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Okay, so it was just skiing on marked trails in October, but the summit felt like one of those "should I plant my poles or the flag" moments!
Sugarloaf parking lot scene was bleak Friday morning [October 24] - all the new snow seemed to have settled significantly and/or blown away considerably. We (i.e., friend from Maine plus me) considered just a nordic tour on the golf course but the Th website pics gave us hope.
Sure enough, a few hundred vert of skinning on Tote Road revealed a whole different world. Conditions steadily improved as we climbed higher, eventually switching over to the utility-line/vehicle road, which then seemed to become a regular trail.
But as the temps got colder, winds stronger, and snowpack firmer, we concurred that going to the summit was not necessary. Unfortunately, I ended up far in the lead as my friend stopped for various clothing adjustment fiddling, so with nobody to remind me of my earlier sensible sentiment, I soon found myself at the summit.
And what a crazily cold and windy summit! If the summit is like that in October, what about January?!?
Skied down to within a few hundred vert of the base (i.e., where the cover got thin), then skinned back up to several hundred vert shy of the summit (i.e., where the cover was very deep yet very firm), for a total vert count a bit under 4k.
Overall, pretty much an average New England backcountry skiing tour (given that we had rock skis) . . . but an above-average way to start off the season!