Monday, January 27, 2014

Cranmore & Attitash - 1/26/14

Time for another double feature, this time with bigger mountains! Cranmore and Attitash back to back!

Mt. Washington from Cranmore.
Mt. Washington from Attitash .
With the season pressing on, and a lack of snow keeping me from exploring the real large mountains, I figured it would be a good time to hit up the white mountains. In an effort to not run out of time, I thought it would be best to pull another double feature. I got up early in an effort to make first chair at Cranmore, which I almost accomplished. I have never been much of a morning person. By 8:45 I was at the summit.
Cranmore Mtn Summit.
Between Cranmores fairly small size (I would guess it is about the same size as my home mountain, Gunstock, maybe a bit smaller) and extremely fast summit lift, lapping the mountain was a breeze. By 9:30 I had gotten almost half a dozen runs in. I like Cranmore. Their trails are extremely narrow and winding for the most part, which I enjoy greatly. I also find it quite cool that you can ski straight off the back as well and around the side, although doing so results in a very slow ride back up the Schneider Triple lift that is agonizingly slow when compared to the main lift. Conditions were cold and extremely windy, with fairly sticky snow, not a great combination, but at least it was bright and sunny. At one point I met an older Newschooler on the lift, and we chatted for awhile before parting ways as I headed to the park, having had my fill of the groomers. Unfortunately no glade reports, as all were closed due to lack of snow. They looked like pretty good glades for someone who has never been tree-skiing before though.
Summit lodge at Cranmore.
As far as parks are concerned, Cranmores is pretty decent. Although they could stand to be a bit more beginner/progression friendly. Two were open, plus a short boarder cross trail, if you want to count that as a park. Both seemed to be fairly equal in required skill in my opinion. The first park I visited was 'Lower Double Feature', although it was clear the park was not finished for the season, as the entrance was a few hundred yards up the trail complete with Cranmore Parks banners and music blasting all day. I do not understand why more mountains don't play music in their parks.
Cranmores main park entrance.
Again, it was brutally cold and windy, so no videos yet again, just pictures, top to bottom of what was featured. Again this is the 'Lower Double Feature' park. I was quite happy to clear the A-frame rail, as learning kinked rails was giving me some issues, but I finally got it this trip out.

From lower double feature, I headed over to 'The Reel Terrain Park', which was a good bit smaller. Here it is, top to bottom.

Again, not too much there. It is clear that the lack of snow is probably hindering their setup. When I left at 10:30, I had not seen a single park rider other than myself. The cold really seems to keep people away which I have never understood with skiing. It is a winter sport! Dress accordingly! I felt I had my fill after a couple hours, and was very glad I chose to do a double feature. I will however return to Cranmore next season for sure, for what its worth. 

I made the quick 15 minute drive to Attitash from Cranmore. It is amazing how much of a hub North Conway is for the outdoor enthusiast. You realize what a nexus of activity it is when you look out from the summit of any of the local mountains and realize just how far from civilization you are. Upon arrival at Attitash, I booted up at the car like I always do and quickly realized that was a mistake. The walk from my car to the lodge had to be 200 yards at least. The only close parking to the mountain was reserved for those who wanted to pay 10 dollars to park there. Not cool. I worry about my boots on walks that long. 

Anyway, after getting my ticket and adding even more layers on, I jumped on the Summit Triple and headed up. It is not a detachable, so be prepared for a long, slow ride. I did however find this extremely both interesting and disconcerting. 

The Summit triple, and the High speed quad cross over each other mid way up the mountain. I really have no logical reason for feeling unsettled here, but when I was underneath another lift with people on it, I couldn't help but feel a little nervous. Upon reaching the summit, I was happy to find a tower built specifically for you to take in the massive view of the Presidential mountain range. I was unhappy with the frigid blasting cold wind that made me think I had gotten frostbite while trying to take photos. Anyway, enjoy the views! Ill take snow capped mountains over a view of the beach and ocean any day!

Summit pic, Attitash Mountain
Summit Selfie, Attitash
After regaining the feeling in my fingers from taking pictures, I headed down the mountain off 'Upper Saco'. Mid way down I found a black diamond trail named 'Idiot's Option'. It didn't look too bad. Half way down I remembered that I am on a wind-blasted chunk of ice on park skis with no edges, and questioned my intelligence for choosing a trail called Idiot's option. With that behind me, I jumped on the high-speed quad and headed for Bear peak. 
Bear Peak from Attitash
I made my way over to the Bear Peak base area. It was a nice little cruiser till I passed the Abenaki Quad as I followed the signs for the Bear Peak base area. What they neglect to tell you is that the trail 'Bearback', is flat and like 400 yards long. Trails like that need warnings on the way in, as I passed a handful of snowboarders trudging along looking quite sad. After getting across the cross country tail, I popped out at the base of Bear Peak, there was a near empty parking lot adjacent to the slopes. Do yourselves a favor and park over there. It will save you a lot of walking. I headed up the quad and snapped some shots from the summit.

Bear Peak at Attitash Summit
I took a few runs around Bear before heading to the park. I will say, most of the blue trails at Attitash would be considered black diamonds at other mountains around here. Its odd to find a mountain that skews their ratings on the hard side instead of the easy side. Conditions were aggravated by the blasting wind exposing the slope to ice, but still, there were some pretty steep sections on a lot of the intermediate trails. 

There were two parks open as of my visit, and one that looks like it will be open shortly as it was shaped, but lacked kickers(Myth Maker). The park I spent most of my time in was the 'Lower Kachina Park' It was a nicely shaped park, with a good mix of progression type features, and more advanced rails and jumps. Again no video, as it was still blisteringly cold. Lower Kachina Park, Top to bottom.
A nice long flat bar that I loved.
Long flat-down box, perfect for working on the transition to down boxes/rails

I lapped that park 6 or 7 times, enjoying the mid-unload point off the Abenaki Quad that gave direct access to the top of the park. After having had my fill (and a particularly good run through the park) I headed over to check out the other park I spotted earlier that was located on the bottom of 'Avenger'. With the green trail that cut into it from the Kachina Triple closed for snow-making, the only way in other than hiking up it was to do summit laps. The trail in was steep and icy, leaving ones legs burning by the time you arrived at the top of the park. Not a combination you particularly want entering the park. I did a total of 2 laps on it, as the sun was beginning to set and my legs were burning. Skiing 5 days a week is hard work! It was a nice little park, great for progression.

I headed back to the Attitash base area from the summit. Attitash is the mountain of traversing. Going either direction you are faced with long, slow traversals requiring a large amount of leg work, something I am not a particular fan of. As I trudged back out to the car, I was accosted by some guy from a timeshare, who insisted on not leaving me alone trying to sell me on the merits of owning property at the mountain. Not a particularly great parting memory. If I had to give one piece of advice to the people running the mountain, it would be to not let that guy stand there and bother people.

Overall I liked Attitash too, although I probably will not return for some time. Its a nice place with a hell of a view, but there are mountains closer to me with faster lifts and bigger parks. Prices at both mountains however are fairly reasonable, and neither have that 'resort destination' feel that places like Loon or Killington have. To me that is a good thing, I like the more hometown feel with smaller crowds and non-existent lift lines.

Coming up on Wednesday(1/29/14), unless something changes with the snow (or lack there-of) forecast, I think I will be going to Cannon. If anyone is going to be there let me know!

Keep on shredding!

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