“This is going to hurt.”
Foreboding feelings of pain were strong going into this weekend. I am in the worst shape of my life. An honest self assessment suggested I could get the job done but only at the cost of several days of pain. But even in the worst shape of my life, I’m still more capable than I give myself credit for and I’ll need to remember that as I start rebuilding my body and, perhaps more importantly, the rest of my life.
With Jay reporting in two feet to Cannon’s one foot, the plan was to ski Jay. But thanks to mobile technology, I discovered en route via smartphone that Jay’s summit was reporting 60 MPH winds and that lifts would be effected. Despite my good luck with yesterday’s short wind hold at Mad River Glen, I pulled a page from my ski tactics play book: don’t get greedy going for the unknown when the sure thing is staring you in the face.
So I was the first car to pull into Cannon’s lot just before eight in the morning. After farting around in the lodge, I got my shit together and made it to the Peabody for third chair and then onto first chair up Cannonball to the summit. The ride up the Cannonball was unusual in that there was no wind. And I spied with my eyes a perfect canvas just below me on Profile.
I can’t remember the last time I skied Profile. It is normally a wind blown icy mess. It is a wide and straight shot without any redeeming quality. But with six inches of untouched fresh over groomed, it was a dream. I ripped it straight down skier’s left non-stop bouncing surfy turns to and fro. I’ve never said it before nor will I ever say it again, but my run of the day was Profile.
My only previous visit to Whaleback was eleven years ago, the first season Whaleback was closed. I stopped there en route to my first visit to Jay Peak (oh, how my skiing habits have changed since that visit!). I was a young and inexperienced explorer to New England skiing, but I already knew that I wanted to see all that New England had to offer.
Whaleback caught my eye during that drive up Interstate I-89, so I stopped to quickly explore the base of what was then a lost area. I immediately saw the potential for what I experienced today. I just wish I hadn’t waited so long to get back there. And I couldn’t have picked a finer area or a finer day to finish the last New England area on The List. And unlike many other areas that have been crossed off The List, Whaleback will definitely not be a one and done area.
Projected storm totals steadily decreased leading into the weekend. Saturday was a sanity check day that I spent recovering from work induced exhaustion. Sunday was supposed to be epic redemption. But the storm faded away before it began, favoring areas further east and south. Dartmouth tallied just 1-2″ by first chair on Sunday morning and that’s the breaks.
After fierce deliberations during the evening prior, I decided to make a “driveway decision” in the morning. Seeing the winds on Mount Washington blowing only 40-50 MPH out of the northeast suggested that all lifts at Cannon would run and they did. Indeed, the Peabody Quad was as calm as I’ve ever seen it during a storm.
I would like to personally thank Deval Patrick for being a pussy. Otherwise, I would have feared the hoards of Massachusetts skiers heading north. Other options included four mid-sized ~1000′ areas that would have had snow and no crowds but not the same level of terrain. I’d say that I choose wisely.
Cannon reported a two day total of 16″ and that sounds about right. Six of those inches fell yesterday and the remainder fell last night. It snowed all day and they might have picked up another two inches this afternoon. Much deeper drifts could be found so while boot deep was the average, exploding knee deep was still plentiful.