December 19, 2002

Limited Terrain, but Very Nice!

Although I had expected the snow to be fairly decent up on White Pass, I waffled about whether a trip up was really worth while. Eventually curiosity won out and I am glad it did, for I was pleasantly surprised by almost everything I found. First the snow was very good, with a nice layer of powder over the ice crust. That doesn't sound as good as it was for while the powder wasn't really deep, it was generally enough to keep contact with the crust to fairly low levels and even on scraped off sections the crust itself wasn't particularly slick and held a pretty decent edge. The result was skiing that even I would have rated as very good even in ordinary circumstances.

Although I took my rock skis, I didn't really need them, for I never touched a rock and the Timber runs were actually in better than normal early season shape. Certainly there was lots of shrubbery around, but even the Surprise trees were quite navigable, at least to those who like such things. Out in Currie I found nice lines of pure powder turns of very high quality with no touchdowns on the firm layer. However the skate back on Trespass Trail is as tedious as always.

I was particularly surprised by the lack of crowds. As a single I almost always just about skied onto the White Pass chair and often rode alone. Downloading was also painless. However this is unlikely to persist into the holiday season and I can't help wondering how they will manage this as the Timber Chair download capacity is only 25% of it uphill capacity. I can imagine them having to limit the number of riders so as to allow time to download folks at the end of the day.

I am more optimistic about the staying power of the snow up there though. For sure it will degrade with the traffic if more snow doesn't arrive, but traffic is limited by the capacity of the White Pass chair, just as it would be in any busy time. Given the dense underlying layer and generally pretty good conditions, I think the snow might hold up better than in some other seasons.

At the bottom of the hill today I was confronted by a senior hill employee - a fellow I have known for years and respect and trust. He was quite upset by what he felt was my overly negative bias towards the ski hill and in particular my questioning the wisdom and motives of opening with just White Pass. He and his people had obviously worked hard to make this happen and he saw it as not only a service to ski hill patrons, but also a way to try and keep some of those hundreds of seasonal ski hill employees getting much needed paychecks.

I of course countered that I make it clear to the readers of my page that I am just a ordinary customer posting his own observations and musings and I also make it clear I am both very picky and a cynic with a capital C. The meeting ended cordially even though I remained unrepentant, but it did make me realize that while I often take jabs at the hill's marketing maneuvers, I don't often point out all the hard working and sincere folks who actually make our little playground happen. I know many of these people and they really do try very hard and very sincerely to provide the best experience for the guests. I trust that folks realize that my little jibes are intended to be in good fun and certainly not aimed at those folks in the trenches.

And yes I was going to write about how good the skiing was even before this conversation. :-)

A boarder at the bottom of what was probably a fine run on Milky Way.

The bottom of White Pass with the temporary canteen on the right. This was pretty typical of the line ups I saw today.

Currie Bowl from the top of Anaconda Glades.

The Surprise trees were surprisingly nice.

One, Two, Three in Currie offered up some of the nicest turns of the day for me.

You side step up and shuffle sideways onto the lift platform for the download. I turns out to be easy and not at all hectic. Today at least I was at the end of the line when I took this picture.

Riding down Timber is definitely a different experience.

What can one say about the bottom other than the grass, here on meadow, is at least kind of white.