Jay's Report - March 19, 2006

A Few Stories and Happy Spring Skiing

It�s shaping up to be the best Easter/spring skiing in years. The base remains large, the temperature remains cool and the crowds remain somewhere else. The hill reported about 4 cm�s of fresh on Friday night. There was fresh but it seemed scattered. There was no fresh in spots and more than 4 cm�s in others. Not enough cm�s to deserve more than a dust on crust rating, but sufficient for some fun. Over the weekend, the old side of the mountain was considerably softer and seemingly warmer than the new side. Mainly because of the strong winds that faired prominent on the new side on Sunday. Even on the old side, it wasn�t quite warm enough to make Snake Ridge enjoyable. Stag Leap was good but challenging on the weekend with assorted sized shapes of chicken heads flanking the run along with fragments of crust. Cedar Bowl was nicely covered with ankle top dust on Saturday, making it most enjoyable on a groomed underlay. Boomerang was also strangely appealing. It too succumbing to the blade of a grooming Cat. I�ve been down Boomerang so many times when it is virtually a mine field of oddly shaped bumps and angles, it�s hard to convince my eyes it is actually groomed. I wonder if the Cat driver that did the deed actually meant to or whether he fell asleep at the wheel and woke up already half way down the thing. I mean, I can�t imagine why someone would voluntarily drive a Cat down there much less live to talk about it. He ought to be inducted in the Cat driving hall or fame or something.

The Fernie Free Ski competition was held this weekend over the headwall. The Headwall is the formidable looking cliff band above the Face Lift. There were more lines down Heiko�s run than have gone up Keith Richard�s nose. Never have I seen so many tracks down Heiko�s Run - which is one of the spooky fall lines down the headwall. The Headwall is normally a permanently closed area but was open for the Free Ski comp. I didn�t stick around to join with the reported 100 or so spectators gathered to observe the competition, preferring to rip up the new side of the hill in the sunny conditions. Apparently a highlight of the competition was when one of the Fernie famous Avi dogs ran right over the headwall and charged down the fall line, garnering huge applause from the spectators. No word as to whether the dog soiled himself on the way down, which is what many skiers have apparently done on that run.

The real place to ski was to hike up above Snake on Gobbler. See photo. From the Face Lift you take the traverse over to Cedar Bowl and hike up to the top of Snake Ridge. From there, go up. It�s about a 25 minute boot pack up. The only thing scary about the run is the cornice of snow that ever hovers above the Cedar Bowl, threatening to release with thundering force and ruin your day. But this weekend it was sunny and enticing with about six inches of Fernie light. Provided you snaked in between the two avalanche paths, thereby avoiding the nasty death cookies and chicken heads, you were reportedly left with a feeling that it was worth the slog up.

Polar Peak was another popular destination spot for hikers. From the top of White Pass, you track skier�s left as far as the base of Polar Peak and from there go up the Chilkoot Trail type of track. It�s about a 30 minute slog. This is on the new side of the mountain and as I mentioned earlier, it was windy up there. My wife said, �It was windy enough to want to hold on to something, but there was nothing to hold on to that hadn�t been peed on by a male.� It was hardly the moment to defend my gender counterparts, but it did make me think of my first climbing expedition a number of years ago when I purported to scoop up a frozen deposit of some of my yellow finest. I kept it on ice and later had it delivered to the leader of the expedition in order to commemorate my inaugural climb. The expedition leader then masqueraded as a health inspector and, on the letterhead of the local clinic, claimed to have had my sample tested. He regretted to inform me that my sample had tracings of syphilis, gonorrhea and other nasty things and that I should report immediately to the local clinic for castration. There�s more. He cc�d the letter to my employer at the time. And that has what has led me to live a mountain life.

On that note, spring skiing should be grand this year for all those that are Fernie bound. I am not fond of spring skiing. I like my skiing the same way I like my beer, cold and frothy. I am off to warmer climbs. Happy spring skiing all.

At 6 pm, it�s plus 5 C at the house and still clear.

I think this is Elephant Head. Looking south from the top of Polar Peak. Above and to skier's left of White Pass.

Gobbler. Above Snake Ridge.

Cat track from Face Lift to Snake Ridge.

Heiko's Run. Above Headwall which is above the Face Lift. Tons of tracks, even moguls.

Deb at resting spot on route to Polar Peak. It's windier than it looks.

Polar Peak was a little crunchy at the start but got better.

Polar Peak a little further down. Better snow.

Bottom third of Polar was quite nice but not as nice as Gobbler looked.

Cornice above White Pass. Mick Jagger Lips.