The End ...



My last ski day this season was last Saturday, Apr. 27th at Sugarbush. It was the best last day I’ve had ever and my 7th season skiing.

Brian and I went up there together. It was a beautiful bluebird day, at least in the morning. By the time we left after lunch it had clouded up. Lincoln and Gadd Peaks were open, serviced by the Super Bravo Express Quad and Heaven’s Gate Triple.

For our first run we took lower Jester down from the Super Bravo. It was dicey to say the least. About halfway down we encountered a work crew just in time for them to throw a shovelful of snow on a strip of dirt so we could proceed! I still wound up skiing over a patch of dirt expecting to take a sudden stop and dive but I scooted right over it. Either my wax was still good, the dirt was wet enough or I had unweighted enough or all of the above.

Needless to say, we next looked for better terrain. Again we took the Super Bravo but this time took the Valley House Traverse over to Snowball and Spring Fling. Much better! One narrow spot but mostly wide open. Fun!

The view of Upper Jester from the Super Bravo unload looked pretty appetizing but we needed to then ski over to the Heaven’s Gate Triple to get to Lincoln Peak. We followed the signs but when we finally got to the Heaven’s Gate traverse it was closed! Puzzling! We could see the lift running and people skiing down the trails so they had to have got there somehow. Back at the base we asked the lifty about it and as it turned out resort owner Win Smith was right there next to us and offered to lead us over to Heaven’s Gate. He’s a good skier and it was a challenge following him but I’m proud to say I was able to keep him in view (not actually keep up with him) without crashing! So the trick is, go right off Super Bravo unload and just follow Downspout all the way to Heaven’s Gate. Ignore the sign that directs you to take a right off Downspout! At least in the late season when the traverse is closed.

The Heaven’s Gate lift runs right up alongside Ripcord, a double-diamond trail. It looked to be by far the most popular run judging from the number of people on it but too rich for my blood. I could definitely do it but I felt that it would tire me out too much and with the snow getting heavier and wetter by the hour I wanted to preserve my quads to get the most out of the day. Maybe next year! :-)

The nearly 360 degree view from the top was phenomenal with views of Lake Champlain, Whiteface and Mount Mansfield over by Stowe. Wikipedia says "Mount Mansfield is one of three spots in Vermont where true alpine tundra survives from the Ice Ages." Cool! Literally!

As anticipated, Upper Jester was in great shape. It’s a heavily switchbacked trail of moderate width but the snow cover was edge to edge with no bare spots. I did that for a couple of runs. Brian did Ripcord and then we met up for a final run to lunch consisting of Upper Jester to Spring Fling.

Huge fun but my legs were pretty fried by that point so I opted to call it quits after lunch while Brian made 2 more runs from the top of Lincoln.

So why was it my best last day ever? I guess primarily because of my skill level and strength  which so far has improved and increased respectively each year. I am able to handle the heavier spring snow and negotiate hazards like ice and bare spots better. More control. Also it was a beautiful day, the open trails were in great shape (except for Lower Jester), new skis, spring wax  and I had my friend with me! :-)

Ski Day 21 and no complaints!

I’m going to sleep now. Wake me for the ski expo in November.