Day 69 Should have been a great powder day at Cortina but
When we walked to the car the snow already left some doubt about how good it was going to be. Pretty wet/heavy stuff and temperatures seemed to be already higher then last night. About 20cm in the parking lot so still hope to find good stuff up high.
On the way to Cortina it didn't look good at all. Light rain even at the base of Cortina and almost no new snow. Lachlan and myself went up to check the conditions while the other guys waited at the base.
Some nice turns on the very top but then heavy, wet and pretty bad snow. Words like Sierra Cement, mashed potatoes and more came to mind and we decided to head back to Happo to get some better snow on the very top. By the time we made it to the top it was all heavy, wet and pretty bad as well. After only one run we called it a day and went back to the lodge.
What a disappointing end of my skiing in Japan this season.
Time to clean up the mess in the car, start packing and some final arrangements for the time in the US and Canada. Going to be a good time with good friends. Like every year Jay and Steve are going to join me for some time. This year both at the same time and this will be so much fun but hey RON!! where are you? You belong to the team!
Later in the afternoon again snowing so might be good tomorrow
Day 70 Powderday at Hakuba. My departure to Seattle.
Shuttle to the Airport and flight to LA, connection flight to Seattle. Made it to Seattle by 6:30pm and met Jay at 8:30pm
According to the guys at the Hakuba Powder Lodge the powder was good up high and heavy at the base area.
Day 71 Ski Alpental and travel to Whistler
Jay and I expected some good skiing at Alpental as the previous days have been reported as very good powder days. Unfortunately it became too warm and did rain at the base area with pretty heavy snow mid mountain. The very top was good at first but became heavy as well. No lift lines at the high speed quad but 20min on the slow double to the top. Powder competition was big until lunch time and then the lines disappeared. We called it a day a 1pm and drove to Vancouver where we met Steve at the Airport before driving to Whistler.
First major improvement we notice was the access road from Vancouver. Thanks to the Olympics the road has been upgraded over the last few years. Such an easy drive compared to a few years ago.
Day 72 Ski Whistler
Powderday at Whistler and the snow was pretty good considering it is already mid March. It was a Saturday and therefore the powder competition was massive. Long lines at the chairs.
We had great fun skiing Blackcomb for the day and ski patrol made sure to open all areas ASAP after doing a great job in avi control.
Lifties are friendly as always and even an emergency stop of the high speed chair due to a backpack hanging down a chair (Steve.....) is not resulting in bad looks or words.
If you never skied the resort before don't miss the little hike up "Spanky's Ladder" After just 5min you get to ski great runs and on a powder day for sure a thing you should do as soon as it is opens. Might be closed at first due to avi control but as soon as the locals start to wait in line it won't take long until opening.
After skiing the Village is the place to be. Après ski, entertainment and great food. The whole package is great.
Day 73 Ski Whistler - some kind of a powder day
As we had our accommodation on the Blackcomb side we took the gondola and a chair before enjoying the breathtaking ride in the "new" Peak to Peak gondola. The dimensions are amazing and the view very special. 2 of the gondolas have a glass floor but only recommended if you are not afraid of heights.
We found some leftover powder from yesterday and a lot of packed easy to ski powder.
Paralympics are on right now but nevertheless the normal skiing was not affected at all. Only very few areas are closed. It was amazing to see blind skiers racing down the mountain with a guide skier ahead. They skied the slalom faster then most of us would do. Personally I think these guys are the true heroes of the Olympics.
Still one of my TOP 5 North America Mountains - why.... well: After skiing for 9 weeks in Japan the vertical. steepness, number of high speed lifts which are really HIGH speed are simply incredible. We skied more vertical than I ever had in Japan this season in a day and we even started late and stopped early. Some of the steep runs are pretty scary during poor visibility but we did it anyway and had a lot of fun. Great snow conditions all over the mountain and not busy at all compared to yesterday, only some one minute lines otherwise right to the chair/gondola. It was snowing again in the afternoon and added some nice snow on the tracked/packed powder.
In the afternoon we decided to ski the Peak to Creek run which we had in very bad memory. A few years ago we skied it on a powderday but after only a few turns it turned into heavy powder and just another few turns later into elephant snow. A totally different story today. Great snow top to bottom. We had to do it again and enjoyed once more the untracked powder stashes on the upper part followed by great skiing on groomers.
Overall Whistler for me is a MUST go resort each and every year. Too good not to add on the list. If you like groomers - not that I like skiing groomers - but overall grooming on this mountain is amazing and done to perfection.
Day 74 Powderday at Whistler
15-20cm over night and very nice quality on the upper part of the mountain and still good almost all the way to the base - well at least for some time then it became very heavy below mid mountain.
Late opening of the upper mountain due to avi control but that was not bad at all as we could track area by area. Peak to Creek was once again very nice on the upper half but then pretty heavy. We found a different way down to the base (skiers left of the main run probably "Big Timber" or "Home Run") and this has got to be amazing with some light fresh snow. I would definitely try to hit this area first thing in the morning. Maximum vertical and people don't seem to be very interested in this area but this might be different mid season with better snow.
Overall once again a great day on a great mountain. Rain in the forecast and freezing levels are very high. No escape within a day drive - not sure what to do next. Decision tomorrow morning.
Avi control done by Ski Patrol
Nice turn Steve :-)
Reinhard was nice to meet you again
Not sure what these crazy guys did right under the cornice
oh but hold on we did it too just a different area
Blackcomb in the background
Peak Chair area
Day 75 Travel to RED Mountain.
Raining over night and no new snow
Easy drive from Whistler to Red Mountain and thanks to your pilot Steve way faster than Mrs. Navi TomTom calculated.
Next few days skiing RED and if conditions are still good even a day of CAT skiing on Friday.
Day 76 Skiing RED Mountain
Great to be back after so many years. Last time I skied RED was in March 2004 together with Steve and since then many things have changed. The base area is now all about ski in ski out condos most of them luxury with private hot tub and BBQ on the balcony. Not that we often spend the needed $$$ for this kind of accommodation but sometimes you have to spoil yourself....
The triple chair at the base has been replaced by a quad chair going a bit more lookers right of the mountain and it seems that this gives some easier access to "beginner" and intermediate skiing.
One thing remained unchanged. RED is absolutely awsome when it comes to steepness, number of steep to very steep runs and the breathtaking double black diamond tree skiing. In terms of tree skiing this mountain will always be in my TOP 5 ever skied resorts. I don't think it can get much better then this. If you like very steep to extreme tree skiing make sure to ski RED.
Today the snow was not the best and made the tree skiing not so easy but all the good memories come back and no doubt I will come back to ski some great powder at this resort.
Another resort which belongs to the "MUST ski resorts in North America"
Steve in action but hey Steve wrong spot :-)
The new base area - it changed a lot since 2004
Backcountry in the background - some amazing stuff there
Jay and Rossland in the background
Oh yes back to some of the best if not the best tree skiing in North America - so nice
Nice long groomers from the top to bottom for the less crazy once
Day 77 Spring skiing at RED Mountain
Bluebird day right from the start. Still pretty cold and therefore the snow softened pretty slow and allowed good spring skiing all day.
Today it was all about south facing corn snow and thanks to that I skied areas I totally missed during all my previous visits. It would have been the day for the Tassie Hall brothers to jump of so many nice pillows and cliffs.
Another question I get a lot is "Can this place keep you busy for a week or two"? Oh yes it can! I'm sure that not even after two weeks could you ski every possible line (and don't forget the great backcountry access which we did not go for this time).
Will be back in a year or so....
Me right above some of the steepes trees I know. I does not look like on this pic but oh yes this is steep
Getting ready to get some nice shots
Lift lines - sure not :-)
Day 78 Skiing Apex Mountain
6 years ago I skied this resort for the first time and since then it has always been on my "have to go back there" list.
The snow was so much better then expected. The warm weather didn't really affect it as much. North facing runs had good packed powder or even some untracked stashes. After a few runs we decided to go for a little backcountry hiking and after about 25min we found some nice untracked north facing powder. Very steep with easy to turn sugary snow in it.
We only had one day to spend here otherwise I would definitely stay here longer and hike Apex Mountain to the top which is also a pretty easy hike-probably a bit over an hour.
Steve and Jay haven't been here before and liked the resort just as much as I did. If you like steep ungroomed runs accessed by a high speed quad chair, zero lines at the chair and friendly staff this is a place to add to your list. If you prefere groomers no problem at all there are plenty of choices allover the mountain beginner to advanced. A great stopover if you are traveling along the Canada/US boarder to ski some other resorts like RED, Whitewater, Fernie, Castle, Schweitzer and others.
Just like in 2004 I can only try to imagine how great this resort has to be on a good powder day.Will be back soon....
Terrain park (part of if)
Hey Jay didn't we talk about it how to get good pictures - zzzz
Part of Apex seen from the backcountry
Some nice powder turns
Just a few more days until the end of the 2010 Snow Safari - we might get some powder...