Downhill From Here: Making the most of a Sunapee morning
Lower Cataract. Blues skies above, white snow below and skiers and riders having fun at Mount Sunapee in Newbury, NH on MLK Weekend. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)
The views of Lake Sunapee were beautiful at Mount Sunapee in Newbury, NH on MLK Weekend. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)
MLK weekend is a long weekend for most folks and traditionally one of the busiest of the season for most ski resorts. A mid-week snowstorm had dropped enough snow on the cities to make people think about skiing when they look out the window, but not enough to make everyone want to hunker down and stay home. In resort lingo, this is known as “the marketing inch,” and it’s worth more to the ski resorts than a foot of fresh powder. And the weather was supposed to be pretty good: sunny, a little too windy, but not cold. The cold is supposed to arrive just as the holiday weekend ends.
I have to admit, normally I wouldn’t go near a busy area like Mount Sunapee (763-2356, mtsunapee.com) in Newbury on a holiday weekend. But I’d been swamped with work and needed to ski now! Sunapee is the easiest of the big hills for me to get to and I thought I could get there, burn my legs out, and make it back in time to get some more work done (including writing this column). From the conversations we overheard, other early birds were planning on leaving early to watch some football game or other later in the day. Imagine?!
So Marilyn and I got an early start, arrived at the hill in time to get a prime parking place, put on our boots in a lodge that was pretty near empty except for a large and boisterous group of young racers preparing for a big competition, and made it out to the Spruce Triple in time for first chair. We didn’t no-
tice the wind until just before the unloading platform at the top, but up there it was, shall we say, enthusiastic.
For the next couple of hours we were in skier’s heaven. Our first warmup run down Lynx was on untracked corduroy, and we skied right back onto the triple at the bottom. We could have taken the high speed quad, but that wouldn’t have let us reach one of our favorite trails on the mountain, Upper Cataract, which drops down to the Sunbowl Quad and is only accessible from the triple (which means is gets less traffic than any other major trail on the hill). Cataract was in near-pristine condition: firm, smooth fast corduroy, absolutely Marilyn’s favorite conditions and pretty high on my list as well.
For the next five or six runs, we yo-yoed off the Sunbowl Quad, making fast runs down Skyway Ledges to Skyway, Upper Whingding to Liftline or Lower Whingding, It was all perfectly wonderful, playing in the morning sun and, best of all, the Sunbowl Quad was completely in a wind shadow except for the last few feet at the top. We could see the wind tearing clouds above us, but it couldn’t reach us.
To get back to the base, we dropped into Upper Blast Off which was covered in deep, soft snow. Marilyn missed her corduroy, so she popped over onto Ridge, while I continued down Blast Off, and took Becks Brook over to meet up with her and continue down Ridge. She liked her choice, I liked mine. At the bottom, she decided to go in and warm up. I had intended to ride back up the quad, but there was a three-minute line by then, so I decided to hop in the singles line (always the fastest option) to ride back up the triple with two very charming young ladies from New Jersey who wish they could convince their families to move to New Hampshire so they could ski more.
My last run was down Hansen Chase through Chase Ledges (also in superb condition) and back to the base. By then, my legs were telling me I’d had a good morning and my conscience was telling me I had work to do. The base lodge was bustling with late comers, and it was all we could do to find a space to change out of our boots.
Perfect morning of skiing … made it a lot easier to settle back in and get some work done in the afternoon, listening to the wind roar outside my office window. Sure, it’s tempting to tell yourself you have to get every last run out of that expensive lift ticket, but sometimes it’s better to just take the best of a day and smile as you walk away.
Here’s the deal
Sunapee offers a whole host of midweek, non-holiday discounts:
Monday: Everyone can ski or ride for only $45
Tuesday is Ladies’ Day. For $49, ladies get an all-day lift ticket and a luncheon buffet in Goosefeathers Pub.
Wednesday is 2-for-1 day.
Free Lunch Thursday: Purchase a regular full-priced, all-day, all-mountain lift ticket ($70 adult, $56 young adult/senior, $48 junior/super senior) and receive a $12 voucher to use at any of the eight food venues at the mountain.
And on Sundays, New Hampshire residents can ski or ride from noon-4 p.m. for $39. Proof of N.H. residency is required.
(Tim Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)