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Downhill From Here

Downhill From Here: The best is yet to come

  • Mount Washington From Black Mountain: The view of Mount Washington  making its own clouds from Black Mountain in  Jackson on a warm, blue-sky spring day. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

    Mount Washington From Black Mountain: The view of Mount Washington making its own clouds from Black Mountain in Jackson on a warm, blue-sky spring day. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

  • The view of Mount Washington from Bretton Woods is spectacular on a blue-sky spring day. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

    The view of Mount Washington from Bretton Woods is spectacular on a blue-sky spring day. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

  • Mount Washington From Black Mountain: The view of Mount Washington  making its own clouds from Black Mountain in  Jackson on a warm, blue-sky spring day. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

    Mount Washington From Black Mountain: The view of Mount Washington making its own clouds from Black Mountain in Jackson on a warm, blue-sky spring day. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

  • Mount Washington From Black Mountain: The view of Mount Washington  making its own clouds from Black Mountain in  Jackson on a warm, blue-sky spring day. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)
  • The view of Mount Washington from Bretton Woods is spectacular on a blue-sky spring day. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)
  • Mount Washington From Black Mountain: The view of Mount Washington  making its own clouds from Black Mountain in  Jackson on a warm, blue-sky spring day. (Tim Jones/EasternSlopes.com photo)

Presidents’ Week – in most years it’s the busiest ski week of the year.

This year, with snow from the February blizzard still lingering, new snow falling along the coast as I write this and still more snow in the forecast, should be a great one for the ski areas. One of my spies tells me that the main parking lot at Cannon Mountain (823-8800, cannonmt.com) in Franconia was packed early on Sunday despite single-digit temperatures and howling winds. Cannon can feel like one of the coldest places on the planet when the winds scream out of the northwest. If the weather cooperates at all, even more folks will be out skiing and riding this week.

Then, many people will hang up their skis for the season, apparently believing that it’s nearly over. They couldn’t be more wrong. Here’s a two-part insider’s tip on northeastern skiing that I’ve shared before. But it’s worth sharing again.

First, with the exception a few rare days after major snowfalls, about the only really good reason to ski in November, December and January is to have your legs ready for February, March and April. Second, the best skiing of the year usually starts just about now and runs, in most years, through the end of March, often into early April.

Last year, of course, was the exception that tests the rule. We never got enough snow to get a deep base, even snowmaking couldn’t cope with last year’s warmth and rains, and the 80-degree weather in the middle of March pretty much killed most of the snow we did have. Last year was not the best on record, though looking back, I did get more than 20 really excellent days on the slopes.

But here we are, coming into what I consider the best of the best of northeastern skiing. At this time of year, you actually get some sunshine on even north-facing slopes – which does wonders for visibility. The days are generally warmer, so you don’t need to add extra layers, wear facemasks or use handwarmers to stay comfortable on chairlift rides. Even if the wind is blowing, as it often does at this time of year, it doesn’t have that bitter, biting edge that it does in January. And, as you get later in the season, you don’t have to make first chair to get the best conditions. In fact, on a lot of days, the sun will soften the snow and your best snow conditions will be from 10 o’clock on.

So remember, even where it hasn’t snowed as much as we might have liked, this has been a terrific year for snowmaking and base depths going into Presidents’ Week were as deep as they’ve been all season. Add even a little natural snow every day or two, and you’ve got a recipe for outstanding conditions. And February and March are traditionally the snowiest moths in northern New England, at least.

Whatever you do, don’t put away your skis quite yet. Even if you skied nine days in a row over Presidents’ Week, there’s more and even better skiing to be enjoyed for the next month. Or more.

There’s snow on the slopes. What are you waiting for?

Here’s the deal

If you need another excuse to go skiing over the next month or so, consider the fact that most ski areas start dropping their prices at this time of year.

Sunday River (207-824-3000, sundayriver.com) in Newry, Maine, is posting a new deal to its website every Monday until March 11, by noon. Some of these deals have limited availability, so check in at sundayriver.com/VacationPackages/SeeAndSave.html. This week’s deal is $5 night skiing.

Killington (800-621-6867, killington.com) in Vermont has announced the 2013 “NOR’BEASTER Unlimited Spring Pass for $199. This pass lets you ski all day, every day from Feb. 16 until the lifts stop turning (likely in late April or even May). It appears that Killington is out to reclaim the “King of Spring” title, so I’d bet on May.

Expect dozens more deals like that to be announced in the coming days. If you are thinking about a season pass for 2013-14, a lot of areas will be offering their best prices over the next few weeks, and will let you ski free for the rest of this season.

(Tim Jones can be reached at timjones@easternslopes.com.)

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