Skinned up Mount Watatic in Ashby, Massachusetts after my plans to drive to Magic Mountain were scrapped due to early morning car difficulties. After fixing the the vehicle’s dysfunction, it was too nice of a day to not get some turns in, so I turned to NELSAP for suggestions. Mount Watatic fit the bill for a less than two hour drive to a mountain with a decent but not over whelming vertical drop. I decided it would be a perfect mountain for a late afternoon skin. I quickly packed up the gear and set off for Route 119 leading towards the New Hampshire border.
Despite having closed down in 1984, Mount Watatic’s old ski trails have not grown in much. This has much to do with the high amount of activity on the mountain I found out. Snowmobilers and Winter Hikers alike were out in strong numbers on this Saturday afternoon enjoying blue bird skis and distant views from the summit. A summit access road exists for four wheeled vehicles during the Summer, but my turns would have to be earned by skinning up the old ski trails.
The skin was shorter than I had expected taking just under an hour from my car. I first ascended the main slope going straight up the mountain, but halfway up decided to alter my path of ascent by using the auto road as the higher elevation ski trails were thinly covered with unbroken snow in spots in addition to presenting a fairly steep line.
From the Summit, fantastic views were all around including Wachusett to the south, Boston’s skyline to the East, and the Crotched Mountain range to the North. I wasn’t expecting such fantastic views and ate my lunch while taking in the fantastic scene. Before long, my lunch was interrupted by the sound of snowmobilers approaching the summit, and I decided it was time for my descent. I switched from uphill to downhill mode and selected a fairly steep and narrow trail from the summit that still retained some fresh snow.
The cover was thinner than expected and I sustained a minor amount of base damage which was well worth the effort considering the fantastic snow. Approximately one foot of light fluffy snow presented itself to my skis for my enjoyment. The tough part about earning turns is you really need to be “on” from turn number one without any warm up. Unfortunately, I was not up to task and lost it in the powder fairly quickly. No worries though, falling in powder is often a delightful diversion from skiing in it. After the upper mountain trail dumps into the auto road, I made the decision that skinning back up for another run wasn’t really worth the effort. I descended the lower mountain on a gentle rolling trail that made making turns in powder rather difficult due to the low angle. A great day for a skin and decent enough conditions, but still I wanted a little more reward for my efforts as the lower slopes only amounted to a run out and I wasn’t sufficiently ready to optimize my skiing on the upper trail.