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Posts Tagged ‘October’

I’M BACK !!!!

When people ask me in the Spring if the ski season is over, I always reply it’s never over, it’s just moves further and harder to get to. But if you really want to continue skiing, there are always options IF YOU REALLY WANT IT BAD!!!

Living in North American, the high tide of the continent ski season is in our Winter. In the Spring time snow retracts from all ski regions to a few areas in higher, snowiest and coldest places. At its lowest, North American has 1-2 ski summer experiences happening and glacier across the Western states and provinces. The same partner is observed in Europe where the hundreds of ski areas running lifts fall to less than a dozen. At that time of the year, the action is mostly found in the Southern Hemisphere in countries like Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia and even South Africa.

October is a new beginning for the continuous ski season. October is generally the month when the first snowflakes with the hopes that this season is epic, the big guns are turned on and start making snow and spinning lifts. If the lifts are turning, there is always skiable snow somewhere, it depends how far you want to go and how crazy are you?

This coming weekend marks that time of the year, Sunday River announced they will be opening on Monday October 19, while Killington is playing close to their chest. Mont St-Sauveur can also jump in to that round is the forecast is good. The current forecast is definitely keeping the GMs with their fingers on the trigger. Colorado’s duel between Loveland and Arapahoe Basin is often the only show this early in October, but this is the proof that the showdown isn’t always a Western thing.

Some of us don’t need lifts to ski…their passion are reading the weather maps and be ready when the snow falls. This weekend marks the time when people looks at the snow forecast, checkout the facebooks and twitters in order to decide on their quivers and hopefully find the rare early season faceshoots!!!

IT’S GAME TIME !!!

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The new season is finally here, after 5 months, many Eastern skiers had been waiting anxiously for the start of the season.

Hope in September

The month of September looked promising when Sunday River tested their snowguns on Upper T2 in late September. No one saw it coming so soon. Even if everyone knew that it was mainly marketing snow; but the next time would be blow wouldn’t only be for show.

Last Spring

First let’s recap the end of the 2013-14 season. Again last May, the last two to spin in the East were Mont St-Sauveur and Killington. Kmart closed on May 18, one weekend earlier than the previous season, while MSS closed once again on Victoria Day weekend this year. Spinning on the Monday May 19.

So here is the rundown of the last 10 in the East (aka Eastern Closing Thread 2013-14 Part Last)

Mont St-Sauveur QC : May 19
Killington VT : May 18
Jay VT : May 11
Sugarloaf ME : May 4
Sugarbush VT : May 4
Mont Comi QC : May 2
Mont Ste-Anne QC : April 27
Wildcat NH : April 27
Blue ON : April 27
Le Valinouet QC : April 27

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Difficult October

As the days got shorter and we moved into October, most of the North American ski regions had unseasonably warm weather. The snowmaking windows in the East were short-lived and always followed by rain and/or warm weather. The higher peaks of the Northeast got a few rare snow dusting, but no serious accumulation. Quebec mountains like the Chic Chocs and les Monts Valin received a few centimeters, but it wouldn’t stay on the ground for long.

The cold weather was always 5 days away in the forecast, unfortunately it never got closer to allow for any Eastern ski area to make snow to open in October, at least not until the month was basically over. This was probably the first time in 9 years that any of the Eastern ski areas managed to open in October.

Difficult elsewhere too

Mother Nature didn’t cooperate much elsewhere on the continent. Mt.Hood’s Timberline Lodge (Oregon) with its permanent snowfield only manage to open to first two weekends in October then didn’t reopen due to low snow.

Colorado’s traditional October first ski area to open in North America wasn’t even close this season. A short snowmaking window permitted Arapahoe Basin to open on October 17, but the warm weather moved in afterward crushed Loveland’s hope for an October opening for the first time since 1992!!! Colorado’s Keystone and Copper also postponed their October 31 opening. Banff’s Norquay was also scheduled on Halloween, but the warm weather prevented them from opening until maybe this week, mid-November.

Ullr was generous with part of the continent where Whistler is located, but even with a ton of fresh snow, but Whistler-Blackcomb weren’t moving their planned November 27th opening. *sigh*

2014 Openings

Better late than never…

Friday October 17 : A-Basin, Colorado

Friday October 31 : Wild, Minnesota
Saturday November 1 : Loveland, Colorado
Sunday November 2 : Cataloochee, North Carolina
Sunday November 2 : Sugar, North Carolina
Monday November 3 : Sunday River, Maine
Monday November 3 : Killington, Vermont at 11am for passholders.
Monday November 3 : Mont St-Sauveur, Quebec at 12pm.

Openings from this past weekend:

Friday November 7 :
Boreal, California
Brule, Michigan
Copper, Colorado
Keystone, Colorado
Rose, Nevada

Saturday November 8 :
Timberline Lodge, Oregon
Wolf Creek, Colorado

Sunday November 9 :
Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
Sugarloaf, Maine
Wildcat, New Hampshire

The East got started just shy of October. North Carolina started spinning on Sunday while the North’s early players managed to open on Monday November 3rd. For Mont St-Sauveur, which closed one day later than Kmart last May, the off-season was the shortest in the East with 168 days since their May 19 closing.

While most Eastern turns were on fake snow, the Chic Chocs received over 1 meter of snow during that week, enough for Murdoch’s Mont Miller considering opening before anyone else.
Open or not, that didn’t stop mad skiers quest for early season powder to undertake a road-trip to remember. Skiers like Master Pow from PowMas and others from further away in New England young men drove East for Pow. All this had a familiar ring, similar to the Frankestorm West Virginia adventure of October 2012 where hardcore Easterners driving many hours for early season epic storm.

Happy Season everyone !!! May Ullr be with us !!!

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Ski Mad World’s weekly Eastern Closing 2014 post:
Spring skiing is just starting, but …
Where Are We At? – Eastern Closing Thread 2013-14 – Part 2
Late Easter, Late Spring, Late Skiing – Eastern Closing Thread 2013-14 – Part 3
The Day After Easter Monday – Eastern Closing Thread 2013-14 Part4
May Skiing : Eastern Closing Thread 2013-14 Part 5
May It, No Ski It : Eastern Closing Thread 2013-14 – Part 5 1/2
Oh Mother !!! Eastern Closing Thread 2013-14 Part 6
Hang Over !!! Eastern Closing Thread 2013-14 – Part 7
Hang On, I’m not done yet !!! Eastern Closing Thread 2013-14 – Part 7 1/2

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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.

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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One day, weekend only and everyday: the 2013-14 has gotten off to a good early start. The recent cold night in the East has permitted to add two extra ski areas in the mixed, Bretton Woods for one day only and Mont St-Sauveur for the season. This is the 3rd year in the last 5 that the Laurentians ski area has opened in October.

There are turns to be had this October.

West:
Crystal Mountain WA : October 1 (1 day only)
Stevens Pass WA : October 5 (1 day only)
Timberline Lodge OR : October 11 (Fri-Sun only)
Arapahoe Basin CO : October 13
Loveland CO : October 14
Wolf Creek CO : October 19 (weekends)

Midwest:
Wild Mountain MN : October 22

East:
Killington VT : October 24
Sunday River ME : October 26 (weekends)
Woodbury CT : October 26
Bretton Woods NH : October 30 (1 day only)
Mont St-Sauveur QC : October 30

This might be not be the definite North American open ski area list. Please let me know if I’m missing any.

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White Grass received a couple inches of snow last night. Of course it wasn’t like one year ago when Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast and dumped a record snowfall in West Virginia.

The proof that you don’t necessarily need to go skiing on Baffin Island to make it a memorable adventure.

Here is video made by my traveling partner MattChuck2. The action sequences were shot at White Grass on November 1, 2012.

Matt Chuck2’s blog :
Skiing Sandy – Timberline & Whitegrass, West Virginia

Ski Mad World:
Frankenstorm Trick and Treat, West Virginia style – Part 1: Timberline, Oct 31, 2012
Frankenstorm Trick and Treat, West Virginia style – Part 2 : White Grass, Nov 1, 2012

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White Grass isn’t an alpine ski area with lifts; it’s a cross-country and backcountry ski area. The place was highly recommended when we were heading down to Canaan Valley, West Virginia, last October for the Frankenstorm 3 feet dump.

One small building and inside was a trip back in time. Rental equipment, lunch room, kitchen: it reminder me of a rustic sugar shack setting with ski gear. The rural setting and scenery of the place reminded me parts of Vermont or rural Quebec.

Anyhow, here is the description found on the ski map picked up during last year’s epic trip:

Welcome
White Grass is situated on over 2,500 acres of private, state, and federal lands within the Cabin Mtn. range of West Virginia’s high Alleghenies. We pick up much of our snow off the Great Lakes whenever strong north-westerly winds drop out of Canada. Originally built as the Weiss Knob Ski Area in 1959, Bob and Anita Barton operated 4 rope tows and had snow making here. The Randall Reed family owns much of the property we ski upon and we thank for allowing us to do so.

– Groomed Trails (25km)
– Snowfarming (“5 km of snowfence and driftlines are maintained adjacent to the lodge”)
– Telemark Glades (“the largest and steepest system around. Fly down the Yitzhak Ravine, Boutros-Boutros Gully or jump the Yessir-Yessir – Air is Fat!”)
– Snowshoes

Our Mountain & the Canaan Valley
– 40 trails totalling 50 km
– 1196′ vertical: 3240′ – 4434′
– Average Snowfall 150″
– Average Skiable days at 4000′: 95
– Best skiing mid January – early March

Here is the 2011-12 Trail Map for White Grass:

Click to access larger image

White Grass’s website
Ski Mad World TR :Frankenstorm Trick and Treat, West Virginia style – Part 2 : White Grass, Nov 1, 2012

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Day 1 of the 2009-2010 season.

Killing.it.on the River.

25 runs or $1/run. About 4500 meters. This was definitely the BEST MID-OCTOBER SKIING IN MY LIFE or the MY BEST SKI DAY SINCE SEPTEMBER 3RD…even better than the 4th at Las Lenas. 😮

Start of a new season with very old gear. Changed the pink poles for the pink ski boots. I had to salvage piece-by-piece to be able to rebuild a ski equipment. Some really stiff, small ski boots that bought in 1993. Ski poles and ski pants vintage 1985. I had used the poles on that sand skiing days back in August 2005. The only thing I got replaced from my stolen gear so far is my ski jacket.

Had planned to cross the border to make some turns and take advantage of the snow that had fallen on Monday night south of the border. I wasn’t even thinking about lift served. Then found out that Sunday River was open. Man, this is early a start for lift served. Probably the earliest start since the good old days at Kmart.

I didn’t know what I was going to use for ski pants. Some bring yellow from the 80s or a more neutral look. I went for the older look. I didn’t what to expect for snow conditions. I was bringing the Fels, a straight ski with good edges and the old Rossi 7Ss that I had used at Le Massif last October. No edges on these. I even had my good slalom skis in case the run had hard and perfect coverage. At the last minute, meaning 9:30pm, ComitJo offered his old Rossi XXX. A quick 10 minutes stop at 10:30pm before leaving for Montreal. Regardless of that quick stop, I got a damn $60 parking ticket. WTF??? Anyway, I had a fourth options for skis, wonder what they’ll say that the border? Are you smuggling old skis? Didn’t know what to expect.

Got stop by the Police in Montreal. The officer thought I was talking on a cell phone (illegal in Quebec to talk on hand phone while driving)…mmmh, officer I don’t have a cellphone. Probably due to me leaning against my hand as I was getting close to my mom’s house. It was passed midnight after all.

Beautiful drive, not too much traffic heading out of Montreal, however I hit the heavy rush hour traffic in Coaticook. 😉 Next to Autoroute 10, trees at the top of Mt. Orford were white and covered in frost while the bottom was slightly passed peak foliage colours. The same scenery north or south of the border. Balsam Wilderness ski area with all it’s trail in white and colours surrounding them were spectacular. Saw one deer, but no moose. Made the 305km Montreal-Sunday River trip in 3:15.

SUNDAY RIVER OCTOBER SKIING

There were maybe 20-30 cars in the parking at 10ish and I suspect many of them were simply from the people working at the resort. The skiing today was on the T2 trail that ends at the midstation. 1 trail for 182 meter vert. While I was leaving the parking lot and riding the chair, a few people were heading down or leaving. SR had blown snow along Sunday Punch all the way to the bottom, but there wasn’t much snow and it was probably to warm at the bottom to blow any. Probably hoping to make it to the bottom by the weekend.

The conditions were pretty much “variable”. Snowmaking guns blazing a coat of icing on the goggles and on our clothing if you skied too much on skier’s left. Wet snow in some places near the guns, ice pellets and a few holes in some places. As I was going laps and the snow was being skied, the conditions were getting much better. I didn’t feel like stopping and take my lunch at the bottom, so I decided to ski through lunch. Ended up skiing over half my runs with EMR from TGR which we meet in the chair a few times and skied about at the same pace.

Definitely a fun day, however not sure what this weekend was like? Skiers might need some elbow pads to make runs. Ended up skiing with the XXXs that I really enjoyed. Probably better than my no edges junkboard 7Ss and would have been worried about my good Slalom skis.

Left Bethel at 4pm, I didn’t have issues crossing the border, the US border guard sounded like a skier, however when I crossed into Canada. I got the full car search. I guess some people might think it’s odd to carry 4 pairs of skis across the border on October 15th.

Originally posted on Sat Oct 17, 2009 10:07 pm on firsttracksonline

Skilog for the day

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