With a voucher valid on President’s Day weekend and potential day old powder in the woods, I couldn’t resist giving Middlebury Snow Bowl another try. My first and only previous day at Middlebury was also a President’s Day weekend crowd dodger, but with abysmal conditions preventing me from skiing the trees. I’ve since heard rumors of incredible off map glades. With potential day old untracked lingering in the woods during a holiday weekend, Middlebury seemed like the perfect plan. Would rumors of Middlebury’s woods live up to the hype? Read on…
Yesterday’s mellow powder at Bolton gave way to today’s aggro powder at Mad River. Bolton crams insanely good terrain into short little packages. Whereas Mad River Glen kicks your ass all the way down the mountain. And that is just the way I like it.
An extra inch or two fell during the previous night bringing the storm total up to over a foot in the past two days. And more snow continued to fall throughout the day. While Mad River Glen is reporting four feet of snow in the past week, the season total is only listed at 101-151″ which suggests that the base isn’t quite perfect yet in areas that can get skied off.
That caveat said, the conditions were spectacular packed powder almost everywhere and untracked powder (cumulative storm total plus blow in) was easy to find in the woods. The Single Liftline was skiable top to bottom with all drops such as Tower 5 open (an extreme rarity).
Today was my first day of the season essentially skiing from open to close and I went for it. After two “warm up runs” (Ha!), I met up with some friends and we tackled some of Mad River’s best and toughest tree lines. Careful route finding yielded many shots of barely tracked and untracked powder. The skiing was absolutely phenomenal and today was easily my best day of skiing this season, just barely edging out the three day Cannon Trifecta during Thanksgiving Weekend.
The plan for today didn’t call for Bolton Valley. But I woke up to unexpected reports of more than half a foot of fresh across the Spine of the Greens. I expected one to three inches and I had planned to burn a free voucher at nearby Gunstock after a late start. You know, just to get out there a bit while awaiting the big snow totals later this weekend. The reports this morning had me scrambling for a plan B.
So, much like my last trip there, I got a late start and drove like hell for 7-9″ at Bolton Valley. Unlike my last trip there, I knew the lay of the land and felt much more confident in my decisions on how to work the mountain. I missed first chair by only half an hour so I took a lap off the Vista Quad in Cobras Woods and made my way towards the soon to open Timberline Quad.
The past two months have been off the rails at work. I haven’t been able to enjoy the storms of the past month. I haven’t been able to enjoy much of anything. Endless twelve hour days and unrelenting stress culminated with a twelve day work week. I was exhausted physically, mentally, and psychologically.
Going into this weekend, I had given up on the idea of skiing Saturday. I needed rest. I needed to stop. I needed anything other than yet another 5:30am alarm and five hours round trip behind the wheel. But seeing the new snow reports trickling in Friday afternoon, I realized that I needed to not let lingering effects of work stop me from enjoying my passion.
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.