By Bill Handley
Last time I reported I was worried about a forecast warm up and the effect it might have had on the snow. Here, I have a confession to make. During this period I was called back to England for a few days to sort out some family business so I was not present on the hill for all of the time. The good news is that during this time my wife Lynda who is just as much a hard core skier as me (some people would say much more so) continued to ski and has furnished me with all the information I need to make this report.
Well. just as anticipated it did warm up but the precip that had been threatened held off so that whilst the snow surface did get a bit soft and then later frozen hard we were spared the trauma of rain crust which could have destroyed the skiing. We didn’t get away with it entirely as we then got some brutal conditions with rain at the base and snow on top in howling winds. These conditions gave way to great winter skiing with 35 cms of fresh snow pushing the snow base well above 330 cms and providing some great skiing all over the hill.
More fresh snow followed with plenty of wind which tended to smooth out all surfaces but unfortunately kept the joys of Polar Peak closed to the skiing public. Even though the wind continued Polar Peak did open and provided some of the best wind groomed powder skiing of the year in all of the chutes. Then the warm up returned with temps getting up to +8 even on the hill, which unsurprisingly gave slushy conditions low down and not much better on top. During this period the main feature was the wind which provided some new sifted snow even in the most testing of conditions.
We then entered the next snow cycle which was wet at the base but OK on top. This cycle continued off and on for almost a week with accumulations of around a metre of snow in 7 days although to be fair this was at the mid mountain snow plot so the lower mountain was in fact treated to a major rain event whilst the upper mountain had some quite heavy Jersey cream powder. Over that period the snow base rose to around 380 cms and conditions divided quite sharply between the upper mountain (great powder) and the lower mountain (heavy slush at best).
Finally in this wonderful and totally varied weather cycle we had a coming together of conditions with the temperature falling to very satisfactory minus figures and the hill firming up from top to bottom under a 30 cm covering on snow in the last 48 hours. The result is that everything is now in great shape and skiing is good all over the hill. This is not quite so true on the Old Side where the runs were open in the slush and therefore formed frozen tracked snow when the temps dropped. On the New Side where Currie Bowl had remained closed so that the slushy lower parts of the runs were not affected by skier traffic the result was that things stayed in great shape under the new snow. Best runs at the moment are Skydive and Stag Leap for all the aforementioned reasons although there are one or two private stashes that have to remain unidentified for obvious reasons..
The outlook is still very varied and it looks like we have a few more twists left in what is becoming the most interesting season in recent years.