Monday, November 25, 2013

back on the boards

There was no overnight snow to greet us Saturday morning for the first day of my ski season, just partly sunny skies, cool temperatures (mid 20s) and very strong winds.  We got up in time to stand in line for the opening of the Collins chairlift, listening to Ski Patrol shooting off avalanche control blasts in the distance (although what they were shooting we couldn't imagine - wind drifts, maybe). 

When we got to the top of the chair, we paused on the ridge between the front side (back to Collins) and the back side (down to Sugarloaf) and the wind gusts were so strong coming up from the Sugarloaf side that I nearly got knocked over.  It wasn't as bad on the other side of the ridge - even the Sugarloaf chair was okay - and we skied on that side for a while.  It was cold enough that they had the snow guns going in places and the snow was very firm and pretty fast.  

You could see for miles 
from the top of Sugarloaf

We stayed on Sugarloaf for quite a while.  There's really just one run open (Devil's Elbow), although there are a couple of options off the top of the chair and a couple of options down towards the bottom.  There's off-piste stuff open too but coverage is thin and it's not worth risking your skis or your knees this early in the season.  After a number of runs there, we took the EBT back to the top of Collins chair and skied there for a bit.  Again, the ungroomed stuff is bony and you have to pick your way down.  While I stuck to Mambo/Meadow/Corkscrew, H ventured off and made his way through lower West Rustler/Race Course Saddle, which beat his legs up pretty well.

The clouds started to fill in around 12:30 p.m., rendering the light flat.  That, plus the fact that we were hungry and had not planned to eat up at the mountain, made it an easy decision to call it a day.  My first-day legs were tired, my toes were cold and I was happy as could be.  Despite the less than hoped-for conditions, it felt great to be skiing again.

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