Resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding in eastern US and Canada, including our famous reader-submitted No-Bull Snow Reports.
Fri Dec 28, 2012 8:55 pm
The big storm brought 18 to 20 inches of new snow on top of the one of the most consistent packed-powder bases I can remember at MRG. Thing is, most of it fell during the day, which was fine with me.
I woke up late to heavy snow and little wind at the house. The family wanted no part of storm skiing, so I headed off to MRG solo. There must have been 5 or 6 inches of new snow on the driveway and it was really coming down hard as I headed up Route 17. The drive up was a little hairy, mostly because I was behind a truly clueless individual in a Mini Cooper with inappropriate tires.
I got to MRG about 9:30 and discovered that the single was on wind hold. Before I paid for my ticket, I was warned that if the wind picked up, the double could go down as well and tickets would not be refunded. I will admit I hesitated, but I soon decided to roll the dice. Many simply turned around, leaving more for those of us that stayed.
With the single down, the line for the double must have been around 30 minutes when I got in it. And then . . . they started spinning, but not loading, the single. This meant that about 2/3rds of the line for the double immediately skated over to corral for the single. I stayed in the double line, which ended up taking about 10 minutes. First run was Panther, Gazelle Glades and, taking a page from RivercOil’s playbook, Wren and Robin over in Birdland. When I got to the bottom, the single was still spinning without loading, so I got back on the double and repeated my previous run. Both descents yielded 10 or so inches of lightly-chopped powder up top and untracked in Birdland. The wind was such that it was only hammering the top 150 vertical feet of the liftline. Everywhere else was protected. The snow was medium-to-light in density. It was heavier than Monday’s leftovers, but far from dense, and coming down hard.
I hopped in the single corral next and waited 25 minutes before getting up General Stark Mountain for a run down Catamount Bowl to Lower Antelope. The top of Catamount was wind-scoured, but lower Antelope was the stuff that dreams are made of. Having made up for long-running sleep, nutrition, and eggnog deficits, I was firing on all cylinders for the first time this season. Lower Antelope is a mostly-narrow, twisting, rolling, truly old-school trail that faithfully follows the contours of the mountain. Taking it at speed will result in occasional air, but on a day like yesterday landings on Lower Antelope are guaranteed butter-soft because it is out of the way, has a short hike at the end, and generally gets skied later rather than sooner. Narrow sections offered lightly-chopped powder, the wider sections still offered long stretches of untracked. Try as I might I could not find last week’s crust under it all. It was so good, I waited through a 20 minute line on the single, and with my heart just about singing, dropped it a second time.
Lines on the single settled down to about 15 minutes and I got in a Chute/Liftline run, and a Creamery/Upper and Lower Glade run, with a few forays deeper into the side trees. On these runs I was skiing mostly chopped powder with the occasional significant stretch of untracked. Face shots were plentiful. It was still snowing very hard and refilling was occurring in some of the not-too-deep nooks and crannies of the mountain. Since a significant MCL injury two seasons ago, I’ve been a little gun shy about snow snakes, so I didn’t venture too deep into woods alone.
After a quick lunch, I took two more runs off the double and four more off the single. Lines on the double were 0-5 minutes. Lines off the single decreased from 15 to 5 minutes over the course of the afternoon. And it just kept snowing. I hit most of my personal favorites skiing deeper and deeper powder until closing bell. In fact, I was one of the last 10 or so skiers up the single. Looking for a deeper sense of solitude, I waited a couple of minutes in the cold wind and dimming light at the top and finished my day with a lonely cruiser down Antelope and Bunny. Once past the wind scouring at the top, the packed-powder base was outrageously dependable for warp-speed turns around the tree islands between Antelope and Catamount. The bumps further down the hill were well-formed, soft, and rhythmic. Short shots through trail-side trees were still yielding knee-deep fresh and the silence of the new and falling snow in the sheltered forests of the mountain was breathtaking.
I took a few pictures, mostly of the look-at-the-graceful-arcs-of-my-tracks variety. Maybe I'll add them to the report when I get home.