John's Report - March 23, 2008

A Brief Easter Sunday Report & Rant

A cold kept me from enjoying the powder of the last two weeks. The return was greeted by the conditions of my departure - flat light, damp air & hard snow strewn with death cookies, particularly on south facing slopes. Things weren’t so bad, but by no means good, on the north slopes. Some the better runs of my day were off Cedar Ridge, Linda’s Run & Easter Bowl.

The groomers were OK as there were enough shavings to find turns but the ride was chattery. All in all, I would describe the conditions as little more than marginal. Others were of a different view, but they’re aren’t writing this report. The only truly positive thing about Sunday was the thinning of the Alberta crowds and consequentially short lift lines.

Now for the rant. I, for one, am getting quite tired how FAR takes us for granted. Each year ticket prices increase, along with the prices of food & beverages. With last year’s demise of the Wood, FAR, late this season, felt it safe to raise the cost of Beer at the Griz by nearly 20%. Parking has become more restrictive but, for a mere $300 a year, they allow parking in mud lots of a closer convenience. Heck, at Whistler, the epitome of overpriced ski resorts, you can park in a heated underground lot for free. While inflation runs at about 2% pa, FAR sees fit to gouge us at a rate of 15% per annum.

Perhaps it would be different if they returned something for that money, but they don’t. The only reason the runs are not tangled with Alder is this year’s epic snow fall. Otherwise, you would be needing a machete to get down many of the runs. The rumour is they are not going to be opening Facelift next season. If true, it is just another example of how we will pay more for less.

While the locals will undoubtedly continue to pay simply for the convenience of a nearby ski hill, you Calgarians have a choice. If you, like many others I have talked to, are sick of the lack of customer appreciation being exhibited by FAR, consider your options. Castle offers much better deep straight line verticals and, with the opening of Haig Ridge, there is now good beginner & intermediate skiing to be had. The same goes for Kicking Horse, which has good food at reasonable prices, cheaper booze and a much nicer pub environment in which to enjoy it. Sunshine too is a good alternative.

If a some of you voted with your feet, just maybe, the gouging of FAR will be tamed. Anyway, its something to consider, especially after FAR kicks you off their hill at least three weeks prior to the true end of the season. Take that FAR!

To end on positive note, it was snowing by the end of the day with predictions of 20 cms overnight - Fingers crossed.

PS - Happy Easter to all.

Top of Boom Chair decorated in Ice

North facing slope of Boom Bowl was relatively soft. The south was a terrible frozen muck.

This picutre looks up Freeway. Lizard was passable on the Groomers but the light was bad.

If rumors are true, Liftline will be gone next year & you had better get your last rides up it before the mountain is prematurely closed.

Dan showing a lack of grace on Linda's Run. On the other hand, he didn't fall & I did.

All griping aside, I really liked the band this weekend, which I believe styled itself as the 'Surf Drifters'. Basically, an instrumental group playing the music of the Ventures and similar 60s surf bands.