Article: Matt Cote
Photos: Dalton Harben/ Worth Skis
There was just silence on the other end of the phone for a few seconds.
"Hello?" I said, half-expecting a dropped call
"Yeah... It sounds great, it's just... Are you sure? That's a lot of driving for a *chance* to *maybe* ski pow"
She was right, that IS a lot of driving when you aren't sure if it's actually going to happen. Almost a 900 mile loop to be more accurate. The models were growing stronger every day however, and it was going to happen- I was sure of it- how much I couldn't say but it was going to happen. So snwbrdmilf and I ditched our plans to go camping like sane human beings and instead pulled the riding and ski gear out of mothballs for one more weekend, grabbed the dog and headed up to Worth Skis World Headquarters at Smuggler's Notch to figure out the details of the attack.
I figured the Worth Crew would be on point as always, as I started my season off with them on a massive road trip to West Virginia to ski Hurricane Sandy's fluffy bounty in October. I knew if anybody would be getting after it, it would be them. Not to mention that this would be a perfect bookend to that WV trip to close out the season. It had to happen.
Once we met up with the Worth guys in Cambridge, it was pretty apparent that this wasn't just a regular storm. This was a dangerous amount of moisture. There was lots and lots of flooding going on- worse than Irene in many places, several sections of Rte 15 had been washed out and many roads and houses were under water with more rain on the way. Every river, creek and stream in Northern VT blew its banks. The driving was laborious at best, with a raging headwind and driving rain the entire trip as well. Once we got there though, it was already beginning. The snow wasn't supposed to start until later but it had already been reported as falling at the base of Jay Peak. We drove to Mansfield to see what was happening over there and snow was hovering in the clouds still- it was happening but nowhere near as low as at Jay- so the call was made. Early up, drive to Jay and hit the hill.
The next morning, we rolled up to a surprisingly full lot hilariously devoid of skiers. People were going about their Memorial Day plans at the waterpark with the family and were giving us perplexed looks as if we were on fire and naked. It was snowing hard all the way to the base and the skinnable snow was a 5 minute walk from the parking lot. Oh, to be back in winter again! The cold wind, the freezing sting of the snow falling... It was on. After a short stroll we clicked into the skis and snowshoes and started climbing. It felt as if every damn step brought winter closer and closer and by the time we got to the summit it might as well have been January. Lots of smiling, bewildered faces just speechless and shrugging their shoulders up there just completely blown away that we were actually here, doing this. Right now.
Then... We skied pow. Lots and lots of pow.
Soft and fluffy turns were had up top- seriously bottomless skiing, no exaggeration. Easily 20" as well, as confirmed by dozens and dozens of pole-stabs on the way up to gauge depth more accurately as there was a lot of wind loading- which was SO much fun to play in. Those perfect (although increasingly thick and heavy) surfy turns were had about 2/3-3/4 of the way down the hill until we found the snow too wet to be worth it, and headed up for more laps. Three such laps later and we were seeing the snow go downhill fast. Literally. It was getting noticeably warmer, a fog was rolling in and the snow was getting heavier and heavier by the minute.
With the smiles plastered from ear to ear, the blisters rearing their ugly heads once again and the snow starting to go to shit in a hurry, we started our final descent. The bottom 1/4 of the mountain was flat out pouring now and what was skiable mank on the uphill was now thicker and stickier than Elmer's glue and we ended up walking much farther out than we did in. The small window of opportunity was closing fast. All in all though, it was a surreal end to an amazing season that began and ended with epic roadtrips to freak weather events and rare turns. I must say, I hope this is a sign of things to come as THAT my friends, was a season for the books!
More pics available at Worthskis.com and on their facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/worthskisvt