The 2013-2014 ski season has had a dismal start in the Northwest. Enough so that Kelso and I were tempted into dragging our snowboard gear back to Maine for a Christmas vacation riding day at Sugarloaf.
Neither of us had ridden the Loaf in three seasons, so the idea of returning to our stomping grounds, the terrain we knew by heart, seemed too good to pass up. With our luck however, a wet air mass moved in right as we arrived on vacation, turning Sugarloaf’s pretty, dry snow, into a sheet of ice. The night before we headed up for a day trip with Lev, the mountain got hit with a quick four inch refresh that saved the day.
After a sweet day of ripping up steep corduroy trails and some laps through a fun little park (something which we’ve since forgotten how to ride), Kelso and I came to a realization about east coast riding. As the beautifully laid groomers got torn up in less than 2hrs, we were reduced to slip-sliders, scraping over icy trails down to the terrain park. Our time away from the east had erased the memories of the icy man-made bases, the crowded lift lines, crowded trails, the pricy lift tickets and uptight east coast skiers cutting you off. We were quickly reminded of these subtle attributes that accompany a day riding the east coast. Locking in a wintery day on snow, trumped any speed bump we encountered, especially coming from the spring like winter in the Northwest.
Sugarloaf is a blast to ride. I always forget about how steep the pitch is that’s found on the main face of the mountain. During our Christmas visit, we experienced conditions that were too fast for noodly park boards, causing us to constantly scrub speed to slow down. We couldn’t take full advantage of the well laid corduroy in front of us. I watched skiers passing under the lift with their two tuned edges, making carves that had me questioning what was strapped to my feet. While in the lift line, we noticed that about 90% of the other winter sport enthusiast had also asked that question and their answer was skiing. Sugarloaf spoke to us in the form of fast, hard pack trails, that skiers could better enjoy. My how a few years of reversing trends can change a mountain’s population.
It’s hard to be gifted the perfect day when you are on a short trip so early in the season. In comparison to how the Northwest is riding, it felt good to even be strapped in and to have a bigger mountain with some pitch to work with.
Two day after Kelso and I got iced out, the loaf received another refresh. We missed the added snow and Dylan who was visiting family. The mountain website posted this video of Dylan and Dan Marion riding the wind-blow new snow.