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Another May weekend, what else to do, but enjoy the cool snow and warm breeze while skiing in a t-shirt?

After last weekend double destination at the last two ski resorts open in the East, it was time to focus on the more local area for me.

Picture by Jari from http://planetskier.blogspot.ca
Picture by Jari from http://planetskier.blogspot.ca

Saturday May 14:

Definitely less driving this weekend: Mont St-Sauveur is under 50 miles from Montréal and 100 miles from Ottawa. MSS was having an end-of-the-year party with a band, the popular exterior bar, BBQ, $1 hot-dogs, inflatable jumping structures for the kids and it was also the last weekend to take advantage of the Waterpark season pass special of $59 for the season-pass. This would explain why there were 25 people in line in front of me at the Customer Service desk.


Mogulskier hitting the bumps on the final West Hill 70 pitch


Planetskier carving outside the bumps lines


Mogulskier on Hill 70

It was also “May repeat” from the previous weekend, everyone was out for what was initially the last weekend (which was changed the previous day) of skiing. A repeat in the warm t-shirt weather, the Ottawa crew was here, the two Dan, Danmelon and MTL_Ripper, Mogulskier, a few people from Zoneski and a few bloggers like Tom from Estski and Jari the Planetskier. The previous Friday I meet Jari at Killington, this time he made the trip from Boston (not Finland) to ski at MSS and Québec which he had never skied. His other option for weekend turns was Iceland, but MSS wasn’t as an expensive option.


Nordique was official closed, but that didn’t really stop anyone


The entrance of Nordique wouldn’t last the day, but coverage was 100% on everything about the finally pitch which was roped off.

I don’t recall the last time I saw so much coverage in mid-May at MSS? Snow was pushed all the way to the lodge’s patio. The official trail count was one, Hill 70 West, but part of 70 East was covered and skied. The main difference in one week was the official closing of the Nordique trail, however it didn’t stop anyone from skiing it. The coverage was thin and became non-existent at the entrance of the trail plus the final pitch was roped off with undermined snow at bottom and ended on pavement with two parked groomers. A few bump lines were seeded, a box and rail setup on Hill 70: Fun for all. The surface was pretty firm due to the salting of the Hill 70, Nordique was soft while the finally roped pitch was nice and firm, you really had to work your skis.

Picture by Jari from http://planetskier.blogspot.ca
MadPat and Mogulskier at the top of a closed Nordique trail
Picture by Jari from http://planetskier.blogspot.ca


Clouds moving in above Nordique


Planetskier on Nordique


Bottom pitch on Nordique which skied really nicely, thank you very much.

Besides Jari from Finland, MSS had a 3-time gold medalist at Olympic and World Championships in Moguls. There were also a few plates from New England and New York. So MSS didn’t just drag out the nuts; although a few of them continued to ski when the rain came. The rain stopped just in time for last chair.


Mini-bar crowded, patio empty during pouring rain

MSS is very steep … in history. Dartmouth College raced here for the 1st or 2nd intercollegiate race against McGill in the 1930s. After the day of skiing, I showed the Laurentian Ski Museum in town where we got totally drenched … again.

Picture by Jari from http://planetskier.blogspot.ca
The crew enjoying Après-ski beer
Picture by Jari from http://planetskier.blogspot.ca


Hardcore bumpers hiking for turns after 5pm


St-Sauveur church in the village

Sunday May 15:

The forecast for Sunday was may rain or may snow. Snow flakes failing from the sky, it is somewhat ironic considering that it was a sub par winter. Killington received 6% of the yearly snowfall on this “event”. Part of the Ottawa crew were considering a May repeat on Sunday, but as the weather was less than favourable. But like the weather was less favorable for Sunny Spring skiing, MSS didn’t open due to the risk of rain…again. As for Jari, we returned to ski Killington on this wintery day.

Saturday May 21:

Three-day ski weekend on both side of the border, Killington was going Friday-Sunday as always this May, while St-Sauveur were opening an extra day on Victoria Day Monday (Saturday-Monday). My plan was skiing Sunday and Monday and may again at Killington the following Monday May 30.


Waterpark is going to be open soon, but we’re still skiing


Like skiing in Summer

Sunday May 22:

Mogulskier was already skiing when I showed up, his kids and wife were at the MSS’s F.U.N park. Another week of temperature hovering around the 30c did a dent on the snowpack, especially the closed Nordique which was official closed the weekend before with excellent coverage on 3/4 of the trail. The trail was reduced a series on disconnected patches, however the snow was Hill 70 tight. But the coverage was showing a side of weakness in the middle of the Hill 70 pitch; as the day passed, water puddles and bare spots in the moguls field started growing. I don’t recall seeing this on Hill 70 in May in previous year. It’s a sign that the end is near. There was definitely not the number of skiers of the previous weekends, maybe they were spread out over last 3 opening days? Part of the Ottawa crew were there and other regular. It was getting really hot at noon with made it really difficult. As Mogulskier left for Dad duties in the park, the clouds started to move in and we even got a small drizzle for 15 minutes to cool us off. The pitch of Hill 70 was ugly, tomorrow is definitely the last day of the season for St-Sauveur.


There is still a few lines for Mogulskier.


Middle of Hill 70 pitch was getting uglier as the weekend passed. This section of the trail was bare on the last day.


Still enough snow for June on the middle of 70?


Wayne on the final pitch


The last hour crew

Monday May 23: May repeat, Maybe not, May June?

Alex sent me an email Sunday night and asked me if I was going back, was I going to repeat or not? After some consideration, I decided to spend Holiday Monday at home with the family. That being said, I hope that K makes it to June. In fact I hope MSS and K … and a bunch of others make it as long as possible. The more the merrier. I may go to Killington if they are open on Memorial day, meanwhile for MSS, today was definitely the last day of ski operation, even if the snowdepth at some places on Hill 70 will may survive into June. June turns at MSS, I may go for that.


The end


Bye Bye

MadPat’s Galleries:
Mont St-Sauveur QC – 14 mai 2016
Mont St-Sauveur QC – 22 mai 2016

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It’s not only about the skiing, it’s about the adventure and the variety of the experiences.

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June turns : I’ve ridden the lift and ski numerous days at Killington in 1990s. I’ve also ridden lifts in British Columbia in 1988 and most recently in California and Oregon. I’ve even driven up Mount Washington on a couple of occasions or hiked to the Tuckerman Ravine. Heck last year, I’ve even skied a huge patch of snow in the Laurentians at Mont Avila.

How about car-assisted June patch skiing? Okay this isn’t as hardcore as some maggots chasing California patches, but it all belongs to the same passion and madness.

Toll Roads and Autoroad in the North East: Whiteface, Washington and Stowe. Today marked the first time I made the drive up Mt. Mansfield. Toll Road accessed skiing in Vermont? Is there such a thing? VT_Ski invited me to come see and ski.


No snow on Madonna


We skied on this road the last time we were at Smugglers’ Notch a few months ago

MTL_Ripper joined me for this adventure in the really Green Mountains. Back to Stowe after skiing tons of vertical in late April; that will not be the case today. Driving to Stowe from Montreal is so much nicer and shorter through the Notch, but the beautiful June weekend border crossing plus the Sunday sightseeing, garage sale and church going drivers conspired against us.

Prior to crossing the Notch, we passed Smugglers’ Notch will didn’t seem to have any significant visible snow patches. I was slightly concern at this point, however once on the outside side, MTL_Ripper could see a few patches including one huge pile at the bottom. There was no other skiers in sight at the Toll Road gate and we thought that we had missed our rendez-vous. That is when VT_Ski arrived.


Toll Road and the green runs


Snow…that we didn’t ski

The Toll Road is a classic ski trail which people used to earned-their-turns and ski prior to lifts being installed. Unlike some of the old trails, the road is now actually a long flat green in the current Stowe Trail Network, but isn’t that flat when you are driving switchbacks surrounded by trees. VT_Ski started pointing out patches as we slowly drove up. Some of the patches were small, some flat. The goal was to start at the top then drive our way down.


Nosedive : Patch One of Four


Patches Two and Three

The Nosedive Patch was first : Third part. We parked next to the trail and surveyed the land. There seemed to be a series of three patches. We couldn’t see the length of the third patch located between the last two corners on this historically trail, but it was definitely the longest and most interesting one. Unfortunately when we got to the top of it, the actual end of this patch had just been out of our initial view and wasn’t much longer.

There were reported that snow-covered the entire length between both corners; now it was less than half. Regardless of the shortness of it, we clicked it and did some surreal June turns on a 17-meter vertical slope numerous times. The sun was hot and water was popular. A few hikers smiled when they saw that some people were actually skiing. There was another patch lower down passed the last corner, but we decided to focus on the prime one.


MTL_Ripper getting started on Nosedive


Nice background view of Spruce and Madonna


VT_Ski and the Notch


MTL_Ripper milking with VT_Ski looking on


“Let’s do this again”


VT_Ski going some snow maintenance


Threading the line


The last meter

As we skied, the snow at the end was getting thinner and thinner. After 8-9 runs, we decided to checkout the other major patch we noticed driving up.

The Sunrise patch. This time we were directly visible from the people driving up. This snow patch had roughly the same vertical with perfect cream cheese corn, mellower and longer. You could see the water slipping on the edge of the patch. They were also a few annoying mosquitoes and small black flies. The thickness varied from left to right with up to 2-3 ft on the trail downhill edge. What can you do or so little snow? You can have fun!!! Traverse unto the parallel patch to maximize skiable snow. A few snowboard tricks. Snow spraying. And last, but not least, I added an extra 7-meter vertical by skiing on green grass and making it within 2-meter vert from the car. We did 7 runs on Sunrise which made us at about 200 meters for the day. It was time to head down and celebrate our day with a beer from our Vermont friend at the bottom. Thanks VT_Ski!!!


Lower Sunrise


MTL_Ripper heading for the Upper Sunrise 1 & 0.5 patches


VT_Ski on Sunrise with Toll Road in the background


The edge still had 2-3 Feet depth


VT_Ski trying to extend the snow patch


MTL_Ripper


There was a parallel patch. I was truly Mad and skied from Patch 1 to Patch 0.5


VT_Ski raising corn with MadPat looking on


Bluebird


MadPat’s turn


Wait for it


Straying


Adding a few extra meters


Last tracks from white to green

We headed into beautiful town of Stowe and dropped by the Vermont Ski Museum plus I had to pick up a gift for myself. MTL_Ripper was totally stoked by seeing his old snowboard on the Museum wall.

Before heading back across the Notch, we spotted the bottom patch at the bottom, which was the remaining part of the big air. It was short and steep. It would have been fun, but it was already late and time to headback. Looks like that patch while survived into July and be the last surviving ski season snow patch in Vermont. Okay, so what I’ll I do for July turns?


Vermont Ski Museum in Stowe


MadPat loves old skis


MTL_Ripper’s old board

On a more serious note: Take your time to drive through the Notch; it’s beautiful plus someone our a motorcycle missed a tour and crashed. You don’t need to be in the Alps to noticed serious mountain road accident.


The Last Patch


Stowe Gondola side and Mt.Mansfield

MadPat’s Gallery:
Stowe VT – June 1, 2014

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Log

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Log Detail

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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.

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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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