A cold clear day with light dry untracked powder in the local backcountry.
Monthly Archives: December 2010
Tracy – Ledges
For each of the four days after Xmas we’ve had enough fresh snow overnight to fill in the tracks from the day the before, making for endless great skiing on the hill. Apparently Dec 28th was the busiest day on record, but other than longer waits in line, it didn’t seem to matter on the runs. Perfect conditions for showing friends the best of what Red has to offer.
Field of Dreams, from Roberts
Finally it stopped snowing, and so in cold clearing conditions this morning I checked out the Field of Dreams and Mt Roberts, and it doesn’t seem like there’s a bad turn to be had out there at the moment.
Colin – Field of Dreams.
Colin – Mt Roberts.
It’s become a habit to start my ski days early. Fast and first. The light in the morning has a fresh, vivid quality that distinguishes it. My friend Craig delivers the mail during mornings, but gets to ski afternoons. The pace is slower, watching for what has been overlooked, and for a few fleeting moments just before dark the mountains and sky glow with a soft warm light. We skied out the day with a couple of smooth lines on Mt Grey, ending with beers in the darkened parking lot, on this Christmas eve.
It felt like a deep 4cm. Insignificant compared to the extravagant snowfall totals from far flung locales that I mindlessly monitor each morning, but enough to reset all the lines I tracked out after the last snowfall. Enough to smooth out the transitions between untouched pillows of fresh. I’m paying attention, but there’re plenty of surprises out there. That anticipated cushion of a landing suddenly revealed as solid, and flung into the back-seat I rocket into a thicket of alder, arms up, feet together, holding it together till freedom. Later in the day, tired, mopping up on moderate terrain, making lazy smears in remnant pockets of powder, then whack! I connect with scarcely concealed stump, instantly removing my outside ski, and launching me into a somersault. The landing is clear and soft, and I’m unharmed, but chastened.
Best day of the year so far at Red today. 10cm overnight, on top of fresh snow each of the last few days, made for top to bottom high quality powder skiing, lap after lap, with only a small pre-Christmas crowd. The warm wet dump of a week ago has set-up into a perfect base, with all the steep and rocky terrain in play. Only the overgrown and windfall choked areas are unskiable. I’ve been focusing on skiing rather than photos, but the sun poked through the clouds for a few minutes this afternoon while I was shoveling around the house, and I snapped these shots.
No the pic is not from Kootenay Pass today. My camera was malfunctioning, so I’ve substituted a shot from the archives. It’s from 1996, of Andy Stafford, and we’re trying for the summit of Mt Aspiring, one of the higher peaks in the South island of New Zealand. I was carrying my skis, hoping for a ski descent. We ascended the obvious ramps directly above Andy in the shot, but couldn’t make it over a blocky overhang barring access to the summit ridge (to the right).
At Kootenay Pass today we found a very solid (5cms thick where I was able to kick through it) ice crust on all aspects and elevations, with 10-15cm of light dry snow on top. This new snow has been hammered by the wind on all higher and exposed aspects. The sun was shining, and it was easy travelling, but the skiing was pretty mediocre (lots of scratchy turns), sort of fun on protected low angle slopes, but not really worth the drive at the moment.
After a couple of mornings ripping around the ski hill (it’s much better than the absence of skiers would suggest), Jordy and I checked out the new cleared line on the south face of Grey. In whiteout conditions it was a little tricky navigating our way from the upper fields, but once on the line, it was straightforward, quite long, and very fun. There’s a bit of logging debris still poking up, but as on the rest of the mountain, the dense snow-pack keeps you up and out of it. On Monday I could see a couple of other cleared areas to skiers right, which I’m told still have a dense band of trees (that crews didn’t have time to space) blocking a clear connection to the upper fields, but I’ll check it out for myself sometime soon.
Mat on Slides
Opening on Motherlode can be a pretty special day, with all those fresh smooth lines to be skied. Unfortunately the mild temps over the past couple of days have resulted in a thick (6mm) crust on the top half of the mountain, making for unforgiving conditions. It was very quiet. At lower elevations the schmoo was skiing well, and after adjusting my technique and attitude, I ended up having a great morning of skiing on many of my favorite lines. As temps drop tonight we’ll be left with a perfect base, and there’s another snowy system on the way!
It was puking when I went to bed last night, then still coming down when I woke early and excited, waiting for the snow report to be updated and confirm that the Red chair was opening. We charged fresh chowder lines till lunch, with great coverage (even in the tight trees), and though it got pretty warm and wet, the stoke factor was high. Motherlode opens tomorrow!