Tales from a NYC Ski Bum: North for Powder

As a Northeast skier, I’m used to variable conditions. Soft slush beneath a falling wintry mix? I’ll take it. Groomed granular over icy hardpack? I’ll hit it while it lasts. Week-old packed powder? If it holds an edge, I love it.

But there’s only so long a snow junkie can go without a fix of the untouched and pure stuff, so I loaded up the Jeep and made my way to the far north last week, where the forecast called for six inches at Jay Peak, and a foot at Mont Tremblant. The promise of fresh pulled me north.

Skiing in Canada isn’t a day trip for those of us who live at the bottom of New York State, so I worked in a couple of stops along the way. I skied Hunter with Icecoastchef on Wednesday, and ripped groomers solo at Okemo on Thursday.

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Return to the Mountains: Back to the MAX

Since my fateful and educational collision with a tree at Stratton in early December, I watched my social media feeds with a mixture of jealousy and anticipation as the east got some good early season snow. Surely, I thought, Ullr’s bloodthirst was slaked due to my offering, and he was preparing the mountains for my return.

Then, right on schedule, came the January thaw. All of that glorious fluff gone thanks to two days of rain and near-60-degree weather. I began to dread the ice that would follow as I now fear ice in a way I hadn’t before. But as I kept an eye on the forecast and saw that some areas were due to get up to eight inches of fresh snow, I grew excited and decided to head up north for the first time in six weeks.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas

ptsd santaIt happened too fast to process. One moment I was carefully navigating frozen boilerplate on Upper Tamarack at Stratton, and the next I had hit a patch of sticky fresh manmade snow beneath the bellowing guns. I was tossed forward off my skis and into a trailside tree at almost 30 miles per hour.

I was dimly aware of my body wrapping around the trunk sideways, getting boomeranged back and sliding ten feet further down. I was screaming louder than I’ve ever yelled in my adult life, certain that I’d be carried off the slope on a stretcher. I felt things break inside. But as I spun to a stop, I realized that my cries were inaudible beneath the roar of blasting snow guns – not that there was anyone to hear me.

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