December 16, 1999
Wet and Warm
By all accounts yesterday was a great day, but I spent it watching the snow fall while waiting for a plumber. Somewhere along the line service people, even those in Fernie, became such Important People that they can no longer see fit to be constrained by appointments more accurate than the nearest day (or week?). Grrr. The icing on the cake was that the nice snow that had been falling turned to rain just about the time he showed up at 4 PM. It continued to rain hard throughout the evening and the temperature continued to rise until it was 4 C when I went to bed about 12:30 this morning.
While the rain had stopped by morning, it was still warm and the snow line on the trees was at least half way up Bear, so imagine my surprise when I saw the Official Snow Report headlines proclaiming:
Just how do they come up with this stuff? Have I accidentally tapped into the reports for another Fernie mountain, perhaps on planet Marketeer?
The closest thing to powder that I saw was the ugly wind crust right at the top of the Timber Chair. Perhaps it was nicer farther up, but since the White Pass chair was closed for repairs, that was kind of academic. I had ventured into the new area because I was wearing my old skis in deference to the rather ratty conditions around the base area. Finding White Pass closed meant I got to treat myself to a run back down to the bottom through Timber. Virtually everything was soft and sticky, but I was careful to stay only on the groomed areas and was thus able to avoid any encounters of the rock kind on the way down. New this season is a cat track which bypasses the lower part of Deep Sea and takes you effortlessly to the bottom of Siberia Ridge.
On the old side, both upper Lizard and upper Cedar were closed, so pretty much everything that you could get to was rain soaked and heavy. Quick turns in this porridge was a challenge, particularly where cut up and semi packed. It was possible though to get some surprisingly good, albeit aerobic, turns on steep unsullied slopes where you could let gravity assist you and the glup was at least consistent. Smoothness definitely counted it this stuff though, so it was never a relaxing cruise.
Those excellent groomed runs ranged from that creamy soft feeling that rain wetted snow sometimes gets and was indeed quite nice, to just plain sticky and cruddy. In some freshly groomed, but not yet skied places, the snow was soft and sticky enough to require good soft snow technique. Indeed gentler moguls like those on North Ridge or the side of Bear made interesting arenas for those with masochistic tendencies to test their skills (or lack of them in my case).
At 5 PM it is still 4 (drip, drip) C and cloudy.