After many weeks of anxious anticipation, the Mount Washington Auto Road finally opened to the summit this weekend to the delight of many a New England Skier. With exception of Left Gully and Airplane, the East Snowfield currently has the longest continuous vertical drop in New England for skiing. This bright, sunny, and hazy afternoon brought well over a hundred people to the East Snowfields to partake in a final farewell to winter in New England.
Plans to carpool up the auto road were scrapped yesterday due to logistical issues. Since my Saturn does not have low gear, it would not be allowed on the Auto Road. Believing that the Auto Road folks would not look kindly on my sticking a thumb out near the gate, I opted for a one way ticket setting me back $26 big ones. Plans were to either Hitch a ride or hike back down. Fortunately, I was offered a ride by a kind person which saved me the hike down. Since I paid for the lift, I am unsure if this afternoon qualifies for my “One Run for the Price of None Tour.” Doesn’t much matter about the payment as all the turns had to be earned regardless.
Crowds were already filling up the Snowfields upon my arrival at approximately 9:30 A.M. It did not take me long to realize that I had over packed, but without a car to base operations from and a potential hike down, I took no chances on over packing gear. I booted up practically laughing with glee; this looked like it would be damn fun.
And damn fun it was! A maximum of around five hundred vertical feet could be skied, though it was getting mushy down low fast and most people opted to begin hiking long before skiing the run out. I exclaimed with delight as I linked my first few turns on untracked soft corn snow. Sweet! The snow got progressively softer and mushier the lower you went. A nice boot ladder had already been established, so up I went for seconds!
Seeing that the crowds were chewing up the center of the Snowfields quickly, I dropped in far skiers left next run to harvest more untracked soft corn, yum! Views from just above the Alpine Garden where the snow ran out were fantastic. Though long distance viewing was not optimal due to the haze.
For my third run, I spied a few lone skiers descending down far skiers right which looked enticing. A narrow stream of rocks separated far skiers right from the main Snowfields. Even Back Country skiers often forget to look past simple obstacles and hike a little further to get the best snow. While the main Snowfields were getting mushy and turning to mashed potatoes, I continued to sample fine untracked corn far skiers right. Freaking sweet! I merged back onto the main route about two thirds down the Snowfields to find a mashed potato mess. I decided to click out and make my own boot pack straight up the nice section of skiers right. This section was steeper and had no boot ladder, so going was slower than ascending the main ladder, which I decided would have been faster.
I took three more runs down far skiers right for a total of six. The sun was obnoxious and Murphy’s Law was in full effect: I forgot my sun screen. After realizing that I was burnt to a crisp, I switched to my long sleeve T-Shirt but the damage had already been done. My afternoon skiing the Snowfields reached an end due to the ludicrously hot temperatures causing sunburn and mashed potato snow. Those were six fantastic runs that will carry me through the summer. But I am not done quite yet! Back for more in two weekends to earn my June turns on what ever is left in Tuckerman Ravine.