What a great way to end a week. Take two days off work and drive countless number of miles and hours in sometimes blizzard conditions to ski in deep snow and cold winding conditions.
I know some people at work that would call this an nightmare. I call it a dream.
Wednesday February 14th:
Snowstorm in Ottawa.
My requested days off were approved.
Wednesday night race at Camp Fortune.
I was questioning myself if this wasn’t crazy. Colleagues and friends questioned my sanity. “What??? You’re driving down to Montreal tonight and tomorrow to Vermont…it’s too dangerous, etc. etc.”
The plan was …
1) after work go do the Masters slalom at Camp Fortune.
2) after my night race, drive 140 miles to Montreal in a blizzard.
3) wake up at 5am, leave at 5:30am then meet up at my cousin’s house with Lucky Luke halfway to the border.
4) drive and ski at MRG
5) Sleep in Burlington
6) Ski at Smuggs then drive all the way back to Ottawa
7) wake up early Saturday morning to buy concert ticket for The Police (oops, sorry, this should be in http://www.firstinlineforconcertticket.com)
What really happened…
Sometimes the weather or other events can change your plans around.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT RACE FEBRUARY 14 – CAMP FORTUNE
Night skiing at Camp Fortune. The rush hour traffic today is chaos. What’s normally a 20-30 minutes drive to Camp Fortune takes 70 minutes. It took 20 minutes to drive the 2 miles across the bridge and get to the highway plus my wife left the car without any gas. Also followed two plows side-by-side going 20 mph on the highway. Road we pretty snow covered and slippery.
Race starts at 7:30pm, I get there at 7:05pm. Quick change and registration then a one very quick run inspection of the slalom to the top and it’s already my turn for my first run.
The wind is blowing hard, snow is flying. Take the jacket off at the top of the hill and I’m off. Repeat this two other times (we do 3 runs). I was fortunate that someone brought my jacket down after the 3rd run.
Quick back inside and get changed. Once I was ready, I was gone, gone to Montreal. Some might think that I left early to avoid paying my weekly beer bet with a fellow ski racers after having been humiliated on the course. 8-[
Oh yeah, the skiing looked great. My night ski summary was 4 runs (1 inspection + 3 in a slalom course) for a total vertical of 400 meters.
After having left the Fortune parking lot at 9:30am, I finally got at my mom's in Montreal at 1am. The drive would normally take a maximum 2:30 hours, not 3:30. Yes, the 125 miles drive between Ottawa and Montreal included snow covered highway, low visibly, high winds and following snow plows AGAIN.
The lane where my mother lives wasn't cleared and there was at least half a foot of snow with a few snow drifts. I was a bit worry, but I didn't get stuck.
Thursday February 15th
I had to burst out of the lane as there was a snowbank where the lane meet the street. Who needs any stinking SUV or 4WD. The drive to St. Jean (meeting place with Luke) was the same as the previous night. Snow covered and blowing snow. I got at the rendez-vous spot at 6:40am (10 minutes late). At 7:10am, there was still no sign of Luke who only had a 30 minutes drive. He started having car problems as he was driving and he had turned back.
He was pissed, I was pissed. Luke wanted to throw in the towel and give up. I wasn't going to give up so easy. I decided I was going to go pick him up anyway...I know there isn't any friends on a powder day, but I did need him to split the cost of this trip. (Just kidding Luke, it was real fun - why until you see the pictures). I got lost driving the backroads to pick him up, not easy to drive country roads in an open field with drifting and blowing snow. The car was having it's own faceshots. I felt like Bugs Bunny and did a wrong turn in Albuquerque and ended taking double the time.
I think it was already past 8am once we leave Luke's van at the garage. With normal road conditions, we wouldn't be at MRG before 10:30am. Not good. Luke was wondering if we shouldn't go to Sutton instead (there were reporting 75-85cm versus the 105-120cm). We decided to drive to the states anyway, but go to Smugglers' Notch today instead of Friday. 8)
SKI REPORT SMUGGS - FEBRUARY 15
Okay, Smuggs was reporting something like 3 feet of snow. We had our skis on at 11:15am. We had noticed when we arrived that the Madonna chair wasn't running (a windhold on Madonna was one of the reasons for initial choosing MRG for the 1st day). However once we got out, we noticed that they sent up some patrollers and we decided to wait and hope to get and see. We weren't the only FTOers waiting and see if they would open the chair. None other than Hamdog was also waiting. Only Tony was missing for a reunion from that wonderful day at Big Sky (Montana) one year ago. Having waited for 15-20 minutes, we decided to head to the Sterling lift. There was maybe a 10-15 minutes wait at the chair. Once off the chair, we had a lot of skiing to catch up, it was already noon.
We got a mixed bag of tracked up stuff, I let myself guided by Lucky Luke (who held a season pass at Smuggs for a few years back in the 1990s) and Hamdog, the new local. Once at the bottom, the Madonna chair was running. I was looking forward to ski Liftline, Robin's or Freefall, unfortunately the high wind had blown all the snow off and these were closed with pretty rocky. Our first and only run off Madonna was going to be on FIS. Some snowdrifts along the Catwalk were 3, 4 or 5 feet high. Skiing down FIS, cold wind and blowing in your face, sometimes blinded by the snow. I did a full cartwheel as I got tripped up by a sudden surprise snowdrift on FIS. It was a challenge. The other challenge was the wind, cold and the danger of frostbite.
Once at the bottom, Madonna had shutdown for good. I think this is the moment where Hamdog went in to eat and get warmed up. Of course, he was probably riding before we even made it across the border.
Here is a quote from Hamdog's FTO report.
Woke up early and tried to get on one of the first chairs up Madonna I lift. Nope. Windhold. 50mph winds. Sterling lift backed way up and hadn't started loading yet until 8:45am due to the wind. Lifts where running extra slow as well, due to the wind. temps were to reach 3 degrees. It was cold. (...)I think Smuggs was claiming anywhere between 24"-36" from the storm. From my obs, I'd say 40' give or take 5"-6". (...)
MII wasn't running at all. I went back out and saw a small group waiting near and looking over at the Madonna I lift. Plus I'd just overheard something about it opening soon, so I figured I'd go over and wait for a few. Well well, look who it is. Patrick and Luke. I was planning on meeting up with them on Friday, but their plans changed and there they were. We hung out for a bit and MI didn't look like it was going to start loading any time soon, so we went over to Sterling. Luke lead the way! Our run was Chute to upper Liftline to Black Bear. All good and fresh, but starting to get a little choppy. 11:30ish. Bombable soft chop if you had the legs. The Canadians had the legs. These guys can ski! MI was running so we headed up. The headwall on Liftline was all blown off. Lots of rock showing again. oh no! all kinds of stuff showing up again all the way up liftline and drifts forming everywhere. It's all closed, and for very good reason. It sucked. Once we got to the top it was blowing a little bit. Not so much it would blow you over, but not a place we wanted to hang out for very long.
We chose upper FIS since the herds where dropping Doc's. We can't go wrong we're thinking, but expect to see some drifting. Haha. Yep. We found the drifts alright. 4' drifts scattered all over FIS and blowing whiteout conditions riding down. Real safe! Winds were 20-60mph at the top of Madonna. I tried to get a picture of a guy on one of those handicap chairs who was ripping down through all this, but my camera froze up or was it my hand. Anyways, Patrick and Luke where kindly waiting. Actually, Upper FIS wasn't all that bad when the wind wasn't blowing, and you could find a line through all the drifts, and your face/nose didn't start to burn cause of frostbite. Other than that, it was all right. MI shut down by the time we got down to the bottom again. Obviously, because of wind. Back on Sterling, slackcountry shots off of the LT were good and I heard of folks heading to the BB. I didn't want the 3'+ fresh in there. Imagine the bootpack back to the lot along the road? ?.if you didn't just wallow trying to get down that is. Maybe next time once there are a few tracks in there. Oh ya, patrick and luke headed back there when I went in to thaw out and grab some food. Still wondering how that went? Are you guys alive?
So it was back to Sterling for us, Lucky Luke showed or reshowed me a few of some local stashed. The sickest ones were out-of-bounds. You wouldn't believe the amount snow. The snow wasn't light and was pretty wind patched. It was fun, but you needed momentum to ski that stuff.
The total for the day are low, but...there was a bit of off-piste skiing in 3 of the total 7 runs. Total vertical: 3863m - yeah Tony, these are entirely Powder vertical meters.
Hamdog, it was great to see you again, unfortunately we didn't get to see you again. Enjoy the winter and this great mountain. Hope to get in touch again in the Spring.
That night we found a cheap motel in Burlington. The car lot didn't have any cars, too much snow.
SKI REPORT MAD RIVER GLEN - FEBRUARY 16
Man, we woke up with an annoying headache, it was probably because he didn't drink enough water the previous day.
These icons: \:D/ \:D/ \:D/
OR this quote from Saturday MRG's website pretty much says it all...
Yup, the Valentines Day blizzard of 2007 was one for the ages with 4 feet of new snow. If you always said "I'd really love to try Mad River Glen when it gets really good," well um... this might be a pretty good time to finally do it. Conditions are absolutely stupendous with skiing on packed powder and powder surface conditions! To make matters even better there is more snow predicted over the next few days and if that happens I may run out of superlatives (but will probably come up with something).
The 4 feet received at Mad had pretty much compacted and we didn't find the deep slabs of snow found above the Notch the previous day. But the skiing was...was...pretty good.
We skied 9 runs - 5507m.
Wait time at the single: 15 minutes, maybe once at 20 minutes.
Wait time at the double: 0 to 5 minutes.
We started in the woods for our first run off the double, then top-to-bottom woods on the second run on the single. Let's say that I was getting a workout. Contrary to what Tony stated in another discussion, I am not as comfortable in the woods as I would like. Lucky Luke is the real bushwacker. On the lower part of the mountain, I felt as I was skiing on submarines in this thick powder snow and thick woods. Fatskis were the fashion of the day. I guess I knew what to expect as I was wearing my helmet for the third time freeskiing. A 30 minutes descends off the trail map.
We also skied on some trails. Paradise was incredible. It was really "Paradise". A few weeks ago you needed to negotiate your way down, this time you could just ski it and fly. 8) Liftline was great and all cliffs (tower 3, 5 and 10) were jumped on this day (not necessarily by us). You know that the snow is good when that happens. Although we also defied gravity on this day.
Ended the day totally Stoked with a final run on Paradise and under the single plus jumping for joy at Tower 2 and 3....and arrived at the bottom at 4:24pm.
What a great way to end the week.
At 1am, I finally got home with a huge smile on my face.
Thank you Mother Nature. =D>
Mother Nature? What do you do for an encore?
We both had cameras in the car. There is also no time to take pictures on a powder day. However Lucky Luke did that some extreme pictures and extreme snow, extreme gravity challenge and extremely exhausted.
Lucky Luke said:
Here's 2 pics (non-skiing). Cause on a powder day, no time for picture taking.
Hamdog’s original TR posted on Fri Feb 16, 2007 9:07 am on firsttracksonline
Originally text posted on Sun Feb 18, 2007 10:49 pm on firsttracksonline