Craig's Report - January 20, 2005

Tropically Punched

Fernie has not escaped the rain storm that has been pummelling Southern BC for the last three days, leaving flooding, mud slides and avalanches in its wake. A warm wet flow that originates out Hawaii way and inundates BC, is often called a pineapple express, but the meteorologists have taken to calling this one a tropical punch in deference to its intensity. I am afraid it seems to have delivered a knock out punch to the snow on the lower slopes of the ski hill as well.

The rain goes all the way up and has created extreme avalanche hazards. As a result that only the Deer, Elk and Bear chairs are now open and I heard they actually closed the hill yesterday at 2 P.M. I wouldn't know for after walking up with my ski boots and surveying the damage, I just came back home. However today I decided to take a run anyway to see just how bad things were. Pretty bad as it turned out.

Bear was pretty much the only run on the mountain today and the upper part of it wasn't too bad. Part way down some damage started to appear though and the lower parts were seriously wounded. Despite the less than ideal conditions, there was lots of activity at the site of this weekend's mogul competition and many competitors were performing impressive practice runs. I imagine though that it must be extremely hard to keep things consistent when everything is so soft.

The lower mountain is just a mess. Essentially everything has reverted back to the way it was after the opening day rain. Only Dipsy/Lizard seemed to provide a reasonable route down, but I took Deer Trail over to check out the aerials site. It was only just passable and certainly more entertaining than normal. When I did get to Silver Fox, it became obvious that I wouldn't be able to ski down it and rather than backtrack to Lizard Trail, I made the mistake of working my way over to Meadow. I eventually ended up walking down part of this before finding enough snow to carefully pick my way to the bottom, albeit with one more removal of my skis to cross a wide run off channel.

I had wondered how the jumps would have survived the rain, but they were covered with tarps and folks were busy setting stuff up, so I assume everything is still a go.

More rain is predicted for tonight, with some hope of it turning to snow briefly before it clears up tomorrow. I would guess it is going take at least 30 cm or so of good snow to kind of fix up the lower mountain. Hopefully it will arrive very soon.

I hate leaving this ugly a report up for long, but I probably won't be able to update it until Monday at the earliest. Hopefully one of the other guys will have better news to report on the weekend.

Now where is that sump pump and the scotch?

Coming up to 3 PM, it is 4C on the porch and once again raining hard.


Alas poor Elk, I knew thee in better days. :-(

Lower Meadow is again in pain.

Looking towards Decline from the base. The sticks are to warn of a drainage channel.

The site of the mogul competition. If you look closely you will see an upside down dude completing what would be a very impressive jump. The bottom of Bear is obviously suffering, but was still relatively easy to get down.

You have to pity this poor patroller as he contemplates how to get to that sign and what to do with it when he does. Upper Lizard Trail has been mortally wounded.

China Wall and China Might have both sustained heavy damage. Note all the avalanche debris farther up in Lizard Bowl.

Slide tracks in upper Cedar Bowl.

This picture looks a little better than being there did, but the skiing on the upper part of Bear was not bad at all.

The aerial jumps sporting rain gear. Hmmm, how do I get down from here?

Wrong choice. By the time I got to this point on Meadow, my skis were on my shoulders.