Strong Start to the 2016-17 Ski Season

By Kathy Bennett

Skiing on Sat. 12/17 at Wildcat Mountain was spectacular, and not just because of the 7+ inches of new snow that fell throughout the day. Santa showed up to take a few turns in the powder along with the hundreds of delighted skiers reveling in what was possible the best ski conditions in 2 years.

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Not only did Wildcat offer trails blanketed with both man made and natural snow, groomed to perfect, they had many “natural” snow trails open that were left ungroomed. That’s a gift even Santa can’t top, although he could clearly be seen ripping it up on both the groomed and ungroomed terrain, clutching his jolly red hat as brisk winds raked the mountains and blew the snowflakes about.

It was a great to ski powder conditions and gentle bumps from the summit right down to the base area on trails like Lift Lion, Upper and Middle Wildcat, then down to Bobcat and Alley Cat. When my legs burned out I skied laps under the Bobcat Triple Chair – which also was a welcome respite from the high winds buffeting the Quad.

Beginner and novice skiers also lucked out as Polecat – one of the longest “green” trails anywhere – was open from the summit.  Long, groomed and topped with fresh pow-pow, it gives new and seasoned skiers alike a treat.

Skiing in a snowstorm presents some challenges but ones that are well worth overcoming for the treat of an ever-refreshing fresh powder surface. Saturday delivered classic Wildcat “everything but the kitchen sink” weather – cold (7 degrees when I pulled into the parking lot); wind (reported gusts of over 30mph) and pelting snow. Make like a boy scout and come prepared. Goggles, waterproof mittens, multiple fleece layers, neck gator, face mask, foot and hand warmers – check check check and check. Take breaks to warm up and dry off. I always try to bring a change of certain items – like fleece neck gators – which can become drenched after a few hours. Don’t let bad clothing get in the way of a great day of skiing. Frostbite warnings be damned – dress for it and you can enjoy a full day in the outdoors relishing whatever comes at you!

All local ski areas in the Valley are now open and this Christmas Vacation Week is looking to be a corker with conditions that are a far cry from last winter’s drought. Make your ski and stay lodging reservations right now as many properties will sell out in advance. Not a skier? Never fear – North Conway has something for everyone including snow tubing, ice skating, shopping, arts, culture, foodie adventures and more. Check it all out on our website – www.mtwashingtonvalley.org.

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