Ringing in the New Year at Wildcat!

A little late in writing up the report. But I was busy skiing (xc skiing that is, regardless, snow was good)

With the freezing rain report all the way up to the Canadian border on the Friday before New Year, I went back home and popped into the office for some "work" (basically chit chatting with the few colleagues who were in). Then some parties Friday and Saturday night.

I had trust in Opensnow.com, which called for 3-6" every 12 hrs all the way from Sunday till Tuesday. So, even at the low end, it would have over 10" by the end of the storm (indeed it did). But I also didn’t want to drive through all that stuff (freezing mix in the south). So the only sensible option is the "pre-position" myself up at northern NH by Sunday evening.

I said good bye to my party friends on Sunday midday and started driving up. The forecast had the storm coming in a bit later. So I arrived at northern NH on dry roads.

Overnight, it started to snow… Monday morning they only reported 3 inches. As I’ve been up at Wildcat the week before and it was really scratchy. I dilly-dally some before heading up mountain. It was still scratchy early, but it started to improve as more snow continued to fall. It wasn’t even that windy, which is a bless.

Tuesday, New Year’s Eve, the snow gold delivered its parting shot for 2019. Fairly dry snow and something like 10"!

Curiously enough, the trail count for both Wildcat and Attitash didn’t change from the previous week. I was a bit puzzled and slightly discouraged.

Lines for first chair was long. And it was still snowing. I wasn’t as early as I planned so was still putting on my boots when the lift started spinning. No matter. Quickly, the crowd thin after the first round of early risers gone up. There’s plenty of room to roam on the mountain. Patrol started to drop ropes on the natural trails. But rocks abound! (let alone grass and bushes). I opted to enjoy the first pass on the groomers with the fresh snow. It took a while for those got tracked out. I noticed there really wasn’t that many people on the mountain. Lift lines were only like 10-15 deep. On the single, it’s like 3 min!

Very entertaining (and informative) watching daredevils coming down the rocky trail under the main quad. It was NOT ready really.

But then, I got "lucky". Two patrol guys was talking as I tried to decide which way to go: "Do you think that one’s ready?" "I think so". Next thing, they skied over to one of the trails and started to undo the rope (I didn’t bother looking for trail names, as every trail goes back down to the same chair anyway). So I and 2-3 others politely waited till the rope is down and skied off into the untouched snow! We were greeted with fresh powder, AND ROCKS!

Tip-toeing around what we can’t see (all the rocks got a few mm of snow on them), it’s our skis that took the hits. Then, I was at the trail junction again, and here comes the same pair of ski patrol…

Skiers are optimists by nature. Despite the less than ideal condition of the newly opened trail we just skied, we all waited patiently for the patrol to drop the rope on another new trail. And then blissfully charge into the unknown again!!!

The second newly opened trail was free of rocks (mostly). So it was much more pleasant. But it all ended too quickly.

Back up to the top, more trails were now open again. Down we went on those new trails, with mixed results.

After a few of those, I realized new trails ski better AFTER a few groups skied it: it exposed all the thinly covered rocks so we can see and avoid. So that’s what I did the rest of the day. Wait till a trail got a few tracks then jump in. Much better results. Also, trails I found good route down are often worth re-visit with a better informed route.

The snow continued to fall. More trails were open, more routes in the already opened trails as rocks got covered (or exposed more clearly). The day got better and better!

Until my legs couldn’t quite hold up any more. 🙁