Son-in-law Andy and I hit the slopes at Okemo yesterday, the 24th. It was my first time out for the season and his first after ACL surgery the year before. With the recent snowfall we were anticipating good conditions, and we weren’t disappointed.
While Okemo is not yet 100% open, the trail count was in the 90s so there were plenty of options. This morning the trail count was in the low 100s. Since it was Andy’s debut with a fixed knee we hit the beginner slopes in front of the Clock Tower lift for first run of the day.
Surprise, surprise! It was NOT what we expected. There was precious little if any snow on top of a glazed, crusty, icy surface. Not even dust-on-crust. Just the crust. We got on the lift again and decided to get to the summit, hoping that perhaps the colder temps up top resulted in a different kind of surface.
Our guess was correct, because once away from the beginner area, most trails had a nice covering of groomed snow. There were indeed some crusty, icy patches here and there, even early in the day. But this is New England skiing so hey, that’s kinda normal.
We never went over into Jackson Gore, mainly spending time in the Solitude area lapping the intermediate trails as Andy and I both gained our rhythm and stretched out those unused skiing muscles.
All in all it was a great beginning for both of us. Crowds were minimal. If indeed you could call it “crowded” for a couple minute delay at the lift waiting for the people in front of you to load. Coverage on trails was good, though getting scraped clean in areas as the day went on, especially on popular and intersecting trails. But not all trails. We did find a few that had great coverage and abundant snow. Snow making was occurring on several trails as well, building and supplementing existing coverage.
Both Andy and I felt bad for the poor beginners trying to scratch their way down the slope over the crusty surface. On our final run back to the base lodge we did find that the run under the lift in the beginners area did indeed have nice snow coverage. So there were options for those that explored a bit.
More snow is on tap for tonight and into tomorrow, and then some. So conditions, we presume, will continue to improve. It was a bit disconcerting to see streams running freely under the Sunburst Six chair lift to the summit. Those should be frozen solid this time of year. Hopefully some deeper cold will settle in and help keep the snowpack intact.
For right now, thumbs up to Okemo for some very good conditions, and for continuing to build on existing conditions by making snow to supplement the natural stuff. Our only suggestion might be to show a bit more mercy on those beginners not able or willing to find a way off the expansive stretch of crusty ice on the beginner slopes.
Get out and enjoy the snow.