John's Report - February 22, 2005

What Difference can a Day Make?

After reading Jay�s report of yesterday and getting reports from two others who had been on the Hill on Monday I decided, as I am inclined to do, to set aside my mundane life�s duties and hit the slopes. I had every expectation of soft packed powder and of carvinge glorious sweeping S-turns. Boy was I disappointed.

I�ll start with the good. The Face Lift (AKA Meat Hook) has seen an improvement with the jerry-rigging of a pommel-type device on to each hook. No more struggling to heave the hook behind one�s back while trying to keep balance as one is yanked out of arm sockets and dragged up the face . Rather, the hook is now a nice handle which can be easily held while placing the pommel between the legs, followed by a relatively painless haul to the top. With that ends the good news.

Perhaps my bitterness is spawned my first run of the day, which fits into the category of: �What in the World was I Thinking!' I took the upper Cedar traverse (77. Face to Cedar) over to Snake Ridge where I succumbed to the temptation of Snake Main (82); which was chopped but otherwise appeared to offer good powdery skiing. I was not disappointed - yet. The mistake was in not bailing to the right near the bottom of Snake Main. Instead, I was seduced and decided to descent KC Chutes (87). If you are looking for used ski equipment take your belaying ropes, crampons and ice axes up KC where I am sure you can scavenge to great reward the bodies of those who went down it before me. It was tight passages of ice, mixed with rocks, a tangle of mangled vegetation and punji sticks all nicely arranged on sheer cliffs. In the interest of journalism I tried to take pictures but they didn�t turn out - no doubt due to my trembling hands. DO NOT GO INTO KC CHUTES!!!

Just barely surviving this first run, I decided to try Boomerang Ridge. It was OK but the ice is really starting to build and it's hard to find a good turn.

Therefore I resolved to ski to the groomers only to find myself sliding on well scrapped ice (which FAR would like to call it �packed powder�) all the way down Bear.

With a few more runs like this I called it day. It just wasn�t worth it.

My speculation (and it just that) for the rapid change from a day ago is this: The slopes got packed and the bright sun and relatively warm temperatures created a film of water which froze in many places to form an ice-like surface. I was only out for the afternoon & suspect that the early morning tracks may have been quite a different story. The predicted highs for Wednesday through Friday are between 6 & 8 centigrade (about 42 - 48 degrees in real temperatures). This might warm up the snow a bit and could quickly turn a bad situation to the good. Time will tell.

Anyway, after about 2&1/2 hours of what seemed like torture I decided to return to the tried and true pursuit of beer reporting. Ken wrote to suggest I do a report on Snow Creek Caf�, which is located in the Snow Creek Lodge (the first building on the left as you go up the Elk Chair). Getting there is a little tricky. As you are coming down from around Elk Chair go to the top of Mighty Moose, the kiddie run, and then ski down its left side. Snow Creek is on your left. Go up the stairs by the pool, enter the building and go up one more flight. There you will find yourself in a very nicely appointed great room with a small concession at one end. Just one kind of (draft) beer, Fernie Pale Ale, the best of the bunch in my view, for $5.00 a pint including tax. The great room is very comfortable, has vast windows and there is a large outdoor deck with warming propane heaters and fabulous views. It is not party central but is a nice place for a bit of quiet time. I think you might like it. I did.

See you when it snows (or otherwise softens up).

Face Lift Pommel/Meat Hook

Snake Main with its Plantation of Alders but otherwise soft snow

KC Chutes - A picture which in no way represents its height, dangers or terror.

Saddles & Corner Pocket as seen from the top of Lizard

Inside Snow Creek Cafe

The deck outside Snow Creek Cafe