Reported in for turns at Wildcat promptly at 9:00 A.M. With an evening rain storm the night before after several warm days in a row, I wondered just how much snow would actually remain. Approaching Wildcat on Route 16 in Pinkham Notch, things looked rather grim. I hesitantly bought my $52.00 lift ticket believing that I would be lucky to get my monies worth. Fifty-two dollars worth of turns later, I departed Wildcat with a smile on my face.
Every time I ski Wildcat, without fail, the first time up the Wildcat Express is always an amazing trip. “Wow!” that thing flies. Hands down the fastest High Speed Quad in New England and after more than a dozen ski days riding it I can still be surprised by that initial rush of speed.
The weather was consistent throughout the day with a cloud ceiling around 3500 vertical feet. Above that elevation, visibility was limited to about fifty feet (about the length of one chair in front of you on the Quad) or less in thick foggy conditions. I got one good look into Tuckerman Ravine and saw a huge cravass from a recent wet slide. Clouds also parted for a head shot of the summit of Big George, spectacular.
What a difference two days makes. Having experienced an epic powder day just two days prior, I had expected Cannon to ski very good this weekend. However, the wind took a severe toll on Cannon today, blowing clear off the mountain most of the snow that fell earlier this week and almost all of what cannon claimed to have received in the past 24 hours.
The groomers did a fine job packing down as much of the snow as possible before the winds swept it all away. But despite the groomers efforts, trails such as Big Link and Profile sported huge scraped (dare I even use the overused and often inaccurate term icy!) sections by noon time that were particularly ugly. Upper Ravine was scratchy by noon. Even some beginner terrain was sporting scraped up sections by noon time! The wind was howling and it was damn cold up there today. Trace amounts of powder were still around but rather hard to find.
Visited the saddle three times and I found untracked lines in two locations where I had hoped they might be. But by noon time, it was slim pickings and things were getting pretty thin almost everywhere. A lot of people were hiking for turns but the snow could not stand up to the traffic for long. Without more snow, I do not know if I will be back to this year. Today was my shortest day out of 2004. I packed it in around 1:30 due to my tired legs, the brutal wind, and conditions rapidly deteriorating. The 2003-2004 ski season is winding down and we could use just one more storm!
Weather forecasts were predicting a storm on Tuesday and Wednesday. Hoping for a powder day, I asked my boss for Thursday off. Cannon delivered with almost a foot of light powder and an epic day of adventure. Quite possibly my best day on skis to date.
While driving up I-93, I was dismayed by the apparent lack of snow. The further north I drove, the less snow was on the road side. By the time I arrived in the White Mountains, no more than a few inches covered the ground. Amazingly, all that changed once I drove into Franconia Notch. Fresh snow covered everything–this was going to be an epic day. I giddily gathered up my gear and practically ran towards the Peabody Base Lodge.
An awesome “Ball of Fire” sunrise evolved into bluebird skies in Massachusetts as I began my drive north to Cannon. The majestic morning gave way to snow coming down at a good clip four miles north of Loon when entering the Franconia Notch. Cannon picked up an average of two to three inches with surprise pockets up to but not exceeding boot deep. A small victory for snow deprived skiers during the normally very snowy month of march. But beggars can not be choosers.
Not expecting much from today’s outing, it actually turned out to be a great day with exceptional company. I skied with Porter and his brother and Chris and his friend. Low expectations set the stage for exceptional conditions.
The usual run Front Face runs began the morning with Rocket holding awesome snow but the bumps were scraped under the fluff. Avalanche was also fast and variable with the new snow. Bumps on skier’s left were beastly but manageable. Zoomer was sah-weet in the morning. I opted to play the trail by making very slow and controlled turns down the center. Would return to Zoome later in the afternoon to sample the bumps on skier’s right later.
Saturday promised clear skies and temperatures in the 40s and 50s. Perfect Spring Skiing weather despite the fact that Spring Skiing should not begin for another month! Upon arriving at Cannon Mountain, I visited Guest Relations to claim a free ski ticket for maxing out my frequent skier card. The morning sunrise brought forth tremendous color leaving an electricity hanging in the air. Today was going to be a great day to be on skis regardless of how little snow fell during the month of February.
Feeling the need for speed and a proper warm up (for once!), I made my first runs on some groomers. Big fast GS turns were had down Middle Cannon to Paulie’s Extension followed by quick and nimble slalom turns down Avalanche. Groomer festivities were continued down the center of Zoomer which featured bumps on both sides of the groomed center.
After my legs were feeling up to task, I tracked down the bumps on Paulie’s Folly since bumps on Zoomer Lift Line and Avalanche looked sketchy, hard packed, uneven, and no fun. Paulie’s has in past years disappointed but this year I have enjoyed epic runs almost every day! This day was no different as I offered verbal praise and cries of joy to the natural snow gods. The snow was soft, pleasant, and edgable. The bumps offered supreme satisfaction. Sure there were some natural terrain features such as rock, dirt, and weeds. And my bases suffered when I let my guard down> But it was a great run that I repeated twice later in the day.