Hey Rocky! Watch me pull an epic two foot powder day with refills out of my hat!
Guess I gotta get a new hat…..
Mount Abram is the lesser known ski area that you see from Route 26 before proceeding to Sunday River where you will pay $79.00 to ski brutally groomed scraped down cruisers with no elbow room or character and wait twenty minutes for a lift. That little area? Only one thousand vertical feet? Only 44 trails? Only two double chair lifts and no high speed quads? Yes! This is Mount Abram.
The Rocky & Bullwinkle themed ski area has a family and local community vibe. It only runs Thursday through Sunday and holidays but does offer night skiing on select days of the season. The area features a tubing area and cross country skiing trails. The practical lodge is well staffed with friendly employees and a burger, fries, and soda will only set you back an Alexander Hamilton and some change. Tickets are only $49.00 full price ($37 on Liftopia in our case) and the mid-week value is exceptional with two-fer Thursdays and Car Load Fridays ($79.00).
With epic powder forecasted for Maine and high winds forecasted for the entire region, plans were hatched to ski a lesser known area in Maine that was guaranteed to spin their lifts. Even if Mount Abram’s summit double was taken off line, Mount Abram has a t-bar that nearly goes to the summit on back up duty. It was a brilliant plan based on the forecast.
But the forecast did not pan out. With exception of Saddleback, the Maine areas got a good snow storm over the course of three days. But Saddleback and Cannon were the only two ski areas to receive epic powder dumps. Mount Abram got about fourteen inches from Friday through Saturday. It was more than enough to open up all of their terrain. Terrain that we learned was quite exceptional. If limited in quantity of terrain, Mount Abram surely makes up the different in quality.
We started down Fearless Leader, a black diamond running parallel to the t-bar line. This trail featured powdery bumps as it curved and wound its way down the mountain. No straight clear cut trails here, Fearless Leader was a delight with ample pitch to keep the bumps interesting. Next we took The Zone down to Zephyr, a pair of moderately pitched glades with plenty of interesting terrain features including a 6-8 foot cliff in The Zone and very cliffy and rocky terrain on Lower Zephyr.
The liftline trail, The Cliff (as aptly named a trail as any) to Fractured Fairytales was immensely fun with a huge variety of terrain features including rocks, rollers, dips, and drifts. While this liftline was without pucker (excepting The Cliff), Rocky’s Run (aptly named again!) offered up some really nice cliffy rock bands on Lower Rocky’s which has up the steepest pitch on the mountain. The t-bar was not running nor was it roped, so we followed the locals example and ate up nine hundred vertical feet of narrow powdery goodness without knocking our heads on a single wooden t-bar slat.
Mount Abram offers a boundary to boundary skiing policy. Which looks great as an acreage statistic but is less than useful if lines are not cleared out nor are trees between the trails skiable without maintenance. We located three off map glades at Mount Abram including one deliciously steep and narrow glade that skied sensationally well in just over a foot of untracked powder. Two other lines offered up lower angle tree skiing and moderately tight lines. These two areas were nice but suffered from thin coverage and trees not being cut close enough to the ground. Mount Abram’s tree offerings were a delightful surprise and added some complexity to the area that seems so simple and one dimensional on the map.
Mount Abram really shines for the cruising crowd. With a ski on double chair (on a powder day and a race day, no less), there was plenty of elbow room to spread out. Boris Badenov is Mount Abram’s steep race trail for big and fast turns. Mount Abram shined with delightful character filled blue cruisers that wound around the western flank of the mountain. An intermediate skier’s dream come true: uncrowded, no scraped sections, no surprise pitch drops, and plenty of character.
One oddity of Mount Abram was the disparity of trail ratings between blue square and black diamond. With exception of the groomed Boris Badenov, the black diamond terrain at Mount Abram was a huge step up from the blue squares which occasionally felt more like beginner terrain. This could be an issue for the developing intermediate that needs more groomed black diamonds before venturing forth into more difficult natural snow terrain. However, that void is clearly to the benefit of all mountain skiers that enjoy ungroomed and interesting terrain.
Mount Abram compares very closely to Black Mountain in New Hampshire. Black Mountain’s most serious flaw is a lack of continuous pitch which is where Mount Abram shines. It may only be one thousand vertical feet but every inch of that vertical is used very well. Black Mountain in New Hampshire offers slightly more pucker factor with short and challenging tree shots. But Mount Abram manages to please and challenge for its full duration rather than epic short shots. Both have fantastic intermediate cruising terrain, no crowds, cheap prices, good deals, wonderful character, and old school charm. Black has the better lodge but Mount Abram has far superior snow preservation due to its northern exposure.
This was a delightful find and the skiing actually wore us out as the afternoon progressed. Mount Abram skied wonderfully with just over a foot of fresh and I can see myself returning to this little known gem with similar plans in the future. Only next time, the winds will need to be forecasted at another ten to twenty miles per hour worse before I bet against my favorite mountain.
Video coming soon….