2019/2020 Ski Day 4: Loon

Back to Loon.

A day trip mid-week meant the lifts would start spinning at 9:00. My alarm was set for 6:00. After exercising the snooze button twice I was out of bed at 6:18 and in the car with a travel mug filled with coffee at 6:50. As I crested Route 2 I caught the sun rising over Boston in the rear view mirror. Light traffic and clear weather got me to the mountain with time to spare.

Peering over the Angel Street headwall

First run of the day was Angel Street, followed by a trip up the North Peak Express, and then Walking Boss.

Upper Walking Boss: firm corduroy under a blue sky

Angel Street skied alright, but Walking Boss was marginal. There’d been a thaw the previous day, and the overnight re-freeze had taken a serious toll.

The Run of the Day was Upper Picked Rock, thanks to a continuous pelting of fresh, man-made snow. The deep, soft bumps were a happy contrast to the crust, death-cookies, and boilerplate ice elsewhere on the mountain.

Guns making some of the soft stuff on Upper Picked Rock

Lunch was a quick bowl of beef stew at the Summit Cafe.

Loon Pond from the Summit Cafe deck; Tote Road quad and the upper terminal of the Lincoln Peak Express on right
Atop Sunset: gondola upper terminal and Summit Cafe to the right, Loon Pond to the left

In the afternoon, testing Lower Flume, I made my first fall of the season: a minor skis-out, butt-on-the-ground gaffe I blame completely on the icy conditions. The trail is steep enough that a quick push was all I needed to get upright and moving again.

Feet up on the my only private gondola ride of the day

2019/2020 Ski Day 3: Wildcat

Another outing with the Doctor: our first visit to Wildcat (@skiwildcat).

This is an old-school New England mountain that skis bigger than it looks. While they had only one lift running, lines were no issue — the big perk of weekday skiing.

Mount Washington from the summit

Conditions were excellent for early December: there was a decent amount of soft, powdery snow on the majority un-groomed runs.

After exploring most of the mountain over the course of the morning, we had left one major trail unexplored: Upper Wildcat. Since getting to it requires a bit of uphill travel, the Doctor (who rides a board) opted out of the trial run. We made tentative plans to meet mid-mountain if that proved possible, or, if not, at the lodge, for an early lunch. Upper Wildcat was worth the work getting to: tons of soft bumps and plenty of width to roam.

At what felt like halfway down the mountain, I spied a small trail cutting back towards the center and set out on it aiming to rendezvous with the Doctor. I’m pretty sure the trail was the unnamed transverse at the bottom of this picture:

On the mountain, it has a very official looking sign and a name (cat-themed, of course) that I can’t recall. It looked like just the ticket… But after the first few dozen yards, it got narrower. And narrower. And (yes) narrower. It narrowed to the width of a pair of skis. Then it called for some uphill effort. And then it came to a five-foot drop. I popped off the skis, slid down, and marched on. I then came to a three or four foot ledge that had to be climbed, beyond which Catapult could be seen. At this point, I was sweating.

So close and yet so far

The trail (what there was of it) split and, to avoid another climb, took what looked like the more direct path out, only to find a brook babbling over a granite slab between me and Catapult.

A treacherous obstacle

So, uphill after all, to get above the stream. After a final push through the trees I made it out, got the skis back on, and, winded, headed down to meet the Doctor for lunch.  “In lodge” said his text, which got to my phone ten minutes after we reunited.  That much I’d guessed.

2019/2020 Ski Day 1: Sunday River

This was this first time I’ve been to Sunday River (@SundayRiver) this early in the season. Only the Locke triple was running, and while they had a top-to-bottom path, they were employing the mid-station for those who just wanted to lap the top of the mountain.

Locke triple at the start of the day

The crowd was thick at the base to start the day, and never really thinned out, in large part because they had to leave empty chairs for those boarding at mid-station.

View from Locke summit on first run

The top third skied pretty well, considering the fact that it was mostly man-made white stuff.

Uploading at the Locke mid-station

Below mid-station was death-cookies, but the top is such a short run I only uploaded there once.

Late-day lines

The long lines at the base dragged on until the end of the day.

Still, it beat not skiing.

2018/2019 Ski Day 21: Killington

Almost six months to the day from the first outing of the season: what will probably be the last outing of the season. Like last year, I spent the last day lapping Superstar at Killington.

Second run; corduroy almost gone.

I arrived early (made the fifth or sixth chair right at the 8:00 opening) and so got a couple of runs in on the groomed terrain. The bumps formed quickly, and, after about an hour, it was hard to believe the trail had been groomed at all.

Sticks planted for lunchtime.

Climb up and over or scoot around the side.
Late day bumps.

Superstar wasn’t the only trail open. For those willing to hike a bit, Ovation was also available, and it was worth the walk.

Ovation: skiing better than it looks.

Here’s a YouTube video from the day showing some great bump skiers (disclaimer: I have no idea who the creator is, or why he made such funky aspect ratio choices).

Here’s another giving first person views of the conditions.

2018/2019 Ski Day 20: Sunday River

A bittersweet last-of-the-season visit to the River as Spring asserted itself. The only lifts spinning were Barker and White Heat. The morning started out with firm (and in some spots outright icy) snow and a bit of fog, but it was mashed potatoes under a partly cloudy sky by day’s end.
Early fog.
Leaves on Tightwire.

2018/2019 Ski Day 19: Stowe

Because of the trip to Whistler, I ended up with an Epic Pass burning a hole in my pocket. I finally managed to make it to Stowe for a day at the best east coast Epic resort.
On National.
Atop the Gondi.
Detour through the woods.
Apres under way in the parking lot.

2018/2019 Ski Day 18: Sunapee

Skied Mount Sunapee after dropping #1 daughter back at school following her rugby sevens tourney at Harvard. The first hour was fine, early spring skiiing, but then the rain rolled in. Dripping wet with temperatures in the 50’s at the base and 40’s at the summit made for a fairly miserable outing. I cut the day short after ten runs.

Late in the season at Sunapee


2018/2019 Ski Day 16: Sunday River

I stayed the night at Loon and drove up to Sunday River. Wind kept half the resort on wind hold in the morning, but Aurora was accessible from Spruce Peak, and I had it all to myself until after lunch, when all the lifts started spinning there.

All alone in the Aurora pod