Blandford Ski Area – 2/10/2014

Date(s) Skied: February 10, 2014

Resort or Ski Area: Blandford Ski Area

Conditions: Packed powder

Trip Report:

There hasn't been a Blandford trip report in a long time, so I thought I would add one.

I had never been to Blandford before, but I went today because I figured it would be empty. I was right. This is the parking lot at 12:30, when they opened for the day.

Blandford is a low-frills, budget-priced operation. My lift ticket (good from 12:30 to 8:30) was $15. The base operation looks like this. That's the "old lodge" on the left and the "new lodge" on the right.

The mountain has three fixed double chairlifts. Only the one in the middle was running, which was fair because there were maybe fifteen people on the entire hill when I got there, and from that lift you could cover the entire mountain with only a small amount of traversing. The lifts are pretty basic, including hard plastic (unpadded seats) that banged into the middle of my calves until I learned the trick (that all of you probably already know) of cushioning it with my gloved hand to soften the blow. But they get you to the top, which is what matters.

Blandford claims to have a 465' vertical, although Ski Tracks tells me it's more like 440'. (That could be because the lift I was using isn't quite at the bottom of the hill.) But on the whole it feels bigger than that. Wachusett has twice the vertical but you can ski down all the trails in basically eight or nine runs. Here it took me more like twelve runs to explore all the terrain, moving from one side to the other. (That's the kind of person I am.) I think basically it's a wide hill for its height, so they were able to cut a lot of trails. It has moderately wide, groomed cruisers and the narrow, winding trails that look like narrow mountain roads. Still, it's hard to get in a particularly long run.

The conditions were pretty good. Most of the wider trails were groomed packed powder. The others, including all of the narrower trails, seemed to be either previously-groomed and dusted with 1" from the night before, or ungroomed, chopped-up powder dusted with said 1". There was a fair amount of this, which was not particularly pleasant but was a change of pace from the groomers.

In general they seem to leave the sides of the wider trails ungroomed, and there are a bunch of narrower trails that are probably un-groomable. There was no exposed hard pack anywhere, but the coverage was thin in places, even on some of the main groomers, where you could see tall grass peeking through.

The best thing was the aforementioned emptiness. I think total population on the mountain peaked at around forty, which meant even two hours after opening there were trails no one had been on yet. For example, this was Liftline in the middle of the afternoon.

Of course, there were no lift lines, so I did eighteen runs in less than three hours, the main constraint being the low-speed lift.

There were also some novice glades, which is good because I'm not much good with trees. There is one patch called the "jungle" or something like that to skier's left of the middle lift, and another easy area between Switchback and Yodeler that is pretty flat. I'm not sure if there is more advanced tree skiing, although I imagine it's there if you know where to look.

There were two downsides to the skiing. One is that there isn't anything particularly steep or challenging, except for two scary-looking trails that were closed and probably need at least another eight inches of snow. Here's the short one, called Bear, from below. (Like all photos of ski trails, it's steeper than it looks.)

The toughest trail that was open was Chute, and that was mainly tough because it was narrow, not because it was steep or bumped up.

The second downside is that there wasn't a bump run to be found, which I didn't really understand since there were several narrow trails that clearly hadn't been groomed. Maybe they were groomed at some point for the weekend. By contrast, both Glade and Off Stage at Catamount were nice and soft on Saturday, despite having crowds that were fifty times as big.

On the plus side, there were plenty of deer tracks—even on the trails themselves.

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