Another fun day, bagging a new peak, skiing a new line, and making the most of some fairly marginal snow conditions above Milton Creek. Crust all the way up to 2400m and unavoidable sections of frozen avalanche debris kept things interesting. Sure am getting good use out my ski crampons this year.
Monthly Archives: February 2015
A beautiful sunny spring day in February. Fast travel, stable conditions, endless views, and sweet smooth corn snow. Couldn’t have gone any smoother skiing Old Glory with Cam today. Click on the thumbnails to view the expanded pics.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the avalanche hazard reported as low across the board. An indication of how firm things are out there, but also on invitation to ski a big line. Hard packed conditions render the radiator useless on my sled, causing overheating, and slowing our progress into Gibson lake. But once on skis, and with the use of ski-crampons, we were able move quickly and directly. After a few hours we topped out in a 2750m col between Cond and Kokanee Peaks, with visibility blowing in and out. The snow surface conditions were surprisingly winter-like above 2400m, even on the south aspect. Not actually powder, but great for smooth soft carving. As we continued down, and conditions firmed, the skiing remained fun on the smooth open terrain, becoming a little more challenging on the summer trail down to the lake at 1560m. Sure beats another day scratching around on boiler-plate groomers at the resort.
Surfers are familiar with the self characterization of being a storm rider. It acknowledges the unpredictable role of distant storms, that create the swells, which travel great distances before breaking as waves on distant shores, to finally be ridden by patient and dedicated surfers. As skiers, our lives are also intrinsically linked to these same storms, forming over and circulating around the North Pacific, and periodically pushing inland to dump their load of precipitation. Like whorls in a mountain stream, there can be an illusion of order, but weather is defined by its unpredictable, ungraspable, endlessly morphing naturalness. Modern life creates a curious disassociation with all that is natural. We’re becoming ever more accustomed to comfort and certainty, in a superficial and predictable artificial reality that mirrors the paucity of our limited imaginations. Skiing is an antidote. Weather and geography combine in almost limitless combinations to both pleasure and to challenge us, but we’re up the task. We bring our practiced technique, our physical conditioning, positive attitude, hard earned knowledge of where to be and when, and gear that almost makes it too easy, and we ski. Not because it’s always soft and smooth and sunny, but because it’s a joyful dance that connects us to the people we share it with, and to the limitless incomprehensible reality beyond ourselves, in whatever the day brings.
This winter hasn’t provided the continual powder skiing we all crave, but there have been great days, and just about every day there’s been some fun skiing to be done. The storms keep rolling in, month after month, year after year, sometimes snowy and cold, sometimes not, and as long as my body is able, I’ll be here to ride them.
Despite recent snowfalls, the ski hill has been deserted of late. My brother and I have pretty much had Granite to ourselves. In case anyone’s still interested in skiing, there’s been about 10cm of new snow over the past 3 days. It’s enough to make everything look smooth and pretty and is a huge improvement over the firm frozen conditions of just a few days ago, but it’s a little too light to fully cushion the crust (see below). It appears we’re going to get hit by a continuous series of storms from Wednesday on. Unfortunately it’s going to be warm and wet yet again.
While waiting for this very welcome snow to accumulate, I’ve been geeking out on snowfall statistics, and thought it’d be interesting to calculate what is the actual average annual snowfall at Red Mountain. The Resort publicizes the 300″ figure, but even by their own inflated figures we haven’t got close to that amount in recent history. Tony Crocker at BestSnow credits Red with 275″ per year, but even that seems a bit high. So I made up a spreadsheet, correlating Red’s figures, Tony Crocker’s data, and Rossland snowfall data back to 1905, made a few assumptions, and came up with some interesting results.
10 year average: 203″.
20 year average: 214″.
30 year average: 200″
40 year average: 204″.
We almost always get something in the range of 150″ – 250″, with extremely rare drought years (1977 and 1992) and the occasional powderfests (1975,1983, 1997, and 1999). With 118″ by the end of January, we’re having an average year.