Friends and friends’ relatives joined us for a foggy foray.
My second day at Burke Mountain was a true powder day: almost two feet had fallen overnight, and conditions were as challenging as anything I’ve ever faced. I am not a great powder skier…
A little over half way down the first run down, just as I was thinking I might be getting the hang of deep powder, I caught an inside edge and went head over heels. For the first time in three years I lost both skis. And it took a little too long for the second binding to pop; I had enough time to think, “Oh man, that ski should have been off by now. My knee! My ankle!” Knee and ankle seemed to come out OK, but later I realized my Achilles tendon had been strained.
With the powder and the injury I took things very slowly the rest of the day, which ended up being the lightest of the season (so far).
Another day at the River. This time, on the third straight day of falling snow, and a purported 100% open terrain.
I drove up the night before and was on the hill for opening. I chose the Gondola, which was delayed for 10 minutes late after the first cabin bottomed out on a thick layer of ice leaving the base terminal. After a quick diagnosis and a few whacks at said ice I was aboard the second cabin and headed to North Peak.
First run was down Paradigm into the Aurora pod where I discovered… the Aurora lift on wind hold. So much for 100% open… On the way out, up the Quantum Leap triple, I saw the Quantum Leap trail with more snow than I’ve ever seen — where were the rocks, trees, and grass that, essentially, define this trail? Somewhere beneath the snowmaking whales and fresh powder. So the second run, of course, was down QL. It skied great!
Next over to Spruce Peak. Headed right off the lift, saw that Downdraft roped off (again, so much for 100%…), and set my sights on American Express. Fresh, deep snow most of the way down.
Then to Barker. On the ride up, I saw that Southpaw, Agony, and Top Gun were all open (three for three better than two weeks ago).
Top Gun was insanely great, and ridiculously challenging. Deep powder is not my thing, so I made the most of the opportunity to practice. It was tough going on the steeps — the focus on keeping my tips up led me to put my weight too far back — but on the gentler sections I got the speed I needed to float.
After lunch I headed back to Spruce Peak and saw the Downdraft line had dropped. After I skated up to it I saw that Sirius was open, which meant that the entire Aurora pod was accessible, with just a little uphill travel. Uphill I went.
So few people had made this trek that even after lunch the trails were essentially untracked. Airglow was magnificent.
The next lap (after two lift rides to ladder back to Spruce Peak), it was Downdraft’s turn.
Another stellar run.
I finished the day with a few laps off of the Barker Mountain Express, which I rode until closing.
At the end of a full day at Loon, I climbed back into the car for a 90 minute drive north and then east to Bethel, ME. I dropped my skis off at Great American for an overnight tune and headed to the Briar Lea Inn to claim my room for the night.
I dined on a nice beef vindaloo at their pub, had a well-deserved rest in a very warm room, and woke up to a sunny breakfast.
At 8:00 AM I checked out, collected the skis, and headed to Sunday River @sundayriver for the first time this season.
Like the day before, temperatures started out in the low single digits Farenheit and stayed there through the morning.
That kept the crowds away, for the most part. Almost every lift was ski-on; the exception being Barker, where the singles line reached all of three deep at the peak.
Vortex was the ride of the day: guns blazing, soft bumps, steep pitch.
I managed to ski the entire day without repeating a single top-to-bottom route.
Jordan Bowl was not quite in peak form; ice abounded. Rouge Angel edged out Excalibur.
Exhausted and with just a bit of regret, I ended the day at 3:00 PM to drive 3+ hours home in what little sunlight was left.
Yes, another day at Loon @loonmtn — but this time as a stop-over, on a mini @IkonPass roadtrip that would include Sunday River as well. I woke up to a 5:45 alarm, was in the car by 6:30, and on the mountain shortly after 8:30.
It was the coldest day so far for me this season (single digits F): I added an extra layer on top and went with glove liners under mittens for the hands. That was just about right for the first half of the day.
Loon is now open edge-to-edge, from North Peak to South Peak. After a gondi ride up to Loon Peak and a short ski down to the Tote Road transverse lift, I took an easy trip down Boom Run to get reacquainted with South Peak territory. Next lap I hit Twitcher, which was in surprisingly good shape after Friday’s r*!n. From the lift, Ripsaw looked just as good, but was roped off. Another run down Cruiser, just ’cause, and back on the Tote Road to Loon Peak.
Angel Street, which had skied pretty well when I was last here in November, was now a skating rink. A group of tween racers passed me as I picked my path down, yelling at their coach: “You found the iciest trail on the mountain!”
Then to North Peak for an early lunch at Camp III.
Venison stew, at last! (Oh, damn, I see now that I didn’t follow the rules of food photography.)
Upper Flume was closed. On skier’s left, huge snow-making whales stockpiled product reserved for the weekend. With enough speed coming down Haulback, one could summit the lowest of these.
Guns blasted Lower Flume, and steady skier traffic formed the snow into soft bumps. Fun stuff!
I took another trek over the South Peak in the early afternoon, and discovered that the Ripsaw rope had dropped!
Except for the 15% or so that was glare ice, it skied just fine, thanks. But one run there was enough.
Summary: a real mixed bag; i.e., classic New England skiing.
Another fine day at Loon. I drove up through a steady rain, gambling that (a) the rain would let up by mid-morning, and (b) it would keep the crowds away. I won both bets! By the time I was on the snow the rain was just a drizzle, and after three runs (9:30 or so) it was just about done.
In addition to the Gondola, the Seven Brothers and North Peak Quad lifts were turning. Yes: North Peak (and Camp III) are now open.
Atop North Peak — and down to about 100-200 feet below — the precipitation was in the form of snow.
Got my first tracks of the season on Angel Street.
The venison stew was unfortunately not on the menu at Camp III — they’re waiting for the meat…
Maybe next time.