This is a tale of missed opportunity…for us, and for other skiers.
Closing day at a ski area can be a festive thing. After a long season, workers have been known to be a bit “punchy”, and you’re never quite sure what’ll happen. Attitash is a relatively sane ski area, so we didn’t expect total lunacy, but with a beautiful morning on tap, it was worth a try!
With the April 1 storm dumping a good amount of snow over most of New England, we expected to find more trails open than on a usual closing day; but, it had been a pretty wet snow and cold Saturday night, so even with a schedule that had us needing to leave the mountain around noon, we didn’t feel the need to be in a huge hurry for first tracks. That meant an obligatory diner stop on the way up…spring skiing is supposed to be a relaxed affair, right?
Arriving at Attitash around 9, we were shocked to see how few people were there. The lodge was effectively empty and the lift lines were the same. WHAT lines? The temperature was already coming up, so we dressed lightly and headed out, wondering if all the missing skiers knew something we didn’t.
And…they didn’t. Riding up on the lift, it was obvious that the ungroomed areas were hard as rock. Clearly, we wouldn’t want to start there. Conditions on the groomed trails, however, were pretty much midwinter: firm corduroy with very few icy spots. We took a few fast runs down Upper Saco/Ammonoosuc/Lower Cathedral, enjoying having the trails to ourselves, and the spectacular view of Mt. Washington. Then, we aimed down the other side of the mountain on Northwest Passage, and headed over to Bear Peak.
There, it was a different scenario entirely. Morning Star was earning its name. With a more easterly face to the slopes, it had already softened into gorgeous spring skiing. Sure, Wandering Skis on the other side was still in winter mode, but that just made for a “pick your favorite skiing” situation. Since we’d already had our taste of midwinter, we played on Morning Star a couple of times. Clearly, the skiers who had slept in had missed an opportunity for remarkably good closing day conditions!
Alas, we had a time limit this day, so headed back to the main mountain. The party atmosphere, while subdued, was in evidence there. All day long, a large, inflatable pink flamingo had been joining skiers on the Flying Yankee lift (apparently, he wasn’t skiing, perhaps concerned that contact with a sharp edge would deflate him). The southern motif was carried on by the ski ambassadors, who were decked out in colorful leis, and some unusual headwear (one had a nice pinwheel spinning merrily away over her head). The slopes themselves seemed to have gotten the memo, as well. Conditions on Saco/Ammonoosuc/Cathedral had made the transition to spring. A strong wind, though, was keeping the moisture in the snow under control. Even though the snow had softened to corn, it wasn’t becoming the heavy, wet, slushy type…instead, it was remarkably light and easy to move around. Carrying speed was ridiculously easy, while short radius turns were a blast, with our edges going deep into the corn for effortless control. And still, the slopes were mostly our own! Clearly, the majority of the skiing public thought it was going to take longer to soften than it actually had.
Alas, our own schedule problems meant that noon found us headed to the car, rather than having lunch and heading back out. The lodge was definitely getting busier, but even then it looked more like a midweek day than a weekend. April brings an attitude with a lot of skiers that “spring’s here”, and not in the “spring skiing” way; rather, in the “we should be planting our garden” way. Their loss. In 3 hours, we’d had a great day of skiing with both midwinter and ideal spring conditions, NO lines, NO wasted time, NO hassles. Attitash clearly could have extended their season at least another week, but by cutting it off on the early side, they’d given us a remarkable array of trails to ski. If we’d stayed for the afternoon, we could have played on some of the ungroomed trails as well, since they’d have softened up too. Yes, we’d missed the opportunity to do that, but we were so much better off than the skiers who had missed the beautiful morning of skiing!