Smugglers’ Notch skiing today — and an ode to a favorite piece of ski gear

Saturday, January 3, 2015 at 04:25 PM

The view from the top of Drifter.
Zipping down groomed slopes.
Blowing through the talcum powder on FIS.
Setting off on the Chilcoot trail.
View of Sterling trails and also ski trails on Stowe's Mt. Mansfield.
Bumps and trees on Doc Dempsey's.

In celebration of the humble balaclava.

Oh, how I love you, my balaclava, on a cold day of skiing. Simple, yet thoughtfully designed, you keep my neck, face and ears warm, and you fend off ice-cream-headache-inducing wind that can slip through above my goggles. I love how you offer just a thin layer of fabric under my helmet, but a double layer of soft fleece for my face. (My tender nose especially appreciates you.) Thank you, oh thank you, my black balaclava — you helped make skiing fun today!

It was a chilly morning but with the right layers on we enjoyed some great runs at Smugglers’ Notch today. The resort has been making the most of recent cold temperatures by blowing snow on trails such as FIS. And boy did they make a lot of snow on FIS! We were among the first to ski that expert trail this morning and it had huge whales to play on. The freshly made snow was grippy and the SkiMeister remarked that it was like skiing on talcum powder. We liked the run so much that we did it twice.

The second time we took the exit over to Doc Dempsey's glade. Here it was natural snow only and you had to watch out for stumps and rocks while you skied through the bumps. Can't wait to come back to Smuggs when their awesome glades are full of soft snow!

The resort had 39 trails and seven lifts open today. They reported up to five inches of new snow in the past day and a half. The SkiMeister and I enjoyed our first runs of the year off the Madonna chairlift — the highest lift at the resort.

Our runs included a foray on Drifter, where on one flat stretch we enjoyed some ungroomed packed powder at the side of the trail. We also had a blast on the freshly groomed Chilcoot trail. You could set your edge and let your skis take you for a ride around the corners. Whee!

Lower Chilcoot was great for wide, carving turns. It's a spacious trail and in the morning there weren't many skiers on the hill with us.

We enjoyed nice views in the morning from the top of Madonna at 3,640 feet: frosty trees and countless distant mountains. With temperatures between 5 and 10 degrees at the top of the mountain, we did go into the base lodge to warm up (damn toes!).

Temperatures are rising for some snowfall tonight — maybe six inches in the mountains — before turning to sleet, rain or drizzle on Sunday. Grrrr. Then, the roller coaster continues down to winter temperatures again on Monday. 

See the National Weather Service forecast here.

Filed in: Alpine / downhill skiing, Ski gear, Smugglers' Notch

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