Today was the busiest that I have ever seen Cannon. The crowded trifecta happened including a foot of new snow, excessive storm hype all week (including over forecasting expected totals), and a holiday vacation week. Additionally, the storm ended and the roads were cleared well before sunrise making an easy drive for metro area powder hounds to Cannon. The untracked went faster than I have ever seen it go at Cannon. According to someone I talked with on a chairlift, Cannon, Loon, and Bretton Woods were all turning cars away due to no remaining parking spaces.
I arrived at 7:30am attempting to catch the first tram which leaves the station at 8:15am. Over a dozen people were already in line when I began booting up. By the time the ticket window opened at eight fucking o’five, the line had completely wrapped its way around the entire lodge and was almost one hundred people long. By that time, three tram cars full of season pass holders were already queued up for the tram and the line was out the door. I bought my ticket and headed for the Zoomer chair where a small line had already formed.
Youth ski racing was contributing to the line at Zoomer. Due to the new Mittersill T-bar being broken, the first race of the season was moved from the new Taft Race Football Field to Gary’s. I got in two solid untracked runs down Zoomer Lift Line and cleaned up some scraps on Banshee before heading over to the Peabody to meet up with an old ski bud.
We went to Mittersill where we found only Baron’s Run was open. Good grief. They had almost the entirety of Mittersill roped off. The rope hadn’t stopped skiers as Mittersill already looked tracked out. But it was too early to risk a lift ticket pull, so we skied Baron’s and headed for the summit to snuff out some out of bounds untracked.
We found a massive bounty of natural snow but it had fallen over a very limited base. What I will charitably call skiing was challenging and defensive in nature. Though we occasionally found a few really great boot deep pockets which made it worth the effort but definitely not worth a repeat. We wrapped things up with some Mittersill glades that were tracked out and thin.
After a lunch break (20 minute wait time for the cafeteria), we split up and I headed for the summit to sample some trees and hardscrabble. On map trees and hardscrabble were quite thin with the final hardscrabble pitch having many sections scraped down to grass. I opted for a final run down Vista to the tram base but I found that the rope was dropped on Kinsman Glade.
I couldn’t believe it, surely it was a mistake? I checked the trail report the next day and it was listed as open, unreal.
While we were skiing out of bounds, I remarked to my skiing friend that Kinsman would definitely NOT be open given what we were experiencing. But it was open, so I decided to give it a shot. It couldn’t be any worse than what we experienced out of bounds, right? My preference is almost always that ski areas open questionable runs and let skiers choose for themselves if they want to ski thin cover or not. But despite that preference, my opinion is that Kinsman Glade should absolutely NOT have been open.
The snow was really nice for the first half of the glade. But the steepest section was littered with rocks and not much snow. It was a technical turn by turn descent requiring jump turns, side steps, side hops, and constant evaluation of where a turn could safely be executed. Guaranteed base damage even for the best technical skiers. Any Joe Average Skier that happened into Kinsman Glade because they wanted to try glade skiing might have required a rescue or worse. Opening Kinsman was a dangerous decision and the mountain kept it open on the trail report the following day indicating that it wasn’t an accident or a maliciously dropped rope.
I always say that there is no where else I would rather be than Cannon on a big powder day. But I think experiencing a powder day during a holiday vacation week has me reconsidering that philosophy. Other considerations included Dartmouth, Abram, and Black ME and given the storm going further east than predicted, I think either of the later two would have been the better option.
That said, I wouldn’t have traded another foot of powder for skiing with an old ski friend that I hadn’t seen in a few years. Catching up with him and sharing some turns was definitely the highlight of the day.