There is always uncertainty about October. Uncertainty about the market, uncertainty about the snow and turns. I was occupied myself … occupied with Birthday parties, concerts, at work and looking at the forecast for snow or cold temperatures. Too many variables at play: Is it going to be cold enough? Is there going to be some snow accumulations? Where and when and then there is the busy calendar to contend with. A calendar with my daughters birthday parties (2), concerts (3), Halloween (1) and a couple of other things going on at our busy household (5+).
As I kept straining my eyes on the weather models and sending emails to some interpreters, I crossed my fingers. The question was; Can I find some October turns in the East this year? Should I even consider flying west to continue the streak, however I didn’t have much desire to go to Colorado? Ten days prior to the end of the month, I saw some hope in the forecast in which the odds for EOT (Eastern October Turns) were pretty good with some significant accumulation forecast and coldest temps. As the days went by, the storm models seemed to fizzle out, on the bright side it was getting colder in the North, the question was if that weather window was big enough to make snow to open?
I was gambling on Sunday River’s reputation of opening as soon as possible. Two storms were forecast for the end of the month, but it was predicted that they would stay in South New England. The only hope left was snowmaking. Killington received a blanket of snow and turned their guns on, so did Sunday River. Past experience warned me not to gamble on a Killington opening, regardless of their favorable geography. Even if they received some snow, I couldn’t really on them. The River had opened the past 4 Octobers, so I went with the odds and made plans to head towards Sunday River on Saturday and hoping the hill would open. After some business in Montreal on Friday I headed for Lucky’s house in the Townships.
From Canada to Bethel passing through Dixville and Grafton Notch with dead leaves on the road.
Peter Murphy – Seesaw Sway
PJ Harvey – Bitter Branches
I underestimated the Bromont-Bethel drive as I arrived into the parking lot at 10ish. No white in sight except the top of the Whites and the top of T2 as after exiting Grafton Notch as I neared Newry. Listening to Peter Murphy and PJ Harvey recent CDs during the drive, I managed to nab first row parking spots as some people had enough after a few runs. I wasn’t in a hurry. I had a weird feeling. Was it a new season again, it would seemed like only a short time ago since my last SR October visit. As per that day two year ago, the SROE (Sunday River October Experience) was fairly similar.
Snow guns blasting T2 down to the midstation. The surface was irregular, but it was skiing. The lower guns were very good in imitating the rain I got my last ski day on September 1st. As the temperature increased, the “product” out of the guns was getting pretty wet, especially heading back towards the lift. I had my hood up and the view through my goggle for a 200 feet or so was pure aquavision feeling, I just needed the whippers. The snow was totally soaked on the flats above the mid. Soon after the snowguns were turned off soon after and the sky was blue. Now we could concentrate on the trail as T2 offered a nice mixed bag of conditions from soft bumps, wet snow with a few bare patches and the odd ice chunks. I had the most fun on the side of the pitch, the bumps were just odd straight down the middle. There was a rail or two for jibbers after the pitch and there was a small gathering. After 15 runs, I called it a day and there proceed to the lineup at the midstation and wait 20 minutes to download. The download capacity is 10%.
A quick recap of the day: Lift ticket were $29 on the first day of the season (compare to $25 on the first full day two years ago). SR decided to jump the gun and start spinning the lift at 8am in order to be the first to open. They had a few guinea pigs which included Bob R to break it the slope. T2’s Skiable Vertical was 182 meters and no snow lower than the mid unlike October 15, 2009. There was some snow that was blown on Upper Sunday Punch.
I skied 15 runs (almost 2700m vert for the day) compared to 25 a few years ago. Cost per run: $1.93. I would have had to ski 20+ runs at Kmart or 24 runs at MSS this weekend to get the equivalent. I know it would be almost impossible to be motivated to ski 24 runs on Hill 70.
Après and What Next?
After trading a few emails and posts with Bob R, resident Sunday skier, I was hoping to ski a few runs with him. Instead I went to meet him at his condo and watch the news of the coming Nor’Eastern. I was on the fence on staying or going back across the border and was terribly torn into staying in New England with the storm coming and maybe heading further south, but I decided to be responsible and return to get some stuff done in Montreal. Reason won out…I really hate it, but it was the only reasonable decision I could make under the circumstances…and it totally sucked.
Why not Kmart?
I had an internet blackout most of the weekend and I knew that SR had the commitment into opening first, I wasn’t going to gamble on Kmart opening. They had let down so many people in the last few years. I even had someone who grew up near K totally convinced that they weren’t going to open. The storm didn’t produce as much than the Wildcat in 2005, but enough to provide great skiing. There is no question in my mind that K’s conditions were superior than SR this weekend: Elevation advantage + nature snow.
As explained above, SR had a better recent record and was the safest October option. Who knows if K was going to open or not, and I remember reading last season of crackdowns against earn-your-turns types.
Here is Riverc0il’s K day prior to opening report on Friday. … then you add the second storm on Sunday.
I skied at SR on Saturday. Similar conditions as two years ago. Nothing to write home about.
Pretty sure it would have been better at K, but commitments made it impossible get away for 2 days. But it would have also been more crowded and cost $10 more. I would have paid the difference if I wouldn’t have taken the step to sleep at Lucky’s place in Bromont (the drive to K would have been more complicated vs part of the drive toward SR already done). I was also solo. Surfaces would have been better at K. Slacking could have been done in stealth, regardless of K’s potential crackdown.
I really really wanted to stay an extra day. I finally made my decision at 5:30pm chatting with Bob. I was thinking of heading to K, but I have so much to do. Stayed at Lucky’s home in Bromont after that ski day and was 5-0 on his pool table. 😀 A first and probably a last for MadPatPool.