Thursday, 7 April 2011

Ski day 41: Keep your mouth closed

Vert: 9,790 m;   YTD cum vert: 346,900 m
Runs: 18;   YTD cum runs: 651

I awoke this morning to some 20 cm of snow in Canmore. An upslope system blasting weather in from the east was causing snow all night starting at Hwy 40. The heavy snow basically ended by halfway between the park gates and the town of Banff, and as I got to Sunshine, it was thinking about being sunny. The hill reported 14 cm overnight; more pole measurements show 25-35 cm.
25 cm below the Cleavage rocks

35 cm in the Goat's Head Soup trees
I skied fresh lines for the better part of 2 hrs in variable sun, cloud and snowstorms.
First tracks in Eagle Creek
Blue over cloud. From the top of Goat's Eye chair
The stuff was so deep that I got two face shots today. Both times not only did I take a facefull of powder, I also got a mouthfull and lungfull, practically choking in both cases. I gotta remember in deep powder to keep my mouth closed while I ski.

It didn't take long for the main routes to get chopped up, but they were sure nice anyway.
Chopped up stuff on Gladerunner. Looking towards Afterburner
Continuing my exploration of places I rarely get to, I decided to take on the crowds on the high traverse to the South Side Chutes (when I say crowds, I'm talking mid-week crowds here, so that's like 3 people on the traverse with me). Normally, I avoid the high traverse and take the lower entrance to the chutes via the Cleavage traverse. I did that twice and enjoyed the powder back there. A lot. So I decided to go in up high.

Those of you who haven't taken the traverse should know that it ends at the Wildside chute at an 8' snow cliff drop over a rock band. The rocks are reasonably easy to avoid but do require careful route selection. This is the view down standing at the precipice of the drop.
The entrance to Wildside
Some people traverse to the other side of the chute.
Crossing upper Wildside chute
Their thinking is that they can get into the Farside chute. Uh, not easily. See the ridge edge in the photo above? This is what it looks like standing on it.
The rock ridge separating Wildside & Farside
To get down on the left side of the ridge, you have to take off your gear and climb up a short bootpack trail; there's no safe route down and left through the ridge (it looks like there is, in a small gully, but there's a row of nasty rocks in the middle of the gully. People do try it and find out the gully is 1 ski wide and scraped as all get out, and you still have to cross the rocks somehow). The gully is in the centre of the photo below (taken on a different day).
The rock ridge from below. Note the tiny centre gully. Taken on Friday.
But the skier's left side of the Wildside chute (to the right of the ridge in the photo above, where the people in the photo below are...)
Running the Wildside chute
...was in excellent shape, so most people (including me) just run the Wildside chute, then swing under the rocks, ending at Farside, with traverse access to Think Again and beyond.
The confluence of Wildside and Farside
It was right around here that my camera decided that it was low on batteries.

The ice crusts that I found earlier in the week down lower are basically buried now and so the runs from top to bottom was indeed sweet.

The mix of sun, snow, cloud, fog and more sun continued through the afternoon. At about 1:45, I was up on Divide in a raging, zero viz blizzard and was considering bailing, but low and behold...
Quartz Ridge from Bye Bye Bowl
...the sun kept coming out and I had several runs with lots of freshies in Bye Bye Bowl, North Pocket and South 205.

Rumour has it that it is supposed to be sunny tomorrow but still cold. I think the sun is strong enough to wreck the pow even with the low temps, so am keeping my fingers crossed.

No comments: