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Posts Tagged ‘Moose’

October Rituals!!!

For kids: its Halloween, dressing up and candy.
For some: Its spectacular foliage, picking up the leaves and getting ready for Winter.
For hunters: its game time for Moose.

Skiers also have their own rituals :

– Ski porn and ski shows.
– First flakes and first snow.
– Race to see which ski area will be the first to spin lifts in the country (A-Basin or Loveland) and in the East (Killington or Sunday River).
– Hunt for Snow enough to ski on.
– And number 97 for a Mad Skier!!!

Hunt for White October!!! At least a bit of October white to turn on !!!

October 2013 was no different: After a warm first half of the month in Eastern North America, diehard skiers were looking at the first sign of slidable snow (natural or fake). Things got back to normal with some seasonable temperature in the second half of the month. The first real snowmaking window opened on Tuesday with Killington and Sunday River turning on the guns for a October opening.

Killington was fighting to regain its past reputation as first to open/October skiing with its 3rd October in a row.

Sunday River was pulling all the stops to open again this October for the 6 out of 8 times, having only missed 2012.

Both ski area seemed to have the attitude to hunt for it: Killington have refound that attitude it had lost for a few years while Sunday River wasn’t going to throw in the towel and play second fiddle to the Beast in Vermont. In the afternoon of Thursday October 24, Killington turned on its lifts for skiers while Sunday River announced they were opening the Saturday. Like last October 13, Kmart reserved its first full day for passholders on that Friday. Some people didn’t care, as they found about one foot of natural snow in higher elevations.

Meanwhile in Maine things soured; Sunday River made this announcement on Friday before I left for Montreal:

We’re still aiming to open tomorrow, but the weather has taken a turn for the worse. As such, we’re going to make the call tomorrow at 6:30 a.m. as to whether or now we can open, and here are the reasons why:

It’s much warmer than any of us expected, snowmaking has stopped, temperatures do not look favorable moving forward, leaving each and every one of us thinking: we’ll be damned if we go back on our word to you about tomorrow being opening day. If there was ever a testament to the dedication of our teams to you, it was illustrated just 20 minutes ago by 20 plus men boarding the Locke Mountain Triple. They weren’t going up to ski first tracks, they were going up there to physically move snow in time for tomorrow’s opening day. None of us are ready to admit defeat, but there’s a chance that we may.

So what does this mean? It means that despite our snowmaking efforts since Tuesday, we’ve made significant process, however there will be walking to the mid-station in addition to downloading to the base. It means that we’ll continue to make snow when we can, but it’s going to take a miracle to make the amount of snow most of you are used to expecting. It means that the coverage is variable, so when we say for advanced skiers and snowboarders only, we really really mean it. It means that opening day conditions are nowhere near our standards, despite even our best efforts. And finally, it means that even if we’re able to open tomorrow, we need to set some expectations.

So…if you’re looking for tremendous conditions and ample snow coverage—get ready for the most honest snow report assessment maybe, like, ever—this weekend isn’t for you. If you want to come up, check things out, ski a little, and check out our progress, come on up and say hello.

Keep thinking cold thoughts and we’ll continue to too. Tomorrow’s update will be here at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow.


Sonic Youth : ‘Cross the Breeze

Decision

We waited until 6:30am’s green light to head on the road for the first time this season. We had considered heading to Killington which is the same distance from Montreal (actually 3km less), but I prefer the drive to Maine and T2 run versus Rime. As we noticed with the last minute…hold on by Sunday River, things can change fast on the margins of a ski season. Sunday River had hoped to 2 runs initially and barely managed one and Killington would offer 5 runs on that Saturday.


White birds on the edge of the border – not willing to venture into Mordor


Restaurant on the edge of Wilderness


Gateway into Mordor

Drive

There was an early pre-dawn red fiery sky over the distant hills mixed with dark clouds to the East: we were driving at great speed towards it on the Eastern Townships Autoroute with Pink Floyd’s Animals shouting in the speakers, like two snow hobbits seeking white in Mordor.

A short time after we crossed the border into the extreme northeast corner of Vermont and New Hampshire, we were into the wilderness. Not many skiers in these parts in October : the odd store had a bunch of killed animals on the walls, not skis. As we got crossed one last notch, we could see white on the mountain tops.


Pink Floyd : Dogs


There are different way to travel to Mordor : drive


Or fly to the international airport


Need supplies? Drive-in


MTL_Ripper looking at supplies for our trip


Supplies in the Wilderness


Reading material : 40% Porn, 40% Guns and weather almanach. Wait? No, this ain’t ski porn!? This isn’t the FamousInternetSkiers Calendar????


These aren’t snow guns?


Are we going skiing? No skis mounted on the wall here.


Whippets : finally the first ski related item


Traces of white in the mountains


First glimpse of skiable white

Barker Parking Lot

We found an empty spot close to the lodge as a few skiers were already leaving. They had their first few runs of the season and were happy. From experience over the last opening at Sunday River two years ago, I remembered that the conditions generally got better as the snow was being skied.

Sunday River’s open as soon as possible, no time or need to groomed it, it’s the skiers job to massage the snow. It makes for some challenges and it keep skiers on their toes.


Going for the White October


Snow!!!


Still needs more snow for top to bottom


Midstation wait as chair suddenly stopped almost 10 minutes


Good news…no walking required to reach the midstation


Not much sign of skiing from the chair

The rode up the slow Locke Mountain Triple; it was being particularly slow as people kept downloading as were riding. Some snowguns were still functioning towards the bottom, but they were being turned off as we were riding up. The temperature was clearly moving above freezing. There was no blazed donut skiing this year.

The surface was irregular, but not firm. The conditions got sketchy and thin as you moved below the pitch. Sketchier than previous visits (2009 and 2011) with a few streams to jump to reach the midstation: almost wondering how close to the freezing mark?


Warning signs


Start shack for the season


MTL_Ripper heading towards the first pitch

People didn’t care, they were just happy that Sunday River managed to pull it off. The mountain crew had to manually move the snow around to make skiing possible today. After the previous day bloom message, conditions were much better than expected. Absolutely no walking was required. Kudos for the mountain crew’s hard work.

As in previous experience, the skiing got better as the snow was moved around by skier traffic and I found my legs. The bumped up pitch by the mounds snowguns was fun to ski.


MadPat in the first pitch


MTL_Ripper

As MTL_Ripper mentioned, there is no easy start to the season. He was adjusting from an injury while people’s eyes were trying to adjust to his 3D drawing on his white jacket – you would think that the liftees around were stoners being tripped out by it. It was a great conversation piece.

The mountain crew were making snow on a few other upper trails, but as mentioned in their message, the weather window wasn’t as great as anticipated and they didn’t manage to get Upper Sunday Punch open.


You need 3D Googles to look at MTL_Ripper’s jacket


Sunday River was initially hoping to have Upper Sunday Punch open

It would be great if Sunday River could get a temporary snackbar instead next to the midstation. Although we were getting pretty hungry, but we kept skiing. It started snowing as we were making our last runs; we downloaded off with about one hour left: greatly satisfied of our day. I would have skied more, but they will be always next time.

MTL_Ripper needed to find an actual drinkable coffee, the last one found in the wilderness was pretty bad.


Second drop – trail isn’t full width


The bottom was a bit sketchier

No lineup and long wait to get up or off the mountain this year. The email might have scared a few people away? One run lasting 180 meters vertical down a black diamond run; that ain’t bad for October. It always a surreal moment when you walk off a lift and its warm with no snow in sight.

Thank you again Sunday River for making regularly making October possible for us, Mad rippers.


Snowing at midstation


Downloading the seasons away : back to Fall


Main Lodge and limited white on trails. It won’t be long until all trails will be white.

20131026_sr
SkiLog – Partial graph. Ran out of space due to my Summer ski days still loaded in watch

MadPat’s Gallery :
Sunday River ME – October 26, 2013

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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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Don’t Panic…Breath deeply and everything is going to be all right.

Crazy about skiing? Don’t Panic!!! TGT (Tuckerman Group Therapy) is here to help.

This long weekend wasn’t for the people that we’re afraid of crowds.

Canada Day in Ottawa with Will and Kate show joining the celebrations. It’s generally crazy on this day without the young Royalty. I left Ottawa as I was hearing talk of 500,000 people near Parliament Hill.

Let’s go skiing!!!

I found an amazing picture of the crowd on the hill, but I didn’t get the permission to use it. So you’ll have to imagine a bunch of people elbow to elbow in red and white clothes.
From CBC News

An estimated 300,000 people, many of whom began gathering on the Hill in Ottawa hours before the ceremonies’ post-noon start, were in the downtown core of the city as well as on Parliament Hill as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge continued the second day of their nine-day tour of Canada.

So off I went driving toward the border with two pairs of skis. Before leaving I was examining my ski edges. Found the skis I had last month a bit long, especially if I need to make tight turns. The old B1s were the right length, but there were all beaten up. I settled for my old slalom Atomic SL11 race skis as a second pair. I was somewhat concern as I still have good edges on them and didn’t want to risk hurting them on this day. Arrived at the Snowway’s Home Office at 10pm without any hasssle by US Customs. A couple of fireworks popping in the night keep me from having a great sleep.

Riverc0il wanted to get at trailhead earlier than last month, but also didn’t to set an alarm. It resulted in only a 15 minutes head start over last month, however this time we ended in the auxiliary parking lot. Snowcrazy from T4T showed up about one minute later. Never meet him, but who else would ski in July right? We know that ChickWhoRips and her friend Ron were also probably heading of us for July turns. As we started up the trail, there was a large group of skiers/boarders geared up for 4th of July celebration turns. Oh my, it’s going that snowpatch is going crowded like Parliament Hill. Don’t Panic!!!

MadPat walking toward the main lot and trailhead. Did I forget something? I forgot my gloves, windbreaker and camera in Ottawa. I want to thank The Snowway of the used of the pictures.

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As the crowd of hikers and skiers headed up the Tuckerman Ravne Trail. At one point, there was a traffic jam on the trail. A Moose was right next to us. Eventually it moved away and we continued up. This was my 4th time up for July turns, it was by far the busiest…and not only the hottest. Water supplies was starting to be a concern. Forecast was calling for 80F in the Valley. The good news was that there was no bugs.

Trail jam.
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The gang of skiers/boarders cold off and took a dive at the 2nd bridge. We continued on. Many people were at Hojo, we took a small break and continued on. Some of the group arrived at the same time as us. ChickwhoRips and Ron decided to leave before the circus rolled onto Lunch Rocks. They managed 3 runs before the crowds showed up. Snowcrazy was attacking small patches like a snow crazy guy would do. Going after the small leftover under Chute then the Headwall. Three turns max on Headwall.

Getting closer to the answer.
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MadPat and July Snow leftovers
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Skiable snow with snowcrazy

Main attraction
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Ron was making turns before people started arriving en masse, but it didn’t stop the unlookers from taking pictures or video (found this Youtube by Conniedoe):

Decided to hike the Tuckerman’s Ravine trail to the top of Mt Washington on July 2, 2011. While hiking up I passed a woman with skis on her back and asked her which event she was training for – she laughed at me, saying how she was just a crazy ski-person, wanting to ski in July. I told her I was jealous and continued on my hike, surprised there was anything left to afford a ski-run. Later, while hiking up along the bowl I saw both her and her man-friend (Husband? Boyfriend? Buddy?) climbing to the top of the short run. A couple minutes later they came down in front of a crowd of cheering hikers. Every year, the things I find while hiking this mountain continue to surprise me. I can’t wait for more!

Yep, that reflect the thoughts that people were having.

The Tuckerman Ravine Trail towards the summit was open and many hikers were amazed to find snow, let alone people willing to ski it. Skiing the longest and steepest snow left in US east of Colorado.

Riverc0il and I booted up on top of the snow. It was tricking crossing over the stream and rocks in ski boots. Riverc0il forgot his helmet and hasn’t skied without a helmet in numerous years…Don’t Panic!!! I, on the hand, had a helmet today. We had to hike up onto the snow. Few skiers were there at one time. The snow got whiter with every runs. Although there were only 2-3 skiers/boarders making, waiting or hiking for turns – there were enough of us to keep the tourists happy. I feel like I was in a zoo or in a circus with all these people taking pictures of us. Many of the group took turns just enjoying this beautiful day and cooking some food. A real 4th of July BBQ with flags and red, white and blue.

Hiking up onto the snow:
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Madpat setting to crank
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Party atmosphere
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River and I continued are turns. Runs were approximately 138 vertical feet or about 40 at 40 degree in metric with less place for error. I had finally chosen my slalom skis for this day. They were heavy and I couldn’t tie them to across my backpack due to their width and thickness, so I had to carry them in an A frame. At 157cm length, it wasn’t a problem, however they were heavier than most of my longer skis.

One traverse and turn at the top of the patch and you could already crank them. YEAH!!!!! We repeated this a few times. As the hours passed, we didn’t want to give up. Some shirt started coming off and girls were going down in bikini tops. A snowboarder chick noticed that small moguls were forming with all the runs and awesome carving we were going. Some from that party crossed under the snowpatch and traversed next to the waterfall (I would have Panic…you don’t know when this is going to crash down), throwing snow balls. I tried climbing the trail in ski boots like most people, but it was way easier to bootpack on the snow even if it was frozen solid at some places. It funny, at one point someone asked if it was okay to take a picture of me. After my run, I realized that the person looked familiar. Back at the top I asked him where he was from? He responded Ottawa. Turns out this person raced Masters with us a few years ago. Everything is somewhat connected and it’s coming together. But I still looking for an answer.

Solid turns being made today:

Cranking…

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Riverc0il Stepping up

Traversing the top and ready to drop
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Sun came out.
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Where is snowmonster?
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Riverc0il had a good day
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After my 4th run, I was about to stop. The hell with it, this is too much fun. One last run until…next times in August? 😉 Another great run, what a wonderful day. An extra last turn on the edge of the snow 10 feet above a drop to the rocks which made THAT run exactly “42” vertical meters.

42 meters…that was ‘it’ all the time. It was right there. 42 meters of snow. RELAX, there was no need to Panic. That was the answer after all…


The Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything is … 42!!!

Last run baby!!! FORTY-TWO METERS
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FOURTH of July weekend
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Calling a day, calling it a month
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Thanks for reading…until next time
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Thanks again to Riverc0il from The Snowway for his hospitality and pictures.

Read his TR: Tuckerman Ravine: Because It’s Still There

Snowcrazy’s TR on Time for Tuckerman: Tux wrapup! 7/2/11

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