Mad River Glen was an easy decision for the holiday weekend since Mad Cards are not subject to holiday blackouts. Ironically, I decided on my destination due to the holiday but I neglected to think through the ramifications of a holiday weekend at Mad River Glen. Not setting an alarm and arriving an hour after opening bell further added insult to the injury.
The base area was bedlam. Little kids were scurrying everywhere and the lodge was overpacked. The ticket line almost seemed longer than the line for the Single. I shrugged and went with it, I had no energy to be dissatisfied and it wouldn’t have helped the situation. Thankfully, the Single line was never intolerable and, of course, the trees are always empty.
After nine days so far this season, I had yet to have a major tree and bump day. Yet I wasted no time going into the woods and finding some of Mad River Glen’s tightest lines. Constantly winding and branching, these narrow fingers are amongst my favorite lines within the ski area’s boundaries. The packed powder was excellent. The occasional shot of untracked powder I found at mid-mountain elevation skied worse than the packed powder due to the rising temperatures.
My uncle and cousin from Florida were visiting in New England and wanted to spend a few days skiing. So I joined them at Attitash on day two of their three day jaunt through the White Mountains. They experienced a temperature swing of 100 degrees between the high of Florida when they left and the low in the White Mountains Wednesday evening. But the cold and wind relented somewhat Thursday afternoon and the skiing turned out to be quite pleasant.
Wildcat shut down for the day and diverted skiers to Attitash due to the low temperatures and extreme wind chills. We decided on a late start and began skiing just before noontime. Bear Peak’s high speed quad got a late opening after the wind died down and the summit triple was offline so we “warmed up” on Attitash’s Flying Yankee.
Not much terrain was available from the Flying Yankee, only five options for limited vertical. After lunch, we made our way to Bear Peak where we found three top to bottom routes and the terrain park. The snow was very edgible and skied well on most trails. Wandering Skis was unfortunately the worst trail for conditions as mountain ops only recently flattened the whales resulting in death cookies and frozen golf balls.
I haven’t had a high speed hard pack day all season so it actually felt nice to rip some big and small arcs on the groomed. Despite the record setting cold and wind chill the previous night, temperatures after noon were pleasant and didn’t even require full face coverage. But today wasn’t about the skiing but rather seeing family that I rarely get to see. A rare non-powder day vacation day and well worth it.
After only skiing twice in over a month, I was a little antsy to make some turns. I knew the snow would be terrible. I knew it was groomer skiing following a rain/thaw/freeze event. I knew to expect a miserable skiing experience. And at noontime on the first day of this new year, I decided a miserable ski experience was better than vegging out at home.
Boy, was I wrong.
Today should have been a banner day. Somewhere between two to three feet of super dense snow opened up almost all of Jay including a lot of off map trees. The extremely dense snow skied better after it was tracked up and packed down rather than untracked.
While skiing my four runs today, I frequently thought to myself that the snow and skiing today at Jay was better than the “Powder Day” a few days earlier at Killington. I thought to myself how much I utterly despised the fact that I couldn’t enjoy it.
Today was not meant to be despite my deep desire to enjoy the storm’s bounty before the inevitable rain/thaw/freeze event began. Work had ran me ragged. I was exhausted, stressed out, and deeply fatigued. I managed to get up early and make it to the mountain for first chair, but I would have been better off staying in bed.
This is perhaps my most delinquent trip report ever. But here it is for the sake of posterity and record keeping. The use of the “Powder Day” tag for this report is stretching the definition of that tag to the breaking point.
Killington got rocked as the epicenter of the immediate storm. The new snow was enough to make everything skiable at Killington, including trees. However, I didn’t venture into the trees because untracked snow was extremely challenging. Not to mention packed down snow was skiing better than untracked.
Many skiers often refer to “dense snow” as “cement” just as many skiers often refer to “scraped hard pack” as “ice”. Supportive dense snow is very fun to ski when you learn to adjust your balance and turning technique. But Killington’s bounty truly fell into the cement category, as deep and dense as I have ever skied. Tracked up snow skied better than untracked. I quickly lost the powder hound mentality and just sought out quality snow on quality trails.
The lifts opened in a cascading fashion starting with Snowdon Quad, then Northridge Triple, then Canyon Quad, and finally Superstar. The gondola never opened but they kept the line running in an effort to reducing icing and open it the next day. I didn’t quite make it to the Superstar opening before my legs gave out shortly after noontime.
The Canyon Quad stalled out for a little over ten minutes while I was on the lift and near the unload station. The wind was honking but it was not entirely uncomfortable since the temperature was hovering around the freezing mark, as evidenced by the sleet that was falling from the sky. Killington offered everyone on the lift a voucher for $10 off their next ticket for the minor inconvenience. The weather and the wait were mildly uncomfortable but hardly noteworthy in hind sight except for Killington’s gracious offer. Kudos for Killington for stepping out when they really didn’t have to.
Ropes were dropped everywhere and I skied most trails in the Canyon basin and ended the day on Ovation. While dropping over the rocks on Ovation’s steepest section, I managed to score my biggest core shot to date proving that the deep and dense snow was not bottomless and fell over no base.
It was a fun and tiring day but less epic than the snow totals might have suggested.