Downhill From Here: Serious snow at Saddleback
At 10 oâclock on a Sunday morning, there were empty chairs and you could still find fresh powder lines on the trails at Saddleback Mountain in Rangeley, Maine. Incredible! (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)
At 10 o’clock on a Sunday morning, there were empty chairs and you could still find fresh powder lines on the trails at Saddleback Mountain in Rangeley, Maine. Incredible! (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)
Presidents’ Week is over! It’s been snowing somewhere in the Northeast every day for at least a week, there are two long-duration snowstorms in the forecast, the days are longer, the sun (when you can see it) is higher in the sky, warmer and stronger, the days are longer and brighter and it’s time to get serious about skiing.
My sweetheart, Marilyn, saves up her vacation time all year so we can get in some (never enough) skiing in late February, March and very early April.
Some years you can ski anywhere in New England into April, but you can’t always count on that. So we’ve learned to be a little flexible and take each year as it comes. It’s a balancing act between the desire to get the lodgings we want at a price we can afford with the desire to make sure we are planning the trip that will give us the best skiing.
Since we live in New Hampshire, we can easily day-trip to all of the areas in southern and central New Hampshire (Crotched Mountain, Pats Peak, Granite Gorge, Mount Sunapee, Ragged Mountain, even Waterville Valley, Loon, Cannon and Bretton Woods).
There are lots of other areas in southern and central Vermont (Mount Snow, Stratton, Bromley, Magic, Okemo, Killington), and in the Mount Washington Valley of New Hampshire (Attitash, Cranmore, Black Mountain, Wildcat) that are perfect for overnights.
So we typically go farther afield for our big getaways. Quebec is a favorite for us, either the four major ski areas in the Eastern Townships (Sutton, Owl’s Head, Bromont and Mont Orford) or the ones near Quebec City (Mont Sainte Anne and LeMassif). We just love the mountains, the food and the people of Quebec. Lake Placid is another favorite spot, with Whiteface the big draw there. Northern Vermont (Jay Peak, Smugglers’ Notch, Stowe, Bolton Valley) and the Mad River Valley (Sugarbush and Mad River Glen) are two other top options. These would have been a great choice this year – they’ve all had more than two feet of new snow in the last week.
But this time, we are in Maine, and we just enjoyed the best ski day of the season (so far) at Saddleback (207-864-5671, saddlebackmaine.com) in Rangeley. We’d been scheduled to come up on Sunday, but the weather forced us (it wasn’t that difficult) to come up a day early so we’d be here ahead of the storm.
It had already been snowing up here for the better part of the last week, and the two or three fresh inches that had fallen overnight were just icing on the cake. Every trail we found was in prime condition and even the glades were filled with deep and soft snow.
Saddleback is already one of my favorite mountains in New England (it should be on everyone’s “must ski” list), but it moved up a notch or two in the standings today. There was nobody here. All of the people here for Presidents’ Week had left early to avoid the storm that pounded much of southern and central New England, and the people (like us) who were scheduled to come in today couldn’t get here early. We had the place to ourselves, skiing down on empty trails and right back up. We were still finding untouched powder lines on trails at noon. Unbelievable.
And the best news? It’s still snowing! Supposed to snow all night, as a matter of fact. Tomorrow’s going to be even better than today. There’s snow on the slopes, and spring will be here soon. What are you waiting for?
If you need an excuse
On March 9, Saddleback is hosting the 9th annual Telemark Invasion: a day full of free demos and clinics, vendors, live entertainment and the “Knee Dipping Tree Fairy Challenge,” a freestyle Telemark glade competition on the Casablanca.
Here’s the deal
Gotta hurry on this one. Until Feb. 28, Sugarbush (802-583-6300, sugarbush.com) in Warren, Vt., is selling four-packs of tickets to Mt. Ellen, valid any time during the month of March 2013, for $149.
Tickets may be used or transferred on one day or at multiple visits, allowing you to share the tickets with family or friends. March Packs represent a 46-percent discount off the regular weekend and holiday rate. March Pack tickets are non-refundable and may only be used at Mt. Ellen from March 1-31, 2013 (just in time for what is usually the best skiing of the year).
In one of the best season pass deals ever since the demise of the American Skiing Company, four mountains in New Hampshire have joined together to offer the White Mountain Superpass that lets you ski Bretton Woods (278-3320, brettonwoods.com), Cranmore Mountain Resort (356-5544, cranmore.com), Cannon Mountain (823-8800, cannonmt.com) and Waterville Valley (800-468-2553, waterville.com) any day of the 2013-2014 winter season with no blackout date restrictions.
The new White Mountain Superpass will give skiers and riders access to a combined total of 284 trails, 41 lifts, 1,148 acres and 6,900 vertical feet; and it includes a special “Bring-A-Friend Bonus.” The bonus enables the pass holder to get a friend $15 off the purchase of a one-day full-priced adult lift ticket. The offer can be used once per day for the purchase of one ticket. Pass holders may also receive a 10-percent discount from select retail outlets at each ski area.
If you buy before June 1, 2013, the pass will be $949 for adults (ages 18+), $549 for teens (ages 13-17), and $449 for juniors (ages 6-12). Get more details at WhiteMountainSuperpass.com.
(Tim Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)