Showing posts with label Ski. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ski. Show all posts

Sunday, February 21, 2016

February 2016 Vacation Week - Racing and a bit of everything at Wildcat

What a whirlwind school vacation week! Our youngest son Isaac participated in the Maine Class A Alpine ski championships at Mt. Abram. The event was delayed a day by another day of miserable rain, followed by colder conditions which created an extremely icy course for both the Giant Slalom and Slalom events. Isaac did very well overall, as he placed in the upper half of the field in GS and upper third of the field in Slalom and stayed up on his feet all four runs. Being our senior, this was our last high school event. It has been a great 9 years of watching our kids participate in the Freeport Middle and High School Teams!

Isaac racing in his last state High School meet
Our oldest son Alec is off at Ithaca college and he joined the IC Alpine Club race team. He has been all over upstate New York participating in USCSA races. He just completed regionals and had a fine year and had a lot of fun. He feels like he improved his race skills quite a bit.

Alec racing Slalom in -15 temperatures!
What we really live for is our free skis and lots of natural snow. Sadly this year has been lacking in the snow department. Our favorite mountain Saddleback is still closed and it has just been a bummer snow year so far. We decided to close out our school vacation week at Wildcat in New Hampshire.
Wildcat from the Parking Lot
They have a nice Sunday afternoon $30 lift ticket and they reported a bit of fresh snow over the weekend. It was quite literally three different mountains.

Top 1/4 - Nice soft powder turns and we skied our first natural snow trails of the year. Some of the best ski turns of the year.
Middle 1/2 - ROCK SOLID ICE. Firmest conditions I have ever skied. It must of rained and froze mid-mountain. Some of the worst skiing of the year.
Bottom 1/4 - The very bottom loosened up for some spring like conditions.

Very weird day. We wanted to keep going up to the top to ski the fluff but the middle was so awful it didn't make it worth it. Just a continuation of this weird winter we are having.

Regardless, a day skiing is better than staring at the mud in the yard. We are enjoying getting up late on weekends this year and doing half days at the hill.

Here is a video edit of our day.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Afternoon Ski Day = Fun Day at Mt. Abram

A recent article by Maine skier and writer Josh Christie reminded us that a afternoon of skiing can be a lot of fun. We tried it today with a Sunday afternoon day at Mt. Abram and yes, it was a lot of fun!

While waiting for winter to arrive Mt. Abram is putting out a very good product. One of my favorite
Isaac getting some air at Mt. Abram
trails in Maine, Fearless Leader, is open and skiing great. As we drove up to Mt. Abram late in the morning it was humorous to see all the cars with out of state plates and skis on the top make their way down Rt. 26 on their way home from Sunday River.

The snow was soft and craveable and after 2pm we pretty much had the place to ourselves. It was refreshing not having to get up at the crack of dawn to ski. The price was right ($35 afternoon ticket) and we had a blast! One of our best days of the year.

Rumour has it old man winter might make a return to Maine in a week or so. Maybe, just maybe. And maybe Saddleback will... ummm... nevermind.

Go Snow!

Always fun skiing with my wife and son!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

COMMENTARY - Thoughts on Saddleback Passholder Options

Saddleback made an announcement on Friday December 18th giving hope a sale will be completed
Hopeful this will happen again this winter!
soon and a late January opening is possible. This is good news, but the reality is that the sale is not final, and there is a lot of work to do complete the sale and get the mountain open. Recognizing this, the current and prospective owner they have given current passholders 3 options for this winter.

100% RefundAt any time from now until opening day, if you wish to not wait any longer you may request your season pass refund

This is the biggest news of the announcement. For folks that want to (or have already made plans) to ski elsewhere this winter, they now have an out card and can get their money back. Both Sugarloaf/Sunday River and Shawnee Peak have special season pass rates for folks that have purchased Saddleback season passes. In Shawnee's case, they are marketing a Season Pass to last year's passholders too.

I want to commend the Berry's for offering this refund option prior to the sale going through.

For those looking to hang in there with their Saddleback pass there are two options:

Keep pass and receive 50% bonus - By waiting for opening day, you will receive an additional 50% resort credit bonus added to your season pass that can be used anywhere in the resort:  food, tickets, lessons, rentals, seasonal locker rentals, future season or day passes etc. This may be used this year or next.

Convert Pass to Gift Card + 50% Bonus - The amount of your pass purchase will be placed on a gift card and by waiting for opening day you will receive an additional 50% resort credit bonus that can be used anywhere in the resort:  food, tickets, lessons, rentals, seasonal locker rentals,  future season or day passes etc. This may be used this year or next.

Both options have positive's and negatives and you have to assess your own situation to see what works for you. It is important to note if you convert your pass to a gift card you are giving up the pre-season rates. That is if you buy a pass later this season it will be at the published price.

@MaineSkiFamily's advice?

If you need your money back go ahead and get it now. Just keep an eye on Saddleback and if it opens, make a day trip or two (or more) this year and make plans for 2016-2017 season pass back at Saddleback.

For those looking to hang in there, wait a bit and see if the sale goes through. Three things could happen.

  • Absolute worst case and unlikely scenario, the sale collapses and Saddleback does not open, you get your money back. 
  • Saddleback sale happens and a January opening date is announced; the Keep pass and receive 50% bonus will probably be the best option. I see lots of opening day PBR's flowing at the Swig-n-Smelt with this option. :-)
  • Saddleback sale happens but opening is delayed into February; then the Convert Pass to Gift Card + 50% Bonus becomes more of an consideration. You basically have to decide how much you are going to ski Saddleback this season and see if the math / money works for you.
Once the official word of the sale and opening date are announced, you can do what is best for your situation.

So despite this horrendously warm weather, we still have a need to ski between now and when Saddleback hopefully opens. For those hanging in there with their Saddleback season pass, you may not want to spend a pile of money on lift tickets. Here are options you can consider:

Buy a Shawnee Peak Season Pass at $150. This is a very nice mountain and at this price, you only have to ski there three times to have the pass pay for itself. As of this writing (December 20) they are open for the season.

Ski Black Mountain of Maine - $15 Friday / $29 Saturday. This place reminds me a lot of Saddleback. Great family vibe, fun trails with +1,300 ft vertical drop, good learning area, outstanding nordic trails, very nice base lodge, reasonable ticket prices and some outstanding gladed terrain. You can ski here affordably and get an outstanding community mountain experience. If you think you might ski here 10 times or so a season pass may make sense too. As of this writing they are hoping to open December 26.

Our other favorite mid-sized mountain is Mt. Abram. I don't believe they are offering any deals to Saddleback passholders, but when the snow is on, the terrain at Mt. Abram is really good. Definitely worth a day-trip or two regardless of your pass status. As of this writing (December 20) they are open.

There are lots of great ski areas in Maine. Check them out!

So this Saddleback situation is still quite challenging. When this is all settled, it will make an interesting business school case study. While we understand the frustration of many, @MaineSkiFamily chooses not to look backward but look ahead. We will play the hand that we are dealt and trust it will all work out for Saddleback somehow. For now, we just need some snow!!! 

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the blog comment section or on our Facebook page

Monday, December 14, 2015

Snow at Mt. Abram December 13, 2015

We celebrated the 1 year anniversary of one of our best ski days ever at Saddleback, where we skied 55 trails on opening day with blower powder, by going to Mt. Abram and skiing one trail of man made snow! Regardless of the challenging weather, Mt. Abram was still able to put our a skiable product and we had fun.

Look! Snow at Mt. Abram!
The main run they had open was Boris Badenov straight down the fall line of the mountain. The
coverage in the middle of the trail was good. As you got lower down the mountain, the snow coverage was narrower, but still adequate.

The snow was a loose granular with some icy spots, but there was always piles of snow to turn in so the skiing was remarkably good considering the weather we have had. We arrived around noontime and it was pretty quiet but there were a few skiers making some early-season turns. This weather is a killer for skier traffic. Even with snow, the general population just is not in the mood to ski yet. You just got to power through the bad weather and go support local hills like Mt. Abram making it happen!

Mt. Abram has been making a lot of green improvements recently. They have an impressive array of solar panels below the base lodge, and they have recently installed an 'airless' snowmaking system that they anticipate will save $35,000 in snowmaking costs this winter. Here is a link to a recent news article on the snowmaking system.

Winter is coming! While we wait we can still ski. Thanks Mt. Abram!

Thanks to Mt. Abram for the snow!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

COMMENTARY - My Thoughts on Saddleback

It has been an excruciating 4 months as we all await news of Saddleback's status for the 2015-16 season. Followers of this blog know that our family absolutely loves the mountain. One of the biggest reasons we love it is because we just feel at home there. The staff, the skiers and the mountain just fits our style and it is hard for us to imagine making any other mountain our home mountain.

Saddleback is not for everyone, but what makes Saddleback unique for the @MaineSkiFamily crew?

Snow - The snow is just better there. We always seem to have consistent snow surfaces to ski on.
Maybe it is because they don't dust and run and instead bury their snowmaking trails. Maybe there is less skier traffic (good for skiers that are on mountain - but bad for business sounds like). Whatever the reason the snow is just really, really good.

Gladed Terrain - When our family discovered the trees at Saddleback, a whole new mountain opened up for us. The tree skiing is just awesome. Skiing down the big canopy of pine trees on Intimidator and Dark Wizard is truly special. Casablanca is a gladed playground that you could spend all day in. Upper Nightmare is just the right spacing of trees and open areas. The glade cutters of Saddleback have done an outstanding job to make tree spacing... just right. If you don't ski the glades of Saddleback you are really missing out.

Convenience - No shuttle buses to get on. Drop your skis off at the lodge and close by parking. A comfortable (albeit crowded on weekends) lodge with an awesome fireplace. A smiling, friendly staff. Great homemade cookies and coffee at the snack bar. A fun pub upstairs with great food, drinks and a stellar view.

Awesome Learning Area - The area below the base lodge has a variety of green trails and its own lift for beginners to get started on. The lollipop races on Sunday for the little ones is always a blast for the kids.

Golden Smelt, Warden's Worry, Peachy's Peril, Black Beauty, Parmacheenee Bell, Jane Craig, Professor, Governor - Old school ski trails - Need I say more?

Not Pretentious - We can usually pick out the people skiing 'from away'. Their skis and clothes are just a bit newer and more stylish than most. They are usually bombing down the middle of the trail at 100 miles an hour and they might comment that there are too many ungroomed trails.

True Saddleback skiers might have a rip or two in their clothing. Duck tape would not be out of the question to cover a hole or hold something together. Many are dipping knees on their teles. Usually they are skiing the sides of the trails or hopping into the woods to find some untouched powder stashes. And frozen ice beards are worn with pride.

I could go on and on about why we love Saddleback but I think you get the drift. But what now as we await news on Saddleback's fate. I admit I have gone through a range of emotions. I have been angry at times with the ownership and management, sad that we might lose our mountain, and hopeful that something is going to work out for the best for all parties involved. As I swing through these emotions I do keep coming back to these main thoughts.

My problem is not that big - Compared for folks that are living in the area, rely on the tourism for their livelihood, own property in the area or work at the mountain they are the ones most impacted. I think the majority of the Saddleback ski population fits into the 'hope for the best' column. I am just looking for a place to ski and I do hope it will be Saddleback.

Pre-season pass holders are a bit stuck - Those that bought early are a bit stuck and I don't blame them for being angry. I just skied Sugarloaf this past weekend thinking it would sure of been nice to know if I need a season pass at the Loaf instead of buying $150 worth of lift tickets. The situation is worse for those with on-mountain property and seasonal rentals. But at this point I can only trust the ownership that there are valid reasons for not refunding pass holders yet, and they will make things right in the end.

Chris Farmer (GM of Saddleback) is doing everything he can - My read is that he is trying to help facilitate a sale while under direct orders not to say anything. That has to be an impossibly tough situation. While official communication from the mountain has been inconsistent due to a variety of factors, I am quite certain the midnight oil is burning in Chris' office.

I don't want to own a ski area! - We owe a big THANK YOU to the Berry's and all the investments they have made in the mountain. I really don't blame them if they want to get out. I think they have lost a lot of their family money in this venture. I certainly wish the exit could be smoother, but it is not my money at risk. While I have my opinions on how to make Saddleback work better financially, I would not want to be in the driver's seat risking my own capital. Loads of risk!

I am hopeful for the future - Even if the lifts don't spin this winter, I do think there is hope for the future. Saddleback has WAY too much going for it to sit dormant for long.

I could be wrong about all of this and I am sure there are different opinions out there. However, this is what keeps me going. As I have said many times before, I do hope something works out for the best for everyone involved, and we will hang on to the bitter end to see how this plays out.

Fingers crossed!!!


The @MaineSkiFamily Old Man.

What do you think? Post in the comments below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

2014-15 Maine Ski Season Wrap Up and Video

Now that Memorial Day has come and gone, we are starting get into the full swing of late spring and summer. The golf clubs are out, the pool is open and I foresee lots of BBQ's on the deck.

Reflecting on the ski season I have to say it was an excellent one. It started with a couple of good
Opening Day at Saddleback - Trees and Powder
November trips to Sugarloaf and then a Saddleback opening day powder day to remember on December 13. After getting through a bit of rain on MLK weekend, we got SNOW and COLD for the next couple of months. Brutal skiing from a temperature perspective but it was an amazing run of powder and stellar conditions. March and April brought moderating temperatures but we really didn't get into true spring skiing until our last couple of trips in Mid-April. 

As a family we got a couple of dozen ski days in primarily at Saddleback, but we visited Black, Big Rock, Shawnee Peak and Sugarloaf. Isaac got many training and race days in at Lost Valley as well. Our schedule didn't work out to visit Mt. Abram this year but we will be sure to get back there next ski season. 

We enjoy summer and all the activities it brings, but you will be sure to find us on the slopes come November! Here is a season ending ski edit Alec put together. Thanks to the boys and my wife for participating in the ski videos, pics and just having fun as a family on the mountains of Maine!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Toasting the 2014-15 Season with a Fantastic Spring Ski Day at Saddleback

Here is to you Mother Nature - thanks for a great year!
We wrapped up the 2014-15 ski season in style and toasted a great year by skiing the April 19th closing day at Saddleback Maine.

The day started out a bit on the cool and firm side, but by lunchtime the clouds left and the bright bluebird spring day was upon us. They had lost some snow when compared to last weekend but everything was still open and skied great. The corn snow was perfect making the groomed trails smooth and the bumps soft.

On Peachy's Peril I was able to stick my 50" pole into the trail snow pack all the way to the handle. We really had some epic snows and some favorable weather to keep the base locked in all year.

Beers, Burgers, Chicken, Pulled Pork and Sausage all available on the deck in the glorious sunshine. Wherever you are raise a glass of your favorite beverage to toast an epic ski season in Maine and the rest of New England!

Thank you to my son Alec for all the edits and to Alec and Isaac for capturing a lot of footage and images for the blog. And special thanks to Juley for putting up with all of us boys this year and getting some great turns in. With Alec going off to an out of state college next year I am glad we were able to share a great year on the slopes together. We are after all A Family Skiing in Maine!

Here is our video edit of the day.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Epic April Spring Ski Day at Saddleback

After a winter of incredible skiing we got an outstanding spring day at Saddleback. With deep cover, the bright sunshine and temps around 50 made a stellar ski day.

After about 11am, the natural trails loosened up and skied great. Everything was awesome all day. Groomers, Woods, Bumps - all were outstanding. The old man took a tumble down Governor head wall - check out the video evidence below... but no harm done.

Enough words - our day was just a bunch of this.

NO HARM DONE! But a bit of a fall by the A Family Skiing in Maine old man on the Governor headwall. Ski got caught and down we go!
Posted by A Family Skiing in Maine on Sunday, April 12, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bluebird March Ski Day at Saddleback

What a gorgeous mid-week ski day at Saddleback. A co-worker and I took the day off and enjoyed a
Could not beat the view today at Saddleback
bluebird no wind day. Temps were upper 20's to lower 30's with great views and great snow. 

The groomer were spot-on. The woods and bumps were a bit firm, but easy to get an edge in and everything was a lot of fun.

Last weekend I broke my trusty Rossi Phantoms that were 170cm in length and 87 underfoot. I really liked these skis but they were 6 years old and I had a lot of great runs on them. Today was a good day to ride some demos from the Saddleback ski shop.

I first got on some Solomon Quest 90 underfoot 177cm in length. These skis rocked the groomers. I could lay down both quick and long arching turns. Just a tad too long in the woods and bumps however and did not feel comfortable on those skis off the groomed trials.   

So then I tried out some Blizzard Bramhas 173cm 88 underfoot. These skis were quick and lively and I found them very good in the trees and bumps. It was the first time I have skied a ski with a rocker so I had to push my shins into the front of my boot to really engage the edge. Overall I liked these skis quite well. 

However, I wanted to try something a bit wider, so I got on the Blizzard Bonafides 173cm 98 underfoot. These skis still felt great in the woods and bumps, I could engage them a little easier on the groomers and I just felt like I had a little more meat under my feet. I love to ski through the crud and variable snow on the edges of the trial and this ski really plowed through that stuff nicely. So that is my winner and I took them home. 

The Blizzard Bonafide's - I am a happy camper!
For mid-week there was a decent crowd at Saddleback soaking up the sun and fine weather. Looks like a bit of wet weather is coming so I am am ready for some spring skiing corn harvest! Get out there and ski it!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Weather Channel Interview, Busted Ski and Another Great March Ski Day at Saddleback

We had an interesting week in the @MaineSkiFamily household. After a great ski day on Sunday, Monday looked even better up at Saddleback but work and school called. On Wednesday, I was going to take the day off to go skiing with a co-worker, but the wind was howling, the temps around zero so we did not make the drive up. The lifts ended up not turning so it was a good call not to go. I love winter but I have to say I am getting ready for a bit of spring skiing. I am all done with freezer burn survival skiing for this year!

During the day on Wednesday, I put out a tweet complaining about having to wear earmuffs at noontime in Portland Maine on March 18. A producer from the weather channel saw my tweet and contacted me asking for an interview. They were looking for folks to interview experiencing Maine's never ending winter and said they would show a few of my pictures. I thought my son Alec would be a better interview since he drives most of the image work for this blog. So they lined up Alec for an interview on the Weather Channel during the My Weather segment.

Alec did a great job and it was cool to see him and some of his pics on National TV. Unfortunately our home Wifi internet connection cut out halfway through the segment so they lost the Skype connection. However, Alec still got some air time and they were nice to talk about his pictures even after the connection dropped. Here is a recording of the interview.

Looking at the weather forecast we saw Saturday March 21 was going to be a much nicer day to ski than Sunday. We had another great ski day! We could tell the mid-week winds had really scoured the
Isaac going big in Thrombosis Glade
open areas. However, the groomers were fantastic. Tight Line and Supervisor were great early although they did show some scratch later in the day. 

As they day wore on, it warmed up softening the snow and the skier traffic loosened up the top layer very nicely. Jane Craig, Peachy's Peril, Governor, Nightmare Glades and some of our other favorites skied extremely well in the mid-day sun. Temps got into the mid-30's mid-day. It felt like a heat wave!

There was a great crowd on the hill! It seemed like there were a lot of visitors at Saddleback. Hopefully they all had a great day!

Around mid-day our social media feeds starting reporting about the lift accident at Sugarloaf. The King Pine lift started slipping backwards and some people got hurt. Scary! We were just on that lift last weekend. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected.

I like to tease my family about throwing down some 'Old Man Air' and thrashing my way down Peachy's Peril (probably my favorite trail) doing some 'Old Man Bumps'. Well, it looks like my 6 Year old Rossi Phantoms have had enough. Halfway down Peachy's I felt my left foot seemingly get loose in the binding after smacking a bump. I stopped and looked down at my binding and all looked OK. So I skied a couple of more runs and in the flats and run outs my left ski just seemed squirrely and would not go straight. We stopped and the Yurt and once I took my ski off I figured it out pretty quickly. Big time de-lamination under my binding!

This... is a problem.

It is the end of the season so there should be deals on skis. I will have to demo some models the next time I am at Saddleback. 

Here is our video recap of the day. Highlights include:

  • Double Jane Craig Cliff Huck at 0:12
  • Governor Head wall entrance at 0:25
  • Black Beauty at 1:17
  • Tri-Color with glimpse of @MaineSkiFamily Mom at 1:50
  • Old Man Cam on Parmacheenee Bell at 2:17
  • Tight line seeded moguls at 2:42
  • Fresh lines in unnamed secret glade 3:02

Monday, March 16, 2015

Free Refills for a Stellar March Saddleback Sunday

Old Man Finding some Fresh at Saddleback
We had a great March 14-15 weekend in the mountains for western Maine. On Saturday, we went to Sugarloaf to ski and Isaac participated in the Ski the East freestyle competition. Isaac did well ripping his way down Ripsaw in front of the judges and had a good time. The skiing overall was OK - it was pretty icy due to the recent thaw freeze cycle but we still got some good turns in.

In the freestyle contest, the Sugarloaf event manager was on the microphone at the bottom of the course announcing competitors, home mountain and other info about them. When he announced Isaac skied at Saddleback he booed. I admit it was good natured ribbing and the announcer was trying to keep things lively. Saddleback and Sugarloaf are competitors after all. Not a huge deal but not a great way to treat a guest on the mountain either... especially considering the over $300 I spent at Sugarloaf Saturday on lift tickets and entry fees. Next time maybe I will just keep that cash in my pocket and go ski Saddleback.

Rant over and on to Sunday where we skied the best mountain in Maine IMHO - Saddleback. It was
awesome. We stayed the night at the Rangeley Inn and awoke to 3" of snow. According to the radar it looked like the snow was over but my oldest Alec swore we were going to get more. He was right! After a bit of freezing fog early, it starting snowing at 10am and kept snowing hard the rest of the day. Free refills! I am guessing we had 7" when we stopped skiing and it was still snowing hard.

By mid-day it was a whole lotta THIS!
Juley Finding Fresh on Black Beauty
Everything skied great and by the afternoon ski patrol opened the head walls of Wardens Worry, Frost Bite and Black Beauty. The snow just kept piling up and there was powder everywhere. Deep soft turns until our legs gave out around 3pm. Nice crowd on the hill, people on chairs all the time and in the true Saddleback way, most of the day we had the trials to ourselves. Saddleback has great terrain and just does not overcrowd the trails. Each run is unique and a true Maine ski experience.

Here is the video from our day. Highlights include the boys ripping the snowfields skiers right of Wardens Worry at 1:02; Old Man Cam at 1:09 including nice wipe out in Thrombosis; and our boys Alec and Isaac just ripping it up everywhere at Saddleback. One of the best days of the year and we have had a bunch of good ones!

Monday, March 9, 2015

More of the Same - Great March Skiing at Saddleback

What a great ski season we are having in Maine! It started with an awesome opening day at Saddleback and the conditions have stayed consistently stellar all winter. Sunday March 8th was no different at Saddleback Maine.

One word of the day - the snow was FAST. It was not icy, but it was that perfect mid-20's
Lift Ride During a Saddleback Snow Squall
temperature along with a fresh coat of wax on the boards made our skis zip along the snow. It made the woods a bit tricky. Although most of the gladed terrain had great cover and you could always get an edge in, after two turns you were looking to scrub off speed - it was that quick. So if you were not quick on your feet the woods got a bit challenging.

The goomers were A+. Deep base everywhere an only minimal scratch towards the end of the day. It snowed lightly most of the day, with a couple of heavier squalls after lunch. They probably picked up an inch or so and it freshened things up a bit to make for some fun afternoon turns. Upper Professor and Jane Craig skied great and Peachy's Peril had some car sized moguls for those looking to bounce off firm bumps.

It was the day after daylight savings time switch over so it was a late arriving crowd, but by mid-day there was a nice crowd on the hill with the occasional modest lift line. Good to see Saddleback selling some day tickets.

OldMan Hucking Professor
This time of year the mountains of Maine usually get nuked with snow while closer to the coast gets more mixed precipitation. That would work for me! Bring it mother nature!

Our video edit of the day. Even the old man tried to huck the Professor cliff at 2:45 with mixed
results. Saddleback is skiing great right now. Go out and ski it!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Amazing February Conditions Again at Saddleback

The view at Saddleback never gets old!
We finished off one of the better February's in memory with a great ski day at Saddleback Maine.
Temps were in the lower teens, very light winds with bright sunshine and zero clouds. A spectacular winter Maine ski day.

Overall the conditions were excellent. The groomers are skiing absolutely beautifully. Ghost, Coachman, the Devils, Silver Doctor all were awesome and the upper mountain Tight Line and Supervisor were super as well. Perfect corduroy in the morning with a deep base so conditions held up all day. We thought the gladed trails, notably Intimidator and Thrombosis were spot-on. Even though they had been skied plenty they held soft snow that held an edge well when you needed it. The upper section of Peachy's Peril held perfect Old Man bumps. Us powder hounds are looking forward to some more snow in the Western Maine mountains, but overall we certainly can't complain about our ski day!

Isaac launching it on Tri-Color
A telemark group from Bowdoin College outing club was there wearing all kinds of crazy outfits. Loads of fun. Nice crowd on the mountain but lift lines were manageable to ski right on. Doesn't get any better than that.

Today (March 1st)  is $39 Maine day at Saddleback. Temps should get into the 20's - it should be an awesome day! Here is our video edit from our day.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sampling the Glades at Black Mountain of Maine - February 2015

The @MaineSkiFamily boys and mom took a school vacation day to sample the fine glade work of the Angry Beavers of Black Mountain Maine. I have to say these folks are turning Black Mountain in Rumford into a true Maine ski destination. They have great beginner and intermediate cruisers, and with the new gladed terrain they are turning this mountain into a playground for skiers of all abilities.

All summer / fall the Angry Beavers have maintained and created new glades for Black. The trees offer great spacing and natural / man made features to bounce around. If you are new to glades, this is a great spot to get a taste... but there are great challenging runs as well so everyone will be happy.

Black is real ski mountain. They offer a 1,380 foot vertical drop, a newer triple lift servicing the summit and a great base lodge... not to mention a world-class Nordic facility. The conditions don't get any better than this. At day ticket rates of $15/$25 how can you go wrong? Go ski Black Mountain of Maine and support this great community ski mountain!

The boys video of the day as featured on the Black Mountain of Maine Facebook Page:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review of 2015 Maine High School Class B&C Ski Championships at Big Rock

Old Man finding some soft snow at Big Rock
The @MaineSkiFamily crew headed up to the Mars Hill / Presque Isle area February 14-17 to Big Rock Ski Area and the Nordic Heritage Center to
support Isaac and his Freeport High School Falcon teammates in the Maine Class B Ski Championships.

The team arrived on Saturday to try to beat a projected blizzard. While the snow never really
materialized (4"-5" max), the wind certainly did! On Sunday, the alpine team got a couple of hours of training in. While the wind was blowing pretty hard, we were able to get some nice soft turns on the hill. Big Rock is a great community hill similar in size to Shawnee Peak, Black Mountain and Mt. Abram. Big Rock has some decent pitches and trees and some great groomer runs for all abilities. A narrow steep trail called Chair Line was one of our favorites. Alec got a new pole mount for his GoPro and got some good video of a couple of our runs.

Monday was supposed to be the slalom race but the wind and cold was just too fierce and the race was postponed to Tuesday So the teams had to do single runs (instead of the normal two runs) of Giant Slalom and Slalom on Tuesday to compete for the Class B&C championships. Unfortunate... but probably the best that could be done schedule-wise considering the weather circumstances and with so many skiers in two classes they didn't have another choice. I have to say having two classes at one facility is probably a bit much particularly on the alpine side. Unfortunately two combined runner up trophies were awarded to the wrong team due to scoring errors including our Freeport alpine and nordic girls. Hopefully the Maine Principals Association can take a closer look at this arrangement in the future.

Overall, the Falcons fell just a bit short of winning a state class B team title coming in second in Boys Alpine, Nordic & Combined, and Girls Nordic. A great effort by all the kids and we were able to garner 14 top-10 individual finishes which is outstanding. Also - the Freeport Boys Alpine team was awarded the 2015 Class B Sportsmanship banner. Well done by all! Complete results can be found on the Maine High School Skiing website and congratulations to all the individual and team winners in all classes.

Our son Isaac had a very good meet scoring for his team in both the Slalom and Giant Slalom disciplines. While he normally is bouncing through moguls or jumping off cliffs at Saddleback, his quick feet make him a good ski racer too. Out of 49 skiers he attained a 23rd place in Giant Slalom and 16th in Slalom. Nice job Isaac!

Our oldest son Alec took a great photo gallery of the alpine and nordic races and has them up on his website for sale. If you had a skier in the Class B or C ski championship races check it out!

Still lots of ski season left. Get out there and visit a mountain in Maine!

Here are two pictures that Alec took of Isaac racing.

Isaac racing to a 16th place finish in Slalom at the Maine Class B High School Alpine Ski Championships

Isaac running the Giant Slalom Course at the Maine Class B High School Alpine Ski Championships

Sunday, February 8, 2015

It Keeps Getting Better at Saddleback - February 7, 2015

Ever since MLK weekend, the skiing keeps getting better, and better at Saddleback and February 7, 2015 was even better! As with all the ski areas in Northern New England, the snow keeps a-coming and the temps keep the snow light and fresh.

Isaac on the Professor Cliff Huck
The groomed trails were outstanding. Tight Line was the best I had ever skied it. The bumps and woods were deep and fresh. We have to say Governor, Upper Professor, Lower Jane Craig, Family Secret, Peachy's, Nightmare Glade, Muleskinner and others had deep stashes of snow and skied great. See my guide to all the trials at Saddleback.

The light snow is having a bit of trouble sticking to the natural head walls on Wardens, Black Beauty and Frostbite but there were accessible from the cross-cut off Tight Line. However, the Governor head wall held snow and the trail skied exceptionally well. On some of the natural trails there was some ice/scratch on the wind-blown sections but they were few and far between.

Temps were between 5-10 degrees but the wind was relatively light... making for a pleasant ski day. Good crowd on the mountain but the lift lines were short. One of the top ski days of the year and we
Great View and Deep Drifts on Muleskinner
have had some good ones so far! 

Josh Christie put together a great article on Saddleback and the Rangeley region in the January 7th Portland Press Herald. Saddleback is setting up perfectly for February vacation week. Make your plans, get up there an enjoy it!

Video of the day. While we like to play in the woods and bumps the skiing was outstanding all over the mountain from the beginner green trails, blue cruisers to the expert bumps and glades. Everyone will have fun at Saddleback.

Highlighted Trail Lineup:

0:00 - Tight Line
0:22 - Parmacheenee Bell
0:33 - Upper Professor
0:38 - Wolly Bugger Glade
0:55 - Warden's Worry
1:00 - Unnamed Secret Glade
1:04 - Peachys Peril
1:21 - Royal Coachman
1:36 - Governor
1:56 - Intimidator Glade
2:08 - Muleskinner

Monday, February 2, 2015

Super Sunday Skiing at Saddleback - Feburary 1, 2015

It was an interesting weekend for the @MaineSkiFamily crew. After getting shut-out at Black Mountain of Maine on Saturday due to extremely high winds (and below zero temps) we called an audible and hit up Saddleback on Sunday. Social media hinted at stellar conditions at Saddleback, and the wind managed to calm down to give us an enjoyable but cold ski day. And then we watched with the rest of New England and celebrated a Patriots Super Bowl win!

Overall conditions were stellar. Super light snow that kept drifting in with the wind to create constant refills. We
Alec in Lower Nightmare Glade
basically hung out on the upper mountain Quad lapping glades and some of our favorite natural trails. We found Wardens Worry to be the pick of the day. The wind kept blowing in fresh snow so each run was as good as the last. It was a bit scratchy on the first head wall on the cross cut from Tight Line (The old man fell on the head wall 3 out of the 4 times we did the trail but it was worth it!) Peachy's Peril skiers left was stellar, and the Nightmare glade (Upper and Lower) did not disappoint.

Saddleback re-opened its Casablanca glade. They had to clear a lot of blow downs and dangerous obstacles from a storm earlier in the season and one has to ski with caution, but we found the #1 and #2 sections to be deep, fluffy and very fun to ski.

It was cold! However, we geared up and covered all our skin, and took frequent breaks and had a most enjoyable day. The wind blew strong at the top but once you got into the trials the wind was calmer.

With even more snow today (February 2nd) and perhaps more later in the week... we are on quite a run skiing in Maine!

Here is a video of our ski day. It was super-cold so the batteries didn't last long in the GoPro and Phone camera's but we got some good shots in.

Video trail lineup:

0:16 - Golden Smelt
0:30 - Wardens Worry (Face Shot)
1:00 - Peachy's Peril
1:20 - Peachy's Peril (Old Man Cam)
1:30 - Unnamed Secret Glade (First Tracks)
1:55 - More Peachy's
2:00 - Casablanca #1
2:36 - Tri Color (Isaac Big Air)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Snow at Saddleback - January 4, 2015

It was a tricky forecast for Sunday January 4. Every type of precipitation was forecasted overnight Saturday into Sunday plus some possible strong gusty winds. We rolled the dice a bit and drove up Saturday evening, stayed at the Rangeley Saddleback Inn (acceptable place to crash for the night although a bit pricey at $145 for 2 Queens but that is the standard rate in Rangeley seems like) and took our chances we would be able to get some soft turns in on Sunday.

Saddleback ended up getting 6 inches of snow overnight and then it changed to freezing drizzle by 8AM... but fortunately the drizzle and wind was not enough to shut down lift operations. All the lifts turned except for the Rangeley double and Saddleback basically stayed away from ice affecting lift operations as it did with other New England resorts including Sugarloaf.

The skiing was good but it was hit or miss. We basically lapped the upper Kennabago quad chair for the morning. We did not venture west towards Casablanca as it was too socked in weather wise but there may have been good skiing to be had over in that direction. If you skied over there please leave a comment on the blog as to how it was! Most of the wide open groomed runs had the snow blown off (skiers right of Green Weaver was silky smooth however), and the glades needed a bit more snow to make them more enjoyable as we were hitting the firm base too often. However the classic narrow Saddleback narrow trails of Jane Craig, Professor and Peachy's Peril held great soft snow and we hit them multiple times.

While it was a light freezing drizzle most of the morning, right around 12:30 the temperature spiked to the upper 30's (a good 10 degrees) in a matter of minutes and it turned the dense sugary snow into a mash. We decided to call it a day early and enjoy a leisurely lunch (and an old-man Saddleback ale) at the Swig and Smelt pub upstairs in the base lodge. Our meal was great - highly recommended!

Overall a good day and glad we went up early to avoid a messy drive Sunday morning. It was 41 degrees when we left Saddleback and 27 degrees in Freeport when we got home. Cold air hung on at lower elevations. Regardless - great job Saddleback crew for putting out a quality product. Here is a quick video of our day.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Saddleback Red Devil Glade Oct 15 Update

The volunteers and mountain crew are making great progress on the new glade up at Saddleback. Isaac and I helped out in September, and they made a big push over the Columbus day weekend. Here is a note from Peter Stein who is organizing the volunteers.

I am happy to report that we actually broke through to Bee Wee Pass this weekend!!!  

The attached shows the approximate region that is now to first order skiable thanks to all who volunteered (and a bit of help from Jared and the mountain crew!!).   There was a bit more cutting by the mountain crew that I have not surveyed, and some of the line up to Bee Wee pass from the Red Devil tree island needs some thinning out.   But we definitely have a new glade with an entrance and an exit all the way from Bee Wee Pass to Hudson Highway – which rivals the length of Casablanca.   The wider lower part is the main glade area.  The lower line leading through from the tree island on Red Devil to the main glade area is an all downhill entrance.   The upper line from the tree island is a traverse with a little bit of an uphill section.   The line down from Bee Wee Pass is narrow and goes through a really cool section of large boulders.   

Peter is also planning one more weekend of cutting.

We are planning our last two days of cutting this Saturday and Sunday (18 and 19 October).   There is still a lot of work we can do to make this better.   This includes widening out the top of the main glade region, thinning out the top down from Bee Wee pass, creating a traverse over to the upper section that can be reached from the T-Bar, and doing a bunch of cleaning up.    

Please let me know if you will make it this Saturday.   Unless you hear otherwise, we start at 7:30 at the bottom of the new glade on Hudson Highway.   Training is still available Saturday morning for those who have not had their first day.

Peter can be reached at It is hard work but also great fun to be creating something cool on the mountain!.

This is going to be really fun to ski! Thanks to Peter, all the volunteers and Saddleback for making this happen!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Saddleback Red Devil Glade Work Day

On Saturday September 20th Isaac and I joined a group of a dozen or so volunteers to help shape and cut the new glade next to Red Devil at Saddleback Maine.

Jared Emerson - director of Saddleback's on-mountain operations - helped lead the effort. After a safety briefing from Jared, folks headed up into the woods to start work. The idea is that you basically pick an area you want to work in, and cut down the trees you think are necessary leaving the trees with enough spacing to get good turns in. After falling a tree, you limb it (and limb other trees standing) and lay everything as flat as possible on the forest floor. You don't want air pockets or places where you might get a ski stuck. Jared bounced around helping those that needed it but everyone did a great job. I have to say it is shaping up really well!

Isaac and I spent a few hours 'cleaning up' behind the folks with the chain saws. We removed limbs from trees, and cut down a few smaller trees to make better turning areas. We spent most of our time working in a nice chute on the skiers right portion of the glade.

Creating a glade is slow work and takes a lot of effort... but it will certainly be rewarding to ski! Thanks to everyone that came out to help.

Here are some pics.

End of the glade and the exit out to Hudson Highway

Bottom of a skiers-right chute we were working on

A little higher up the Chute.

And even higher up the chute. Isaac is working on a jump.
A main section of the Glade. Looks really good!

Thank these folks when you ski the glade this winter!