This post is about my two (so far) local ski trips this winter.
On January 24th Mary and I drove to North Conway, NH to give Cranmore a try. We mostly went because it would be cheap. That day they were running a deal where driver’s of hybrid cars get free lift tickets. Oddly, since passengers of hybrids didn’t get free lift tickets it actually discourages carpooling, which, given the distance, makes a larger environmental impact than the hybrid. For the curious, they asked to see the car’s registration to prove it is a hybrid; note that my registration doesn’t have any indication of such a status, but they were not concerned. It also came recommended by Kelly, who skied there frequently in her youth.
I was disappointed with the runs there. The vertical was 1200 feet, which seems respectable, and they had some nice lifts to keep the lines moving, but we took our warm up run on a blue and diverted to a black. We mostly diverted to get away from the crowd, but it was not difficult at all. The conditions were pretty good. It was clean and ~25 degrees out, but there was a howling wind, that was blowing snow up the mountain. This was not a problem as far as seeing, but it did manage to keep the slopes well groomed, as any tacks you made were covered back up by the snow you loosed. It was fun to spend all afternoon (we skied from 11:30-4pm) speeding down the relatively tame runs, but we did manage to do just about every black and blue there in that time frame. In short, it was a fun time, and it was cheap due to the free ticket, but I wouldn’t go back unless I was teaching someone.
Eleven people somewhat loosely associated with Wednesday Night Dinner went to Rangeley, Maine from February 6 – 8 to ski at Saddleback. Saddleback was a small, local place until recently when it was purchased and greatly expanded. They expanded their trials by 40% since last year, and they have plans to continue this kind of growth. When they are done it will be huge, at least as fat as New England standards go. It was also exceedingly cheap and not at all crowded. Of course, it is almost five hours drive to get there. That is why we spent two nights there. Also the lodging was part of a package deal that left us with $28 lift tickets. Since its so new and expanding everything, but most importantly the equipment was all brand new.
The skiing here was excellent and challenging. There were some glades and slopes that looked downright scary, some of which I did and some of which I skipped. The weather was warm, topping out at ~36 degrees, with little wind. Although it got overcast in the afternoon. Here are some icture highlights from the trip to continue the story:
The Cabin. There were 3 rooms (with an open kitchen/living space). There were 9 beds in the place and we slept 11. It was cozy, but cheap.
Breakfast was eggs and toast.
Before we could get the slope we first had to climb this ice covered hill between our lakeside cabin and the road. It was well below freezing in the valley (it was warmer up on the mountain by a lot) and so we ended up pushing all of the cars up the hill. I don’t recall having ever needed to use low gear on my car before, but clearly it helped here. What didn’t help is that due to the lake, we didn’t have much chance to get a running start. Luckily Sunday morning was much warmer and so it wasn’t a problem.
The view was pretty spectacular from the top of the ~4000 foot mountain. The lodge was at ~2000 feet. This view looks west down towards our cabin and New Hampshire. Looking north one could see Canada as well.
We rode a lift up with an instructor and we discussed these two trails that looks like there was all kinds of debris in them. He said that it was only the tops that had the debris and that bottoms were clear, and of course ungroomed. He told us how to cut over safely. There we found the best conditions of the day; although, they were not untouched power by any means. I found I was able to cope (and have fun) with the natural, soft moguls that had developed. It was great. Of course, the story with the trail is that they didn’t finish cutting and clearing it all before the first wave of snow; this picture looks up at the debris field of course.
- Don’t take my word for how great this place is.
- Don’t ever give it a try.
- Continue to take your slight shorter drives to your much pricer, smaller, and more crowded resorts of choice.