John's Report - December 31, 2006

Weekend Conditions Mixed and, Maybe, the Best in the World

Last September, taking advantage of what seemed a very good bargain at the time, my wife & I booked a Christmas ski vacation in the US Rockies. Big mistake. The story experienced in Montana, and reported by people from Wyoming, Utah, northern California and Arizona was the same: half open hills and insufficient snow to cover rocks. Even Colorado had no snow, until the Christmas dumps closed the highways to the hills. Returning to FAR on Saturday, I couldn�t help but think, with Europe out of the picture & poor conditions to our south, we just might have the very best snow in the world!

Saturday was spent on the new side in Siberia, Timber bowls & Currie�s north face, where conditions generally consisted of good hard pack powder and soft drift & sift. Sunday, time was spent in Cedar (hard and fast) & the Boomerang area (interesting), with a day�s end trip down Stag�s Leap. Sunday, like Saturday, offered some very good skiing on certain runs. All in all, I found both days to be very satisfying.

Happy New Year and Tracks.

Saturday was picture post card beautiful with fog shrouded alpine vistas & incredible plays of light.

This picture was taken looking up Puff towards the Lost Boys Caf�. Puff was pretty icy in the middle but could be cut on the edges.

My favourite run all weekend was the 123s. The wind drift filled in most nastiness and the turns were hard and true. Gratefully, the �fearsome� drop-in kept most of the side-sliders at bay.

Liftline was really soft on Saturday afternoon & was still easily carved on Sunday.

Bootleg was, for me at least, a messy tangle of wood & crud, on both Saturday and Sunday.

A view from the same spot as above, but looking up Trespass Trail towards Polar Peak.

Boom Bowl on Sunday was a delight. True, it wasn't powder, but it was soft, fast & forgiving.

Boom Ridge was something else, positively speaking. Chest high moguls that were filled with sift and easily navigated, in a hard, adrenaline pumping way.

On Saturday, instead of heading to Decline for my last run, I was enticed by a harpy called Easter Bowl. It was stiff in a grabby, muscle-tearing way. I found the entire north face of Lizard to be unpleasant & didn�t bother to return.

However, on Sunday, the mistake wasn't repeated. The day's last run was down Stag Leap. This picture was taken at the top of White Pass just before beginning the long traverse. The traverse is getting very cut up and toward the end required acrobatic leaps to negotiate rocks.

The traverse was worth it. This picture looks up Stag Leap which was nice but demanding, with hard, but edge biting, grooves between the trees.

From the same location, this is a view down Stag Leap just above the Ski Dive traverse. Stag was good until almost the very bottom. I was still able to cut powder, on rare occasions, on the down-side slopes of what are becoming significant moguls.

The very bottom of Stag was pretty much an icy mess until the flats just above Deer Chair. Nevertheless, I would have done the run again except it was 4:30.

If there was a down side to the weekend it was the crowds, as shown in this fuzzy picture. It was perhaps the busiest I've seen it in Fernie for a very long time (nice to have the snow). With many beginners and dilettantes on the hill, the greatest danger was hitting or being hit by someone on the collector runs. It was a small price to pay.