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Sugarbush, VT 5/1/99

Mon Apr 17, 2000 11:31 am

<!-NOTE: Message edited by 'admin'-!><I>(Note from the Administrator: This report was originally posted on 5/3/99. Due to our move to new servers, the date and time attributed to this post is incorrect.)</I> <BR> <BR>High pressure was in strong control over northern New England leading up to May, and predictions were that it would stay that way well into the next week. Although the region has had little precipitation in the past few weeks, Tuckerman's Ravine and the surrounding areas are still loaded with snow... Hmmm, this sounds like one of those cases where Mt. Washington will have the most primo of conditions; tons of snow still left, yet warm temps that will enable skiing even from the summit and down onto the Sherburne trail. But... Saturday was free ski day at Sugarbush, it's not easy to turn down a day of free skiing, especially at your "home" resort. Such a decision, make the trek over to Mt. Washington to earn turns (with a large Tuckerman trip already confirmed for the following weekend anyway), or visit the 'bush for free skiing. As it turn out, sometimes you just have to do both... <BR> <BR>Part 1: Free "training" at the 'bush <BR> <BR>Somehow I convinced my friend E that a visit to Mt. Washington and a ski of the upper snowfields would be an experience she wouldn't soon forget. However, it had been nearly a month since E had used the "straight" skis that she would bring to the bowl, and jump turns (or other similar style turns), while not exactly a word from some foreign tongue, were not yet in her everyday vocabulary. The plan was to use our time at Sugarbush to prep for the trip to the Mt. Washington and hopefully get the learning process out of the way. <BR> <BR>There were essentially two routes down at Sugarbush on Saturday, the blue route of Snowball / Spring fling, or the black route of Stein's. The only lift running was the Valley House double, but this provided direct access to both routes. As we drove into the parking lot, we could see that there were many more cars than last weekend, 2-3 times as many in fact. It was nearly 3:00, but folks were still hanging out enjoying the sun (and making the most of their free tickets as well ;). We hiked up and got into line, which actually had about 30 people in it. We were already sweating in the nearly 70 degree temps, and we noticed that they had a jug of water and cups right at the lift line, a nice touch that we took advantage of. :) As we rode the lift up, we found that natural snow on the trail below (The Mall) didn't really start until about the top of the lift (somewhere shy of 3000'). However, snow in the woods was much more plentiful, and we could see consistent snowpack at that level. We took our first run down Snowball / Spring Fling, finding Spring Fling entirely covered with bumps of soft snow. People were lining up and launching some nice 360s with tip drops and such off a big jump in the middle of the trail. The right side of the trail which normally has the bumps was getting bare, but the majority of the trail was covered, and there was never a problem with bare spots on the main skiable portion of the run. We took the run slowly, worked on unweighting and turning on the backs of the moguls, and arrived back at the lift at around 3:30. We next did Stein's, which, with its steeper pitch, was more suitable for learning turns on steep terrain. Using the backsides of the large moguls, we could approximate steep terrain and work on turns quite effectively. We had consulted Lito Tajeda-Flores' book "Breakthrough on Skis" for his approach to learning steep terrain, as well as using some of my own experience. Lito advises a technique called "shortswing" which uses vigorous edgesets to slow yourself down. It was well after 4:00 by the time we finished drills on the slope, and we called it a day with significant progress noted. <BR>After leaving the 'bush, we headed to John Egan's Big World Pub and Grill. I love the food and atmosphere there, but unfortunately, it never opens until 5:00 P.M., making it a bit late for my usual apres ski when I'm getting back to Burlington. I spoke with a gentleman behind the bar (Chris I believe) that had just returned from the Chic Choc mountains of the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec. Although I've heard and read stories, he was the first person I'd actually met who had ever been there. During his time there, he said that they received about 4 feet of snow, and with the current weather situation, the skiing must be <BR>great. For anyone that has ever looked east from Sugarbush, you may have seen the mountains directly across the Mad River Valley. These are the Northfield Mountains, and they are part of the similar stretch that makes up the Worcester range near Mt. Mansfield. They are not as tall as the main range of Green mountains that make up Sugarbush, Camel's Hump, Mt. Mansfield etc., but they are quite impressive and offer some great views. Since we were now heading to the Mt. Washington area, we decided to take a straighter, albeit possibly slower route to get there. We headed over Roxbury Mountain (part of the Northfield Mountains), which is just to the east of Sugarbush. There is actually a road that goes right over the mountain and affords incredible views. Near the top of this road (approx. 2400'), I saw the most incredible ice storm damage I've seen anywhere (even greater than Mad River). I'm just wondering if anyone else had been up there because through my eyes, it looked like a huge bomb went off and wiped everything out. This is well over a year after the storm too. After gawking at the destructive power of mother nature, we descended into Roxbury and continued on our way through an interesting mix of VT towns in and area I've never really visited before. We eventually hooked onto Rt. 302 in Orange, VT (a bit east of Montpelier) and continued on our way to the Mt. Washington Valley... <BR> <BR>To be continued in Part 2: Practice pays off in the Right Gully (Mt. Washington 02MAY99)
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