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Posts Tagged ‘Lucky Luke’

After a decade of turning its back to its reputation of the earlier, latest, longest, biggest season skiing in the East, there were signals that the lost years were over and sounds and cries that the “Beast was Back”. The evidence was two consecutive October openings and missing June skiing by only six days last season making it the longest ski season in the East again…after all these years.

MadPat hadn’t returned to Kmart since May 2005 and I was curious to return to see if Killington was really mighty again? Had Kmart returned to its glorious Spring days of the last millennium. For this mission, I enlisted Lucky Luke, frequent Kmart late season skier and partner from the 1990s. We hadn’t been together at K since June 1997.


Lucky Luke finding peanut butter in the Squat


Foggy view

The night before skiing, I joined Lucky Luke to squat in a huge unfinished home just North of the Vermont border. A quiet early crossing into rural Vermont until we reached the metropolis of Stowe. Our first glimpse of Killington was on I-89 where we saw the low clouds hanging over Skye and Killington Peaks. I hadn’t been this far South on I-89 in a long time, but still remember the road. A major things had changed since my first visit almost 30 years this May.

Once we arrived at K-Base, we noticed a few things : it was gray and colder than anticipated. Temperature was just 34F.

Major deception!!!


What? The K1 Gondy isn’t going?


Gondies in garage

I used to be a regular at Kmart in the late Springs back in the good date (1984-1997). What I saw yesterday wasn’t the domination that existed back then. I was shock and disappointed when we arrived yesterday morning. Not that I forgot my ski pants and had to ski … in jeans, but that so little was open. Killington was only running the Superstar Express. Three hour drive for only 9 open trails which was actually less if you could it as actual ski runs? Lucky and I were so much looking forward to ski more than the usual “last Killington” terrain of May. It wasn’t going to be…the official morning runs were limited to Bittersweetness…and some Skye Lark. The steep pitch of Bittersweet was even bitterclosed with a bit-of-snow.

To make matters worse, some people were calling it a day, because everything was frozen and chunks without any grooming. There wasn’t any open bumps when we got to the top of Skye Peak, only refrozen chunks of corn. Superstar wasn’t flat, nor bumpy, but it was closed as well as the Skye Hawk bumps. Luckily that would change later on.


Superstar


MadPat skis in jeans


Superstar Headwall


Flying Luke


Flying Corn


On bottom Superstar


Superstar last’s bit


Skye Hawk


Lucky on Skye Hawk – best “official” bumps of the day


Some Bittersweetness


No walking required to overcome deception

But sometime you need to seek out “joy” and overcome deception. There was so much that we had looked forward to ski…runs like Needle Eye, Panic Button, Vertigo…which I remember skiing with my pregnant wife in late May ‘97. This wasn’t Late May 1997 and it wasn’t open. And what about the double diamond steep Ovation…or was Lucky Luke just seeing double again? Maybe it was just Vertigo? Late season skiing at Killington from the mid 1980s also brought back memories skiing runs of the K Peak like Downdraft with some walking required…but not possible today. It’s neighbours also looked very good. The Killington Peak Double with a midstation is long gone and the K1 Gondola is in the garage for the remainder of the ski season.

Eventually conditions corned up, bumps bumped up as the rope dropped on Skye Hawk and Superstar. Not the best bumps on the mountain, but the Skye Hawk bumps and lower Superstar started looking real sweet for coming weekend. Like the conditions, we eventually up having a great time, but we had to make a take a few steps and duck the ropes of deceptions to take matters in our your hands.


Nets to catch poachers???


Dizziness Subtype


Lucky seeing double


And getting dizzy


MadPat is sick


Unmarked obstacles


Skiing the best bumps on the mountain


…Numerous times


Late season = some walking required


No ropes here…


Lucky skiing Down towards a nice cool Draft


Nice corn cool icy draft


Corn skiing orgasm = wet jeans


Going down like a nice draft beer


Some nice deceptions


Lucky heading towards the bar

In hindsight, if we looked at quality/price/open terrain/distance (for us) analysis, Sugarloaf or Jay with each close to 40 open runs would have been a logical preferred choice. The Beast is awake, but not back to what it was, the “Dominator of Spring”, but at least it is a late season game once again.

And the question that is always ask : “Is Killington going to make it to June this year?” It is my observation, but from what I saw yesterday on Superstar and my recollection from the 1990s. Unless May is cold, I would be surprised if K make it to June this season.


The Ovation required us to go an encore


…on a Green run


Final Acclaim


Downing Drafts

20140429_kmart
Day’s Log

MadPat’s Gallery:
Killington VT – April 29, 2014

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The 1993-94 Winter was a freaking cold. Living with little money with my girlfriend from France in small and crooked old one bedroom apartment in Montreal’s working class district of Pointe St.Charles.

So cold and little money that we kept the temperature in our $380/month apartment down to 12c overnight and up to a warm 15c in the daytime. It was so cold that we opted to stay in bed a few times instead of getting up early to go skiing and paying expensive lift tickets in January and skiing when it was -35c in the morning.

As we moved beyond the Arctic cold temperature of January and towards the later part of the season, it was time to make up time : I was just at 8 ski days in mid-February. It helped that I worked on the odd contract from the university and had total flexibility to go skiing midweek. April was the time to use the remaining vouchers, coupons or find deals and ski all over the place. Since my last visit to Tremblant on March 27, I had done day-trips to Mad River Glen, Stowe, Smugglers’ and Whiteface. Montreal is a great city to live in to access the East’s best skiing all within day-trip range.

Lucky Luke was still on temporarily on Unemployment Insurance due a fractured hand and was always available for a cheap ski day. On this Tuesday morning Lucky Luke drove with tens of thousands of suburbanites across Canada’s busiest bridge, the Champlain, to get into Montreal and pick me up. Fortunately for him, I lived not far from the bridge and he wasn’t going to work. The last time we skied together was only 4 days ago at Smugglers’ Notch on April 8.

Intrawest making changes

Mont Tremblant was going through some major changes at lightning speed since Intrawest had purchased it in 1991. The last time Lucky and I skied together at Tremblant in April 1992, Intrawest had installed another top-to-bottom High Speed Quad also servicing the North side.

Since that visit, Intrawest moved le Chalet des Voyageurs out-of-the-way and built the first building of its pedestrian village modeled after its Whistler Village. It was out with the old typical Quebec Rural setting of the Mont Tremblant Lodge and in with Urban architecture mixed between Old Quebec City and Disney World. Lucky Luke, the architectural student, didn’t necessarily agreed with their plans and had his own ideas. The only “old” lifts remaining were the Flying Mile and Lowell Thomas triples installed in 1980. In addition to replacing lifts with High speed quad on the upper South side (TGV) and lower North (Expo Express) plus adding a quad in an new area called the Edge in 1994. Intrawest also started to address the lack of real expert terrain, glades and a few easier ways to avoid trouble spots for beginners by adding 18 new trails and new summit.

New 1994 Trails
New Trails (South): A bunch of Blacks on the steep upper mountain.
Rodeo – black (old black double chairlift liftline)
ZigZag – double black (one of the steepest runs)
Vertige – double black (one of the steepest runs)
Fripp – black (new TGV HQS and old quad liftline)
Taschereau – black
Roy Scott – green (avoiding the final pitch of Promenade/Flying Mile – a major trouble spot)
Chalumeau – blue (run to new housing)

New Trails (North):
Banzai – black (old T-Bar line)
Dynamite – double black (at 42 degrees it was dub as the steepest trail in the East)
Detour – green (avoiding the steeper Gagnon pitch to reach the Lowell Thomas Triple)

New Trails (Edge): New mountain with mostly glades.
Bon Vivant – green (reaching the top of the Edge to South side Nansen)
Réaction – black
Action – black
Haute Tension – black
Sensation – black
Escapade – blue (trail back to North side and base of Lowell Thomas Triple)
Tentation – green (to base of Edge chair)
Letendre – green (from base of Edge chair)

Intrawest also tried to lure back some skiers to the New Tremblant with deals, coupons and specials found in the Montreal daily newspapers. So instead of me driving down South and picking me up Lucky in St-Luc to go skiing at Smuggs like the previous Friday; it was his tour to drive North through Montreal and pick me up to go to Tremblant.

Nirvana – Lithium

April 8, 1994

Music has always played an important to our skiing trips. Although we had different musical background, our tastes overlapped with Nirvana. Lucky had grown up listening to Heavy Metal while I was deep into more Classic Rock, Progressive and later on Alternative. Kurt Cobain’s body was discovered on that day; the day we skied together in Vermont. It wasn’t until April 12, that we got to seriously meditated with the dial up to “11” inside Lucky’s Suzuki Swift with four pairs of skis, up to the Laurentians via Autoroute 13 in order to avoid the rush hour traffic. Listening to Utero, Nevermind and Unplugged…the drive to Tremblant isn’t that long.

Nirvana – Heart-Shaped Box

We skied where we left off in April 1992 and looking to ski the equivalent of Everest and one half: racking the verts with Kurt singing ringing in our ears. The morning surface were hard after a good overnight freeze like so often in the Spring, so we started with the 210cm GS skis like my Rossignol 7Gs. Prior to lunch the surfaces started to soften up with temperature reaching 10c. After eating we switched into our slalom 7S skis to ski the softer stuff and bumps.

Twenty years ago, slalom skis were used to ski ice, crud, bumps, powder and woods.

Twenty years ago Grunge had lost an icon for a generation. Similar to the importance in the deaths of John Lennon or other icons passing at aged 27 like Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin and Jim Morrison from the previous generations.

Twenty years ago Lucky and I were still in our twenties. Kurt would be 47 now, but his music lives on.

Nirvana – Where Did You Sleep Last Night

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Saturday May 1 : Sunday River

Ski Mania!
May Mania!!
Ski Maynia!!!

Not exactly sure if it has always been called that Ski Mania? Sunday River has been offering free skiing to all on this day for years. In the last few years, Sunday River has had Ski Mania on their last day of operations towards the end of April. In 2013, the Ski Mania was on April 21. Ski Mania wasn’t always on the last day of operations, it would just coincided with May 1 or/and the Sunday next to it. Les Otten bought Sunday River in 1980 and started to build the resort to compete with his old employer, Killington. He would start applying the same formula that made Killington’s reputation: extension on various peaks, snowmaking, grooming and long ski seasons.

Towards the end of my university years, MadPat was always on lookout for bargain skiing. I was definitely present if there was a free ticket within a 3-hour drive from Montreal. Free tickets for all had become a rare sight in 1999. For example, Killington no longer offered free skiing on June 1, let alone make it to June, they hadn’t the previous season in 1998 and weren’t going to make it this year either. Actually two ski areas were offering free skiing on May 1st: Sugarbush and Sunday River. The Maine area won out for its combo skiing potential – more later.

After having attended the 1995 and 1996 Ski Maynia, I had missed the two following years due to work and illness. I was back on track in Maine and would return to event annually until 2002 making it 6 years out of 8 in Maine for a free lift ticket.

Being only two weeks since our return from a ski trip to Banff, Mrs. MadPat didn’t make the trip this time; she stayed back in Canada with our 1 1/2 year old daughter. This was my second weekend in Maine, having skied Sugarloaf the previous weekend. I was joined for the drive this week by SuperNat who had been with us on the last Sunday River May 1st in 1996 and we had planned for a weekend of skiing. My good friend Lucky Luke and his friend Eric were meeting us in Maine. It was a real warm day with temperature in the mid 70s: a real Spring skiing day with little clothing, sun glasses and sun screen. Great snow left. The bonus was that the lift ticket was free.

The Barker Quad was running and passing over the snowmaking pond. I vaguely remember odd folks diving in it. A stretch of snow had been pushed to reach the bottom of the chair. Main trails on Barker were open or at least skiable which could stretch out to the lower slope of Locke and Spruce Mountain. We had our old skis for the occasion, so the odd skiing over dirt to access untouched corn didn’t bother us.I’m known to have a good memory, but I can’t recall if we made out to White Heat that year or they were other lifts open like the Spruce Triple like on a previous Maynia day.

At the end of the day, we soaked in the sun. Like during my first visit at Sunday River on May 27, 1994, I decided to combine the drive to this part of Maine with a visit to Tuckerman Ravine. It had been almost 5 years since that last visit, plus the last time, I didn’t take my skis to the Ravine. My last skiing visit was back with Lucky Luke back in early May 1992: Luke had returned since. Eric and myself had talked about going, but I can’t remember why they bailed? So we parted ways, SuperNat and I only had a short drive ahead of us to make it to Gorham NH and Hikers’ Paradise.


Picture by SuperNat : MadPat pointing at the duct tape on Lucky’s skis.


Picture by SuperNat : MadPat, Lucky and Eric


Picture by SuperNat : Group pic


Picture by SuperNat : SuperNat next to the snowmaking pond with Barker Mountain in the background

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Sunday May 2 : Tuckerman Ravine

Another warm morning, but we only had a short drive. Nevertheless we didn’t manage to get an early start. We were in the first parking lot at Pinkham Notch, but it took us a long time to get going. Eat breakfast and took time to get organized. What to bring; what to leave at the car? How warm is it going to be? Once we finally got going, I was feeling the previous day skiing in my legs and back as we began the hike. Similar to the previous hike up on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, I opted to carry on skis on my shoulder instead of having the long Rossignol 4S 207cm skis hitting the back of my legs or tripping me up. We arrived at Hojo in late morning to find many people gathered. Hikers and skiers alike – it was probably going to be a zoo up in the Bowl. We took a break, eat and looked around. We noticed someone skiing Duchess which is right above the HoJo deck it would seem. The line is serious terrain, on May 2, the line was even sketchyer.


Picture by SuperNat : Hiking on Snow on Tuckerman Ravice trail


Picture by SuperNat : Hojo and Hillman’s Highway. Also great view of Dodge and Duchess (just above Hojo)


Picture by SuperNat : MadPat and his beloved 4Ss


Picture by SuperNat : Hiking towards Hillman’s

Having never skied Hillman’s Highway, we opted to ski it as the fact that it was already late and the closest slope plus it looked real sweet. HH is the longest run in the Tuckerman area; a nice 1500’ vertical with a constant pitch at 30-35 degrees which gets progressively steeper at the top to reach a maximum 40 degrees.

It’s a long hike to the top and it took us a long time. Not everyone hiked the entire slope. We hiked a bit at the top to looked at the view of Tuckerman Ravine and Mount Washington summit beyond. We also meet fellow Quebecers that had just skied Tremblant. They would take the right entrance, we took the left. Not sure which one was steepest.

I remember we only did one run from the top, but I think we did a half-run also. Snow was real soft and in deep corn snow mode with the warm temperature. At the end of our day which was dictated by our fatigue and the drive ahead, we skied onto Shelburne Trail. The trail was open only 1/3 of the way down before we had to move back to a busy Tuckerman Ravine Trail. At that time, a skier we had seen earlier had rebooted on the trail slaloming through the crowd which we shouting at him “No skiing on the hiking trail”. He didn’t understand; he was visiting from Colorado and didn’t know it was forbidden to ski on TRT.

I was beat once at the bottom and a very long drive ahead. It’s going to be hard getting into work on Monday morning, but I’ll be smiling about a great weekend of skiing. It was a great day. Real warm and sunny. As we driving through Lancaster NH, I noticed an ice cream stand. I suddenly stopped to a screeching halt. A hot day of skiing wouldn’t be complete without an ice cream. That is what Spring Skiing in all about. Next ski destination: Killington.


Picture by SuperNat


Picture by SuperNat


Picture by SuperNat : Random skier hiking the steeps


Picture by SuperNat : MadPat reaching the top. View of Sherburne on the top corner


Picture by SuperNat : SuperNat, Tuckerman and the summit of Mt. Washington


Picture by SuperNat : Ants in Tuckerman Ravine


Picture by SuperNat : Quebec skiers dropping in the left


Picture by SuperNat : Random skier in short – view of left entrance to HH in the background


Picture by SuperNat : Random skier spraying corn


Picture by SuperNat


Picture by SuperNat


Picture by SuperNat


Picture by SuperNat : One last look up before we leave


Picture by SuperNat : Hiking out


Picture by SuperNat : Buds on the trees, Spring is definitely here

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Day 4 of the season and my season only started 8 days ago. Here’s another TR from the nostalgia file…one from 10 years ago: the 2002-03 season.

With a new baby at home, the season started late, but I was catching up. After a late start at Whiteface on Sunday, January 5, I skied the first Masters’ race of the season at Fortune then Saturday was the first ski lessons with the Edelweiss Ski School for Morgane. Although she started skiing at 2 1/2, we wanted to register her into a ski program so we would reserve time for her and not get carried away time-wise by her new sister.

It was Canadian Week at Sugarloaf; they offered Canadians deals on lodging and lift tickets on this mid-January midweek for us crazies. As soon as I graduated from university and its ski team, I was no longer able or had any desire to ski anything with less than a 2000’ vertical. I started seeking out specials within 3 hours from Montreal (300km from Champlain Bridge); although I no longer live in Montreal, I’m still seeking out skiing deals ten years later.

mtl-loaf
source : Google Map – Montréal (A), Bromont (B), Sugarloaf (C)

Like the previous Sugarloaf Canadian Week visit in 2002, Lucky Luke was in for some Maine turns at the Loaf; much better than going to work. I don’t remember if I slept at my mom’s in Montreal or headed straight for Lucky’s place in Bromont in the Eastern Townships on the Sunday night. We had a bunch of cassettes and 2 pairs of skis each for the slightly less than 3 hours road trip from Bromont. Once off the autoroute and after a few turns, we ended up on one of the straightest non-flat highways that I know: Quebec Highway 212. Once we crossed into Maine at Woburn, we kept our eyes open for moose on that last 30 -minute stretch between the Quebec-Maine border and Sugarloaf. Lucky had already been unlucky once, crashing into a deer while going to a ski race ten years previously (R.I.P. Ford Tempo). I wanted to be sure it didn’t happen again, especially with a moose. Not sure if we saw any moose or deer on that day, but my average over the years on this stretch of road or the one heading towards Sunday River is pretty high.

I love skiing at Sugarloaf, I love the topography. A nice cone with fall-line skiing which gets steeper as you get higher. On that day, like on many of my trips, I had my good skis (the 183cm Atomic Beta Race 10:22, a pure GS ski) and my rock skis (10-year old, 205cm straight yellow Rossignol 7Ss). Started off the morning with the good pair, the rock skis were staying in the car for now.

The sky was gray and the place was fairly deserted. I guess it’s not surprising for a non-Holiday Monday at Sugarloaf in mid-January. There was a small layer of fresh snow on the beautiful corduroy base. Lucky and I were running laps all over the mountain. We started off with runs off the 1750’ Sugarloaf SuperQuad, hitting runs like Hayburner, King’s Landing, Comp Hill and Narrow Gauge, slowly moving further to the right to the 1500’ slower Spillway double. Always thought it was pretty impressive to have two double chairs running side-by-side using the same towers. Unlike the previous year, the King Pine quad was closed, basically the only lifts running were Spillway and the HSQ. Concentrated on turns on Spillway, Sluice…then throwing us down the steep White Nitro pitch and hitting the runway down the narrower trails like Wedge and Bubblecuffer.

As we accumulated the runs, the snow was also accumulating. We decided to keep the fast skis and keep carving some nice high-speed turns in the fresh layer of snow. Shadowing each other, loading the skis to an explosive acceleration at every long radius turns over the roll of the narrow trails. The perception of these lower trails is very different when you’re running at warp speed with the twists, rolls and blurred trees on each side. No time to stop during these fast laps, we only stopped for lunch. In the afternoon, we continued racing down trails in what was now a blizzard. Loving to ski high-speed turns in a snow storm: not something I’ve been in a habit to do, but the skis were skiing awesome on that day. It wasn’t only a powder GS day, it was a memorable day which I can recall 10 years after. Although the Spillway double was a relatively slow lift, we skied 24 runs which would be somewhere between 36000 and 42000 vertical feet on that day.. I remember Lucky saying we skied Everest and a half!!! In the previous year, we skied much slower, more varied terrain, more lifts for a total of 31k.

Drive Home and the next Big Eastern Mountain Outing Deals

The drive back to Bromont wasn’t as fast. We drove back in the full-out storm and dark, it took us over 5 hours to make it back to Bromont: double the morning travel time. We thought of staying the night, but Lucky had to work the next day. I left for Montreal that morning for a stop at Dafran in Montreal to pick up and pay for my new pair of slalom skis for the next Masters’ Race. It was my first pair of Slalom under 201cm in 20 years: some short 157cm Atomic SL11s.

What a great day, the next ski deals in our January Calendar were Whiteface’s Superbowl Super Sunday on the 26th followed by Mad River Glen’s Roll back the Clock day on the 28th. Lucky Luke was definitely in for MRG, however this time I was going to leave my GS skis at home. The new slalom when going to left in Ottawa also.

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It has already been twenty years since that memorable May trip at Tuckerman Ravine. A trip significantly edged in my brain due to the new friendship, love and commandery.

It was my 7th season of racing with Les Carabins de l’Université de Montréal, after another season of skiing small hills and race courses, training two-nights a week and racing and training on alternating weekends, it was time to ski bigger hills and verticals. Between time on the ski team, my thesis and dealing with students and papers, I had little time or money to escape from the Laurentians and ski on my own time and dime during the Winter. I didn’t mind the routine, but my university days as a student and racer were coming to an end.

A number of fellow racers generally had enough once the gates were gone, however I always looked for some May turns after a busy April on campus. This year’s team included a group of younger racers which, like myself, didn’t spend their youth ski racing and were motivated on getting any type of turns. Skiing at Whiteface and Tremblant late April turns was great.

One of those skiers was someone who would eventually be known as Lucky Luke. We had skied together at Whiteface and Tremblant. I believe it might have been at the Ski Circuit party at Chez Swan (I believe it’s now the location of Café Campus on Prince Arthur which used to be at the corner Queen Mary where the Second Cup is and next to the university back then), a few of us got talking making it to Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington. In the end, only three of us would make the trip. After looking at the weather and avalanche forecast, we circled on Thursday on the calendar with a departure from Montreal that Wednesday night.

Party Music heard in parties during my university years. Ski team parties were sometimes out of control – RIP MCA

The group consisted of JF, Luc and myself. I was the only one that had skied Tuckerman before, back in late May 1990 on the Victoria Day weekend. At that time I had stayed in the shelters at Hermit Lake. This time we drove overnight to Gorham to sleep at the Hikers’ Paradise. Driving in the dark, we talked about stuff, skiing, plus I had a girl on my mind.

Once in Gorham, we went to a now lost local bar. A fun evening mixed with brews and stoked about the following day. Forecast was warm and bluebird skies. At one point Lucky went to the washroom and didn’t come back, JF and I hadn’t really noticed as people were talking, playing pool and listening to music. All of sudden we heard Lucky yelling and banging on the washroom door. The washroom door was jammed – as someone let him out, we were all laughing.

Cool and bright the next morning. It was still fairly cold when we started the hike. I had my old yellow ski team jacket on and was carrying my skis on my shoulders. I had found the hike up the TRT with 205cm skis on my backpack to be a pain in the calves calfs hiking steeper part of trail or over boulders. Lucky was also carrying his skis on his shoulders. I believe he had created shoulders pads with foam that he ducktaped directly on his shoulders. JF was the only that used the conventional way with ski mounted on his backpack.

The Skis:
Madpat: 207cm long Rossignol 4S.
Lucky Luke: K2’s KVC 200cm strait as a 2X4.
JF: probably some 205 or 210cm Kneissl White Star.


Picture by Lucky Luke – JF and Pat


Picture by Lucky Luke – Pat looking at the Bowl


Picture by Lucky Luke – Hillman May 1992


Picture by Lucky Luke – Snow advisory

The stoke level increase as we started getting a glimpse of Boot Spur and Lion’s Head and a cool breeze. The excitement raised a notch once we arrived at Hermit Lake, I was having a stomach cramps and wasn’t feeling too good. It might have been the excitement, but probably more to do with the breakfast. After a short break at Hojo’s and continued on to the Bowl. Once we reached the amphitheatre, we had the places almost to ourselves. I was feeling a bit woozy. I told JF and Lucky to take one run without me. They climbed straight up the Lip until I lost sight of them. After a long wait, they weren’t coming down, I started up as I wanted to ski. Stomach was still unset, but not enough to stop me from skiing. I climbed the lip. Although this wasn’t my first visit, this was my definitely the steepest climb. The slope was steep enough to have the tips of my skis hit the slope. At one point I had to take them off my shoulder and dig them horizontally as I climb every step of the steep bootpack, especially when a few steps didn’t have much snow and was more on less on ice near the crux of the slope.


Picture by Lucky Luke – Luke and the Bowl


Picture by Lucky Luke – Tuckerman ahead, Wildcat behind

This was my second climb out of Tuckerman Ravine, however the previous visit was during on a snowy white out day on Canadian Thanksgiving in mid-October 1991. Looking toward the summit, I could see two small dots, I wasn’t sure that if it was JF and Lucky. I waited until I managed to recognized them. We traversed above Tuckerman Ravine to drop into Left Gully. Lucky and I were somewhat impressed by the intimidating entry, although I had been out to West and skied Saudan Couloir (now named Couloir Extreme) at Blackcomb in June 1988. JF who had spent a Summer in New Zealand charged in if he was entry an intermediate slope.

One thing about JF, not much got him stressed even when his backwindshield shattered on the Autoroute at -25c, he continued on after asking the backpassenger with was myself, to clear the window at 70 mph. I had known him a few years on the ski team. He wasn’t part of the ‘A’ team and also they didn’t take himself too seriously. He left the team for a few years with the plan to drive down to South America with no itinerary or timeline in a beaten up Toyota Corrosion. This seemed to be an issue at one US border crossing and he was refused entry. On that trip, after an odd job in California, he bordered a plane for NZ where he thought skiing down under. When he came back a few months later, he found his car where he left it. Got in and continued his way south until he had everything in his car stolen in front of a police station somewhere in Mexico or Central America. He also mentioned that odd jobs weren’t enough to continue on his drive. Eventually started driving back and we back to the University and the ski team after being done for maybe one year or two?


Picture by Lucky Luke – JF and Pat


Picture by Lucky Luke – Summit

So after JF dropped in, Lucky and I looked at ourselves and said ”Hell, we’re better skiers, we can do this”. After dropping in the 45-50 degree steep entrance, the rest seemed pretty mellow even if it was steeper than anything I had skied at a ski area. We stopped at the exit of LG in order to climb back up The Chute. I clicked off my skis on the steep slope and started going up the bootpack. Luke wasn’t so Lucky. I could hear a huge “Tabarn@k” echoing in the Bowl. As he clicked out of one ski to get set to climb, he lost control of his ski at it slide down the entire Bowl, so instead of climbing he had to ski down on one ski to fetch his other ski.


Picture by Lucky Luke – Our turns


Picture by Lucky Luke – Bootlatter

I just climbed the bottom half of Chute and skied towards Lunch Rocks as we decided to eat lunch. At this time, there were maybe two dozen skiers and hikers in Tuckerman Ravine. We were relaxing, eating, enjoying the scenery, the skiing, ours and the others making turns. I remember being in “ahhh” with our day and this place. A perfect bluebird and warm weather, the White Bowl and Sun increased the sun warmth. We heard ice falls crashing echoing the Bowl. All of sudden, someone yell “ICE” as rocks came crashing down towards Lunch Rocks. I remember leaping down onto the snow, piece of sandwich in my hand or the side and almost cartwheeling down. Lucky and JF had taken cover in the boulders. As I looked at my peanut butter sandwich, half of it had torn off when I ran away. A 12-18” rock landed we were having lunch. Note to self, Lunch rocks!!! 😕


Picture by Lucky Luke – JF about to disappear in Chute

After lunch, we climbed back the Lip and we decided to traverse towards Left Gully again. I wasn’t the easier way of going it, but we didn’t know any better back then as we didn’t see anyone climbing LG. Most of the skiers were skiing the bottom of the lower Bowl and climbing the bootpack all the way to the tiny crevasse. As we traversing, JF wanted to turn down before LG, in what is called “Chute”. We couldn’t see the bottom. We could see him skiing away as it was getting steeper and steeper. After that run, JF mentioned that it was really really steep. “Like skiing on the edge on a pool cue”. Lucky and I charged Left Gully, taking pictures at the same time with Luc’s camera. He was the only that hadn’t forgotten it.


Picture by Lucky Luke – MadPat in LG


Picture by Lucky Luke – MadPat in LG


Picture by Lucky Luke – Lucky Kickass jumpturn in LG


Picture by Lucky Luke

We climbed up our backpacked at Lunch Rock for one last run out. We decided only to climb the bottom of the Bowl. As JF was coming down fast, he was slightly out of balance with his centre of gravity near one of the tips of his 205cm long skis. All of sudden, he just went over his skis and cartwheeled with his backpack. We could see this coming so much. After he got back up, we managed to ski down out of the Bowl via the Little Headwall. Skiing down the Sherburne Trail was a faster way down than hiking back down the TRT, however it didn’t make it easy as it was bumped out and my legs would have been toasted like my face and top of my head. A Sunscreen didn’t have the PSF level they do know…if I used some. There was snow 3/4 down. We rejoined the TRT hiking trail near the bottom switch backs.


Picture by Lucky Luke

You could stick a fork in us, we were done. A long drive to Montreal, once I got back home and left on a date with that girl. That was twenty years ago and JF is the only one I haven’t seem in years.

MadPat’s Gallery:
Tuckerman – 7 mai 1992

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End of the season is already around the corner. My last ski outing felt like ages ago. After a talk with Lucky Luke at my mom’s funeral in Montreal and on the need to get out and make some turns, no matter where…I was back in Ottawa went Lucky told me he was heading for Whiteface. I needed to drive back to Montreal, but I was probably looking at some turns at St-Sauveur on a detour on another Ottawa-Montreal drive. I didn’t feel like paying at Tremblant, the detour was longer and the drive was longer for WF. I’m happy that my good friend Lucky dragged me out of unpleasant business and told me about the $17 lift tix deal at Whiteface.

Last liftserved day in the state of New York.

Skied on the same day last year…I don’t remember ever seeing so little snow at WF on their last day.

Gondola and Little Whiteface double were the only lifts in service. The day started off gray, but the sun found a way to find us at the end of the day. There was also signs on a dusting of snow on upper Little WF and the trees from the summit. I got at the mountain at 10ish and brought my old B1s on the gondola, not expecting wall-to-wall coverage that I found at Tremblant.

First run was down Excelsior with a lunch to drop off, as skiing to the base was sketchy. Order of the day was looping off Little Whiteface, to the mid or to the top. I saw Lucky and his clan right away on Mountain Run. \:D/ We skied Mountain Run, Wilderness and Thruway off the mid or Approach and Excelsior off the top. The top of Wilderness required some walking to get to or you could take a lower traverse.

There was also the “Closed” which we wondered why??? We lapped it a few times at the end of the day, best snow and run of the day. Overall snow was soft, but some flat areas mainly at the top of the double or around the midstation looked like someone stuffed the blender with Oreo cookies (real dirty slush) mixed with some chocolate chips (small rocks). The steep parts were okay. :mrgreen: The kids downloaded with the Gondola while Lucky, Anne-Marie and myself skied to the bottom. Lucky’s kids had already done it on their own earlier. There were a few narrow spots toward Broadway and at the bottom through the park. Snow in a narrow strip that disappeared maybe 100 ft from the base of the Face Lift.

So, here is the different runs options:

Off the top: A) Approach toward the mid 1) Thruway, 2) Mountain Run 3) Wilderness
B) 4) Excelsior or 5) Lower Essex/Northway to L Empire-Broadway
All to the way to the bottom via L Valley and SnowPark(name?)

Pictures are a courtesy of Lucky Luke:

Lucky’s kids at the top of Wilderness.

Lucky Anna-Maria

Lucky Alex

Lucky Alex in the bumps in “Closed”

Lucky Vero

Lucky Pat 😉

20100411_wf

Originally posted on Mon Apr 19, 2010 10:34 pm on firsttracksonline

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SUNDAY: Day 3

Okay, the good news for camping is that the night was pretty warm. Éric played guitar/harmonica and going through the repertoire of Neil Young, Pink Floyd, etc. According to Lucky, this brings the girls out, but the only girls around our tents would have been female moose. Look at your feet when you walk, moose crap is everywhere. 😮

So we head in our tent shortly before 11pm as the rain started falling. Wind howled during the night and at one point Luc’s tent collapsed on us. Everything was wet inside. Pete said that he felt something on the edge of their tent, I felt something too!!! MMMhh!!! :-k

We had to get everything out and try to get it dry. The rain was still falling, but not as hard. After many minutes of hesitating, Lucky, Pete and Éric decided to head out and ski. It was Pete and Éric’s last day and they only had one day under their belt. I had already gotten 2 days and maybe another day on Monday, so I decided to pass. Extremeskiboy from Zoneski fame joined them later. I stayed around with the others Zoneskiers, did some little hiking and checked out the exhibit at the Information Centre. Once Pete and Éric were back, they started packing their stuff and drove back to Western Québec. Éric said that he didn’t like the snow. Lucky had a different opinion, but he was getting really wet skiing and hiking. Lucky and I had the same idea, we left…and drove into town. The temps were going below 0c and some our stuff was humid. One of the ZSki pairs left also while the others stayed at the campground.


Picture by MadPat : Pete, Lucky and Éric thinking about options


Picture by MadPat : Rivière Sainte-Anne next to campground raging


Picture by MadPat : River might be good for kayaking, but there is the odd waterfall


Picture by MadPat : Pete and Éric are tearing down the site


Picture by MadPat : Group picture like the ones you see in Beer Ads


Picture by MadPat : Ste-Anne-des-Monts at the end of the day


Picture by MadPat : Driving and looking for the Sea-shack for another day of skiing

Picture by Éric
Picture by Éric : Éric and Pete heading West and not skiing tomorrow


Picture by MadPat : Beautiful part of Quebec. Mountain meets the sea or super large St.Lawrence river steroids

We headed to stay at the Hostel we stayed the previous winter, however prices listed aren’t what we had in mind. On the Friday, Vincent mentioned that we was going to stay at the Sea-shack. That sounded interesting, so we headed that way. We had beds in a type of wooden tent on the beach, definitely sounded like a cool setting. Girls and a spa, a few of them we’re curious when we started getting our ski gear out. “There is still snow?”

Lucky and I eat on the beach and enjoyed the sunset on the sea. Lucky mentioned that he would prefer being next to his girlfriend, I agreed, I would also prefer being next to his girlfriend. 8-[ 😆 😉


Picture by MadPat : Lucky’s looking for cash for his car ads setting. This is where we eat (well Lucky did) and the hostel is 500 ft behind us


Picture by MadPat : Lucky’s girlfriend isn’t in this picture. He had to settle for a bearded guy … and me, him. lol

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Nice sunset on the St.Lawrence


Picture by MadPat : Lucky’s perfect romantic setting wasted on Pat


Picture by MadPat : Sea-shack. Comfortable settings, hoping for a good night sleep

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*))
((*

MONDAY: Day 4

That Sunday night the Sea-Shack hostel was packed with foreign exchange students from France plus the odd travelers. The only place available was in the yurt (like a tee-pee) which had about 5 bunk beds (slept 10-15). After a few beers inside, next to the fireplace outside and listening to the music playing, we eventually called it a night. Lucky got tired or maybe he was tired of the locals which had just arrived to impress the female tourists. A few minutes later, I decided to get to bed also. MMhh….nice, dry and warm bed.

We are now comfortable in our beds in our yurt next to the beach as a girl was putting logs on the stove; it was actually too hot. That’s when someone cranked the volume outside to maximum. Some of drunken locals were loud as they were trying to impress. Someone had a loud and very annoying big long red horns that you see drunken idiots used at the Grey Cup games or Québec’s Winter Carnival. Needless to say, it was probably the worst night I’ve had in a hostel noise wise. I guess we shoud have checked their website, but we were going according to what we heard. For that Sunday, it might have been a great place to party, but not necessarily to sleep. The website might have clued us off, especially when they mentioned bar on the beach and pictures on drunk people on their website.

Ok, it might have been a bad night. I remember know why I check into the hostel reviews when I travel. Funny, I was sure that Lucky would lose it, but it was a girl in our dorm that steeped out and told them to cut it out and turn the off the *?&*?&* music at 4:30am: the sun was already up.

Two hours later, Lucky woke me up and we left the sea toward the mountains. Last day, cold temps and rain the previous day made for an interesting surface. As we observed the different white ribbons on the surrounding mountain as we moved in land, we wondered if we would be lucky to get the soft conditions we had on Friday or the frozen surface I expected at the beginning of this trip?


Picture by MadPat : Heading back towards the mountains

We made it to the campground to join the 2 remaining ZSkiers. After a breakfast near freezing temps, we headed up the familiar road. Lucky was hoping to explore different locations, however the uncertainty of the snow surfaces made us decide on the familiar and easier access terrain.

The snow on the road toward Saturday location had melted enough for us to use it. After finding the route to the apron of the mountain, the surface was what we had feared: it was frozen solid. ExtremeSkiBoy and Lucky got their crampons on and I got the ice axe. Yannick from ZSki had decided that he wasn’t going to try riding if the conditions would be firm and leave his board in the car. We didn’t head toward the longer no-fall couloir, but the bottom of the other couloir. I had a hard time getting the ice axe into the slope. Booting up required a few kicks only to get one, maybe two inches in. Extremeskiboy mentioned that it was crazy to climb without crampons. They were seeing my slow climbing technique. It was a fun experience, definitely crazy enough that you needed crampons or an ice axe. The snow was ppprrreeeettttty firm.
We made two short runs (100-120m vert) each before heading back through the bushes, around the pond, branches toward the car.


Picture by Yannick : Pat making his way through the bushes


Picture by Yannick : Skis back on


Picture by Yannick : Lucky skiing frozen solid slope


Picture by MadPat : MadPat making it up without crampons (taken by Yannick)

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Extremeskiboy with the crampons and MadPat with the axe. Where going to ski this??? We are mad


Picture by MadPat : MadPat on edge (taken by Yannick)


Picture by MadPat : Lucky, Yannick and Extreme at the bottom heading home.


Picture by MadPat : A real maze to get and from this place. Trees


Picture by MadPat : Water…


Picture by MadPat : Extremeskiboy thinks it’s worth the trouble getting to

At the car Lucky and I decided to make one last call and skied the dyke where the car was parked. Yeah…the snow was pretty dirty and corny. So much fun that Lucky and I decided to do it again. The dyke was about 35 meter high (you could ski lower), an extremely fun 35 meter. Great way to finished our trip as Lucky and I high-five each other after out last run. What a fun trip to a great place.

As we started driving back to civilization shortly before 2pm, we were already thinking about our next time. Definitely will comeback, so many lines to ski. So many freaking lines.

That’s it folks (now I can repost some really dated TRs)!!! 😉


Picture by MadPat : Lucky skiing the dyke


Picture by MadPat : Going back up


Picture by Yannick : MadPat’s turn


Picture by Yannick : End of last run…Lucky and MadPat

skilog20090518
Skilog for the Day

Picture by Lucky Luke
Picture by Lucky Luke : Another try for Lucky to find a car sponsorship. Car on the dyke with terrain in the background


Picture by MadPat : Heading out


Picture by MadPat : Looking back. Saturday and today terrain with Dyke in foreground (white horizontal patch)


Picture by MadPat : Turn left at the river to head home

MadPat’s Galleries:
Mines Madeleine : 17 mai 2009
Mines Madeleine : 18 mai 2009

Originally posted on Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:22 pm on firsttracksonline

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