December 20, 2000


The hill opened today under bright beautiful skies and chilly but manageable temperatures. Conditions on the groomed runs were surprisingly good given the low snow pack depth and on most of them there was little in the way of nasties, at least initially. There were spots though, particularly in places such as where runs cross cat tracks etc., where rocks were evident and as the day wore on, high traffic areas were becoming a bit threadbare.

Off trail things were pretty marginal. The snow quality ranged from very good if slightly stiff, to somewhat cruddy and slabby, but everywhere the lack of depth was evident. On the old side this was mainly manifested by lots of alders, stumps, various hidden surprises and by many closed runs, including all of Snake Ridge and Easter Bowl.

All of the lifts except the Face Lift and the carpet lift were open, including the new Bear Chair, which seemed to be running without a hitch and was very comfortable to boot.

While the new side was open, one had to wonder if it was really worth while. Falling Star seemed fine and even upper Heartland was sort of okay as long as you followed the beaten path, but on lower Heartland it was very hard to avoid clipping a few rocks. Lower Highline was reasonable, but there were rocks showing. Given the closures and dubious conditions, the only reasonable way out of Timber Bowl was to follow the cat track over to Diamond Back (closed) and back. Currie was closed and I did not give Siberia Bowl a try.

While there was fine skiing today, there is no doubt the hill seriously needs more snow to cope with the holiday crowds and to permit access to some of the more interesting terrain. Er, Mr. Griz???

During yesterday's employee day skiing, there was an avalanche in the closed area by Shakey's Acres that resulted in a young fellow (a neighbor's son) being buried for over twenty minutes before being successfully recovered with no serious injuries. Fernie has a fairly extensive avalanche dog program and I have heard that one of the dogs was instrumental in this recovery. Usually it is difficult for dogs to be deployed quickly enough to find a victim still alive and it is being reported that this is the first time in Canada that a dog has been used to save someone.

All in all a sobering event with a very fortunate outcome.

At 16:15 it is clear and -15 C at the house.

The top of the new, comfy and quick Great Bear Express.

Cedar Ridge seemed to have just a few too many obstacles and surprises for a truly enjoyable run.

The Punji chutes were actually one of the clearer parts of Boomerang.

Even the benign Bow trees could suddenly close in on you. Lizard bowl in general was still pretty bushy. Easter Bowl is visible in the back ground.

Timber Bowl with upper Highline in the middle.

The site of the near disaster in yesterday's avalanche in Timber Bowl

The avalanche track.