Wind was the story of yet another 2012 La Ninã ski day. Wind gusts on mountaintop of 60mph put the Gondola and High Campbell on wind hold an hour before opening. Thinking the north-facing slopes of Northway would be a good place to hide, we headed up. Once to the base of Rex, however, Northway's light was also on hold. Arriving on top, we found a face-and-snow-scouring wind blowing right up Green Valley bowl and Iceberg. Unfortunately, Green Valley had been blasted down from its excellent softness of yesterday to a moonscape of extra firm, hard styrofoam. Iceberg, parking lot flat and carvable, was easy to keep your speed in control with the 40 mph of wind blowing against you on the way down. Not what I had in mind for today – our options looked very limited.
And so the poking around ensued. Anything that got a hint of sun yesterday was frozen glop. With Northway and Six closed, the completely shaded slope options were… Elk Snort. Smooth packed blown-in snow was nice. The complete whiteout-hide-your-face-before-it's-scoured-off blasts of wind coming straight up the hill were on the not nice side. Two was enough. Wondering if we could last till 10, it was off to Forest Queen.
Once on FQ, the only run that escaped the freeze-up was Cisco (aka (Actually Known As) Frisco), and Cisco Right. Nice powder bumps in the trees and the Old C-5 Chairline were 1 minute of fun, but a big round-about trip. It kept us busy for 4 laps – minus the attempt at a frozen K2 Face. Since I had the Visa card in my pocket from the morning pass renewal (a long story, but make sure your pass has the correct number for renewal after last year's Gondy upgrade or it won't work) I suggested a break at Campbell Basin Lodge to see if the wind would die. Rewind. At 10:15, the On Hold lights for Gondy/Six/Northway went to Closed – we figured they were out for the day no matter what. But, I hoped that if the wind died, the ensuring heat would soften the sunnyside glop. A half hour sitting, reminiscing on times gone by, and a pound of Rainier, and my outlook improved. The weather hadn't.
OK, we'll poke at Banana Chute, yesterday's winner, and then go home. What the….. Green Valley had turned from hard wind-scoured to soft pow bumps. Banana Chute was so shaded it still held excellent snow. Lower E was low enough that it was soft and slushy fun. Whowa. Good for 4 round trips. At 2:00 the slowly dying wind made us try the frontside. It'd be nice by 3 o'clock. Green Valley to Banana Chute to Lower E and out.
Funny how the mind works, or at least my mind. With just enough pumtatude between us to get through the morning, camaraderie shared during our break pushed us to keep trying. As we dropped into Banana Chute, watch Amigo 1, Amigo 2, then GO; we fed on each other's style and ski line, making it our own, but somehow, sharing our experience made it better than the sum of our individual efforts. Nothing beats skiing with your friends.
Same conditions monday minus the wind. North Facers to start, and mucho heat on the south facers to follow. Yes, for real this time. A day of rest for Amigoette and me, and we'll hit it tuesday for even warmer temps, more clouds, and hope to avoid the "scattered rain showers" that are scheduled for the coast. A little less settled on thursday and friday and then dry for the weekend. Looks like a good closing saturday and sunday for the "regular season".
Video from Banana Chute