Craig's Report - December 08, 2007
In my last report I said that with such low expectations for opening day, anything less than horrible would be something of a delight and indeed so it was. True the snow quantity and available terrain were probably the least I have ever seen on opening day, although the day after opening in 2004 would be a contender. There have been years when conditions were this bad on this date, but I don't recall the hill trying to open with so little snow and I must confess to having had doubts about the wisdom of trying it this year. However the on hill crew have done an amazingly good job of providing some fairly decent, albeit limited, skiing despite the lack of raw material to work with.
On the old side the only runs open were Bear, Arrow and Dancer as far as Tower Six Trail, Tower Six Trail itself and the Dipsey / lower Lizard combination to the bottom. All were groomed and all were firm, fast and rather slick, but did have a bit of dust on top and weren't seriously icy. Apart from the odd stick or so, they were largely hazard free. Not exactly my cup of tea, but definitely not horrible. Lower Lizard was particularly impressive for having few if any hazards despite being almost entirely man made snow.
The new side had more to offer though, for while the run count wasn't much greater and skiing off groomed was still discouraged, they did open Currie Bowl for Down Right and Currie Powder as well as having Shakey's Acres, upper Heartland and Milky Way open despite not being groomed. My daughter and I sampled some of the stuff in the trees beside Down Right and in the Milky Way area and found it could range from border line delightful to caution inducing slick. At no point in these excursions did the underlying crust break under us.
Still care is definitely needed in any off groomed area, for in addition to the hazards of slick and potentially breaking crust, were huge piles of avalanche debris. I can't recall ever seeing such wide spread slide activity on the hill. The Knot Chutes are nearly bare, while a huge pile of snow lives on the flats below. Much of the stuff under White Pass chair in that area had also slid almost to ground as had much of the normally groomed part of that section of Highline. On the other side of the ridge much of the 123s had also come down,creating a huge field of avalanche debris on lower Down Right. Most of Big Bang as well as part of Lift Line right under the Timber chair had also let go.
Getting off of the new side is unfortunately still a bit of a trick. The hill is offering downloading on the Timber chair or you can try your luck on Falling Star. The latter is quite decent down to and even around the hair pin and while sketchy below that, not too bad until you get to the section at the bottom of Fall Out. Having picked your way through that and on to the cat track in the trees, things are not bad until you get to Timber Trail. This is really quite ugly, although I did manage to make it through without any damage to skis or me. Once out to Meadow, there is a fine snow road all the way to the base, which is rather amazing given the gap in it yesterday afternoon.
The major issue that limited the runs my daughter and I took today was the cool temperatures and dismal foot plumbing we seem to share. Despite waiting until afternoon to head out and being otherwise warm, a few runs were all we could manage before needing to seek heat. I had rather expected to have had enough of the limited terrain after just two or three runs, but feet willing, we would have persisted to the end.
At 17:45 it is clear and -14 C at the house.