Cannon showed off its snowmaking improvements during opening weekend. The new system has clearly allowed Cannon to shore up a critical shortcoming of the ski area. Cannon has always struggled to open terrain and connect its two lodges and summit building during the early season. When natural snow and consistent cold temperatures are sparse, the mountain can struggle to open up major routes before the New Year, let alone the important Christmas vacation week.
In recent years, Cannon has historically opened the Peabody Quad with one mid mountain route route along the narrow trails Middle Cannon and Gremlin. This created a super WROD and surface conditions that deteriorated rapidly. Despite the blue square ratings of Middle Cannon to Gremlin, solid intermediate level skiing was clearly not available during a typical opening weekend at Cannon.
This year, Cannon went with a different strategy spreading out open terrain for ALL ability levels between three lifts including the Brookside beginner lift. True beginner terrain on opening day at Cannon? Perhaps a first as long as I have been skiing there. And even some terrain park features. But Cannon’s grooming was not up to par compared to the new snowmaking system which meant that intermediates still would not be happy with the offerings. On the other hand, those of us that appreciate ungroomed conditions were delighted.
Walking towards the crowded finish line area, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride. Which is a weird thing to feel when you have no skin in the game. Killington is not my home mountain; this was not my race. But it felt like my home and the crowd felt like my family. Even before I saw the crowd and the first racer, I knew this was a momentous day for every northeast skier.
The World Cup seemed destined to never return to the northeast. Bigger western resorts with more consistent snow conditions have hosted the World Cup for as long as I have been a serious skier. After a twenty-five year absence from the region, it was not an event I ever expected to see in my lifetime. Let alone in November.
But Killington brought it back to the northeast. And what a show Killington put on. Aside from some really long waits for bus rides to the lower parking lots, the event ran as flawless as possible. Major props to Killington and everyone involved for bringing the World Cup back to the northeast. We can only hope that Killington has incredible financial returns to pay off their risky investment and pushes to repeat as host.
Gazing out over the crowd, I noticed so many kids sporting race team jackets. Who knows how many future World Cup champions this race just inspired. We’ll find out a dozen or more years from now, and hopefully we’ll be cheering on another local hero to a win yet again sooner rather than later. Be it Shiffrin again or the next great racer this event may have inspired.
It was still snowing when I left Jay Peak yesterday and temperatures were forecasted to remain below freezing. So I had no reason to suspect conditions would deteriorate overnight. But I quickly discovered during my skin up Goat that the snow had been wind blasted into a crust. The snow was oreo cookie like: crust on dust on crust.
My plan was to ascend Goat and evaluate options including some combination of Poma Line, Upper Ullr’s, or JFK using Weddlemaster as a skin track back to Alligator Alley with a final descent down Green Mountain Boys (which had treated me well the day before). But the crusty snow only got worse the higher I went.
A decent sized crowd of skinners (for Jay) fanned out from Stateside Lodge. I opted for Wiggle to Hell’s Crossing to Northway for the ascent. Snow depths varied from bare ground to deep drifts. The wind clearly had its way with Jay as it usually does. Conditions appeared to favor wind sheltered areas. I was thinking about skinning to Can Am but assumed it wouldn’t ski well due to being massively exposed. I started my first descent down Upper Milk Run. If Milk Run skied well, I would skin back up and around to Can Am. If not, I’d head to “greener” pastures.
Turns were very nice on Milk Run but the snow didn’t feel like the foot and a half four day total. Following the flow of the trail, I skied the best that Milk Run had to offer. It was a solid untracked powder run but produced less excitement than anticipated. At the bottom of Upper Milk, I looked up Wiggle and down Taxi and ultimately decided on skiing down Taxi and catching the skin track up Goat.
The posts started appearing on my phone last weekend during a layover in Atlanta. As we were heading out of the country for a week, Vermont was starting to experience its best last week of October storm in ten years. Perhaps that bodes well because 2006 was a banner year for me with 22 powder days. But even that thought provided little comfort while enjoying a missed connection layover in Atlanta (thanks, Delta) on the first day of a vacation.
The second half of October is an attractive time for me to schedule tropical vacations. Hurricane season is almost over but ski season has usually not yet begun (or lifts will just be firing up upon our return). Travel prices are at their lowest point of the year and I am at my highest need of time off. Sometimes it works out well like two years ago when we flew in Logan during the first snow of the year. And sometimes, like this year, I miss several days of skiing amazing early season earned turn powder.
We got home after midnight on Thursday and I was drained from the travel. I had several errands to run on Friday (including having my snow wheels/tires installed) and then I had to work on Saturday. During Saturday, I watched from my window at work as the sky opened up and rain poured down. A quick glance at the weather suggested that no mountain and no elevation in New England would be spared the snow destroying deluge.