2018/2019 Ski Day 9: Whistler Blackcomb

Back at Whistler Blackcomb! I started the day laddering up (and then climbing up) to Blackcomb Glacier, which I had missed on the trip here a few years ago.

Looking back after the climb up Blackcomb Glacier
On the glacier

The week started out pretty crowded as Monday was a national holiday in Canada — a new one: Family Day.

Lines at Glacier Creek
Apres mob


Link of the Day

2018/2019 Ski Day 8: Loon

About a week after a soaking r@!n, a hard freeze, a half dozen inches of new snow, and a little grooming, the runs at Loon were fast and firm. Biggest day of the year so far. But the Achilles tendon is still a bit sore…

2018/2019 Ski Day 7: Burke Mountain

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).

Wind turbine at the summit

2018/2019 Ski Day 5: Sunday River

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).

Decision time: Top Gun or Agony?

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.

Aurora pod junction

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.

On Downdraft

Another stellar run.

I finished the day with a few laps off of the Barker Mountain Express, which I rode until closing.

2018/2019 Ski Day 4: Sunday River

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.

Happy 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.

Moonset over American Express

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.

Guns on Vortex
Looking up Vortex

I managed to ski the entire day without repeating a single top-to-bottom route.

Atop Jordan Bowl before hitting Rogue Angel

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.

2018/2019 Ski Day 3: Loon

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.

Camp III’s signature dish: venison stew

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.

Sampling the stockpiled product at the base of Upper Flume

Guns blasted Lower Flume, and steady skier traffic formed the snow into soft bumps. Fun stuff!

Under the guns on Lower Flume

I took another trek over the South Peak in the early afternoon, and discovered that the Ripsaw rope had dropped!

South Peak crossroads

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.