I am not even going to go there (figuratively and literally). Okay, one quick jab is in order. Blow for show. Open for dough. Now let’s get to the report.
I arrived at the Barker Lodge shortly before the projected eight o’clock opening. A stiff breeze was blowing out of the north. The wind combined with cold temperatures to make the opening line up feel more like mid-winter than mid-October. Operations needed some extra time to prepare the unload ramp up top which would improve from treacherous to survivable as the work continued throughout the morning. I was soon aboard the first open chairlift in the country for what will undoubtedly be an epic 2010-2011 season.
Guns were blazing top to bottom on T2 and in select places on Upper Sunday Punch. Without automatic intermittent goggle wipers, occasional stops were required for visual clarity. Later in the morning I became proficient at manual goggle cleaning while skiing, sliding the back of my thumb across the lens on alternating pole plants.
Crowds were directly proportional to the number of snow guns blowing. As the snow making crew turned off the guns, more and more skiers and riders took their first turns of the season. Despite increasing volume throughout the morning, the mid-station of the Locke Triple was still ski on when I left shortly before noon. Due to the stealthy snipper like secrecy of Sunday River, I suspect most skiers and riders were caught unprepared for their Saturday opening. Sunday will likely be the busier day of the weekend.
Snow conditions were surprisingly delightful. Two groomed passes had been made without bulldozing any mounds. Surface conditions featured many bizarre irregular contours characteristic of recently blown snow that has not yet whaled. Due to a combination of freshly blown snow and good solar gain, the surface skied very well despite traffic levels being confined to one trail not yet skiable wall to wall. I did my best to ski in bump lines where they developed. And much to my delight, I felt that I was having to work my turns due to variable and constantly changing snow contours and terrain irregularities.
Today was a marvelous first day of lift serviced skiing. I feel physically stronger than any past opening day. I can thank a summer of road biking and the loss of more than twenty pounds for the conditioning. I skied for three hours straight and was never board despite being limited to only one trail. If crowds had not increased causing a sudden spike in chairlift slow downs due to downloading, I probably would have skied even longer.