Catch of the Day - Mad River Glen woods
There is a very nice short video on one of MRGs web pages,http://www.madriverglen.com/?Page=conditions.php
Scroll down about 1 page. The video comes up automatically and runs about 20 sec. It was taken last season in the Triple Crown Challenge. While it isn't open yet people are hiking it for turns and reports are that it's looking good. Mandatory disclaimer; I am a shareholder.
With apologies to Jim K if I have stepped on his turf. I notice that his name is always on the Catch of the Day.
Very sweet! Mad River Glen is the Whitegrass of downhill skiing (or maybe it'd be better to say Whitegrass is the MRG of telemarking). In my opinion MRG is the best ski area on the east coast-- a true proving ground for advanced and expert skiers. Ski well there and you are in a different league from most; get a compliment from the guys riding the single chair and you'll be walking on air for months!
My only complaint with MRG is that it can get really crowded (lift lines) on weekends, holiday periods and when the conditions are very good. Though it is a throwback area, it definitely is not undiscovered.
Replying to various questions. Yes if you can ski well on MRGs terrain, you are a good skier. As far as impressing the locals is concerned I've given up on ever being able to do that. If you ski well under the chair it will be appreciated, even if you wipe out in going for it. But the best of Mad River is not visible from any lift. You've got to get out there a bit and explore to experience the best. I'll tell you one place to do it. Get off the double chair and follow the sign to "Not a Ski Trail"; a short distance into the woods you'll be faced with a short steep climb. Herringbone up and over this, then traverse further in or turn right and head down wherever you wish. There's lot's more which I can share, in person, or in a backchannel email, but I don't want to broadcast it.
Taking runs like NOTASKITRAIL I can only handle about 6 runs per day, 3 before and 3 after lunch. Each round trip will take 30 min. or more and by the time I get back to the lift line my legs need a long rest, so lines are seldom a problem. I can't go there without seeing 6 or more friends and the switchbacks in the line present multiple opportunities to chat. If the single line gets too bad (it can be 45 min. on a great weekend day) go to the double; it's much faster. The real secret of MRG is the limited uphill capacity combined with natural snow. The single can only put 400 skiers per hour on top. From there, they fan out over about 2 miles of ridgeline into ~40 map trails and a hundred or more "secret" woods stashes. Thus the snow does not get compacted into ice. When it rains, they close for a day after it stops to let the water drain from the snow before skiers can pack it down. Refreezing of wet packed down slush makes really nasty ice. That doesn't happen at MRG. Limited uphill capacity means the slopes don't get overcrowded so the experience is better once you get to the top. Try Antelope end to end; 2000 vertical feet, all top quality. The top half is blue, the bottom a mild black never steep but narrow and twisty. When skiing Lower Antelope it is routine to have nobody else on the entire trail except you and the family/friends who came with you. The woods it passes through are exceptionally beautiful. At the bottom you have to traverse 1/4 mile or so (left) back to the lift, or if you miss the last opportunity walk about the same distance on the road. I always take newcomers on this run, it's the quintessential Mad River experience without the gnarl. If they want gnarl, I know where that is too. There is some stuff there that I'll probably never ski, but I like mountains that have that.
From mid afternoon onward I'll often go to Birdland so I can ski out the day on tired legs. This is the beginner area with its own lift and interesting green & blue terrain. I'm not the only one. You'll see a lot of great skiers over there from 2 PM onward. The Birdland lift runs only on weekends.
Denis- I've got to dispute one point: MRG can get bulletproof. I skied there several years ago after a classic New England thaw/freeze cycle and it was indisputably the iciest, gnarliest conditions I have ever been on. Many runs had adequate coverage but were closed anyway- this didn't mean you couldn't duck the ropes but you did so at your own risk. I think I was the first person to ski the liftline that day (mogul field of solid ice). The runs up on Birdland had that breakable surface, where it'll snap under your skis and you suddenly get thrown as your chins meet ice while your skis sink into six inches of powder. I watched some guy from Australia ski that crap like it was freshies in Utah and all I could think was "wow."
The thing about MRG is they just don't care what the conditions are. If you want to complain about them, it's your problem, not theirs. It's a great attitude that cannot be emulated at other mountains for obvious liability reasons. Sometimes I'm surprised MRG has made it as long as they had-- but frankly, I'd rather die then sue them for anything, and I'm probably not the only one with that outlook.
Roger we're in agreement on loving the place. Sure they can get ice but it isn't because they let skiers compact wet snow. That was my point. It would be ridiculous to claim that they never get ice at all; it's the east and there are thaw - freeze events. Overall I have had great conditions there at least 80% of the time and that's at least as high as anyplace where I have skied frequently.
A few years ago my brother-in-law had driven there from Rochester NY and I from N VA only to find the entire mountain encased in solid ice that you could see through and count every pebble and blade of grass on the other side. We got there late and there were less than 10 cars in the lot. We went to the ticket window and they did not want to sell us tickets. They offered us a single ride to see and we both said no we want tickets, we drove hundreds of miles to be here and we'll have fun somehow. We headed up the double and noticed a narrow 10 ft. wide swath of windblown snow on one side of each trail. It had thawed, rained torrentially, then gotten cold and snowed with heavy wind in the last hour or two of the storm. The wind blown powder had bonded to the ice when the surface was still wet, so there were now a nice 2 inches of powder on a solid ice base, deeper in places. We took 2 runs keeping within the narrow corridors. It was fun and a modest challenge. Nobody else was there to get in the way. Cool we thought but let's try the single. Just past midstation a guy came exploding out of the low conifers at the side of Liftline in a cloud of powder. We were startled and asked, "Is it good in there?" He just grinned with powder on his eyebrows and in his beard. (It was the guy who skis in old Carhart overalls and wears a buffalo plaid wool shirt & matching baseball cap and skis on 25 yr. old skis. He always skis alone and rarely talks, just grins, and he is an awesome skier. Anyhow we knew where he had been - Sh*#house Glades - one of the best and not hard to find. Just find the ski patrol privvy and look behind. This is between two open trails and the wind had been fierce at the end of the storm. All the powder had blown into the woods! We skied that glade for the rest of the day in boot top to knee deep powder. It was one of my best days ever. Somehow the ski gods always smile on me like this at Mad River.
Man... with all this MRG talk and Christmas break coming up, I'm thinking a long drive might be worth it if a Nor'Easter blows in. Plus no one will laugh at my straight-edge skis there...
NOTASKITRAIL is to skier's right of Partridge and Slalom Hill? You end up on the beginner's section? If so, I've skied that section of the mountain before. Very nice, the pitches I skied weren't too steep.
I agree the double is the way to go when the line at the single is heinous. However, I need more than 6 runs at MRG to feel like I've had a full day. (I realize it's quality vs quantity; the terrain is great and the slopes are uncrowded since most people are waiting in the lift line.) Plus, I find standing in a 30-45 minute lift line very tiring on my legs, often more tiring than skiing.
Roger Z., the key to skiing breakable crust is to break through the crust each and every turn. In addition to needing a lot of energy and exertion on each turn to do this, it helps if you are a big guy. The best person I've ever seen skiing on breakable crust was technically and physically strong, and he weighed around 250 lbs. He was able to ski it like powder, like the skier you saw. Amazing. I think he is now an instructor at Snowshoe, Dale Ramsey.
Plus no one will laugh at my straight-edge skis there...
Just don't try to take a lesson at Liberty.
NOTASKITRAIL is to skier's right of Partridge and Slalom Hill? You end up on the beginner's section?
Correct, except it is skier' left of Partridge and Slalom Hill. You get off the double and at the bottom of the exit ramp turn right 90 deg. and go straight ahead. Once in there there are lots of options. It's up to you to make your own experience out of it. There are lots of trees rocks and ledges to play with; not scary steep but you can't relax because of the obstacles.
Correct, except it is skier' left of Partridge and Slalom Hill.
Doh! I mean't my other skier's right.
Hi Denis, enjoyed the MRG video, feel free to use the catch of the day subject line, it's totally up for grabs to all. No way I have time to make it a daily thing. In fact, I challenge others to use it or any other post heading whenever the spirit moves them as a way for the DCSki community to share fun images or info of note. I was inspired the other day to post a Kirkwood catch of the day because I just found out I may get to ski there with relatives for 3 or 4 days in March.
The thing about MRG is they just don't care what the conditions are. If you want to complain about them, it's your problem, not theirs. It's a great attitude that cannot be emulated at other mountains for obvious liability reasons.
Amen on that one. Though I think that lots of mountains outside the Mid-Atlantic open up terrain that would be closed in a Mid-Atlantic area (with Blue Knob being a possible exception.) Sometimes I take sick pleasure in skiing a trail where the conditions really suck, I knew that they'd suck when I started the run, but I still ski the run as a challenge. You add to your bag of tricks by skiing a run under horrible conditions. I especially love it when a trail is littered with exposed rocks/stumps and route finding and jump turns over rocks are required.
JohnL- I agree about revelling in sick conditions and how they can improve your skiing. It doesn't do much for longevity of equipment though, does it?
Thanks for the tips on skiing breakable crust powder. It's one of those conditions I'm not eager to come across again but in case I do... I'm 220 so I might have a shot at pulling it off, plus I like doing kick turns anyway.
Trying to think of the worst conditions I've enjoyed. Like Denis, I once found a line of snow about 10 feet wide down an otherwise solid sheet of scratchy white and blue ice and skied it about 20 times that day. I used to occasionally ski closed runs at CV at day's end (powder skied Spruce Run once-- very nice, you could see my tracks at the chair
). And when I was a kid skiing at Snow Ridge, New York, they didn't close until April, period. Finding snow and rocks on their runs in late March was standard fare. But I was too young at the time to appreciate it.
Sometimes I take sick pleasure in skiing a trail where the conditions really suck, I knew that they'd suck when I started the run, but I still ski the run as a challenge.
Now you're talking, Spruce Run in March, anyone?
Big, bug, bugeye, powder, tumble, poof, crunck, cold, icey, monkey, peaceful, quiet, happy, big, tired, sore, happy, that's all, doing it again tomorrow. The End. :-) .. PS my girlfriend dictated that after hitting 9990 at the Canyons it was her first time skiing that steep expert-only terrain ... and she did real good!
"crunck" doesn't sound too good!
Sure there wasn't a biff, boff, & grok in there also? Sounds like a dinner of Fat Tires and Vitamin I with a hot tub chaser was needed.
Nice stuff off the 9990 lift. (Reminds me of a zip code.) Is 99 Steps in that section of the mountain also?
No fair John, Where'd you get the Crush to English translator? Is it a book or one of those neat electronic gizamoes?