Craig's Report - December 23, 2005

Wounded, But Still Kicking

It looked bad! In a morbid replay of last year�s monsoons, the rain I mentioned on Wednesday continued through the night, heavy at times, and on and off through yesterday and even a bit today. I did a solitary run yesterday on the old side and was underwhelmed, although I did hear later that it was not bad up on White Pass. With even more rain having fallen, I was expecting the worst and was pleasantly surprised to find some very good skiing on the upper mountain. My first few turns were a drop into Cedar Bowl from the top of Bear and the while the snow was way too heavy to call powder, it was nonetheless quite delightful.

As I descended, the snow got progressively heavier, but was still quite good until about the elevation of the top of the Cruiser gully. Below this the snow pack became quite rotten in the manner of some isothermal spring snow packs and while your skis would plane across it, any excess force could cause a sudden collapse and sinking. Skiable for sure, but certainly not comfortable for someone without a lot more skill than I have. The Cruiser cat track would have been a much better choice.

After a quick reconnaissance of the old side, I headed over to White Pass, which I had heard, correctly as it turned out, was quite good. The dark green trees changed to snow covered ones just around the bottom of White Pass, so all the runs off of it were pretty much in the good stuff. It did get a bit cruddy as you got near the bottom, but was generally very good. By using the tedious Trespass Trail route back to White Pass from Currie, you could ski the upper parts of both Timber and Currie without dealing with the rain injuries farther down and despite this being the best skiing on the hill, there were no line ups. Over at the Boom chair, the lifties looked plain lonely.

What goes up must come down and that means dealing with those rain battered lower runs. Indeed many of the lower runs look less than inviting, but things are actually much better than I feared and I had almost no problem getting around. Lower North Ridge from the Haul Back down to Cedar Trail was fine once you slipped around a bit at the upper left, but Lower Linda�s was pretty unappetizing in spots. Everything seems to be fine down to the Bear�s Den and Elk was pretty much okay from there to the bottom of the Bear Chair, but below that you probably will want to stick to Lizard Trail with its man made snow.

I wasn�t eager to try the lower part of Currie today, even if Gilmar�s trail looked a bit whiter from the bottom than it had, so I went across Trespass Trail to Diamond Back and then down it to the cat track which I followed to lower Siberia Ridge. All of this was good as far as coverage, although the short bit on Diamond Back was heavy on crust and crud. The exit from Siberia Ridge down Timber Trail and across Meadow did require navigating around and sometimes through a lot of brown patches, but most of these did seem to be relatively harmless even if distasteful. I also heard from a couple of people that Falling Star was a reasonable, if not great alternative.

All in all getting a rain storm right before Christmas sucks, but so far it is not nearly as bad as I feared. The big question now is what will happen in the way of precipitation in the next few days. It wouldn�t take much snow to make things right on the lower runs and the upper mountain is in already in pretty good shape. On the other hand continued warm temperatures or even worse more rain could make things pretty difficult down low.

At 17:50 it is a disgusting 4 C here at the house and cloudy, but at least it�s not raining.

The good stuff up in Cedar Bowl.

Not so good - looking past the Deer Chair and up Incline from the base.

Elk is still quite reasonable down to the bottom of the Bear Chair, but gets pretty ratty looking below this. Also the area heading into the chair where you cross Power Trip, which is closed, needs special attention.

Lizard Bowl from the Bear Chair looks not too bad. I haven�t been down Freeway in the last couple of days and it might be mushy now, but it has been quite good early this season.

On the main chute of Cedar Ridge. From here down the snow was pretty rotten.

Given the recent weather I didn�t expect this section of lower North Ridge (below the top of the Haul Back) to be nearly this good.

Poor Meadow is suffering.

In the trees in the center of Currie. There was some fine skiing to be had up here.

Both 2 and 3 of 1,2,3 had some significant slides. It might be hard to see in this picture, but the whole center of 3 slid down onto part of Currie Powder.

Looking back up you can see the slab fracture. I would guess this ran on the November crust that has been predicted to be a problem. Despite the slide, there was lots of good skiing beside the slide path, which also demonstrates how much trust we put in the avalanche control folks.