John's Report - February 19, 2006

Cool Hard & Fast

Man, Sunday was cool, but not in a groovy 60's way. After a pleasant day last Wednesday, the temperatures plunged, hitting nighttime lows of -30C (-22F). By today, things had �warmed� up to a relatively balmy -10c by noon & I decided to once again venture out. The big fear, hard icy surfaces, generally did not materialize. The cold has kept daytime melting to a near non-existent level and the snow, while hard, is for the most part quite carvable. The deep snow pack has held up well to nearly three weeks without an appreciable snowfall.

The day began with a ride up Timber. It was reasonably warm for the first 2/3's of the way up and then the arctic winds hit. Those winds had one benefit. They stirred up the snow so much that the �new side� has a nice finely sifted powdery surface covering runs, giving rise to soft, non-slip, no-chatter turns. Admittedly, not much time was spent exploring White Pass as the winds cut like a knife. Refuge was found in Currie Bowl.

Last Wednesday I did each of the Big Three: Stag Leap, Sky Dive and Decline, plus Currie Creek for good measure. The three showed great resilience to the recent drought and, while moguled, were as soft as one could expect. Although not skied today, they are likely much the same given Currie Creek has not really changed from 4 days ago.

Speaking of Currie Creek, it's changed. Rather than the deep & narrow, obstacle ridden gorge I�ve come to love, it�s now practically a groomer with smooth, wide and albeit steep turns. Even the narrow gorge at the bottom is gone. Spring will tell whether the hill�s staff cleaned it up or if it�s simply the result of 30 feet of snow.

There is a new traverse cut through the woods to the skier�s left half between the bottom of Currie Creek and the base of Gilmar. The traverse, while always there, used to be nearly impassable. With lots of work last summer, it is now possible to get easily out of lower Currie over to Bear Chair without the necessity for taking a lower chair or walking. I hadn�t tried it for sometime because I could not shake the memory of the terrible, narrow, rock strewn, cow path of the early season. It�s now opened up and is kept in shape with regular grooming.

Bear Chair proved to be a traffic jam with nearly the entire city of Calgary lined up to get to the top. The trees of Cedar Bowl again offered conditions that were surprisingly good. The winds, which were not evident in Cedar during the afternoon, have done a nice job of flattening the routes, making for very kind skiing. It was so good I repeated the descent down King Fir and was not disappointed.

In fact, the only bad run of the day was Boomerang Ridge, which half way down has been turned into a sheet of ice which basically can only be side-slipped (perfect for the novice boarder who feels the need to scrape off a steep slope). Boom Bowl, on the hand, had lots of sift to turn on.

If it weren�t for the cold, I�d rate the day a solid �B�, but the cold downgraded it to a �C�. Fear not, the Arctic high is breaking down & the North Pacific monsoons are just itching to batter Fernie with dump after dump of snow; or so I very much hope.

Happy Tracks.

At the top of White Pass the Winds were howling - its hard to take a good picture of the wind but this gives a vague idea.

A view over Currie Powder

Looking up from the base of Polar Peak

Currie Creek - I hardly knew ye

Wednesday's view down Sky Dive

Calgary awaits to board the Bear Chair

A sure sign of Spring - the annual fissure continues to widen in Gorbie Bowl

Snow sift being kicked up by a skier in Boom Bowl