Craig's Report - November 27, 2007

A Welcome Change of Colour

When driving back yesterday afternoon from a weekend in Calgary, I couldn't help but notice that the ski hill looked really inviting as seen from about Hosmer. However as I got closer and began to resolve all the weeds sticking through the snow, not to mention the disconcerting browns and greens in my yard, it became obvious that with less that two weeks until opening day, it was time for the Griz to get down to business. So he did, with this morning finding the yard transformed into a lovely white by what I would have guessed to be well over 20 cm of nice, medium light snow.

The ski hill itself only claims 20 cm up at the snow plot, with a settled base of 64 cm. A reader wrote to ask if I believed this, for the coverage as viewed from the Bear load web cam looked pretty sparse. Coincidentally this arrived just as I got back from a walk up to the snow plot, so I could not only confirm that it was true, I actually took a picture of the measuring rod. For the record, I have seen no evidence that the ski hill ever fudges these numbers and indeed they are usually more conservative than my seat of the pants guesses. It is true that their reports don't always mention what might be happening farther down on the mountain, but even here they have been getting better in recent years and sometimes even use the dreaded 'R' word.

As to what is at the bottom of the Bear chair, it was about shin deep as I walked up, with some drifting producing deeper spots. The fellow also asked where the 'Mid Mountain' measurement was taken. The snow plot is just above the Tower Six Trail, right beside the Bear chair. Its altitude is just a bit over 1600 m, while the top of the White Pass chair is a little over 1900 m and the base area is a little under 1100 m, so it is about two thirds of the way up the skiable portion of the mountain.

On the upper half of Bear, the crust under the new snow was still of the ugly breaking kind, which would sometimes support your weight, but often not. Fortunately the hill had groomed a track up Ballet, Sun Up and Bear, which coincides with a popular hiking route that avoids significant avalanche hazard. I have noticed they often do this in the pre-season and wonder if it might not be specifically intended to entice hikers out of Lizard Bowl.

With the addition of this nice new snow, it now seems much more likely that the hill will be able to open as scheduled, but to have a truly decent opening, it would be nice to see something like another metre of snow. This isn't as improbable as it sounds, for in a good year the hill averages roughly 50 cm per week. Of course this comes at very irregular intervals and the weather forecasts aren't terribly promising for the next few days. Let's hope the Griz wasn't just dropping in for a visit.

At 16:00 it is -4 C at the house and while it is still overcast, the snow seems to have completely stopped now.

A sure sign winter is here is the appearance of the avalanche warning board at the bottom of Lizard. They are making reasonable progress with the snow guns, towards having a skiable path down Lizard/Dipsey.

This somewhat drifted in snowboard track provided a welcome trail up under the Bear chair, on this part of Lizard.

Ballet is left of centre in this shot from the Bear's Den.

Lizard Bowl from the top of Ballet. It was quite wintery here, with lots of blowing snow.

Looking across Bear to where Bear Ridge joins it.

The top of Bear from Tower Six Trail. The snow plot is just out of frame to the left.

The measuring stick in the snow plot. Note this was taken from outside the plot using my zoom lens. The plot is now roped off, so there is no excuse for blundering in and messing things up.

The Mighty Moose beginner area is now receiving snow gun attention.

Not everyone is happy about the new conditions.