I just got back from my first genuine ski trip in over 5 years and my first reaction was "why the hell did I give up skiing?" Holy crap we had such a great time. My long time pal who currently lives in Miami has been on my case to go skiing so I obliged and planned a three day trip for the two of us to NH, not knowing exactly what lay in store for us. Me; I was a long time skier with some decent skills, but they would no doubt be rusty after such a layoff. Him; a long time boarder who wanted to try something different. So after an uneventful plane trip to BOS, I picked my pal up on Tuesday night for our Wednesday morning departure for the 2 hour drive from my house to destination #1 Bretton Woods, NH
We drove up the interstate a little after 7:30 and like another failed trip this December, it was raining on the way up. It was raining pretty good about half way up and started to clear up when we got about 45 mins away. Good news number one on the trip. We exit the highway and roll into the ski rental shop at the base of BW, Drummond's Ski Shop. He needed to rent the whole kit, I only needed to rent some skis. Pleasant surpise #2 was the rentals, $100 for three days of skiing on some pretty fantastic skis. We both sprung for the "performance demo" kit and ended up with some pretty sweet Volkls. As we got our gear and hit the Jeep, it started snowing, and it really didnt stop until after we left, pleasant surprise #3. It basically dumped on us the whole day we were there. Bretton Woods had always been one of my favorites. Wide trails, something for everyone and not too gnarly for my pal who is a little above novice skill. After we geared up, the snow really started coming down which made for fantastic conditions for the entire day. We ended up spending most of the time on the west side of the mountain as the wind was whipping pretty good from the east. Because of the wind and near white out conditions we only made it to the tip top summit twice. That is not really a big deal as there is enough decent trails mid mountain to make our time there really worth while. Because of the fantastic snow storm and in the middle of the week, there was really no one there, so we were up and down all day; not one second waiting in a lift line. This day was one of the best days skiing I have ever had. There really was nothing left to be desired.
Trail of the day: Range View. It was a green but it was a nice wide cruiser with a bunch of stuff to explore on either side of the main thrughfare. Everything near the trees was wide open fluffy pow. Was even able to max out speed on this trail at 42mph
Second day the weather cleared up a bit for our next destination, Cannon. Unfortunately for my pal, Cannon didnt get nearly as much snow a BW did the day before so with less snow, the conditions were pure packed which made for some pretty fast skiing. I say unfortunately because Cannon is a Big Boy's mountain and is much more difficult for novices than BW is. I had a blast, but it was a bit too fast for him. Weather was as good as you could get; mostly sunny for a good part of the day and temps in the low 30s. Come late morning the ceiling dropped a bit and the clouds rolled to a few hundred feet below the summit. I hit a few more trails than my pal because he was putting all the effort he had into just staying in control. Combined with all the runs we did the day before, he was spent. I had never been to Cannon before and I was really impressed with the mountain as a whole. Really cool trails, narrow chutes, wide open drops and just difficult to test my quickly reurning skills.
Trail of the day:Upper Ravine to Turnpike; blue to blue. Nice carvers with some switchbacks. Was not real crowded so I was able to take my time to find the exact line I wanted. I really wanted to give Cannonball a try, I guess its the go-to black that the summit quad parallels on the way to the top. I got to the top and decided against it mostly because I was just a little uncomfortable with my skills to that point and my legs were just a bit tuckered out from all the runs we had the day before and that day prior to that. Besides, it was a bit too crowded for my liking and I didnt want to be a burden to anyone else on it. I thought better of it and went down another trail. Next time...
Our third and final day was back across the hills over to Wildcat. That storm that dropped 6" on us at Bretton Woods drumped 15" on Wildcat so we were really psyched. When we left our hotel the weather was sunny and warm so I considered just rolling with my shell and one under layer. When we got there, I was glad I thought otherwise. The temp dropped a good 10 degrees and the ceiling was just a few lift poles up so we had to bundle up in the Jeep before we headed up.We hit one of the first chairs and rode off into the clouds. There would be no Mt Washington views today. When we got to the top, the visability was nearly zero, so we had to take our time going down. I wasnt sure if it was the low vis or what, but we really couldnt find any trail markers on the way down and there was no large trail map at the summit. WTH Wildcat? We found nice cruiser from the top all the way down and were pretty happy with it. We hit the summit a few more times but the visability was getting pretty bad so we stayed on the lower triple for a good part of the morning. After lunch we headed back up to the top but the traffic picked up a bit so we only made two more summit pushes, but did find some cool trails up there. Looks like one side of the mountain had better marked trails than the other. This was OK because we did find some sweet trails off of the mid mountain triple.
Trail of the day: Probably a toss up between Alleycat, a narrow blue, Bobcat, a wide, steep blue or Cat-track to Wild Kitten, blue cruiser to green twisty from teh summit down. The winner may be Wild Kitten. The cute named green would probably be a blue at many other places, we were able to get some decent speed through the twisties and the turns were spaced at just the right distance. Bobcat won the 'Holy Shit, How Fast Was I Going?!" Award for fastest trail at 43.3mph.
Overall, we could not have asked for a better trip. The conditions were as good as you are going to get for New England, especially the last week in Feburary. The crowds were minimal because we were in the middle of the week, and the prices couldnt be beat. Both Cannon and Bretton Woods were buy one get two ticket mid week deals and Wildcat had $40 Fridays for March.
I think the biggest surprise was how quickly my ski legs came back to me. It was a pretty long layoff and it really only took me a few runs on teh first day to get back at it. I think the skis I was on did help a lot, they did everything I asked of them and I bet I didnt even begin to test them. They were quick when I wanted them, stable when I needed them and did exactly what I saw myself doing when them. I mentioned a few times that they *almost* allowed me to ski over my head, but better judgement kept me in check. It was a spectacular trip; skiing: Im back in the game.
Few stats for the trip if anyone is interested, all via Ski Tracks for Android
Ski distance: 19.5 mi
15991 ft total vertical
Steepest slope: 29*
Max speed: 41.4mph
Total time 5:05h
Ski distance: 12.2 mi
12213 ft total vertical
Steepest slope: 26* -- this was a bit surprising :/
Max speed: 42.6mph
Total time 4:20h
Ski distance: 21.2 mi
17419 ft total vertical
Steepest slope: 32*
Max speed: 43.3mph
Total time 4:43h
From the base before first chair. Low deck!
Think this is Upper Catapult
Only glimpse of Mt Wash all day. Sort of
Two old pals
Top of summit quad
Start of day
Not much to photo this day