NH/Maine glades question
March 16, 2005
I learned mountain skiing at Wildcat in the late 50s and early 60s. I started skiing by herringboning up and floundering down golf course hills near my home in the Boston suburbs. In HS I started doing youth group trips to Cranmore and in college my buddies and I discovered Wildcat which we loved. http://www.firsttracksonline.com/ed0212.htm
I went back about 5 years ago for a nostalgia trip with my son. It was just as I had remembered it, -20 ambient, 40 mph wind, and ice that you could not get an edge into. We could see glades there but under the circumstances there was no way we were going in. They do get powder days of course and great spring skiing. Being across the notch from Mt. Washington they often get what NH skiers call "a foot of snow and 2 feet of wind" leaving the ice and rocks just as if it had never snowed. Of course all that powder must blow into the woods.
On the western side of the White Mtns. is Cannon mtn. where I've never been. It has some of the famous 1930s racing trails cut by the CCC which are still maintained and skied by the locals. Tucker Brook and Taft trails are 2 of them and I believe they both start from the Mittersill area of Cannon. They take you well away from the lifts so you have to hitch hike or spot a car. Then there is Mt. Washington itself, the crown jewel of eastern skiing, but you have to climb it, and wait for good spring conditions with well settled snow. It can kill you and in an average year 1-5 people die on it, usually unprepared summer hikers but some skiers too. You need to get David Goodman's books, "Backcountry Skiing Adventures". There are two, one for NH & Maine and one for VT & NY. I know less about Maine. Sugarloaf has glades and Saddleback is supposed to have very good sidecountry (accessed from the lift with some hiking).
I spent the last three days skiing at Alta with two ski instructors from Wildcat. They mentioned that there is all sorts of tree skiing at Wildcat. They will be back home on Sunday and are suppose to contact us for a possible trip to NH in a couple of weeks. I'll ask the question and hopefully be able to give you a first hand report in a couple of weeks.
You could also contact Matt DiBenedetto in the Wildcat Ski School. I took a PSIA event with him a few years ago. He is a great guy and a great skier. Matt also works with New England Telemark (NET) which is very active in holding tele festivals and teaching tele throughout New England. I believe that they have a spring event at Wildcat. NET is run by Biff Higginson and Matt.
Thanks all! Any move I make won't be until next summer at the earliest, so there's at least one more ski season until I head up that way. I've been to Cannon but the natural snow conditions were iffy at the time, however the cutover to Mittersill was open and the skiing back there was pretty cool. They've also opened the goat trail underneath the Tramway since, from what I've heard.
Well, my experience at T-line a couple weeks ago sounds like a good break-in for Wildcat. I'll be sure to look for a new set of skis that sets well in ice.
Looking forward to the report on NH SCWVA!
I've never skied in NH, but I've hiked up in the Whites at ton. Best hiking I've ever done - everything from serene to extreme. Great local brews too - Tuckerman's Pale Ale. Everytime I go there I bring back as much as I can to horde until my next trip. I've even contemplated leaving behind family members to make more room for beer in the truck.
Haven't been back up there in the last 3 years. What a great place!
I consider Sugarloaf my home away from home when I'm up at my parents house. I grew up in Maine and learned to ski at the ripe young age of 12. During HS, college and post college, I end up at the 'Loaf at least twice a year if not more. Unfortunately, I'm never there when the snowfields are open (only above tree-skiing in the East) but always there when their glades are open.
I'm not an expert tree skiier, I only learned last year during my first trip out to Tahoe. I spent the entire time in Heavenly's Skiway glades with my friends (and before that, I just dabbled in the trees at Jay Peak). After that, I came back to the East Coast with an appreciation for tree skiing and I tried it at a couple of places here including Sugarloaf. The couple of times I tried off-piste skiing there, it was rather icy and dangerous. I fell and slid headfirst down the slope and came within a few inches of cracking my skull open on a cedar tree. This was way before I even thought about helmets. That's not to say that their glades are impressive during their powder day, they are! Their trees are not as spaced out as they could be when compared to Jay Peak or out West. I remember having to do a lot of short, small turns to get around the trunks. I haven't ventured past the borders of either resort so I can't comment on truly "out of bounds" skiing.
I had an unforgettable one day visit to Wildcat 10 years ago and have always wanted to go back. A return is on my RADAR screen. The day I was there was windless, sunny, packed powder conditions and about 32 degs. As Denis' memories confirm, I couldn't have ordered up anything better for that notoriously cold mtn. I mostly stayed on the regular trail network, which is great, but did make a couple forays down some frozen stream beds and briefly into gladed areas. There was much more I didn't see. Also, I noticed a steady flow of telemarkers and perhaps alpinists heading off the back of the mtn from summit. I asked about it and was told there was one or more very actively utilized backcountry trails leading all the way back towards Jackson, something like 4 or 5 miles and 3000' vertical. The inbounds vert at Wildcat is around 2100 legit feet. I'm sure Cannon (I've done the Mittersill bushwack too) and Loaf also have tons of glades. From my ski visits to NH and ME I got a WV type feeling regarding informality, relative lack of commercialization, and interest in backcountry skiing.
There's a lot of high tech and Defense industry jobs between Boston and Nashua, NH.