Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Day 131 So long and thanks for all the fish

Those fans of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy will recognise tonight's quote as being what the dolphins said just before they left the earth as it was about to be destroyed. Well in my case it is what I say on my last day of skiing this season.

On the way back from the gym today it was +4 and was +3 as I turned into parking lot 2. The hill claimed 2 cms of fresh snow overnight but the they claimed a reduction in the snow base of over 100 cms at 277 cms so I guess we can could take both of those figures with a pinch of salt. In truth the base hadn't reduced and we hadn't had any new snow as far as I could see. It was +8 as we drove away from the hill so it looked like things just got warmer as the day wore on.

The weather today was the biggest mixed bag of the season. We started with some sun which became cloudy the we got snow/grauppel showers late morning. After lunch we came out to find that it was raining on the lower mountain and so we came down to change into water proof gear. Predictably as soon as we changed so did the weather and we ended the day with sun but occasional grauppel showers - it was hard to find a description for today's weather.

We went to The Old Side (that's a joke by the way) and even though it was plus temps the skiing surfaces were quite firm and just down right icy in places. After a while thing started to soften and we got to thinking about getting away from the Groomers on Bear, Arrow, China Wall and Lower Ballet and tried Sun Up which was a hard crusty experience.

Cruiser was good skiing and Lower Cedar Centre had been groomed after a fashion. It was at this stage we tried our first run down Kangaroo and found it better than expected with a softening surface on a hard base. The rest of the morning we spent looping Boom Ridge, Boomerang, Cedar Ridge and Kangaroo which all were variable crust but got better at the surfaces softened.

After an awesome final visit to Big Bang Bagels for lunch we spent the afternoon doing pretty much what we had been doing all morning. The soft snow in Boomerang and Lower Kangaroo were particularly good fun as you could just throw down slow motion GS turns in the mush and let things run. The only new experience was dropping Bear Cave Chutes which were very heavy and untracked but huge fun.

By the end of the day we found ourselves at the top of the Bear in pleasant sunshine and had a gentle swing down to base as our final run of an awesome season. A few friends joined me in the Griz for beers (today was an honorary Sunday) and we had a great final session.

And so that ended an awesome season with 4 days still to go. The full season report will follow in a few days time with some thoughts of my own on the circumstances which interrupted the blog early in the season so watch this space.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Day 130 One more day to go

Yes, tomorrow will be my last day of the season so I have declared it an honorary Sunday and will have a couple of beers to celebrate the occasion so the blog might not be quite up to snuff. A lot of people have expressed surprise that I am not skiing right through to closing day on Sunday and are almost shocked that I won't have a 100% record. I think those people don't really understand why I ski every day, they think I am trying to prove something or get kudos for skiing every day, or set some kind of record. The truth is that I do it because I enjoy it and if I have to miss a few days because I am flying out on Saturday and need a couple of days to get sorted that is no big deal to me and shouldn't be for anyone else.

On the way back from the gym this morning it was -1 which was not good news. It meant that all of yesterdays chopped up mashed potato would have frozen solid and been all but unskiable until it softened. There was no new snow overnight and when we got to the hill it was as anticipated hard and icy even on the groomers. The only new terrain that was opened was the top of Cedar Bowl so that we had Cruiser groomed and lower Cedar Centre which was not.

It was overcast but with the very odd flash of sun and although it threatened precip we stayed dry until the very last runs of the day when we did have some light drizzle. Temps rose giving slow atmospheric warming so that the hard frozen surfaces did not become skiable until much later in the day than yesterday. As we drove away from the hill tonight it was +5 so eventually everything did get soft.

We spent a lot of the morning looping around the Old Side on groomers waiting for things to soften. Those loops included Bear, Arrow, North Ridge, Cruiser and Cedar Trail. The groomers started to soften but still with a hard base so we tried Kangaroo and found it hard and icy in many places but showing some signs of softening so we tried it again and it was a bit better. I did try Boomerang Ridge and found it was still too chunky to be enjoyable skiing so we went for an early lunch via Boomerang which was ok in the high skier traffic areas but pretty tough in the refrozen mashed potato.

Lynda left at lunchtime to go swimming and I anticipated a gentle afternoon trying some of the ungroomed skiing. Unfortunately I bumped into some buddies who were in the mood to rip and so we did mainly with loops in Cedar Bowl dropping Cruiser and then the ungroomed (and mostly untracked) Lower Cedar Centre which by this time had become very soft but with a light crust. We also hit Boom Ridge which was almost isothermic and Boom Bowl which has softened to about ok. Exits were always through Kangaroo which has softened on a hard base and ironically was probably the best skiing off the groomers to be had today.

Late in the day I checked to see that we couldn't side step up into the Big 3 (we couldn't as the Easter sign Line was down) and with that option closed took a final rip from Bear Top to Base and called it a day. It was quiet in the Griz tonight but what we lacked in quantity we made up for in quality.

We had the final wings night at the Pub and said goodbye to good friends for the summer. It was raining hard in town and the final day may not be quite the champagne ending to the season that we had hoped for. As a matter of interest to all those who are muttering about closing when we have a base of 380 cms in 2011 we closed with a base of 452 cms on 15th April with a temp of -2 and 4 cms of powder over night so we have been here before.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Day 129 A short day but a sticky one

It was a late start for skiing today as we had the Jeep booked in for a service - originally the hill was scheduled to close today so that was why we had the vehicle booked in. Now of course we have the Old Side open until next Sunday so real life had to encroach on skiing for a change. What with one thing and another it was 11 o'clock before I got the Jeep back and we got to the hill.

There was only a dusting of snow overnight and by the time we got to the hill it was +5 and warming up fast. During what was left of the morning we had some extended sunny periods but in the afternoon it clouded over and even threatened to rain with a few spots. As we drove away tonight it was +8 and doesn't show any immediate signs of cooling down.

The effect on the skiing surfaces was pretty predictable, the groomers were soft and very sticky when you got low down and away from the groomers it was super deep slow slush. The skiing in the slush was tough on the legs as you had to try and balance while being pulled from side to side as well as suffering severe forward/backwards lurches as the skiing surface changed.

The available skiing was very limited. Lizard High Traverse was closed and you could only get across the bowl at Tower 6. Cedar High Traverse was closed as was the whole of the Upper Cedar Bowl with Alpine Way also closed. The highest you could get into Cedar Bowl was by dropping Cedar Ridge off the top of the Boom chair, which isn't very high at all. This meant we were more or less restricted the Old Side Triangle all day.

We tried a quick Bear lap to test conditions and found things to be as described above. We spent the morning looping Bear, Cedar Ridge, Boom Ridge and Boomerang. We also returned through Kangaroo every time which actually skied not too bad in the upper section and could be almost straight lined in the second pitch as it was so heavy.

After lunch we had no choice but to rerun the morning several times over and if anything found it was getting softer off the groomers and stickier on them. Mid afternoon I went out on the Tower 6 Trail to see if a side step up into the Big 3 might be a possibility for the final run of the day but found that the sign line on Easter Bowl was down all the way down. The ungroomed and mostly untracked snow along side the fence was very heavy but quite good fun.

That was it for the day, 4 o'clock arrived as we got to the top of the Boom Chair so we finished with a last run down a very mushy Boomerang. The Griz bar tonight was a strictly locals affair as was the hill for the most part during the day.

In truth it wasn't a very good day's skiing but at this time of year the wonder is not how good the skiing is but the fact that we are skiing at all. Tomorrow looks like a bit of a repeat but with rain so nothing to get too excited about there.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Day 128 A disappointing day

Over the past few weeks we have had a number of days where we thought it was going to be pretty crappy conditions on the hill but when we got there things actually turned out to be pretty good. Well, in the ying and yang of life today was day when we went to the hill with very high expectations of the conditions but they turned out to be rather disappointing.

Those of you who follow the blog closely will remember that our expectations were raised last night by a heavy snow storm that started in the afternoon yesterday and continued into the night. They were further raised by the snow report today of 22 cms of fresh snow but as I have said so often the numbers without qualitative information do not tell the whole story and are all but useless.

As it was the temp rose overnight so that it was +1 on the way to the hill and raining. As we arrived at the hill it was just turning to snow but it was clear that last nights snow had come down at warm temps and was not going to be powder in any conventional use of the word. The snow was so heavy and unstable that it was 10 o'clock before they allowed us to load the Timber Chair and at that time they were still not loading Bear and Boomerang although I understand that they started to do so shortly afterwards.

We went to the New Side as it was the last day of lift operation there and found Lift Line and Big Bang closed, Currie Bowl Closed and Anaconda Closed, and all stayed closed all day - this gave a very limited New Side opening for it's last day. That having been said the reason was obvious as the snow right to the top was heavy mush which was prone to slide with very heavy sloughs. During the day the temps up top got up to +5 so the snow just became heavier and more prone to slide as the day went on. Viz at the top of White Pass was very poor and remained that way all day except for the last run where things became just about ok. We had precip off and on all day which fell as rain at the base (very sticky lower runs) and wet snow on top which never really amounted to an accumulation.

In terms of runs the day was very boring, We looped White Pass all morning (well, we weren't going to run to base in the rain) alternating Gun Bowl, Surprise Trees, Pillow Talk, the Dilemma, and all points in between. After the first couple of runs which were untracked it was the same everywhere with thick heavy mashed potato snow churned up by the skier traffic making for very hard heavy skiing. In the odd places that there had been a lot of skier traffic and particularly on the traverses it was hard rubbery snow which was a challenge in it's own right. The run to lunch was through Triple Trees which were tough mushy skiing down to the final pitch where it just became too sticky and at one time I had my skis in the fall line in there and they weren't moving !

The afternoon was a complete rerun of the morning with temps getting a little warmer and the snow getting a little softer but with the light improving at the very end of the day. Last run was Triple Trees again but this time I didn't make the same mistake and ducked out of the final section. And so ended a very ugly, heavy day of skiing elephant snot in real ACL tearing conditions - not the best way to say goodbye to the New Side after such an awesome season.

Tomorrow we start the final week with just the Old Side open. Reports from buddies who skied it today suggest that it is pretty crappy but on the other hand it didn't sound any worse than the New Side today. I will be up for a late start tomorrow as the Jeep is in for a service first thing (an example of real life starting to intrude on our winter existence) and I am not sure how things will pan out. Nothing very interesting in the forecast so I don't think I will be very much deprived.