Monday, 22 February 2010

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Ski Day 17: More of the same

Vert: 10,605 m YTD Cum Vert: 177,964 m
Runs: 19 YTD Cum Runs: 303

I guess it's too much to expect ski conditions to change when the weather stays EXACTLY the same. So for more on today's skiing, see yesterday's post and pictures. Because it was a carbon copy day though slightly colder in the AM (-13°) and a little less busy (lots full, no cars on the road). Some places clearly did the freeze-thaw thing and the morning frozen ruts were no fun. Sticking to the groomers was the solution. I took 3 pictures, all of which were the same as yesterday's pictures. So no new snaps.

BTW, this is Post #200 for my blog.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Ski Day 16: Sun-shine in the drought

Vert: 11,509 m YTD Cum Vert: 167,359 m
Runs: 22 YTD Cum Runs: 284

You know that snow we need? We haven't got it yet. While the weather today was near picture perfect with bright blue skies and sun all day (though a bit chilly with -13° to -5° temps)...

did I mention we need fresh snow? The hardpack's mighty firm in spots, and it took a lot of effort from Mr. Sol to soften things, and even by 2 PM, those "in the sun all day" faces like Angel Flight were still pretty firm. At 12:30, the south chutes on Goat's Eye were still a lot harder than most people would like. Rocks aren't the problem (still). But the conditions aren't keeping the riders away. Cars were parked 2.5 km past the gate, and Divide had a solid line to the end of the corrals all day.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Pigeon Creek is Melting

KC was having a bad arthritis day Sunday, so rather than go skiing, we stayed at home and went for a walk. We saw no wildlife, but we very entertained by Pigeon Creek. The creek is frozen but still running. This means it has flooded large sections of the flats with ice. Where the creek reaches the Bow River, it's melting into nothingness, making some very cool ice formations.

Ski Day 15: More of the Same but Cloudy

Vert: 11,004 m YTD Cum vert: 155,850 m
Runs: 18 YTD Cum Runs: 262

I guess I shouldn't expect conditions to change if the weather doesn't change, and the weather didn't change except to get even cloudier.

As you can see, the cloudbase sat at the top of Goat's Eye and Angel all day resulting in mostly flat light, with the worst places for viz below cloudbase being Boundary Bowl and Angel Flight. The snow remains OK, though the groomers are starting to reveal rocky patches, especially on Rolling Thunder and the top of the Angel Traverse. These are, however, well marked by the ski patrol, so easily avoided and not an issue. Still no ice has appeared. I heard that there was warm temps and sun on Sunday; some snow showed evidence of freeze thaw and was a bit crusty. Thought the temps today hovered around zero or slightly above, there was a cold breeze, especially up high, so it didn't feel that warm.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Ski Day 14: Riding with Olympians

Vert: 11,611 m YTD Cum Vert: 144,846 m
Runs: 20 YTD Cum Runs: 244

Overcast with sun peeking through most of the day, so the viz remained fair to good and the light only got very flat occasionally

Temps were moderate, -6° to +2° but it never felt that warm and I wouldn't say much softened through the day. Reports of a little bit of snow a few days ago are probably correct; at least 10 cm filled tracks I made last weekend ;-)

Conditions are fine but continue to firm with the high traffic areas getting scrapier and scrapier, with the worst examples being Gold and Silver Gladerunner, Ecstasy face by Angel Chair and Red 90. Still, I can't call it ice.

There are, however, obvious places of sun affected snow; while Bye Bye Bowl was nice and had numerous lines to play in the limited freshies, the lumps underneath sure seemed to have gone through a freeze-thaw cycle. Same was true of the Wildside chute, and the increasingly unpleasant Cleavage traverse today really wasn't worth the effort (but I took KC over there anyway). Ski patrol said it got to +4° on Goat's Eye's south side chutes this week and turned everything to mush which has re-frozen. It was busy as one would expect on the Family Day long weekend; steady lines to the end of the corrals at Divide all afternoon, and cars park 3.2 km past the gate.

Rode a lift with two speed skaters from Holland. They just missed making the Olympic team, and were staying in Calgary for a competition before heading to Vancouver later this week to act as back up for the team. And we had just come from lunch where we had watched portions of the men's 5,000 m race. I was thinking: they were doing the 5 km in 6 minutes or so. That's an average of about 50 km/hr. No wonder they call it speed skating.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Ski Day 13: To The Farside & Beyond

Vert: 11,235 m YTD Cum Vert: 133,235 m
Runs: 20 YTD Cum Runs: 224

There were a lot of similarities to yesterday without the morning fog deck at Sunshine, so it was clear and sunny all day, though a bit colder, with AM temps in the -12° range and PM highs of -3°. The fog stayed in the Palliser Valley all day, so was visible.

This cold coupled with yesterday's warmth put some of the snow through a free-thaw cycle, and cause the day to start with icy ruts on slopes that had seen warm sun the previous day (notably Upper Freefall and Upper Afterburner). Bound and determined to seek out better freshies today, I ventured across the Cleavage traverse and got into Wildside, Farside and Think Again a few times, where I indeed found snow that was much less tracked. Here's the "space" I was playing in:

The traverse enters the photo at the extreme left at the top and cuts diagonally across. From left to right, the runs in the trees are Ewe First, Mother In Law and Goat's Head Soup, though to me it's just one endless face of glades. The first main gully on the right is Wildside, then the next chute past the trees on the right is Farside. Past there, just out of the photo on the right, is Think Again. However, the traverse from Cleavage across is "brutal" (as one ski patroller described it) with mega icy bumps and exposed (and hidden) rocks. I found it best to take a few turns down Ewe First and then traverse just below the big rock patch at the top left.

The glades are steep. Here's some shots from near the top of Goat's Head Soup. The first is a shot across the hill, the second looking down the route. The target is to get to one of the cat tracks in the woods at the bottom (from where the above photo was taken on one of the times I actually made it to the cat track...). Note the dense trees on the lower left centre of the photo.

If you get all the way over to Think Again, the other runs that are beyond it (Renegade, Stampede and Saddledome) look pretty benign. At least the bottom part.

But I think I found out why they call it "Think Again". The bail out route at the bottom is through those dense trees I mentioned above. One very narrow, packed, not flat, fairly icy track. It looks bigger from "up high".

It isn't big at all.

So after scaring the crap out of myself in the morning, I spent the afternoon in a very benign way running endless laps in Bye Bye Bowl, where the views over Citadel Pass to Mt. Assiniboine were lovely as usual.

I was by myself today; KC had to work StupidBowl. Hence the "devil-may-care" attitude. I'm braver when I have no one to rescue me.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Ski Day 12: Cool Clouds

Vert: 9,305 m (estimate -- see below) YTD Cum Vert: 122,000 m
Runs: 19 YTD Cum Runs: 204

The morning started with a low thin cloud deck that enabled you to get up on top and look down on the cloud from the bright blue sky. It was amazing.

Coolest of all was Wawa Ridge, jutting out of the clouds like an island.

While being above the clouds was cool, being in them wasn't. Here's what it looked like at the junction of Scapegoat & Rolling Thunder.

The clouds burned off by 10:30 and left the rest of the day a brilliant blue with warm sun and temps between -5° and 0° with no wind.

It was fairly busy today; Divide had a steady line all day to the end of the corrals, and Goat's Eye developed a lineup by 11 AM.

My vert for the next little while will be calculated or estimated. When I went to re-set my watch last night, it went haywire and clearly told me it was out of batteries. I generally like my watch (a Vertech Alpin by Avocet, and they don't make it any more), but the one thing I really DON'T like about it is the need to send it to California to get serviced, including just for new batteries. So I will be watchless for at least 2 weeks.