March 04, 2000
It is not often anymore that you can head out on a Saturday at eleven and catch freshies on just about every trip down. Of course there was the little matter of the rain that was falling, sometimes lightly, sometimes not, over the lower mountain and the fact that the lovely untracked was roughly the consistency of cream of wheat. However it was very fine skiing cream of wheat and as long as you caressed it and didn't bully it, you would be rewarded with many lovely smooth slow motion turns. Of course it wasn't anything like powder, but I spoke to a few other folks who seemed to enjoy it as much as I did. To be fair these were Fernie locals with lots of experience skiing soft snow in all its Fernie varieties, and there definitely were folks struggling out there, but most people seemed to be having a good time.
Still traffic off piste was obviously very light and on my first run down Steep and Deep I was surprised to find only a few other tracks and wide untouched lanes to motor down. Everything was open except for the Face Lift and Cedar High traverse, but on each turn you would generate an impressive array of snow balls cascading down the run. Some of these grew to be 30 cm or more in diameter and at one point one of these slow moving surface sloughs started to grow disconcertingly big before petering out in some bushes a short ways below, leaving 20 or 30 cm of loose rubble. It wasn't quite to the point of dangerous, but it did remind you that these are avalanche slopes.
You did want to avoid being caught on anything unpacked if it didn't have a reasonable pitch. Down low hitting a couple of centimeters of this heavy slush had an effect like pulling a rip cord, assuming that the parachute was tied to your feet. I actually thought I might have to pole my way down the last part of decline, even though I was on an old catted section that only had toe deep new cement. Surprisingly trafficked areas were sometimes fairly quick, but the heavy pushed up piles in moguls were still manageable. If this stuff now freezes though, it will be time to take up indoor sports seriously.
From time to time I am asked if I know of any other 'Unofficial' ski report sites and up until a couple of days ago, I didn't. However I received an email from Dave Thomas (not to be confused with the Fernie Councilor of the same name) who has set up the UnRed site (http://www.netidea.com/~redline/index.html) for Red Mountain. This is great, as Red and Fernie, along with White Water, have traditionally been the serious skier's holy trinity of B.C. interior ski areas. In addition to his personal reports, Dave has lots of information about Red Mountain and a collection of fine ski action shots that just makes me jealous. Check it out!
At five PM it is 3 C on the porch as a light rain continues.