The Powder Days Started Here. The Powder Days Finish Here. This is Cannon. This is my home.
Just when you thought it was safe to put away the powder skis and take off the snow tires, old man winter says he ain’t finished quite yet. An impressive storm system dropped copious amounts of snow from Northern Vermont clear across the White Mountains pushing the Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman Ravine to a rare Extreme rating.
Two feet seems to be the average for terrain above two thousand feet in favored aspects. Cannon got two feet and them some with drifts of three to four feet in places. Cannon historically delivers early season and late season. So it comes as no surprise that my first and last powder days book end the season at Cannon.
With early morning meetings at work and a physical therapy session for my knee (LOL) just after noon, my turn earning was delayed until later in the day. Driving north on I-93, I saw nothing but bare ground and rain which might have tested a less knowledgeable die hard’s resolve. But I know Cannon. And I know what these types of storms do in the Notch.
Much to the dismay of Killington pass holders, Killington die hards, and spring bump skiers everywhere, Killington recently announced that this would be there last weekend in operation despite having previously promoted that they would ski into May if conditions allow. As we would find out throughout the afternoon, conditions most certainly would allow at least one more weekend of skiing if not two more weekends with a little effort. Three weeks ago, I skied Killington and asked whether or not THE BEAST is back. In answer to the question I posed, Killington will write the words “Closed for the Season” in the new flowery and flowy script of Powd’r and not the big bold letters of the beast of old.
With a freeze overnight, we arrived at Killington shortly after 10 A.M. and went about booting up at a leisurely pace to allow the sun and temperatures to work their magic. Even as early as 11 A.M., some surfaces were still a little firm and variable. By by noon time, epic spring bump conditions arrived and it was game on for a great afternoon of bumps.
The center of Superstar was groomed which proved to be a disaster. The snow formed long well spaced out mounds of snow. Right and left sides had bumps but lines were fairly irregular though things did get better after noon. Upper Ovation was a narrow ribbon down skier’s left and I would be surprised if it was still open on Sunday. There is a 10 foot break in the snow mid-trail. Sensible folks were taking off their skis and down hiking but more adventurous folks, such as yours truly, just pointed the skis straight down the wet grass and went for it. The portage back to Superstar was short and not the problem.
After skiing on closing weekend at Sugarbush the day before and missing out on the foot of fresh that Wildcat received, I headed over to Pinkham notch to partake in closing weekend at Wildcat. The storm was not supposed to move so quickly and I had expected Sunday to be the better day at Wildcat. Much to my chagrin, no new snow fell over night and all the powder from the day before had been completely tracked out.
Upper Wildcat yielded pleasant natural packed snow with occasional bumps. Regardless of missing the powder, it was nice to ski on true packed powder instead of frozen, wet, or corn snow. I ducked into some trees which were fun and had very nice packed snow. No left over powder to be seen. Mid-mountain started to see the effects of warmer temperatures and frozen manked snow on Middle Catapult. By lower mountain, the frozen mank was complete and groomers were better than natural snow. Visibility was non-existent and the groomed snow on Bobcat was teeth rattling.
With prepaid vouchers in hand, it was “use it or lose it” time regardless of conditions. And conditions truly were not worth the drive to ski Spring Fling and Stein’s off the Valley House Double. Meanwhile, skiers at Wildcat were enjoying a foot of fresh due to the storm moving faster than anticipated. Suffice to say, this was probably my worst call of the season on a destination.
My hopes were high as I skied off the lift and down Snowball to Spring Fling. Two inches of fresh provided a creamy surface. Skier’s left on Spring Fling was untracked and surfy and skied extraordinarily well. However, halfway down Spring Fling, the creamy new snow transitioned into sticky wet snow on top of frozen cat tracks necessitating careful skiing that was better where the new snow had been cleared down to the base. I lapped Spring Fling a few times chewing up what was left of the untracked surfy snow on upper Spring Fling.
Eventually, I tired of dealing with the wet and manky snow on lower Spring Fling and opted to try Stein’s which was bumped from top to bottom.Conditions were extremely variable on Stein’s with better turns where traffic had already slid off the new snow. An extreme amount of effort was put forth for minimal enjoyment. My knees were rather sore after my run down Stein’s and I knew that would be my only run in the bumps for the day.
I took the lift back up for one more run down Spring Fling. The mountain was empty with no more than fifty people on the mountain including the lift operators and patrol. Sugarbush had planned on staying open one more weekend, but with so little snow at the base and so little demand, it makes sense for them to close up shop this weekend.
Jay has retained impressive coverage considering the past month’s weather. As many lifts were running as there were available routes (read routes, not trails) which is in sharp contrast to typical late season operations at most other areas. But Jay’s setup neccesitates the number of lifts due to its horizontal spread out nature.
Available routes included Northway off the Tram, Goat and Green Mountain Boys off the Bonnie, and Jet, Haynes, and Motrealer/Wiggle off the Jet. Snow ran out at the end of Wiggle about 50 feet shy of the Bonnie (which was required to get to Tramside). There was no snow between Stateside and the Jet which required a walk (but that is to be expected this time of year). Other than those two hiking aspects, all open trails were wall to wall coverage with no bare spots excepting parts of the bump line under the Jet.
Jay got some snow this weekend and it was snowing/sleeting when arrived at the mountain. Snow conditions were loose wet granular. Fairly decent skiing though the fog made for low visibility. Goat was promoted to a black run per signs as it was rather slick. Other than the small bump line under the Jet, there are no moguls which was a little disappointing. But given the weather, I will take good snow conditions on groomers over a barely skiable bump run.
Jay has plenty of snow for the next weekend and I am sure they can do two more weekends. Three though, might be a stretch but they are planning on staying open until the first weekend in May.