Fernie Day 3: Epic Powder
Posted by on Tuesday, January 29, 2008
So much snow.
The official snow report shows that Fernie had 71 cm of snow in the last 48 hours. Awesome. There was so much snow up there today. It was everywhere. Heading for the Elk chair first thing this morning, Simon, Martin and myself stepped out of the Cornerstone basement - the door was practically snowed in. The visibility had cleared up and we were hoping for some of Fernie's steep and deep.
71cm. So lucky that we arrived when we did. Similarly to yesterday, it took longer for the lifts to open. We had a 15 - 20 minute wait for the Bear Chair to open, which is what took us up to the beckoning powder.
Our first run of the day was off of Cedar Ridge. Simon's knowledge of Fernie has been a huge benefit. I wouldn't have known where to go first on the last two powder days. We stopped at the side of the piste and Simon said "right, we're going down there to the left." No way. It was steep and straight into the trees...
I wanted to stop and take some photos; to catch the scale of the whole situation. But people were literally racing to get the fresh lines, so all I managed was one quick snap.
That first run this morning was the best powder I've ever ridden. It was so deep. After the trees it opened up into a wide powder face. Quite a few times I just dug in, followed by a supreme rag-doll. When stopped, given the gradiant of the slope, the snow was up around your chest. When getting it right it was pure surfing. Huge slashes of powder; up and above your head. It was the real deal.
Remember me saying this morning that it was going to be cold? Well, it was around -24. Absolutely freezing. Taking your gloves off to take a photo on the lift - you've got like a minute before your hands feel like they're going to drop off.
My beard froze. I'm not kidding. I first noticed it on the first lift. It was starting to get a little sore. But once I was in the snow and slashing powder around my face, it really took a beating. It made my face blead where I lost some of the hair. So cold. The type of coldness where your skin starts sticking to stuff... I've never experienced this cold. Check out this picture:
So Martin took the Fish out today - for the first time. He was hating it at first. Just not versatile enough. But after a few more runs he was starting to feel it out. Simon and I watched him tear up terrain that we'd struggled with. The Fish has its place and Mart was knocking on that door today. Pretty sweet. I was going to test it out but feared that I would end up wanting to go buy one if I liked it...
Despite the epic conditions, the three of us all had problems today. First of Mart was suffering from the dreaded goggle-steam/freeze. It was almost impossible to avoid it. Any moisture on your lense and it froze. No way to thaw them out on the hill... simply too cold. Luckily he had a spare lense, but it didn't take long before the reduced visibility was back.
Simon had a snapped binding strap. Not sure if it was cold enduced, but definitely an annoyance.
Along with the facial-freeze, I also ended up with goggle freeze. However, I decided that I'd try riding without goggles as there were runs that I wanted to take, and I wanted to be able to see. That's a mistake in deep powder. As soon as the cold snow splashed up into my face and eyes it started to freeze...
Which leads me onto the second best fun of the day. We were riding near Cedar Ridge and Simon spotted tracks heading further into Cedar Bowl, which was marked as out of bounds. We were quite far down so we couldn't make the full traverse, but we got far enough to ride down KC's Chute. We had to walk/hike about 75 meters, which was so hard. The snow was waste deep in places. We were crawling at times.
Then we were at the top of the chute. It was at this point that I gave up on my goggles - they were frozen up, un-recoverable. I had to ride the chute with no goggles. It was steep and I'm sure the fesh snow was close to 90 cm in places. Strapping in after the hike - it was hard to even get started. I just burried in the first three times I set off. I ate up half of the chute with rag-dolls and kart-flips. But then I opened things up and just let the speed pick up. It was amazing. Overall it wasn't as good as the first run of the day, but the second half of that chute was the best ever. Insanely deep and I was just floating - slashing snow everywhere. Simon let me hit it first and he said that as soon as I made one turn I was lost from view; snow everywhere.
Riding it out towards the next lift up, I was trying to look over my shoulder and check Simon's line. He caned it. My eyes were practically frozen shut. By time I got to the lift I could hardly open them. I had to warm up the ice before my eyes would fully open again. So cold. So good.
It doesn't take long for things to get tracked out around here. Everyone seems to know the best places to go. But there's still quite a few areas of the mountain that haven't been opened, and they're still fresh. Maybe we'll get to hit them tomorrow.
After finishing up today we headed down into town. Simon needed to get a replacement strap and we all needed to stock up on some food. This is me, this evening, checking the days photos and writing this post. 60 cans of Canadian Kokanee, all cold, and serving as a decent laptop stand. I've been in these snowboarding boots for around 12 hours. I'm happy. Pizza is on the way, we've had two great powder days and the beer is cold. There's still loads of good riding to come...
Jeez dude, take it easy with the whole eyes-frozen-shut thing!