Late Spring at Sugarloaf
April 30, 2014
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Sugarloaf is somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit. The biggest ski hill east of the Rockies, it promises excellent varied terrain and a long season extending from Thanksgiving into May. There was certainly no serious signs of Spring as we approached the mountain on the last Saturday of April. Just top to bottom snow, and plenty of natural cover under the lifts and in the trees. And roughly as many people as a meeting of the Mormon Craft Beer Appreciation Society. Perhaps the crowds were reduced by the ominous signs at the base of the main Super Quad Lift. Certainly all drone flying skiers must have gone to more liberal ski areas 😉
We were blessed with clear dry weather for the first 2 hours on Saturday. Good long groomers and progressively softening bumps were skiing fine as we got to know the mountain a little. By noon the precip arrived. Wet snow for the top 3/4’s of the hill, drizzle at the bottom. We hung in until about 2.30pm when a combo of sogginess and stickiness at the bottom (!) drove us to our slopeside hotel check-in.
As forecast, the drizzle turned to snow sometime overnight, and we awoke to a white blanket covering the village. This made for very fun chowda skiing. About 4 inches at the top, and a good 1-2 inches on groomers made for some fabulous early shredding. As the morning progressed, the precip diminished, then stopped, and the cloud level slowly rose to reveal the many lines off the top of the mountain. Suddenly it was exploration time – huge bumps on Gondola Line, superb glades like Stump Shot, Blade and Swedish Fiddle, and steep windy shots like Upper Bubblecuffer, despite the weird names, were all epic Spring skiing.
As the weather cleared, the only downside was the glue level rose. By mid-afternoon, getting back to the Skyline chair required a groomer low down, and even then it was grippy. We called it a day at 2pm, and slid slowly with burning thighs through the glue to base lodge. This had been a weekend that was well worth the long drive though. I can now legitimately dream of ripping the glades and chutes off the top of Sugarloaf sometime next winter. It has genuine expert terrain up high, fine long groomers and enough vert to keep anyone happy for a few days. A great introduction to skiing in Maine.
Sat 6400m, Sunday 8400m vert
Season Totals: 52 days, 427,900m vert
7 powder days, 1 chowda day