Monday, 26 April 2010

Ski Day 33: Back to Winter, Back to Powder

Vert: 10,370 m YTD Cum Vert: 328,964 m
Runs: 19 YTD Cum Runs: 594

This was a bit of an atypical spring day -- more like winter for most of it. There was boot top fluffy powder to start the day (it wasn't a day to arrive late -- more on this later) covering up most everything, and AM tracks were very nice in mild temps and sunny skies. There was still ice and hard pack underneath the fluff, but there was enough coverage to make most turns very nice. It clouded up and snowed a bit by noon, then got clear and sunny around 2. Prior to 2, there was no noticeable change in conditions due to the minimal daytime heating, but when the sun hit at 2, the snow on the really exposed faces (like Hill 205, Viking Ridge and Angel Flight) started to get heavy. That only lasted 30 min or so, and within 10 min of the sun going away, we were back to winter again.

Coverage continues to deteriorate, especially on Goat's Eye; everything skiers left of Silver Scapegoat (including Free Fall, Gladerunner, Afterburner) is now closed. There's lots of trees and grass on Rolling Thunder, and some on Silver Scapegoat. The South Side chutes are now closed with lots of trees showing through on Wildside and obvious avi damage on Farside (I give Goat's Eye another week before it closes unless a big dump arrives).

Divide is faring much better, with the only obvious place at risk being the South Pockets. Bye Bye Bowl remains fabulous.

Today wasn't the best from a strategy perspective, however. For starters, we thought it would need to warm up in order to get good, so arrived in the parking lot at 9:45 instead of 8:45. This was a mistake, as we could have had a solid hour of fresh powder tracks, and any warming which would have occurred would have made the snow crappy.

And second, I left my camera in the car, so never got shots of the lovely powder.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Warmth at the West Wing

It was sure nice on Saturday after skiing, with temps north of 20° on our balcony. So we ate dinner outside -- the first time this year -- and watched the birds and squirrels. They are upset at this time of year because feeders are not allowed after April 15 (they attract bears which are indeed out).

Also, the trees in front of our place are in bud. They're not willows, but they kinda look like them.

Ski Day 32: More Springing

Vert: 10,145 m YTD Cum Vert: 318,594 m
Runs: 18 YTD Cum Runs: 575

A mighty similar day to yesterday, though it was a bit warmer (+4°) in the morning and a bit cooler (+12°) in the afternoon, likely due to more clouds hanging around. We heard that the snow in Bye Bye Bowl had softened by 9:30 AM, but nothing on Goat's Eye was soft until 11. The cord was in fact mighty firm and "vibratory."

But when things softened, they were fine, and in fact a bit less sticky than yesterday, which was good. We deliberately had a later start today, getting there a half hour later than usual. It's not that we don't like the frozen corduroy thing, but softer is indeed better. However, the crowd was about 20% smaller than yesterday, so we managed to get all of our vert in and get home almost the same time as yesterday.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Ski Day 31: Spring has Sprung

Vert: 10,455 m YTD Cum Vert: 308,499 m (that's 1,011,713 vertical feet)
Runs: 18 YTD Cum Runs: 557

It may be mid-April, but it felt like early May. Rock hard freeze-thaw conditions until 11, then within an hour the world went soft. There's the odd rock & tree poking out on some traffic areas (Silver Scapegoat and Wildfire, for instance). By 1 PM, the most sun exposed places (like Boundary Bowl) were downright sloppy. It was super sticky in the PM, too; the ski out in particular was like glue. Temps started the day above zero, and the base of Goats Eye broke 10° by 10. There was sun and some high cloud all day (with a bunch of sunburned faces) which caused peak PM temps in the mid teens all the way to the top, and 19° in the parking lot at 3 PM. At this rate (and the forecast is calling for this all week) the ski out won't last.

The thing I like about these conditions is that when things go soft, virtually the entire hill becomes skiable, and we go places we don't normally go, like South Pockets. Here's KC in there in her classic "stuff arm" pose.

There were avalanches everywhere. Half a dozen in Eagle Basin...

...pretty much the entire face below Silver City, including a biggie in Silver City itself...

...and a big 2.5 on Fat Boy.

We also saw one. We hear this loud bang and rattle of thunder, and saw a snow waterfall on The Monarchs. Look for the remains of it in the upper centre.

As the above stats show, we broke one million vertical feet today. In fact, we are only 11,000' short of what we skied last year, with at least 6 days left in our season.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Ski Day 30: What a difference in 24 hrs

Vert: 8,940 m YTD Cum Vert: 297,994 m
Runs: 13 YTD Cum Runs: 539

Mighty stiff snow in the AM; the ruts people left yesterday were real, and the snow generally very firm but carveable. This was likely due to a combo of yesterday's sun and continuing cold (-12° AM) temps.

While it dawned basically sunny, by 11 AM it had socked in to limited viz and snow -- that kind of snow that wrecks the viz but will give no measurable accumulation. This is how grey it was getting by 9:30 am.

In a quest to get off the firm and onto the fun, we went exploring. Some hunting turned up no fresh tracks to be found on Goat's Eye, so its a good job we caught the powder cycle yesterday. We even went down the Wildfire chute, and it wasn't much fun. Here's a tiny speck of KC in the glades skiers right of Gold Scapegoat.

Inconsequential daytime "heat" led to little softening, But crowds weren't a problem; A lot was just filled, and B lot had 4 cars in it. But as the day progressed, and the viz got worse, and the snow wasn't the best, we opted to ski a long morning, have lunch and leave, hence the low vert.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Ski Day 29: More Powder

Vert: 10,125 m YTD Cum Vert: 289,054 m
Runs: 16 YTD Cum Runs: 526

7 cm overnight on top of the scads they had this week, combined with bright sunshine and cold temps made for pretty darn fantastic AM turns.

The snow was obviously "late season" and high moisture content, thus quite slow. It was a little heavy to push around, but not wet by any means. The -12° AM kept the conditions winter-like all day no matter where you were (except the parking lot). I was worried that the sun would do damage, but even sun drenched faces like Angel Flight showed no ill effects late in the day (but we'll see how crusty it is tomorrow). Lots of folks got good turns in the Dive (which was closed yesterday) and literally hundreds climbed the walking trail up to the top of Goat's Eye's south side chutes (where Patrol had posed a sign claiming "great conditions"). The snow over there was pretty fantastic, and where you could find untracked, it was easily knee deep.

We also had lots of fun in our favourite trees under Cleavage, and in Cleavage itself -- first time this season.

The huge crowd (cars 4 km past the gate) tracked all the easily accessed stuff out by early afternoon and made for lineups on Goat's Eye by 10:30 and solid lines to the ends of the corrals at Divide all afternoon.

Last week, there was that Class 1.5 avalanche just off Fat Boy. Today, there was a Class 2.5 farther up in Eagle Basin, and what had to have been a Class 3 that took out the entire side of Quartz Ridge.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Mayer: Floor 1/27

Ever wanted to sit front row centre for a concert? How about for John Mayer? We missed it by 2 seats. Centre would have been seats 25/26, and we were in 27/28. Ah, well. There's always next time.

I've rarely been impressed by opening acts. This one was an exception. Michael Franti and Spearhead. A little hip-hoppy for me, but otherwise, excellent.

Concerts always have crowd stories. Here were my faves:
• The group of late teen girls behind us discussing how they had deliberately dressed "like skanky whores" in order to get free drugs
• The nice young lady beside us who forgot her camera, and wanted me to take her picture to prove that she was there

• The security guard in front of us, a very nice man preventing people from invading our front row space, using only a flashlight
• The antics of Michael Franti, who for their last number, invited all the kids up on stage to sing and dance

• The very fun young couple who started out beside us -- until the folks who were supposed to be there showed up. They lasted until John's set.

Last time he was in town, Mr. Mayer played a scant 70 min then did a 10 min encore. This time, he played for 1:40 then did a 15 min encore. Better. All in all, it was a great show.