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Posts Tagged ‘Opening Day’

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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Days of a few firsts.

First time at this ski area. I’m pretty sure the following was a first. Daytrip where the distance in kilometers (one way or both) was greater than the vertical of the ski area. 250km vs 130m approximately. Leaving the locals which have greater vertical than this Tug I’ve been hearing about for years. The local scene was white, but wasn’t happening.

If it wouldn’t been for the snow that he had all week, but the storm brewing south of the border… then I saw skimore’s post last Friday. This got me thinking:

Tug got 18 last night and

This Afternoon: Snow showers and areas of blowing snow. The snow could be heavy at times. High near 21. West wind around 16 mph, with gusts as high as 36 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Total daytime snow accumulation of 32 to 38 inches possible.

Tonight: Snow and widespread blowing snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Low around 12. Wind chill values as low as zero. West wind between 10 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 32 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 15 to 21 inches possible.

Saturday: Snow showers, mainly before 10am. High near 27. Wind chill values as low as -3. West wind between 10 and 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.

I decided to PM skimore, he had invited me down a couple years ago and I was always curious. I could only afford being away for one day, daytrip destination only. As I was giving 40-60 odds of me actually making the trip, I kept staring at the computer screen that showed a strong lake effect instead of working. Too busy, but I had to get out. Then I was pretty much decided, skimore mentioned a friend that what part of his Chic Choc party last April and that he lived somewhere in Eastern Ontario. The friend in question was Taiga from TTips which lives in Ottawa only 2 miles from my home.

Taiga and I agreed at a 5am pickup time. The distance from Ottawa to Tug is something like 220km. The snow level was pretty low at the border which is the St.Lawrence River. Across the border, I had no idea where I was going, lucky Taiga had been to Tug before. After a few minutes, he tells me that he might have missed the turnoff…back we go, heading back from where we came from then we turned. Again, we turned too early and we are heading in the right direction, but the road would then turn west…back on our steps. #-o Looking on a Blackberry and trying to find the proper route…we found a interconnecting road and rejoined Highway 812, where we were suppose to be in the first place. Great, I was lost, no maps will travel.

As we are driving, the snow banks were getting higher. Wow…then in Lowville we made the wrong turn at the Fork in the road. 🙄 We weren’t too far that there was a huge sign mentioned the ski area was 2 miles to the right. 8-[ The plan had been to meet skimore as we wanted to skin up before the lifts opened, however we got there only 20 minutes before the scheduled opening of the lift. We hurried indoor, got changed and heading to wait in line. It would seem all these people know each other. Waiting for the lift to open, I was looking at the main run…not one track. Wow, it was beautiful. :drool: Taiga noticed skimore toward the top of the hill skinning. The lift took a while to get going, so skimore managed a first tracks before the people started arriving on the top. Most of the people assault that wide run next to the liftline. It was fun, however the pitch was a bit flat for this amount of new snow. We repeated this one more time and then saw skimore at the top. He said that this was too flat and that we needed to follow him. I don’t know where he brought us? Faceshots, pillows, not sure if this was an official trail or if we turned away from the ski area. At one point, there was this drop, the slope wasn’t getting steeper, it was a sharp drop. I was somewhat concern with all the trees and branches around, but it didn’t seem to be much of a problem as skimore and friends charged down. This terrain is steep and intense (although short), not many place this small have terrain like this in their off-piste. We headed back further and further skiing through some nasty prickly branches, like skiing through bard wire, you don’t want a face shot here. 😕 At the bottom of the drop, we were to negotiate a creek crossing. Back on top, back in the woods. I thought we were back at the same place, but skimore mentioned that this place wasn’t. I didn’t know where we were. Lost again, no maps, will travel.

A well deserved lunch at the bar, we headed back up with some skins as we were going to head toward a closed part of the hill. Trackless in the woods and on the trails, but not as steep. We decided to headback to where we were in the morning. We were a fairly big group, but we started to split up. Taiga and I got loss with skimore one more time. For the next run, I was toasted and wanted to ski the official trails. This is a fun local area, not much of a challenge…until you get lost.

Thanks to skimore for being a wonderful guide and lending a set of skis and skins. Not a ton of vertical and a lot of pushing, but I was done.

Powderqueen wrote:

I hope they got some pix to post.

It’s been my experience, when the skiing is real good, you don’t stop for pics. This is the only thing that skimore got (posted in the other FTO TR):

This is what some of the terrain looks like (taken last year by skimore): short and sick…sweet. :mrgreen:

Don’t ask me where this place is, because I don’t know, I was lost the whole time. O:)

Finally to end this TR, this quote from the ski area’s snow report says it all:

This report is effective 5pm Saturday, December 12, 2009.

It looks like winter is finally here. [b]We received a total of 38″ of snow on Friday and the skiing and riding today were absolutely fantastic. If you weren’t here today you don’t know what you missed.

Thanks LAKE ONTARIO !!

Originally posted on Thu Dec 17, 2009 12:34 am on firsttracksonline

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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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Finally the Internet connection works…

Back in Ottawa after a few days in Montreal. I couldn’t be at St.Sauveur for the first day (driving someone to the airport), but I was able to make it to St.Bruno for night skiing. I decided to add these reports after reading Frank and Max’s reports on these places. Different conditions on different days.

MT.ST.BRUNO – NOVEMBER 9TH

It was my first time back at Mt.St.Bruno in maybe 30 years, I had to follow the light through the suburban streets to find to the mountain.

Sunday night lift tickets are $10. The mountain opened at 5PM, I got there at 6:30PM. The Hill was pretty crowded at first (at least 200). Like Max said, there had open one blue-run. The condition were somewhat icier due to the skier traffic. At 9PM, the crown died down – mostly snowboarders remained. All in all, I had a pretty good evening of night skiing for November 9th.

Early November skiing under the lights at Mt St-Bruno

MT.ST.SAUVEUR – NOVEMBER 10TH

Lift tickets: $26 day /$23 for 4hours (I think?). Today was much quieter than the previous day. The number of skier increased after 1PM when students with afternoon courses (I guess?) started showing up.

Two trails opened: 70 West and Nordique. The hill, especially the steeper parts, got pretty icy around 2PM (All day Traffic and as the shade moved in). This was another great day.

Advice if you go there or anywhere: Start skiing early because what is soft is going to be scraped off in only a few hours (faster if there is a crowd).

Nicest part: Lower pitch of West 70, off the main groomed part with non-base. Just enough coverage to make him turns.

Top of Nordique with Triple in the background

Top of Triple and heading toward 70

Top of 70 Pitch and St-Sauveur-des-Monts

Originally posted on Thu Nov 13, 2003 12:26 pm on firsttracksonline

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