As with all other ski areas right now, the coverage at Smuggs looked more like early April than early March. Many natural snow trails were closed. Firm hard pack was found on the natural snow trails that were still open. In addition to firm hard pack, many natural snow trails and glades also sported ice flows. Not your typical “icy” conditions but genuine solid blue ice patches.
After a few warm up runs including some groomers followed by a scrapefest down Doc Dempsey’s, we decided to test the trees. Lower elevation trees were scraped, firm, and brushy. I was less than impressed but I had come to Smuggs to ski with some friends rather than to find good conditions. The other guys were interested in dropping off the backside of Sterling but I was quite concerned that we’d find suspect conditions or worse.
I guided our crew into some lower elevation off map woods to test out the tree skiing. We found thin coverage including rocks and stumps to avoid. But we also found some high quality snow and awesome turns. Surprisingly, the off map woods skied better than the limited amount of on map glades that were open. After reading everyone the riot act on how bad things might be, I led a smaller group off the backside expecting to find unpleasant but adventurous skiing.
Instead, we found the best skiing of the day. I picked the line that avoided stream beds and drainages and it worked out. It worked out so well, we opted to return for a second run immediately after the first. The last few hundred feet were thwacky and bitterly thin, ending with a horrendously unforgiving dump out onto 108. But the majority of the skiing was solid packed powder with ample coverage and quality turns.
Yet another day this season during which low expectations led to significant enjoyment.