Craig's Report - December 15, 2004
I had no intention of skiing today and even told people as late as this morning that I probably would wait for more snow. However I kept hearing reports that it was pretty decent up top and noticed that treacherous treadmill was sizing me up for sadistic purposes. On whim and a dread I headed out.
Even at the base area things looked to have improved. True the area leading down to the Timber Chair was still a horror show, but to my surprise there was good coverage on the slide down the bunny run to the Elk base and the transit from the top of the chair down the Elk run to Bear Express was also surprisingly trauma free. Up top, the groomed runs were firm, but except for the odd spot not really icy. Not really my cup of tea, but decent skiing anyway and better than running on a belt to nowhere.
Coverage above the Bear's Den was generally quite good and the biggest exception we encountered was that the upper part of China Might was littered with mangled twigs. This was more an aesthetic issue than a concern, although one of my skiing partners almost fell victim to a twig stump that was not inclined to yield the right of way. At least where we skied, more serious impediments just weren't an issue.
Exiting the old side is fairly painless since Dipsy/Lizard has good man made snow down to almost the base. The last bit requires a bit of route picking and the snow is obviously very thin, but it could be managed fairly easily.
Groomed runs on the new side also had good coverage and in fact lower Heartland and Highline were quite good, albeit rather firm - something that often cannot be said of them. A trip down Currie on Down Right found nice soft pack moguls with the best snow of the day and indeed was very good by any standard.
On exiting Currie, a sign suggested Trespass Trail was the best strategy, so I followed it and then the cat track down to the top of Meadow. The cat track was in good shape except for a couple of sections, but the same could not be said for Meadow. The snow was very thin and it was a bit as if someone had covered it with an indoor/outdoor carpet of hard snow. A carpet which had lots of twigs sticking through it though. After carefully picking my way down most of it, I took my skis off and walked down about a hundred meters to where a snow making trail started. Most others did not seem to share my concern though.
In a couple of places I did try a few brief turns off piste and while it was far from fun, it wasn't quite as suicidal as I imagined. The crust would usually break and while some slopes are probably worse than others, I got the impression that in many places all that was needed was a sacrificial horde or two of snow boarders to mash things up. :-)
On a friend's recommendation, I finished off with a run down North Ridge, which did not have quite as nice snow as Down Right, but somehow still ended up being the nicest run of the day. With the Boom chair not yet open, this required a nostalgic traverse back to the front down Cedar Trail, which was in less than ideal shape, but still quite navigable. It did occur to me that it was a bit lame when my favourite run of the day was North Ridge (sorry North Ridge lovers), but on the other hand I did have an enjoyable afternoon and did not at all regret that I had come out. As a bonus, my skis escaped any serious wounds.
At 19:15 it is a balmy, snow making inhibiting 3 C at the house. It appears to be cloudy.