Craig's Report - July 01, 2006

The Summer Season Begins

The Canada Day weekend marks the beginning of the summer lift season at FAR and perhaps lured by a run of hot sunny weather, there seems to be lots of people here to enjoy a few days in the mountains. The majority of the lift passengers are still comprised of gladiator robed two wheelers, but it was nice to see a fair number of families and other folks out for a stroll on the mountain. And what a day it was for a walk on the slopes. In truth the last week has been way too hot for my taste and best left for those heat lovers who I suspect have a tad too much reptilian blood in their veins, but today was more moderate and with the benefit of an early start (well I call 9:30 early) and a bit of Lost Boy Pass breeze, a climb up Siberia Bowl was quite bearable.

While only the Elk chair runs on weekdays, on weekends the Timber chair runs as well, but with only a couple of mountain bike routes available. The trail down Falling Star was heavily mangled by the cat work last fall and also has some major fallen tree blockages in the forest farther down. As a result the trail crew hasn�t managed to get this open yet, which offered a nice secluded way up despite Timber running. The other closed trail is Downhill in Currie Bowl, which also has some cat damage and while Megasaurus was open, there were a few spots that would require lifting your bike over obstacles.

The big news concerning work on the hill this summer is the talk that a restaurant is going to be built at the top of the Timber chair. I have heard that this will be on the order of a 1000 square feet and yes, it will provide on hill washroom facilities for the new side. This will undoubtedly be particularly appreciated by folks wishing to avoid trips to the bottom on those days when the lower slopes are, um, humidity challenged. I am not sure of the exact location yet, but have heard it will be on the saddle somewhere to the right when you get off the chair. No construction has started on the building itself yet, but they have been busy improving the cat track from the bottom, presumably to accommodate the necessary construction vehicles. An extension to the patrol hut at the top of White Pass is also underway.

Conditions at the top of Timber were so nice I decided to continue up to White Pass, where I was further lured on up to the top of Polar Peak - something I haven�t done for perhaps a couple of years. The weather continued to be glorious, but half way up the ridge to Polar, I happened to look over my shoulder and now being high enough to see over the mountains, discovered lots of troubling looking clouds bearing down on us from the Kootenay valley. Mountain tops and lightning never seemed like a great idea to me, so I was rather breathless after hurrying to the top for a few pictures before heading for the presumed shelter of lower ground.

It did get quite dark at times with ominous rumbling, but so far the local action has been restricted to a few quick showers interspersed with periods of sun. A thunderstorm still seems likely tonight, but the forecast for the next few days is a return to beautiful, sunny, but depressingly hot 30 C days. And yes, I know that you Aussies would consider that sweater weather down under.

At quarter past four it is a lovely 22 C on the porch under what are now mainly cloudy skies.

Griz Peak from Polar Peak, with part of the ridge walk between them. On the left is Polaris Bowl, while dropping off the right would take you, perhaps quickly, into Lizard Bowl.

The infamous Falling Star switch back that is the bane of beginners in the winter. In the background is the cliff area below Siberia Ridge.

According to the rumours, the new restaurant should go in somewhere between where I am standing and the Timber chair top station.

The patrollers look to be getting a bit more room in the hut at the top of White Pass.

The business end of the White Pass gun tower.

Polar Peak looked so tempting today, even my weary bones were up for a bit more climbing.

The Slant Shack? Actually I don�t think this hut, which is on the saddle between Currie and Polaris bowls, is as old as it looks. Clearly has had a hard life though.

Polaris Bowl is an almost completely enclosed bowl immediately behind the ridge above the ski hill. The outlet from it is not visible in this picture, but is to the left into the Sand Creek drainage, part of which is visible at the upper left. By the way Sand Creek is where the Powder Cowboys cat skiing operation roams.

Looking up the Elk Valley from the top of Polar Peak. The town of Fernie is in just about the center of the picture and if you look closely, the Bear�s Den is in the lower center.

Another shot from the top of Polar, this time towards Mt. Fernie and the Three Sisters. The tops of Bear and Boomerang chairs are lower center.

Looking back into Currie from Polar. The ridge separating Currie and Timber cuts across the center of the picture.

The view West towards Lake Koocanusa. At the upper right is the edge of one of the clouds that suggested a quick withdrawal might be wise. The Slant Shack is center bottom of the picture, with Currie Bowl to the left, the Sand Creek valley directly ahead and Polaris Bowl out of frame to the right.

Not your normal mountain biking sign. There is still some snow and debris left across Megasaurus at the bottom of Easter Bowl. The trail crew obviously clean up a bunch of stuff, for a couple of days ago a much mangled large Easter Bowl sign and some crunched avalanche closure signs added to the decoration.

The mountain bike playground on Mighty Moose is once again up and running and is now dominated by the construction of what appears to be a temple for prospective Darwin award winners.