Craig's Report - January 16, 1999


What a difference a day can make!

I keep telling folks not to use my reports to make travel decisions and today was a good example of why. Yesterday was awful, at least if you couldn't get up on White Pass. At four this morning there was still no evidence of snow, but by eight it was snowing hard and there was already a significant accumulation. It made an amazing difference to the hill. They still had ice closures on Boomerang and Cedar Ridge, but the trails were generally very nice even if there were still scraped and icy patches.

Picture 1
(Center Cedar Trees with Cedar Ridge in the background)

We went up late and planned to head directly to the White Pass lift, but when we got there it was stopped. Our seven year old and her class got apparently got to sit on it for forty five minutes and turned into little snowmen in the process. The lucky folks already at White Pass had Timber Bowl to themselves.

Barred from the upper delights, we took a trip into Cedar and found very nice skiing indeed in the upper sections of the Cedar trees. Farther down the crust was still evident under the light boot deep new and the skiing was much tougher, but still manageable. Even the steep pitch of lower Cedar Center was quite passable, although certainly not in prime condition.

 


(White Pass Line from Timber Chair)

When the Timber chair opened again we headed up, but we were also running out of time before we had to collect the kids from their ski clubs (lessons). A significant line up at White Pass (surprise, surprise) made the plan to head up there untenable, so we chose to try the trees beside Morning Glory.


 


(Off the ridge into Siberia)

Close toMorning Glory these are wide open with an intermediate pitch and the new snow made them delightful, at least until the crust made it presence known farther down. As you drift to the skiers left the slopes become increasingly steep and finally downright radical. From time to time I get email from folks saying that from the trail maps Fernie looks like a rather tame hill and they are worried about finding something challenging. I always thought that even just the original terrain could provide all but the most hardened extreme skiers with an interesting time. The new area only adds to that with slopes like the one in the upper left of this picture.

 


(From the White Pass lift)

Late in the day when the family had decided to pack it in, I made one last attempt to get up White Pass and was rewarded with a great run. The top was fogged in, but only for the first 100 vertical feet or so and they had opened all that delicious looking ridge terrain that had been closed on Thursday.

 

This stuff doesn't even appear on the trail map, but offers some great alpine skiing that is reminiscent of Snowbird or Alta. Great snow, despite the moguls already blossoming in unlikely places, significant pitch and the odd small cliff face to accidentally ski off all add up to some exciting skiing. The bit about the cliffs is no joke. I almost scooted between a couple of stunted trees before prudence kicked in and made me check it out. If I hadn't, I would have been treated to the gravity rules part of a 20 foot rock face. While contemplating some of the routes shortly afterwards, I overheard a woman pointing out to her companion a much larger band that she had simply skied off by accident. The message appears to be to scope things out until familiar with the terrain.

One thing I don't like about this area is that if forms a natural amphitheater for the amusement of the folks on the chair. I normally prefer to do my thrashing in more private spots.

A little further down I traversed along the ridge into an area of superb tree skiing. The snow was again wonderful, the trees tight but with just enough holes and lots of pitch to play with. I can't really define why, but this was reminiscent of fine tree skiing at places like White Water and somehow different from most Fernie tree skiing on the old side. I liked it a lot.

Currie bowl was still closed and exploration exuberance still rules, but I think it is going to be hard to overstate the impact that this new terrain is going to have on skiing in Fernie.

The snow stopped for a while this afternoon, but started up again about closing time.

At 5:50 PM it is -2C at the house and snowing lightly.

(Click on any picture for a larger version)

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