a lot of precip. What that precip comes down as depends on when exactly it arrives so we are all crossing our fingers.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Day 125 The season winds down

Today definitely had the feel of things winding down although that may just have been that it was Hot Dog Boxing Day and everyone had a massive hang over. This was a pity as the conditions remained good winter powder and with the lack of serious skier traffic over the past 24 hours there was deep untracked snow to be had if you knew where to look for it.

Our own season end plans have now been finalised and we have decided to make next Wednesday our personal final day of the season in anticipation of flying down to the Galapagos on the Saturday. The New Side closes after this Sunday and the official web site confirms that for the final week all we are getting are the Elk, Bear and Deer Chairs. Strangely the site says that the terrain that will be open will be decided on a day to day basis based on conditions and then goes on to say what terrain will be open - no, I don't get it either. It seems we will get Lizard Bowl and as much of Cedar as is possible to ski and run back to base via Cedar Trail, in other words very limited. My season will be 131 days and the fact that I will miss 4 days of very limited skiing will not cause me to lose any sleep.

There was only 2 cms of snow overnight but as I have already said the significant snow fall of the past few days was largely untracked due to the lack of skier traffic on the hill. It was overcast and -3 as we arrived at the hill which gave some pretty poor flat light to start with which improved as the morning wore on. It was -2 in the valley as we drove away tonight and Lynda (who decided to take the day off) said that it never got any warmer in town all day than zero. So overall we had yet another good winter day where the snow stayed in great shape from top to bottom.

The Cedar High Traverse was open so having heard good reports yesterday I headed out towards Snake Ridge. I actually had to cut the low traverse off the cat track which was quite a piece of work and a good cardio work out. I went all the way to the fence and dropped in the Gorby Bowl only to be carried away by a big slab on the Curved Ball shoulder and carried a good 100 ft down the hill in the slough. Steep and Deep was rather sun affected and scratchy and I definitely got the feeling that the juice hadn't been worth the squeeze.

On the way out to Steep and Deep I had skied past Snake Ridge which looked pretty good and I felt I might have broken the first rule of powder skiing - never ski past good powder looking for better.  I had got it wrong as Snake was just awesome deep powder with many untracked lines to be had. Even the lower part about which I had been warned skied soft and mellow with only a few hard chunks to deal with. I looped Snake 4 times as it was so good which made for a very late lunch. Every exit was via Kangaroo which was hard and icy in places but with some soft snow to be had - I hit it 5 times. The loops were always completed through Boomerang or Bear Chutes both of which were soft with many untracked lines and great skiing. Last run before lunch we dropped off the Goat Trail into Buck Shot which also appeared untracked and was ok with one or two icy bumps.

After lunch and with not a whole lot of time available we went to the New Side and hit Gotta Go which had been so good yesterday and was in much the same shape today. It was soft and deep in the chute and below the snow was untracked and awesome. Diamond Leg Trees were also lightly tracked with some good lines. Next loop which involved a hike into Mitchy's (soft and deep) we hiked up to Easter Meadow which was pretty well untouched and the fan underneath was super deep. We tracked across to Spinal Tap which had a few tracks but was so deep with the folded in snow in the creek bed that it was very mellow.

We decided that the Fraser Tooth would be a good bet and we were right. The only problem was slough management in what seemed to be mostly untracked steep tree skiing. For a change we exited by going to Lower Sib Ridge and then continuing into the trees for about 100 metres. This placed us in some very mellow untracked trees off to skiers left of White Rabbit, to reflect all of the above we have named this area Baby Bunny.

We were a bit tight on time but looking at the clock at the top of White Pass we figured we had time to drop Cobra Rock and push back round Trespass Trail in time to catch the last chair up for Skydive. We missed the chair by less than a minute and it emerged that the problem was that the clock at the top of White Pass (that we had seen) and the one at the bottom (by which they close the lift) differed by over 5 minutes which was very annoying. Come on guys, getting the clocks to agree on the same time (whether it's right of not) is not exactly rocket science. We ran to base through Black Cloud which was still pretty good soft snow skiing.

There was a surprisingly active crowd in the Griz tonight considering how much was drunk yesterday although we all dispersed quite early with lots of talk of getting early nights. I need to have one of those if I am going to get to the gym tomorrow and then hit the hill for what I suspect will be another good winters day of skiing.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Day 124 Happy Hot Dog Day

Actually tonight isn't as bad as I thought it would be as the conditions we so good that we got distracted with the powder skiing and didn't have time to get into the serious alcohol abuse until quite late in the day.

We had 16 cms of fresh snow over night and on the way to the hill it was -8 so that we had a full on winter powder day with the snow on top of what we have had over the past few days. At first it looked like we might be getting a warm sunny day but through the morning it clouded over and by lunch time we had full on winter conditions with reasonably heavy snow fall. The snow stayed all day and as there was no one on the hill as we were all hot dogging I imagine we will be getting some really good skiing first thing tomorrow. Temps got up to around zero but are now falling back towards another winter's day tomorrow.

We took a bit of time to get going as we had to be in our retro Hot Dog gear which took a bit of sorting. My old Killy red one piece made it's annual guest appearance and as usual I was impressed by how good one pieces are and how much better ski gear was made back in the day compared with now. Usually on Hot Dog Day I start in the Lost Boys Café drinking beer to make the political point that the hill is prepared to serve alcohol if you are prepared to pay for it but conditions today were so good it was a case of screw political points - let's ski.

The High IT was open for the first time in several days so I tracked across to Gotta Go and had an awesome deep powder runs down to the cat track before taking an untracked Diamond Leg Trees all the way down to the Gilmar Trail. Stag Leap had been the best of the Big 3 for some days so we went out and found it rather tracked up but ok although slightly sun affected which was strange as we weren't getting any sun.

I thought Cobra Rock would be good but found it was closed which didn't make any sense but rules are rules - I discovered later that someone had forgotten to flip the sign (not for the first time up there this season) and I could  have skied it. I dropped Anaconda 1 which was untracked and awesome and Diamond Leg Trees were still pretty good. Next loop we went to Decline which was deep and untracked in the top and the Window Chutes which were just awesome and only a bit scratchy in the choke.

We then had a short break as my buddy Brad forced me to go to the tailgate of his truck and drink some beer. After that we went out to Touque Chutes where the snow was super deep and face shots all the way down before cutting in to Spinal Tap which was soft and deep and only became scratchy in the last few turns after the deadfall. Last run before a very late lunch was Skydive which skied as soft deep winter powder with many untracked lines all the way down.

After lunch we had very little time so I had to go to the Old Side and dig around in certain areas to see if anyone by chance had left any beer there, as luck would have it they had so we headed up Wallaby to join in with the Hot Dog party. I didn't feel the need to hit the jump as in honour of Hot dog day I had hit Hollywood Rock earlier and landed it bringing my season total to 19 attempts, 15 landing, 4 stacks which is about the best I have ever achieved.

We watched the fun then headed back via Boomerang which I have to say was just awesome GS turns in soft bumps. The Griz bar was a ticket only affair and that worked out really well as it was the regular crowd just enjoying and 80's disco and stacks of beer and we all had a totally awesome time.

Tomorrow looks like another full on winter's day on top of what we had today so in away I am glad I only had a bit too much to drink tonight. Bring it on.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Day 123 Hot Dog Eve, another good powder day

It was cold overnight again so that as we arrived at the hill it was -8 at the base and colder up the hill. the official site said only 1 cm overnight but as we arrived at the hill it started snowing which is something that seems to have happened quite a lot lately. It snowed all morning probably giving us a good 5 cms of new snow or possibly more. The odd thing was that for some reason the snow seemed to ski much deeper than the actual snowfall, more like 25 cms. Perhaps it was some reaction with the new snow and the 17cms we had over the past 48 hours but we were skiing on what felt like deep powder all day and on the upper mountain we were not touching bottom although on the lower parts it was still rather dust on crust. Temps stayed low all day and even as we drove away this evening it was zero in the valley.

A blog follower met us in the locker room as he had emailed me to ski with Lynda and me today and he picked a pretty good day to do it - good call Shawn. First we had to go to the Old Side to undertake a traditional pre Hot Dog Day action which we did as early as we could. While we were there we skied Linda's which was soft and untracked down to the last couple of turns. We then ran to the New Side through Boomerang and Buck Shot which both seemed untracked soft bumps and again only got scratchy in the bottom.

I guess what with one thing and another it was about half way through the morning before we made our first drop of Lift Line where we found the bumps soft and newly covered although the light was very flat. Flat light was a persistent problem all morning although things did improve in the afternoon. Stag Leap had been the best of the Big 3 yesterday so we started there and were not disappointed, it was soft and mellow skiing even down to the last turns. We went back to try Decline and found it untracked although the snow was filling in so fast that maybe we were not the first ones to go there. It was much better than yesterday especially in the lower parts which were now skiing well although you did touch base from time to time.

Last run before lunch we hiked up to Lone Fir and had the run of the day in the chute which was full of soft snow and skiing very easily. The fan was just awesome soft snow and we tracked across to Spinal Tap which was also soft and deep, getting scratchy only for the last few turns.

After lunch we went back up the New Side and tried the Brain which was untracked in the top section and on the right should above the creek bed and so was great tree skiing. Next, for a change we headed out on Sib Ridge and ran down the Fraser Tooth which also appeared untracked and where the only real problem was avoiding your own slough.

We dropped the Gun Bowl which was a lot less scratchy than yesterday and ran out to Anaconda where chute 2 was untracked and deep. Diamond Leg Trees didn't show much sign of skier traffic either and was very mellow even through the dead fall. By this time the light had improved to the point where a saddle seemed appropriate so we looked in at Low Saddle and although it was a bit rocky and lumpy in the top it skied ok after that and the Perch Chutes were just sensational untracked powder. Easter Bowl was soft bumps all the way down to Freeway.

We just had time for a quick White Pass loop and so hit Surprise Trees which were surprisingly good particularly under the trees away from the direct sunlight. Even at the end of the day there appeared to be many untracked lines to be had. Last run of course was Skydive with just 3 of us. It was bumpy in the top but for most of the run it was soft deep powder so that you could just throw down GS turns in the deep snow. Half way down the final pitch it got a bit harder and icy but by that stage you could just smash through anything.

It was a good wings night with buddies at the Pub and while we sat there we watched the snow just puke down and give a good covering on our trucks by the time we left. Tomorrow could be a powder day to match today which was a very good day indeed.

Tomorrow is Hot Dog Day when we all dress in retro gear and ski around the hill pulling off stupid tricks. Part of the tradition is getting unbelievably drunk (I have declared the day an honorary Sunday so I will be drinking) so it may be that the blog will not appear until late tomorrow if at all -  apologies in advance.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Day 122 A full on powder day in April

First of all apologies for last night's report. When you only drink one day a week you tolerance of alcohol reduces fairly significantly and the result last night was me struggling to stay awake and put together some vaguely coherent remarks.

Now for a reminder, tomorrow is Hot Dog Eve, Hot Dog Day is Wednesday when we celebrate the dreadful 1984 movie Hot Dog (a mixture of skiing and soft pornography) by dressing in retro gear and getting unbelievably drunk. Tomorrow by tradition all good boys and girls go up the hill and hide gifts for Father Hot Dog to find on his rounds - the gift is usually cans of beer. If Father Hot Dog doesn't find the cans then the boys and girls drink the beer themselves on Hot Dog Day - it's a tradition. Naturally I couldn't condone people taking beer up the hill in contravention of the rules (and I would never do it myself) but if they did then they should be sure and do it early tomorrow as the security guards usually start searching you around midday.

Overnight the hill reported 16 cms of fresh snow and on the way to the hill it was -8 which is a near perfect temp for powder snow. Unfortunately the base remained very hard and icy and with the snow not having much moisture we were always going through to base although away from the south facing slopes the base was not too bad. The day started overcast with some very flat light which was challenging as the snow had come with a major wind event last night and there were some big windrows that were easy to hit with everything looking white. Later in the day the clouds cleared and we had a bluebird day but the cold arctic air mass and wind meant that nothing really softened and as we drove away from the hill tonight it was -2 even after an afternoon of direct sunshine.

We went to the New Side and found pretty well everything was closed so we had to make do with loops of the Gun Bowl and Surprise Trees. It is perhaps a bit unkind to describe 16 cms of snow as "dust on crust" but on those south facing slopes that was very much what it felt like. We kept looping and were rewarded when we found the fence dropped on Anaconda and we got untracked lines in the chutes which being north facing were much softer. Diamond Leg Trees were also untracked and it was easy to see why opening up the hill was such a problem as our sloughs causing us some real problems as we dropped.

Next time we found that the fence had dropped on Currie Bowl and the low traverse was open out to the Big 3 with a warning sign that the south facing skiing was ugly - what was I saying two days ago? We skied Decline, Stag Leap and Skydive and then went to lunch. We actually got first tracks in Decline which was great soft snow although very scratchy just at the end. Stag Leap seemed to be more consistent all the way down whilst Skydive was the best of the lot with snow in the mid section deep enough for you not to bottom out.

After lunch we went back to the New Side and found that the Reverse Traverse and the Saddles had opened. High Saddle was rather scraped out in the chute but snow underneath it was soft and deep with many untracked lines. Easter was ok soft snow and easy bumps all the way down and so became our favoured exit route for all of our afternoon skiing. Next was Low Saddle which had huge windrows and some rocky bumps in the top but after that was very mellow soft snow and the Perch Chutes were deep and untracked down the Easter.

I decided to hike up to Lone Fir to see what it was like and the drop off the cornice on Cornice Chute was much bigger than yesterday due to the wind. Lone Fir was easy soft snow and the fan underneath was awesome down the Easter. I still needed exercise so I hiked up to Easter Meadow and it didn't look like anyone had been up there since my previous Lone Fir lap. The chute was bit harder than of late but was still great skiing and the fan below was just as awesome as the Lone Fir fan.

Last run of course was Skydive (again) and just like in the morning the snow in the mid section was deep enough and heavy enough to support us and give great powder skiing. The final pitch got a bit rattily but was better than it might have been as long as you just crashed through it. The crowds had gone and there were just a few of us regulars on the deck of the Griz to talk about what a great day it had been for April skiing.

The hill have now stopped their weather forecast for the season so we are back to the Weather Network which seems to suggest that tomorrow could be cold with maybe some light snow - we will see.

Day 121 Back to winter

First of all apologises for the late report,. Sunday is my one day of the week for drinking and I cashed that in very much in spades at the Rusty Edge tonight before spending the evening with my buddies Rob and Katie and their boys all of which has led to a very late start. It also my explain the rather brief and incoherent nature of tonight's report.

No new snow overnight but there was snow promised to in the form of showers this morning, light snow this afternoon and snow tonight. In truth what we got was flurries that started on the first chair going up and continued most of the day. It was -8 as we arrived at the hill and -3 as we drove away which tended to show that over the whole day nothing much happened in terms of the usual warming.

We skied the Old Side and had great skiing in Bear Cave Chutes, Cedar Ridge an King Fir which were all firm underneath and getting better in the new snow, I had three laps of Kangaroo which was hard and icy and just about as ugly as I can remember.

We went to the New Side and found that just like yesterday the Reverse Traverse was closed due to icy conditions which was strange as I seriously doubt that it could have been any worse than the second section of Kangaroo. We skied Anaconda and Diamond Leg Trees before lunch which were good soft skiing.

After lunch, and just like yesterday we did New Side loops of Anaconda/.Diamond Leg trees alternated with the Fraser Tooth both of which were soft snow where slough management was becoming a problem as the day wore on in the new snow. That was it for the whole day.

It is -5 and still snowing now so tomorrow could be pretty good.