My son is racing in the U16 Eastern Champs at Sugarloaf and the quirk of the schedule is that the men's have Sunday off while the Women race GS. I had taken a leap of faith back during the fall when Sugarloaf offered a flash on line ticket sale and booked a 6 day pass at a really good price and a house to share with a teammate of my son's family. The morning we were to leave for Maine I got an email from Sugarloaf offerring Cat Skiing for $30 bucks on Sunday Morning. I immediately booked it as I saw the forecast was for snow on Sunday.
View from day before looking out at Burnt MT
Sunday morning of course is the morning of the time change so I got up early in the dark and quietly headed to the mountain while the rest of the house slept in. I fueled up with the amazing fresh made made donuts at the base that were still hot and got all the details for where I had to meet the cat. Once i loaded the Whiffletree Quad i quickly realized that the day was going to be filled with weather issues as the storm came in. The wind was blasting at 40+ though seemed to settle down a bit at mid mountain. I did a couple quick warm up groomer laps off King Pine and headed down the access cat track to where you meet the cat off of Burnt Mountain. I was told to be at the meeting location at 9:20 and I arrived right on time and hung out with some others by the fire they had built. They run two cats with 10 seats each and were sold out for the 9:30 session. The staff explained the set up and explained that you had roughly 15 mins for the first run and they would not wait beyond 20 mins. We loaded the cats and headed up for the 15 min to the top.
At the top the patrollers explained the routes available and warned to not ski Kennebec Glade on the first run as the run out would not allow for you to make it back to the cat for the the cut off. I started on the main route which after a couple hundred vert seemed a bit tame and saw a sign for a double black called Little Androscoggin Glade. Just then a couple from Boston in the 30's that skied up and were good skiers so we teamed up and headed in. It had a very nice double black pitch and was open enough that you can really get a nice flow going. The surface was a very nice creamy packed pow with some crud and wind crust occasionally in spots. This glade funnels you a bit farther from the cat but we skied the run in about 11 mins.
We just had sat down at the fire and fist bumped with Chris and Megan before the command came to reload the cats. They were not kidding about leaving behind slow pokes and the cats headed back up hill with only 15 skiers of the 20 that started the first run. For your $30 bucks you get at most 2 cat rides and there was another group scheduled for 11am. On the 2nd run we did the short couple min hike up to Kennebec Glade which was the steepest offering. The top of that was more open due to it getting a lot of blow down from the recent big wind storms but you had to watch out for all the debris. Mid way down I headed far left and got a long stretch of mid calf deep pow. Eventually we hit the markers for the way out but somewhere along the path we must have missed a marker and ended up bushwacking thru bramble for about 5 mins before hitting the cat road out. You then ski maybe a mile on the cat track before hitting an uphill where you have to walk. That takes you to the the condos and then a 10 min walk back to the main base lodge.
Turns out that during our cat session the winds had really picked up shutting all the higher lifts. The Women's GS got cancelled about 2/3 of the way thru the first run after half of the field DNF'ed and lighter girls were being blown off the course. I had planned a shorter day for myself anyway as I have 3 days more to ski. I decided to ski down from the main base to the Shipyard Brewery for Sunday Brunch with some Maine beers. I came out from lunch and the lift to get me back to the base lodge was closed so I walked 10 mins up hill and realized that my car was parked just over the creek and then I saw a bridge. I then had to figure out if I could drive my car with my ski boots on back up to the main base lodge to get my bag and shoes. It's pretty hard to push the gas with your ski boot but I made it. Also found out that they were giving vouchers for the day so I got one in only a couple mins wait for that my wife can use for later in the week.
I may have been the only happy guy after the windy day as I had a fantastic day.
Note I had the date wrong
It was the 10th not the 9th
if You French Fry when you should Pizza you are going to have a bad time