There are many lessons to be learned from this past storm. And even more lessons to be learned from my decisions and reactions—in many ways sound but yet still lacking. One of my key management tenets is to “assume your assumptions are wrong”. But I failed to apply this to my storm chasing decision making process. I had the perfect plan if only my assumptions were correct. But they were mistaken in many ways.
Formulations for the powder day decision began with the fact that Magic Mountain and Pico Mountain would both be closed on Wednesday and open on Thursday with a full component of untracked powder. Targeting Thursday instead of Wednesday presupposed Northern New England wouldn’t get much snow, that the storm would start late morning, and untracked would never amount to more than a few inches due to being constantly skied in. This season of all seasons, I should have known not to bet against Cannon.
Another unforeseen monkey wrench in the plan was Killington Season Passholders pillaging Pico the day after their powder day at Killington. I relied upon memories of my last day at Pico, a two foot weekend dump in which I got uncontested first tracks down Summit Glade with no line at the chair. But I forgot about the situational context. I forgot that everyone else knew what I knew about Pico opening Thursday. I forgot there would be absolutely no surprises with this storm.
Pico offers up some first rate skiing, without the crowds and McSki atmosphere that plague neighboring Big Brother Killington. UMass Lowell Ski Team descended upon Vermont during the night of a fierce snow storm. When we awoke Saturday morning, many inches of snow had accumulated already. Upon reaching Pico, we found over a foot of fluff at the summit! My first true Powder Day. On our first run, half the team ascended to the summit via both Quads, and we proceeded to fall often in knee deep fluff skiing the Summit Glades. Amazing!
All that fluffy powder was not good at all for racing, though. We had to clear all the powder away from the gates. This took numerous times of the entire 100 person league snow plowing the course before it was racable. After all that snowplowing, the ruts on the race course were huge! It was an unbelievable day to ski, but an abysmal day to race.
Pico has some interesting terrain. Everything off the Summit Quad is gold. There is a relatively flat section on mid-mountain that was hard to deal with. Pico is essentially four mini-peaks. They have a Triple and Double on the Left and Right Wings for access to the smaller peaks. The first quad goes up the gut of the mountain, to mid-mountain where it services intermediate and beginner terrain. And their Summit Quad gets you to the real goods. Unfortunately, this means that top to bottom skiing is not really much of an option. However, there is quality skiing everywhere on the mountain.