Despite recent disappointments with Cannon grooming almost all of their trails flat as a pancake, I could not resist the Two-Fer $40 on Valentine’s Day. There is nothing I would rather be doing on Valentine’s Day than skiing by myself! I am not being facetious, I mean that quite literally and seriously. But my opinions on Hallmark Holidays, their negative effects on mental health and general outlook on life, and binge Holiday consumption are really neither here nor there and do not pertain to this particular report. Feel free to email me; however, if you would like to discuss these topics in depth!
It was a freezing cold day at Cannon on Friday. Temperatures at the summit started at -20 F. Fortunately, the wind was manageable as I unloaded from the High Speed Quad and quickly ducked over to By-Pass. Quickly, I noticed that most trails were groomed to what some skiers might call “perfection.” However; unless I am in the mood for ripping GS turns, any grooming leaves much to be desired. I tracked down to the Front Face and ran laps skiers left to right starting on Gary’s. Gary’s and Rocket featured the so called perfect groom with occasional natural pockets on skiers’ right on Rocket. Not much consistency or fun to be had on those occasional natural snow areas.
Over on Zoomer, the lift line was left to bump up but was severely scraped and skied off every where. Groomers had made three passes down the center of the trail leaving bumpy scraped stuff on the sides. They were okay but not a huge amount of fun. Paulie’s still featured scraped off, nasty, huge, VW Bug sized bumps that are just awful. And Avalanche was completely groomed except for an awesome field of bumps skiers right, five bumps wide after skiing below Cut Off. All of the Banshee Slopes were groomed. Awful, just Awful.
From Banshee Slopes, I hit the tram thoroughly disgusted. Hoping to find some ungroomed selections on the top half of Cannon, I was to continue to be disappointed. Taft Slalom: Groomed. Upper Hard: Groomed. Profile: Groomed. I was getting cold and bored, so I gave up and tracked down Lower Hard: Groomed. After a brief break for some lunch, I returned to the Front Face for laps on the few bumps remaining on Avalanche and Zoomer. I did find some excellent lines going down Avalanche which made me happy that I at least got $20 worth of skiing in by noon time.
I summited via the Quads after a brief stop in the base lodge. I was going to hit Mittersill, but the bitter cold kept me away. Instead, I tracked down Taft Slalom to Middle Hard hoping for natural snow. The top half of Middle Hard was Sweet! Occasional loose snow on top of packed powder and moderate sized bumps. Things got progressively worse down the trail, until reaching the final pitch which left much to be desired. Steep, hard packed, scraped, and thin cover. I may have returned for more of Middle Hard later in the day if not for that final section.
Back up the High Speed Quad for some unmarked trails. I hit two former lift lines that are not marked as official trails. Both offer moderate pitch on very narrow trails with exclusively natural snow and bumps. A fellow skier and I opted to name them Closed, as they had Closed signs in front of them. Shame on Cannon! Not only do they groom everything, but they put Closed signs up in front of their best trails!
Middle Closed is extremely tight and narrow at about six feet wide, eight at its widest. It is a fast and fun ride through small to moderate sized bumps on natural snow. In between ducking branches, you get quite a wild roller coaster of a ride down the fall line. Middle Closed dumps you out near Lower Closed, which is slightly more wide open at 10 feet. Lower Closed has fewer bumps and a shorter length, but still just as sweet. I’d return for more after hitting Mittersill.
After plowing down Middle and Lower Closed, I tracked over to Avalanche and took the tram to the summit hoping to stay warm till making my way up and over to Mittersill. The summit had warmed up a lot by then and the 10 minute hike up the flank of Mount Jackson surely warmed me up. After stopping for a few pictures, I clicked in and kicked off down the old Taft Trail. The trail had recovered surprisingly well from a recently reported illegal grooming. The trail had re-bumped up to moderate sized bumps that sported a slight hard pack feel but offered much softer and better lines than any bumps over at Cannon proper! Opting for a run down Baron’s, I again noticed the catastrophic effects of the recent grooming effort. The bush and growth poking through the snow had largely disappeared, unfortunately. This gave Barrons a much different feel… not quite so far away and remote and different from Cannon any more. However, the natural snow and occasional fluff was fun as usual and made up for the evil grooming efforts. Shame on Cannon!
Back up the High Speed Quad for a glory run down the Closed. I found the entrance to Upper Closed, which I had never skied before. I found an AWESOME run down Upper, which featured mini-trees, plants, sticks, occasional rock, and lots of fluffy white stuff. Even some of it completely untracked… what a great secret I found! The 10 foot wide trail is not very steep, but is long enough for quite some fun in the white stuff. It dumps out at Middle, which I proceeded to poach en-route to Lower which I tracked up in full glory of watching onlookers.
Thank goodness for secret stashes, poachable terrain, and out of bounds at Cannon! It is the only reason to buy a lift ticket these days if you do not enjoy nearly 100% groomed terrain. I will be on strike from Cannon until Spring Skiing when it is too warm at night for the evil groomers to do their dirty work. Then, all the trails will bump up naturally into wonderful, soft, hero bumps! Woo!