Every ski season* has an ending and a beginning with purgatory in between. And much like the mountains, our seasons have peaks and valleys, highs and lows. Those who want for consistency and regularity in their lives need not apply. Skiing is an activity better suited to those who enjoy extremes, people who can not only accept but revel in and embrace the worst of conditions**.
Beginnings are powerful. More than just a do over or a redo, beginnings suggest that something even better is coming. We sweep away the hardships of the past and get on with things. And even following a season of many epic days, skiers are still ever hopeful that this season might be the big one.
Dad once commented on my tendency towards extremes. He saw the potential danger rather than the beauty in extremes. But for me, even in the depths of despair, I would suddenly cackle with delight at how wonderful if felt to be alive, to be able to feel, even if to feel terrible. It was still joyous in a way. Amor fati was a way of life for me long before I read Nietzsche.
While a new ski season began for me this weekend, I continue on in purgatory: long having sought a new beginning that remains elusive. There are no highs nor lows, just a constant grind. One might think that burn out would make someone negative. But rather, burn out leaves you hollow and uninspired. The ski season may have begun but I still seek a new beginning.
*Ski season here is connoted as a localized season rather than an individual’s personal season.
**Not a reflection or implication of the skiing at Sunday River, far from it.
The Barker Quad attempted to debut today at Sunday River. But the lift was plagued with mechanical issues and closed after only two hours of stop-and-go operation. After an extended stoppage with guests on the lift, operations pulled the plug. I was able to ski Ecstasy twice before Barker went off line and it was the run of the day. Conditions on Ecstasy were soft fresh man made amongst ungroomed mounds. Not normally my favorite conditions but it skied very well.
The Locke Mountain Triple provided service for the remainder of the day. The lift provided access to T2 and Upper Sunday Punch filtering down to Sunday Punch below the mid-station. Upper Punch was delightful and Punch below the mid-station was firm hard pack. But the Locke Triple offered top to bottom without anyone downloading, so I was a happy skier regardless of conditions.
October turns used to be an expectation. Every other year seemed to bring a big October storm and manmade filled in the gap years. Some of my most memorable powder days were in October. But it has been years since I skied in October. It is no longer an expectation.
But October turns aren’t something to be treasured, either. They happen when they happen. One day changes to the next and suddenly there is snow on the ground where there had been none before, it is time to ski. I used to get anxious and excited before the season began. Now I am nonchalant.
Is it ski season already? The last four months have been a passionless slog through the fog. I missed October powder turns but it was for a good cause. We went back to Bermuda and I got my head straight (again). And as soon as I got back from sea level, I wasted no time heading for the top of a mountain, a place where I need to find myself more often. I have some big plans for this season, so let’s get it started.
Sunday River retained solid coverage despite a warm up and rain. The River uploaded guests to two trails: T2 and Upper Punch. A small park was setup at the top of T2 causing significant traffic issues due to parker goers yo-yo’ing. Word on the hill was that the skiing on Saturday was spring like. An overnight freeze fixed that but mountain ops had the guns cranking on all open trails and well beyond. The new man made mostly covered up the frozen hard pack.
After loosing the first to open battle to Killington, Sunday River responded by offering significantly better terrain at a cheaper price for the Veteran’s Day weekend. While Killington offers two trails off North Ridge with hiking to download and a top to bottom route that “may require walking”, Sunday River has three and a half unique top to bottom runs in addition to a connector trail. Unfortunately for Sunday River, the snow condition quality did not match the route count quantity.