Saturday, February 9, 2013

Finding Nemo

It's four in the morning.  It's illegal to drive on the roads in Massachusetts.  Good thing we are heading to Vermont.  We only pass two vehicles on the road the entire hour and a half drive from Troy to Stratton Mountain, not a huge surprise.  Arriving at the mountain, we find that the "members only" parking lot is not guarded and that the door to the lodge is open even though all the lights are off, great success.  Headlamp on, boots on, skis on, skins on; off we go.  

Untouched snow all around.
I called up Stratton last night to ask about their uphill travel and before/after hours skiing policy and there were no restrictions.  The lady on the phone did recommend a trail to skin up though.  If you know the mountain, then the trail is to the right of the gondola and goes up past the houses on the right and around to the backside of the mountain.  This is green all the way, but way long as it wraps around.  Instead of taking the long way we went up Flukey's Run and took a left on to White Birch, which connected to Lower Standard and Upper Standard under the gondola.

Skinning up under the gondola.  Luckily following snowmobile tracks part of the way up.

After about an hour and a half of skinning we were at the summit and ready to ski down.  A handful of ski patrol and medic staff skied past us, but there was still plenty of fresh powder to go around.  Only having skied once before, and not on powder, it took me a few turns to get the hang of it again.  Kyle cruised down with the goal of warming up after our cold stop to take off skins and transition to ski mode.

Powder 5" to knee deep in spots.
We weren't the only ones who figured there would be good snow today.  The lines grew and the slopes got crowded, partially thanks to the gondola never opening due to high winds.  Speaking of winds, the temperature at the summit was -25F and the base was -8F, including windchill.  This warrants a stop in the lodge to put on a couple extra layers and swap out gloves for a dry pair.

As the lines grew our patience did not.  Back to skinning to scope out a trail that only has a few tracks through it.  We make it up as high as possible before the snow was so blown that exposed roots and rocks were in the way.  It was a quick run, but some of the best snow of the day.  Time to let the quads rest up.  Skiing powder isn't easy, not that I'm complaining.

Rocks up ahead, time to ski down.

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