Rob on Assignment!
So I headed up to Snowshoe on Monday to get some skiing in as well as to scope out the Cupp Run Challenge for Mike and SkiSoutheast. As always I started out at 5:30 in the morning….after reading this forecast:
"Partly cloudy and cold, with a high near -5. Wind chill values between -27 and -34. Breezy, with a northwest wind between 17 and 24 mph."
Needless to say, after reading that I made sure I had every piece of layer I owned on, as well as sporting the balaclava for the first time this season (For the record, I would have been miserable without it).
When I got there, the bank at the bottom of the mountain read -1 degrees. I thought, “Well, it could be worse” Sure enough, the 8 am temp at the top of the mountain was -8, and that wasn’t counting the wind chill.
In all honesty, it wasn’t that bad. I was dressed appropriately, and the only thing that consistently got cold was my hands; I also couldn’t really feel my toes, but this happens a lot on cold days anyway. I saw some people out with no face covering, and definitely saw some skin looking very purple. Let me tell you guys (and gals), if it’s going to be this cold, you really need to cover up. Frostbite is a very real danger when its this cold, and it can happen fast if it is really windy.
Anyway, the conditions at Snowshoe were pretty good. I would grade them as follows: groomed/granular/death ice/packed powder/, in that order. The biggest problem was the wind- it was blowing all of the newly fallen snow (and the manmade snow) into drifts all over the place, so there was a lot of boilerplate ice. The Western Territory runs were actually very well groomed (Lower Shays an exception, more on that later), and remained a really good ski surface for most of the day. I believe that if the wind weren’t so bad the conditions would have been more consistent throughout the day, but you really just had to pick and choose your runs. Gandy Dancer actually had great snow all day, and was definitely one of the best runs on the mountain today.
Now onto the race! My pictures actually didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped they would, and I was really hoping to get some better angles, but with the temps dipping below 0 I could only operate the camera for so long without my fingers falling off. I discovered today that my camera starts to get realllyyyy slugggisshhh when its very cold, and can be a huge pain. In any event, check out the pics to see some of the racers in all of their glory, both snowboard and skier. The course gates were spaced GS-style, rather than with a wider Super-G kind of format. The public was allowed to ski them early on in the day, and they had decent spacing with a couple of challenging turns for sure. The course this year ran all the way to the bottom of Cupp, including the flat stretch at the end, as opposing to the setup of previous years where it ended at the bottom of the steeps on Lower Cupp. This definitely meant that the racers needed to pull into a tuck as soon as possible to keep up speed, and made it all the more challenging. Stay tuned to Snowshoe’s website for the official results.
The last thing I made sure to do today was get some pictures of Lower Shays Revenge…and wow, was it a doozie. Normally Lower Shays is a bump fest, with VW-sized moguls across its whole width. However, as of now, they haven’t done anything with the HUGE piles of manmade snow on the sides. This makes for an “interesting” skiing experience, as you have two options: Ski the moguls in the middle, or brave the massive bumps on the outside. The moguls that are in the middle of the run right now actually aren’t too bad, but you gotta watch out for the random piles of natural powder that are all over the place. Because Lower Cupp was closed in the morning for the race, there were a lot more people on Lower Shays than you will ever normally see; it was definitely entertaining to see people attempt it, and I saw numerous people have some epic falls. Word to the wise: Lower Shays is only for the experts, the brave, or the foolish. I find that the latter two often seem to coincide.
That’s all for today, and I’m afraid that I might not be out on my skis again till next week! Stay tuned for another editorial by this weekend, I hope, and as always thanks for reading!
Be sure to check out the full sized versions of his Snowshoe Trip Report – CLICK HERE