Stratton 1/22/17 -- Fun in the fog!

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  1. #1

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    Stratton 1/22/17 -- Fun in the fog!

    Temperature: 31-32, drizzle on and off, no wind in the morning, picking up in the afternoon.
    Snow condition: soft cream cheese, ground ice to patch of sheet ice.

    A couple years back, I was introduced to the joy of skiing in light rain when the temperature was above freezing. I had since skied in wet weather ranging from drizzle to light rain. I found the snow were usually nice and smooth, for however long I could keep myself dry, that is.



    My host, upon hearing I just got back from 2 week of skiing in the Canadian Rockies and gotten some light, dry powder, asked "After all that, you can't wait to ski in the rain?"

    When the laughter around the table finally dies down, I mumbled something like it's only "occasional drizzle" which isn't exactly rain... I found it an impossible to explain to non-believers how it could possibly be enjoyable to ski in any kind of wet weather.

    So few cars in the parking lot that I did have moment of doubt on my own sanity for choosing to ski today. But I'm by now very much used to skiing in deserted mountains: mid-week at Kicking Horse was just as dead as this, despite 4" of new snow!

    The reality: no real rain ever came. But the drizzle was more constant than "occasional". Just a very fine mist floating down and around, some of them icicles rather than water droplets. I felt like a gear testing dummy, constantly checking the "interfaces" between my outer layers to see if it was fully shield against wetness. They were. I was never wet. As such, I wasn't cold. Until the wind pick up at the end of the day that is.

    The misty moisture settled on the mountain so thick I could barely see the gondola cabin ahead. Skiing down was ok, as the tree-lined boundary of the runs were well defined. But the definition on the vertical plane was not there. So flat or steep the pitch of the run was entirely a guess work. Though here again, I had tons of practice during my 5 days in Kicking Horse, only their blue was way steeper than the black of Stratton! I managed the far steeper blacks of KH in near-zero visibility for 3-4 days. So one more day of this in "flat-ton" is piece of cake.

    It took me a few runs to adjust to the light. I thought I was skiing with good speed control. But when my turns brought me near the edge, I was alarmed the trees went FLYING backward! I was travelling a fair bit faster than my visual clues: everything look far away in the fog, until I realized I was closing in at frightening speed! Well, time to slow down and re-calibrate my brain with the true distance of my "reference objects".

    I found some good snow on the "bears" area: Black Bear, Polar Bear, Bear Bottom, Franks Fall line...

    On the gondola side, Drifter and Liftline had good snow, but the fog were quite thick. And there were enough traffic I was slightly worried about not being seen in the fog by fast moving skiers. So I stayed on the quieter "Bear" area much of the day.

    Lunch at mid-mountain lodge. Pretty empty. A bowl of soup was nearly $10! But it sure taste good and hit the right spot on a cold drizzly day.

    I had a business call scheduled at 4pm, thinking I would have been done skiing long before that. Well, the skiing was good enough I didn't want to stop. I boarded the gondola one last time at 3:55! But since there's no line, I got a cabin by myself and took the call in the gondola!

    All in all a fun day.

  2. #2
    I checked the webcam yesterday and saw a few hardy souls out there despite the conditions. Sounds like you made the most of it!
    Last edited by Glenn; Jan 23, 2018 at 9:11 AM.
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  3. #3
    Sounds like yesterday was the best day to get soft snow for awhile. Looks rough out there on the cams today.


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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn View Post
    I checked the webcam yesterday and saw a few hardy souls out there despite the conditions.
    It was warm enough to not feel too much of a hardship!

    Stratton having a gondola helps a lot too. Once skiing, I don't notice the drizzle much. The water came horizontally (as I'm speeding along), just like skiing while it's snowing.

    It's sitting on the open chair lift that one noticed the drizzle. After all, on a ski day, one spends almost half the the time sitting on a chair as one is on the snow. Though fortunately it wasn't always coming down so it didn't bother me all the time. That's when riding the gondola is a much better option. Spending most of the uphill time inside a covered gondola cabin means I'm only exposed to the drizzle half of the day. I managed to stay completely bone dry at the end of my day.

    Today, that's a different story. It was raining pretty hard. There's no way I can keep the water out.
    Last edited by abc; Jan 23, 2018 at 4:27 PM.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by abc View Post
    After all, on a ski day, one spends almost half the the time sitting on a chair as one is on the snow.
    Half? Way more than that, unless you ski at the speed of the lift. Or take breaks on the way down. Kudos for getting after it. I always thought skiing a bubble chair in the rain would be fun.

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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Cornhead View Post
    Half? Way more than that, unless you ski at the speed of the lift. Or take breaks on the way down.
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cornhead View Post
    Half? Way more than that, unless you ski at the speed of the lift. Or take breaks on the way down. Kudos for getting after it. I always thought skiing a bubble chair in the rain would be fun.
    Well, this is Stratton after all. Everything is groomed so it's easy to keep going.

    Also, there's nobody else on the trail to slow me down either. Further, as I mentioned I was skiing faster than my usual due to the optical illusion of the fog.

    I was paying attention to how much time it took me to go down vs how long the lift/gondola ride was. While not quite 1:1. It's not too far off.

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