This season continues to be the ski season that was not. At less than twenty total days, my season came to an end on this less than stellar day at Sugarbush. AlpineZone.com forum members numbering about a dozen arrived at the bush to find a cold spring day featuring rather firm and unforgiving snow conditions.
I arrived early and stashed some food at Allyn’s Lodge. Immediately, I noticed the snow had set up hard and firm. Other skier’s said to avoid Heaven’s Gate. So I warmed up by taking the traverse down to Spring Fling twice before heading towards the Heaven’s Gate Chair to the meet up location. A meet up was the only reason for anyone to be heading towards Heaven’s Gate.
After a horrendous ski down a slick and icy Jester, we took the traverse to Stein’s Run which was just starting to get skied in. Bumps up top were widely spaced but better than a few weeks ago. I started finding a groove towards the bottom of the run. After finding a really nice line, I let the speed run a bit. But near the bottom, my legs stopped hammering and I got into the back seat causing a wheelie and a fall. My right palm hit harder causing a reinjury of my ligament damaged right thumb.
I knew right away that I was done for the day and likely for the season. A season that never really got started despite some good days early season. Jay Peak got less than a foot of snow from March 1st through the end of the season (normally, a very snowy period). I spent the best powder days on the disabled list or at work. With a total of just under twenty days on the season, I can rank this season as my worst in over a half dozen years. Even without the injuries, it would have still ranked rather low. This is one season that I am not sad to see end.
Original plan was a trip to Tuckerman. Almost a foot of snow on Wednesday into Thursday with high avalanche conditions throughout much of the ravine put that plan aside straight out. Earning turns at Cannon was a backup option. Ultimately, Sled and I decided to hit Jay for some lift service instead. I have not really given Jay high marks on spring skiing. I will eat my words as I obviously have never hit Jay on a good spring day. Today was simply stellar.
We started at the Jet lot which had ticket service and bathroom service only. Walking was required to get to the Jet which provided the only Stateside lift service (as was to be expected this late in the season). Stateside trails that have snowmaking were all wall to wall top to bottom coverage with only a few bare spots on non-snowmaking trails. Essentially, unbelievably good coverage for this late in the season.
We warmed up on Jet and Haynes which were already starting to cook and get chewed up by late morning but still provided great turns. Followed that up with Derick with much the same, ducking into Timbuk which still had ample coverage but not what we were looking for. Next up was bumps on Kitzbehuel. UNFREAKINGBELIEVABLY GOOD. Awesome lines with just a little weirdness where the trail pinches below the split. These bumps were better than anything at Stowe last week or Bush four weeks ago. Sweet. U.N. was also bumped up as was the liftline under Jet and Can Am for your Stateside bumps.
Mother nature provided absolutely perfect weather and temperature for Stowe’s last day of operation for the season. And skiers and riders came out in significant numbers for the occasion (largely due to the cheap lift tickets for contributing to the Vermont Food Bank canned goods drive). College students from Burlington made up a significant body of the crowds and their obnoxious antics were on display in Caddyshack Caddy’s Day style.
Due to a recent rain/freeze event the day before, bump trails were not skiing well in the morning. So I enjoyed the groomers off the Forerunner. I really enjoyed the cruising, actually. Not normally one to feel satisfied with cruising around at mach 5 on trails rolled out flat as a pancake, I found it tremendously satisfying and enjoying to relax and zip around with a cool breeze and bright sun shine.
Sugarbush was the chosen location for a sparsely attended AlpineZone.com Meet Up for spring skiing in late March. This was the last weekend for Mount Ellen and Lincoln Peak was holding a pond skimming. I got a later start than normal and suffered through quite a line at the lift ticket window. The combination of end of season festivities and good weather brought out the crowds.
Lincoln Peak was still 100% open on all trails but snow conditions were rough to start. A recent rain/freeze event made the non-groomed trails rather variable and interesting despite a warm start to the morning. After a warm up down Lower Organgrinder and The Mall, I met up with a small crew and headed for Heaven’s Gate.
After a month sidelined due to a stretched ligament, I returned to the season on a cold late March morning at Burke. The skiing was hardly worth the drive. But after more than four weeks of not skiing and missing some really good days, I had an itch to make some turns regardless of conditions.
And the conditions were truly unsatisfying. Snow was firm, scratchy, hard packed, and fast. Groomers were quickly scraped off due to limited number of routes available for decent. Burke was claiming about 90% of the mountain was “open” but conditions off the groomers left much to be desired. I opted to stick to the groomers.
My runs were limited to Willoughby, Bear Den, and Warren’s Way with a few various combinations. Willoughby skied the worst with several icy and scraped patches. A fine day for a fresh pair of edges. The damage to the newly widened Willoughby was horrific. A classic trail and one of New England’s finest cruising trails has been ruined. Alas, yet another wide boulevard.