Craig's Report - January 21, 1998

Grade A Prime Slab, but no Fresh Fish

I hibernated the last couple of days and with warm temperatures continuing and little fresh snow I did not have high hopes for today.  In fact there were acres of untracked snow and while most of it was probably blown in and had a one to several centimeter slab on top of it, the slab was pretty friendly slab, as slabs go.

The groomed runs only had a couple of centimetres of dense fresh snow on them and this resulted in a nice smooth carving surface. I found most off trail stuff pretty nice, although the Bear Chutes seemed a little unfriendly and I think I heard one woman describe Boomerang as horrible.  I'm sure it depended a lot on how well you tolerated the slab.

jan07982.JPG (6135 bytes)The Face lift was closed, so I decided to head over to Snake on the low traverse and found myself right behind the guys breaking trail.   Everything was of course untracked.  This shot is of the Blueberry trees with the town of Fernie visible in the upper left hand corner.  The trail was low and slow, so I decided to cut down through the trees on the right edge of Snake Main and was treated to a run where I didn't see a single track until the bottom.  The snow was definitely dense and slabby, but it cut pretty well once you got its measure.


jan18982.JPG (16731 bytes)This was sufficiently tasty to encourage me to drag my lazy bones up past the gun tower and across the upper traverse.  My goal was that little piece of heaven known as Fish Bowl; one of my favorite parts of the mountain.   On the way I stopped to snap this shot looking down Snake with Cedar Ridge in the background.  The top of the Boom Chair is just about centered between the two big trees in the foreground.

When I got to Fish I was horrified to discover that the boundary rope now ran right along the top of Snake Ridge and all of Fish Bowl was now outside of the ski area and its avalanche control.  A conversation with a fellow installing these foul signs confirmed the worst; this was a permanent condition.

I felt like there had been a death in my family, but most others I talked to didn't see it as a big deal since you could just slip under the rope and ski out of bounds.   This is true and upper Papa's probably doesn't pose a significant avalanche hazard, but to get out you must traverse steep slopes which certainly do slide.  Clearly these other folks feel I am just a wus.  Lots of folks go out of bounds all the time and get away with it.  Still I am old enough to know I am mortal and the "Avalanche Awareness" course I took just made me aware of how little I know about the subject.  (Not that I notice many folks digging pits before hopping the line).  In addition I normally am skiing alone, so for me I fear runs in my beloved Fish will be rare things indeed.

I am in mourning.

I skied down right along the new rope like a dog fenced in a yard.  The snow on this side of Snake was quite nice, with little or no slab. I'm sure it was much better on the other side of the rope though.

jan18983.JPG (16110 bytes)To ease my sorrow I took a hike up into Easter and skied down in the trees to the right and out the Windows Chutes.  The snow was not as good as it had been on Red Tree, but was quite nice up top.  The Windows chute I went down (right) had seen lots of traffic on previous days and while pretty good, was rather mogulled in places.

The sun came out this afternoon and it is 0C at the house at 2:30, but it felt cooler up top and even chilly in the wind.

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