March 21, 2001

Hanging In

This week our kids are on school break and we took the opportunity to spend a few days fulfilling our consumer imperative in the wilds of Calgary. We returned yesterday afternoon and were pleased to see that the hill actually looked whiter than when we left. I was less pleased though when I heard friends reporting that last Saturday - the day after we left - had been probably the best day of this benighted season - grrrr. Alas Sunday and Monday brought rain over most of the mountain and wet goop up top. After suitable rutting and freezing the result was today's off piste breaking crust. To say this stuff was unfriendly is like saying Attila the Hun had a problem with relationships, but at least the groomed runs were generally pretty good, albeit a bit sloppy down low. Brown spot avoidance continues to be a valuable skill in many places, but this was pretty manageable in all but a few problem areas.

Some off piste stuff that caught sufficient sun was also pretty good, if rather unpredictable. The snow up on White Pass seemed a little better behaved and I even gave the 123s a try. The top was decent, but by number 2 one was into what I will call manageable crust, with a bit of blown in powder, the odd hard spot and some avalanche rubble to add texture. Farther down it just became plain rude.

I had been rather skeptical about the hill making it through until the end of the month, but despite its other failings, this season seems to have more lives than a cat. Every time it seems to be on its last legs as little storm cruises through and pumps it up for a few more days. It now seems pretty certain that they will be able to stay open until at least April Fool's day (hmmm), but how good the skiing will be certainly depends on the sun, rain and those life giving little storms.

At six pm it is partly cloudy and 8 C at the house.

Lizard Bowl with the old T-Bar Base in the foreground. If you were to go down to the left, you would be on the mud fields of Dipsey, which would definitely not be fun.

Lizard again, this time from the lower part of Arrow with Easter Bowl straight ahead.

Timber Bowl from the top of Puff.

Shakey's Acres, one of Fernie's not quite tame blue square runs, had used the sun to be one of today's few friendly off piste runs

The top of the 123s was only a bit crusty and overall pretty decent, but farther down the crust became meaner and more inclined to take hostages.

The gully beside Gilmar's remains a decent way out, despite the many pointy obstacles. The shiny stuff might be soft, but then again might not be.