Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Ski day 45: Surprisingly great

Vert: 10,520 m;   YTD cum vert: 387,180 m
Runs: 18;   YTD cum runs: 720

I took yesterday off to do "work" and turns out that was a really good decision. It was an OK morning, but suddenly around lunch a wall of a blizzard blasted through Canmore for a few hours, featuring rain-ish stuff, ice pellets, snow and 50 mph winds, leaving behind about 10 cm of snow that melted by 7 PM. Same thing happened up at Sunshine, apparently. The difference? It was a blinding snowstorm up there, and it closed all but Wolverine, Strawberry and the Gondola. And it left behind what the hill reported to be 8 cm of snow.

I really didn't really have high expectations for today, but if I thought about it, I would have remembered that we got a dusting of snow down in Canmore on Sunday night, too. I should have realized that a whack of snow would have fallen up high, and the winds would have done a good job of blowing it around, covering up the ice crusts of Sunday. Would it be enough?

And that's what I found on a bluebird morning: at least 5 cm...
9:45 AM tracks on Gold Gladerunner

10:00 tracks heading towards Gold Scapegoat

10:30 tracks on Rolling Thunder
...and in some places a whole lot more -- like knee deep in the lee of any windbreak like snow fences (which rocked) or better still, the bowls of the South Side Chutes, where I spent over half my day basically all alone to enjoy the pow that was boot top or better, making the ice crusts present but easily ignored.
Acres of fresh in No Man's Land

My tracks coming out of Wildside Right
In fact, I happened to arrive at the top of Goat's Eye just as the Ski Patrol were changing over the signs and opening the chutes, and I was the second person along the traverse (and there was no line up). I stayed out of the Wildside proper figuring the bumps in there would not have been made better by the powder (they weren't), and instead ran the skier's right lip into the gully -- smack dab into 30 turns in knee deep powder. The slot had basically filled in with snow, and best of all, only me and two others skied it all day (I counted the tracks), so I had knee deep shots in there at 3 PM. You can see the chute I was in below, which is a shot taken from way over at the bottom of Saddledome.
Between the first and second rocks on the left was awesome
I traversed WAY over to the boundary fence, and found the sweetest snow of the day; light and fluffy stuff in the shade of the Eagles at the base of Renegade, Stampede and Saddledome.
A super sweet powder field at the base of Stampede/Saddledome
Looking back up Stampede
Looking straight up Renegade. Think Again to the left, Stampede to the right

I guess I was continuing my exploration of places I rarely get to. Directly behind me in the last shot is the place where folks cross the boundary fence into Eagle Basin and the base of Fat Boy.
Trail sign in the middle of nowhere, with fab powder all around. Eagle Basin to the left.
I don't poach fence lines, and besides, the proper way out here is sweet. It's called Tobacco Road (signed in the photo above). It's a meandering cat track that heads back to the top of Eagle Creek, and the snow was fantastic.

I played in this space for 2 hrs in the morning, rarely seeing another soul. Many of the tracks in the above photos are mine. Finally I headed up to the village due to hunger. It was OK but not nearly as nice up there. Bye Bye Bowl was blown clear of powder, and the only really nice stuff I found was on Assiniboine Flats and down in the trees between Angel Flight and Green Run near Piccadilly Circus. In the afternoon, it socked in on Divide but not on Goat's Eye, so after 4 runs I headed back to the Goat and continued to play in the chutes, still by myself, still making mostly freshies. The snow, however, had changed and by 3 PM was showing temperature and sun effects up high, and was getting noticeably wetter and heavier. Down low in the shadow of the Eagles it stayed fine. I suspect tomorrow it will be a might bit crusty up high.

So it was an unexpectedly wicked day.

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