By Ryan Dunfee
Published: December 31, 2010
Day One – Sunday, December 26th
With the incoming Nor’easter predicted to sock in Southern New England and hit ski havens like Foxborough, Massachusetts with so much snow that the Meatheads would probably be filming lines down Gillete Stadium come morning, we set our sights south of the bigger New England resorts to the Lakes Region of New Hampshire.
After waxing rockered pow skis and throwing them in the trunk without the wishful irony this kind of move on the East Coast would usually demand, we set in to watch the harbingers of the coming apocalypse: the 7 News weather team. We are kept up to date as enough snow piles up in Brockton for the newscaster to get his ankles wet, and are on the edge of our seats as the blizzard sets in and we are informed that most of the news team is heading across the street to the local Chinese restaurant, which is closing in an hour due to the storm.
Day Two – Monday, December 27th
Waking up around 6:30, I am immediately overtaken by the familiar feeling that we are already blowing it—Cannon Mountain, predicted to get a few inches from the storm, is calling 20 inches at the summit, with the snow still pounding. Around the corner, Bretton Woods is closer to two feet and still puking. A good two-and-a-half-hours away on a good day, we comfort ourselves with the hope that wind holds will keep most of the good terrain out of reach. So we make our way west into southern New Hampshire, where Mount Sunapee is waking up to 15 inches on the ground with the best base of anywhere in the area. Through driving snow and sideways wind, we utilize four wheel drive and snow tires to maneuver around snowplows and Massholes.
Arriving at Sunapee at the go get ’em hour of 10:30 am, we meet Bruce, Sunapee’s marketing director, who gives us our tickets (thanks Bruce!) and bumper stickers reading “Vote Mount Sunapee: Powder to the People!” Bruce sends us on our way and tells us to meet patrol at the top of a small triple chair, where patrol awaits to drop a rope for us on a pow-washed blue. It’s a nice treat that makes us the equivalent of skiing royalty in these parts. Elliot Street is an exercise in meadow skipping, but once the track gets set, it offers plenty of opportunities to take speed into overhead slashes, producing the day’s first whoops and hollers.
Sunapee provides a great silver lining for us; despite getting nearly half a foot less than some of its northern counterparts, the hill is far from a magnet for pow-hungry maggots. Our crew, mounted up with packs, powder baskets, and skis at least 110mm underfoot, is a complete novelty in these liftlines. We find awesome snow and knee-deep pockets on a few of the trails with good enough pitch to fly. With the summit lift closed due to wind, we strap our skis onto our backs and bootlick to the summit, rolling back down through a pow-stuffed glade and fresh tracks the whole time. We cap the day off by boosting off of snow-making whalebacks into wind-drifted pow landings, and like to think we scored some of the best turns Southern NH has ever produced.
Day Three – Tuesday, December 28th
After leaving my Sunapee crew of Ryan Denning from Alpine-Live.com and my longtime ski partner Rob Bear, I drive up to meet my co-workers from SASS Global Travel in their parent’s house farther north to ensure a better start time the next day. With wind holds still an issue, breakfast turns into an argument over where to head up: Bretton Woods was especially deep the day before, but also super flat with no base and pretty tracked out. Cannon, with Mittersil slated to open, seems like the call, but my less-ambitious ski partner for the day, Lucas, convinces me to go to Loon for the day to meet up with a group of our SASS clients. It seems like a bad idea but I maintain that we will leave at lunch and go skin Mittersil, and Lucas obliges by throwing his A/T setup in the car.
After getting on the lifts at 8:15 and making some of my earliest turns in years, we find a few trail-side pow stashes and slay some fun groomers while the lift lines stay reasonable. Around 11 a.m., the hell that is Loon holiday week liftlines is in full effect, and it is time for our first Bunyon Room beer. The rest of the day morphs into full-on social skiing—spot friends and clients in the liftline, take two runs, grab two beers, repeat at a rate you can tolerate the lift lines until the resort closes. Then it’s back to the Bunyon for shots of “Doctor” until we find ourselves scaring families at CJ’s by jumping into the pool at dinner time with our long underwear on. Someone finds a bottle of Fernet, and I find a bunch of Argentines with whom we swap war stories about clubbing in Buenos Aires and Bariloche and skiing in South America. The rest of the night continues in a complete tailspin until I ragdoll into bed at an unknown time.
Day Four – Wednesday, December 29th
An exercise in pain, regret, and eventually rest. After imagining pancakes to be the magic pill to my “Doctor”-induced tortured state, I can only stomach half of one. I run back to the office in the afternoon to find a roof box big enough to fit both of our interns and all of our skis (thanks Thule!). I buck up and pack up the car again and head into Maine, where part two of this terrible story continues…