Jay's Report - February 02, 2004
Its All About Expectations - and Hobie Cats
It was a guys trip the last few days. The anticipation built throughout the week. Expectations were high but alas, monsoon rains hit Fernie on Friday, forcing disloyalty and abandonment of Fernie in favor Castle Mountain where temperatures were more user friendly to powder dogs. There is no loyalty in powder. I hadn't been to Castle in over 15 years. Some decent development has occurred with their "Red" chair giving access to hard-core chutes and breath grabbing aspects. The bottom was chopped up and gritty as a wood file but the top was supreme - and deep - thigh deep. Okay, so riding up the Red Chair you couldn't see the top of the lift from 10 feet away on account of the 100 kph winds and your face felt like it was going to fall off from the half inch thick plaque of snow pasted on it; but once you picked you way over to the chutes and chipped clear your eyes, it was freshies for the boys. Good call. Judging by the line-ups, half of Fernie was there.
Temperatures dropped in Fernie by Saturday and the skies cleared giving rise to perfect bullet proofing to the lower part of the hill. The sound of skis on the lower part of the mountain was like listening to the scraping of unusually long finger nails down a chalk board. The upper part of the hill was surprisingly good, but tricky enough to force you to think about your technique. Surprize got repeat performance as did Knots Chutes. Line-ups were longer then average, probably because the Currie Bowl was closed until 12:30 pm to allow the Powder 8's to take place. The sliding activity which took place above the Face Lift as a result of the rain destroyed any hopes of holding the Powder 8's there. So the event was moved to the Currie Bowl. This was an unpopular decision by the masses. Most skiers/boarders don't mind being slightly inconvenienced by local events such as the Powder 8's; indeed, many enjoy the events as spectators. But I perceive that a proverbial line is crossed when an entire bowl of skiing is closed to the masses for no apparent reason other than to hold a contest that the ordinary skier/boarder is not invited to. Not even as a spectator. But on the bright side, by 12:30 pm, Currie Bowl and Snake Ridge were open. Currie Bowl was very nice with boot top, rice like, dense powder. But run selection was key. The variability of the snow on Skydive ranged from fly-trap paper to blue ice with a thin crust mixed in for good measure. Blueberry, on the other hand, was awesome, knee top powder. Snake Ridge was great until the bottom. After punching through some crust that struck my shins like a two hander in a hockey game, it was Miller time.
Sunday was the better day. The crowds depleted considerably; perhaps due to having their expectations of a waste deep powder weekend deflated. But it was all there. You just had to work harder for it. Polar Peak opened and offered all we could handle. Corner Pocket was grand as was Lower Saddle. On a roll, we boot-packed up Face Lift for some knee top fluff. It's all about expectations I guess.
Epilogue: In the drink on Saturday night and in a distinctly male moment, me and the guys thought it would be a good idea to take the Hobie Cat for a spin on the hill. Powder skiing is fun but screaming down a ski hill at night on a 16 ft Hobie Cat while heeding captain Scott's orders to "Hard to Port! Hard to Starboard!" is an experience all unto its own. We moored at Lizard Creek and took our sea legs in for last call, then deciding to re-live the adventure on GT Racers. And my neighbors said I'd never use that boat. Showed them - showed em good.
Jay - firstname.lastname@example.org