Spring Skiing? Delightful!

Despite the fact Avie’s bus trips are done for the season, the urge to let gravity yank me downhill is still impressively strong. And my leg muscles are finally tuned to the point where at days end there is only a blissful ache instead of throbbing pain.

So, I pointed north and had the great pleasure of being at Okemo yesterday. The resort is still 100% open, and there is plenty of snow, though they are done with snowmaking for the season.

I was clicked into a pair of Blizzard Quattro RS skis, which thrive on firm-and-fast. So I started my day over on the South Face to hit it before the snow began to soften. I put down first tracks on every open, non-mogul trail. I had first and second tracks on Blind Faith. If you get the feeling there were few people there, you got it right.

I stayed until about 10AM when the lower parts of the trails began to soften, and a steady stream of skiers and riders began to show up to take advantage of that softening. I worked my way over to the Main Face of the resort and hit all the classics—World Cup, Chief, Defiance, Nor’easter and Jolly Green Giant. These trails were still firm-and-fast, though the ice chip/”Death Cookie” mix—which graced most slopes on the South Face—had been skied over and chopped up to make the glide a bit less tooth rattling. I liked Chief and Nor’easter so much I did them each a few times top-to-bottom. I caught a big air (for me) on World Cup, and landed it! Usually airtime for me results in spectacular yard sale events, but not this time.

I went next over to Solitude, and the surfaces there were very smoothed out. What is typically called “dust-on-crust” though the “dust” was a pretty good coating. I took a run on all the trails in Solitude, then headed back for a few final runs down Chief to make some big carves in the softening snow.

It was a blast. There is plenty of snow left to have plenty of fun on. Yes, there are a growing number of hazard markers gracing the trails, and bald patches are sure to be turning up as the warming days march onward. But for now you can get the best of everything. Firm-and-fast to start the day with some high speed runs, mellowing in mid-morning as the snow softens, and then outright spring skiing and riding in “Hero Snow” late morning through mid-afternoon.

Conditions are still phenomenal up north, so there is no reason to toss your gear in a corner for the spiders to play on until next fall. Get yourself up north again while the getting is good. And it is good.

I’m still smiling, the morning after my day of play at Okemo. Since smiling and being happy are good things, I’m planning on doing it again. And again. Hope to see you out there.

 

 

AlanD

Save the Best for Last

Fifty-three lucky people filled the bus for the last 2018 Avie’s Ski & Ride Trip. And they were very, very lucky people indeed.

As is typical for the last trip, Okemo was the destination. The weather was typical January, though it was mid-March. The mood on the bus was typical; happy people getting ready for a day of playing in the snow. And what a day of play it was!

The definition of “Bluebird Day” in the dictionary has a picture of the skies at Okemo on the day of the trip. Brilliant sunshine from a brilliantly blue sky. All day long.

The snow? Incredible! Firm and fast across the mountain early in the day, allowing for some quick runs down the mountain. South Face softened up a bit late morning, allowing for some exquisite carving fun. Woods, bumps, corduroy. It was all there laid out in abundance for all. And amazingly, the crowds were not so horrible in the morning, and by early afternoon skiers and riders went from trail’s end right onto a waiting chair.

It was a perfect ending. If we needed something to complain about, it might have been that there was a touch too much breeze at the summit. But that really didn’t wipe the huge smiles off the faces of folks as they climbed aboard the bus for the ride home.

Ted gave away a wealth of socks and scarves, koozies and cookies, hats and hoo-dads. There was even a movie that wasn’t Ice Age or Elf!! Can you believe that!?

If you didn’t make the last Avie’s trip, you can still get in on some action in the snow up north. There is plenty there, and things look to stay colder than “normal” for the next week or so, meaning the snow will linger. It’s worth the trip. I had so much fun Sunday, that I went back up on Tuesday. It was just as good, but a bit less fun without the great bunch of people I skied with throughout the day.

Get out there a few more times while the snow lingers. But if you are really dead set on calling it quits for the season, be sure to bring in your skis or board and have it “summerized.” This will ensure that come next year, when the Avie’s bus is pulling out of the parking lot with you on board, your gear will be ready to play hard.

 

 

AlanD

Another Lousy Powder Day

I popped into Okemo Thursday morning, only to be greeted with yet another top coat of 5-8 inches of fresh snow. Looked like another lousy day in paradise was about to play out.

This powder, due to the windy conditions while it was snowing, was a bit “denser” than the really fluffy stuff. It was more tiring to ski in, and a wrong move would get me tossed to the surface for a very inelegant face plant. After three of those I decided to stick to the groomers. I had enough snow in my jacket for the day.

Needless to say conditions are pretty incredible throughout the Green Mountains. More than enough snow is on the trails and in the woods. The carving is into beautiful packed powder, and the lumps and bumps are generally pretty forgiving.

We appear to be sliding into a bit of a cold spell, so expect the snow to hang around a bit. There is even talk of another nor’easter dropping by middle of next week. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, go skiing and riding. Get out there and enjoy some of the most incredible conditions we have seen in a couple of years. This truly is Madness in March.

Ted informed me there are only a few seats left on the bus for this Sunday’s trip—the last shop-sponsored trip of the season. “Single digits” was the descriptor he used. So if you want to get in on this fantastic trip—Ted and all Avie’s employees are going—you better do it soon. Like today. This morning. Shop opens at 10:00AM.

I hope to see you Sunday morning. If not, perhaps we will cross paths out on the slopes. I’ll be the skier in the orange pants, which you will clearly notice as I do another face plant. Enjoy.

 

 

AlanD

Let’s Ski & Ride!

A picture is worth a thousand words. And this picture shows how you are going to feel when you get to Okemo this Sunday, the 18th of March, on the Avie’s trip bus.

This is the last Avie’s trip of the season, and it will be a great one. Conditions up north are incredible. In fact, I can’t remember a season finale Avie’s bus trip that will travel into such superb slope conditions. 

But wait…..there’s more!

Ted comes along on this trip, and brings all kinds of fun and useful bling that he gives away on the ride back home at days end. And all of Avie’s staff is along as well. It’s a fun trip.

For LESS THAN the price of a lift ticket, you get a lift ticket. AND a ride to and from Okemo. AND you get to ski and ride in unheard of March conditions—lots of fresh packed powder, and if you look hard, you may find some untouched stashes here and there. 

AND you get to see Ted play trip emcee. AND you will likely get some ski or ride related paraphernalia. Who knows, it might even be something you really want!

So join us this Sunday, March 18th, on the last Avie’s bus trip of the season, to Okemo. Conditions will be great, and there will be some fun during the travel time to and from the mountain. 

There are still seats available. But don’t hum and haw too long, this trip fills every year and will likely do so quicker this year because of the banner conditions. 

See you Sunday morning for a fun day playing on the slopes, and a chill ride home with Ted and the rest of the Avie’s shop gang.

 

 

AlanD

March Magic

Today I had the pleasure of popping into Okemo and spending the morning cruising the mountain slopes. Like Killington the day prior, the newly fallen snow was plentiful, though Okemo had smoothed out many trails into delectable corduroy. They did leave quite a few trails ungroomed, so there was a nice diversity of snow across the mountain.

My legs were still a bit sore from the day before, and it took a few runs in Jackson Gore to work out the kinks. Most of the trails in the Solitude area were ungroomed, and so not very busy. I stayed there for a bit, then wandered back to the main mountain, ending my day with a quad crushing run down Chief.

There is abundant snow on all the trails, and if forecasts are on target then it will mostly stay there as temperatures warm a bit by day, then tumble again by night, preserving the snowpack. There are rumors afoot of another “dump” early in the coming week; let’s hope it’s true. 

Regardless, conditions are incredible right now. Most of the ungroomed trails will eventually get groomed over the coming few days to preserve and enhance conditions, so if you want the lumps and bumps, get out there soon. And if you like the groomers, get out there! Now! 

And to help you get there, you can hop on the bus from Avie’s this Sunday the 11th of March. The bus heads to Stratton for what I am sure will be a great day of playing in some very, very, tasty snow. Seats still available, but dwindling rapidly. 

However you can get there, get there. And enjoy some of the seasons most endearing conditions.

 

 

AlanD

Nor’easters Are Nice

While most folks are grumbling about the past couple of storms, us skiers and riders are quite happy with the outcomes.

I managed, for once, to be in the right place at the right time—at Killington at the start of Storm No. 2 that will leave behind 16+ inches, and it’s still snowing. New England ski country needed a shot in the arm just like these storms provided. It is beautiful to see. And a marvel to play in. No. 2 did a real bang up job of covering the landscape white.

While you may have missed the actual powder day, don’t fret, there is plenty of nice, soft, packed powder to carve into. And the woods still hold the goods for those wanting to dive into a  bit of the fluffy stuff. 

I’m popping in to Okemo tomorrow to play on the beautiful stripes of corduroy I know they will be laying out all over the mountain. I know it will be another banner day in ski country,

So get out soon and play in the latest covering of snow. You may want to consider getting on the Avie’s trip heading up to Stratton this coming Sunday, the 11th. Conditions will likely be some of the best to be had this season. And yes, there is still room on the bus. But space isn’t unlimited so don’t procrastinate too long.

 

 

AlanD

 

Thursday At Okemo

I managed to get up to Okemo Thursday the 25th. I thought I would share with you what I found, which may be handy if you have been “fence-sitting” about the Avie’s bus trip to Stratton this coming Sunday, the 28th.

I have to admit I didn’t have real high expectations after being up there last week after the major rainfall they got whomped with, and then a lesser rainfall event on Tuesday of this week.

I have to admit I was more than pleasantly surprised. If I had the money to buy the entire Okemo Mountain Ops Team a beer for excellent work, I would because they deserve it. Okemo wasn’t 100% open, but they did have 87 trails open, which is closing on 90%, maybe more. And what was open was good to great.

The snow was firm and fast on most all trails. I was skiing a pair of Blizzard Quattro race skis, so conditions were about the best you could ask for that pair of Greyhounds. Grooming was impeccable all over the resort, with fresh man-made snow gracing many of the blues and greens.

While steeper pitches were firm and fast top-to-bottom, many of the milder trails had a dusting of fresh snow, generally piled up on the side where the wind was blowing towards. This provided some really nice, soft, and in some places “floaty” snow. A young lady I road the lift with described it as “wearing a silk evening gown.” I’ll have to take her word for that! But I think she agreed that it was pretty sweet stuff to ski through.

I didn’t go over to Jackson Gore since they were blowing snow on several trails, and I didn’t feel like  messing around in the snow guns. I presume it would be much like the rest of the mountain—good to great.

It was cold and it was windy. But it was sunny and beautiful. Because the conditions on most of the steeper trails were such an awesome match for the Blizzard Quattro skis, it turned out to be one of the best days I have had on the slopes in a number of years.

So, if you have been “fence-sitting” regarding the trip to Stratton this Sunday, hop off onto the side that says “go skiing.” It will be cold again Friday, so snow-making will continue at “full tilt boogie” rates. Then the temperature goes up a bit, with Sunday being in the high 30’s. So instead of firm-and-fast you get “Hero Snow” to play in. Hmmm, that stuff can be kinda fun!!

No, I won’t be bringing the Blizzard Quattro skis to Stratton on Sunday. But I do hope to see you on the bus. Then you can find out what skis I brought, because I’m not going to tell.

As a warning however, the bus this Sunday is a “mini-coach” so while there are seats still available, it’s not a lot of them. So maybe you better launch off that fence quick-like and get over to Avie’s and reserve your spots.

Hope to see you Sunday morning.

 

 

AlanD

Update from the Trails at Okemo

I had the pleasure of stopping at Okemo for a day of skiing yesterday. I thought I would pass along an update on how things are looking and what snow conditions are like.

As you might expect, the massive rainfall late last week resulted in the loss of a lot of snow. Yes, there are patches of glacier ice here and there on the downslope edges of some trails. And yes, some trails were closed because the cover was too thin.

That said, the trails that were open (85 of them) all had pretty good coverage, especially along the edge where the snow guns were located. A few trails were like crushed ice cubes, but they offer their own kind of fun as long as every trail isn’t that way. And they weren’t.

Bottom line? While a step backwards was taken due to the rain, Okemo retaliated quickly and surely to make things skiable.The 6 or so inches they are expecting today will of course make things that much better. And things look to be staying cold, with the potential for another snowfall early next week.

Of course, one of the nicest things about being at Okemo on a weekday was that there were no crowds competing for the snow. I made run after run after run, until about 10:30 AM, when I finally shared a chair of the heated 6-pack bubble lift to the top. While I didn’t lay down first tracks on any trail, I was second or third on many of them.

My point here is, to be clear, Avie’s has a bus trip scheduled for Okemo on Wednesday the 24th of January. I very strongly suggest you be on that bus. Okemo is a great mountain with a good diversity of trails. If you want the opportunity to ski and ride that diversity without waiting in long lift lines, then constantly dodging an endless procession of people while sliding back down the hill, a Wednesday is a prime day for such a feat.

Join me on the 24th as we head to Okemo for a day of skiing and riding on the less crowded side. Conditions are good, and will be one heck of a lot better after this storm rolls through, and even better still if another happens before our visit. And if not, you know Okemo—known for it’s snowmaking and grooming—will be blasting snow all over the mountain between now and then.

So stop by Avie’s and get your name on the trip list. And do it soon. You don’t want to miss out on a great weekday on the mountain. Weekend trips are fun, but weekday trips are, well, a lot more fun!

See you next Wednesday.

 

AlanD

Reindeer Skis?

You can bet that post-Christmas, Santa’s team of reindeer will be chilling out in the woods after an exhausting night of deliveries. And who wouldn’t like to see Santa’s reindeer?

Well, if you want to go look, here are three pair of skis that will take you for that adventure between the trees. One is a tried and true pair of sticks, and the other two are new to the market this season.

The tried and true reindeer hunter is Volkl Kendo. The two newbies are Volkl Kanjo and Blizzard Brahma CA. Each of these is light in weight and have lots of “pop.” These qualities make them excellent skis to take off trail for some adventure.

Year after year I ski Volkl Kendo and just don’t get sick of them. They carve. They are fun in the bumps. They float powder. They nimbly make their way between the trees. Kendo is just an amazing ski.

Then along comes Volkl Kanjo new for 2018. At first blush I thought Kanjo was just Kendo with less width. But I was wrong. Kanjo is a bit lighter, and with a lot more “pop” underfoot. They carve the groomers just fine. But they love the bumps and lumps. And because they are so light and so nimble they are just a blast among the trees. Kanjo was a standout among all the new skis for 2018 that I got to try out at the On Snow Demo. I give Kanjo a double thumbs up.

Blizzard Brahma has been a “go to” ski for someone who plays all around the mountain. But Brahma has a bit of an attitude because of all the metal stiffeners it carries. Blizzard took all that made Brahma a great ski, but left out the metal and replaced it with carbon fiber. The result? One super light, fast responding, awesomely fun pair of sticks. You might forget you have skis underfoot they are so light. And because of that, they literally dance you through the trees.

So, if you want to go on a hunt for Santa’s reindeer team the day after Christmas, you may want to consider picking up one the skis I mention above. If you love the adventure found between the trees, and if you really want a chance to find those sneaky reindeer, these are your best bet.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas. And happy reindeer hunting.

 

AlanD