Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Coming Down the Mountain: Sugarloaf 3/13 Report

Attempting something a bit different with this report, as we're going to use a timeline of the day format. Will see if it sticks around.

4:55 AM: Attempt to throw Hannah's cell phone (our alarm clock) across the room #1.

5:00 AM: Attempt #2. OK, fine, I'll get up. Time to start the day and get packed up. Dug out the Fischer's, threw some breakfast down, made some sandwiches, and got geared up. Used my Craft baselayer and CW-X Stabilyx tights and then would layer on top of that.

5:45 AM: Josh arrives. Per usual, I'm running slightly behind schedule.

5:50 AM: On the road. Target: Sugarloaf. 136 miles to the northwest. Of course, this being Maine, we have to drive to the northeast in order to go northwest.

7:00 AM: We have this trip down pat, dividing it into three 45-minute segments: Portland to Augusta, Augusta to Farmington, Farmington to the mountain. So in this middle segment is when we listen to The Bugle: Audio Newspaper for a Visual World. If you're not listening to this, I don't know what's wrong with you. Hilarity ensues.

7:50 AM: The Bugle ends. Time to get the blood pumping with some tunes. Shout at the Devil makes an appearance or three.

8:02 AM: We round "Oh My Gosh" corner.

When you drive to Sugarloaf on Route 27, when you get to Kingfield you can almost touch the mountain. But the road follows the river, bringing you out and around to the front face of the mountain. The road is well known for the "s curves," following the flow of the former logging river. This behometh of a mountain is hidden completely from view. Then, just as you feel like you must've missed this place somewhere, you come to it:

Photo courtesy of sugarloafstickr
Oh my Gosh.

8:26 AM: Onto the SuperQuad to start the day off. We discover incredibly warm temperatures and incredibly soft snow.

8:31 AM: And let the lapping begin. Holy Christmas, can the snow seriously be this good? Yes. We hit some groomers to start off the day and catch some big air on the rollers on Timberline. How often do you get to just haul tail without anybody else around and the snow that good?

10:00 AM: I'm exhausted and we've been skiing for 90 minutes. We've covered just about everything on the mountain: Boomauger, Ripsaw, Widowmaker, Winter's could do no wrong ANYWHERE on the hill. Absolutely covered in sweat, so it's time to switch out jackets.

10:30 AM: Another trip into the snowfields? YES PLEASE. White Nitro is a dream: buttery soft on the extension, nice pillowy turns on Nitro proper, and then start running out through Boomauger and Wedge.

11:00 AM: Time for lunch. Power through the couple of sandwiches, top off the tank on water, and back out for more lapping.

11:30 AM: Uh, snowfields again? Yeppers!

The snow is unreal all over the place. You're skiing over treetops, that's how much snow is up here. It's just not fair how much fun this is.

12:00 PM: The promised rain showers begin moving in for the day. It's not bad to start, just making this soft snow a little grabby, but if you keep the skis on edge you just keep bouncing around and having a blast. We keep lapping about all over the place and run into nobody.

1:10 PM: OK. We're beat. Let's make this bad boy count. We ride Spillway...OK, I mean Skyline (I will never get used to calling it that), and decide to head down Nitro again. Then get onto Boomauger. We pass the sign that says, "Experts Only." Earlier in the day, Josh saw it and remarked, "This sounds like a challenge." It was indeed, but amazingly fun.

We work our way down onto Whiffletree, and take the hard right to head into Moose Alley. This is normally banked turn awesomeness. One problem: LOTS OF SNOW MELT. We get to one roller that usually results in speed building. It's completely bare. Immediately, panic meter pegs pretty high.


It felt like I was in air for a minute and a half. I know it was probably about a second total, simply because there was about a three foot drop from the top where I leaped to where I needed to land, and I jumped as high as I had in me.

We cleared that spot, letting out the biggest yelp I could (amazing what catching that much air can do for your adrenaline levels), and ski out.

If that was the last day of the year (and based on the long-term forecast, I'm not hopeful), what a way to go out.

5:45 PM: Time to refuel: pizza and beer. The dinner of champions.

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