You know what I am tired of hearing this winter? "Wow, I am surprised how good the ski conditions are!" Every day I have skied this season, day 20 and counting, I encounter some skeptic who proclaims the skiing to be surprisingly good. It is February, ski resorts have been making snow since November, and yes Einstein, conditions are good.
Last weekend I skied the glades of Casablanca and Muleskinner at Saddleback in Maine. These all-natural snow trails were nicely coated in soft snow. Saddleback has high elevation on its side (4,120-feet), so it has been spared the rain events that southern New England has endured, the 79-inches of snow received this season is well preserved. Tons of snowmaking on top of that, and you have 65 of Saddleback's 66 trails open.
At Sugarloaf, I had the best run ever on White Nitro from the summit, the snow was perfectly groomed and grip-able, the scene was very much winter minus the usual super cold-factor. In fact, the sun was shining and the February day was decidedly mild for mid-winter.
The upside to natural snow being down is less people are going to the ski slopes. Call it the backyard blues, but many skiers and riders are staying home, leaving the slopes to the intrepid few.
As Chris Farmer, GM at Saddleback said, "It’s like the girl getting all dressed up for Prom, with the dress, the shoes, the hair and makeup, all dolled up and the date doesn't show up." Ski resorts have made the snow, groomed their trails, paid their staff and laid out the white carpet, but skiers are not showing up for the big dance.
Sure we have not had a big snow storm since Halloween (and you haven't had to shovel either) but there is skiing in the mountains. March and April can be New England’s snowiest months. So don't give up the great white hope, put on your snow dance pants and go to Prom – or go skiing in this case. You might just be “surprised at how good the conditions are.”
Photos by Greg Burke taken Feb. 17 at Saddleback and Feb. 19, 2012 at Sugarloaf
Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.
Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at www.familyskitrips.com and www.luxuryskitrips.com.