I don’t know how many times I have driven from Maine to Vermont, sometimes heading for northern areas and others to the southern part of the state. I have driven in all kinds of weather, from super cold to warm spring days, but never have I experienced a drive like we had a week ago last Wednesday.

The forecast called for temperatures in the 60s here in Maine, and I expected it to be warmer at Mount Snow, which is the southernmost major area in Vermont. In Concord, N.H., the temperature hit 73. Between Keene and Brattleboro it hit 75. This was the first ski trip for which we had the air conditioner on and followed a convertible with the top down.

We arrived at Mount Snow in early afternoon with temperatures above70 and looked out on skiers in T-shirts. The patios and decks had plenty of skiers, also without jackets, enjoying the sun. It was a typical late April day, but it was March 9! It is a testament to the durability of man-made snow, which is denser than the natural stuff, that it was holding up well.

Skiers with whom I talked with told me it was not really heavy. That gives me hope for the days ahead. Of course, it also reminded me of an email I received from Le Massif up in Quebec. It was in French, but I could understand “50 centimeters of new snow,” which translates to 20 inches. We’ve been six hours south of the snow all winter. But this isn’t a Quebec year, so I’ll pick my days here in Maine or maybe over in New Hampshire the rest of the way.

While at Mount Snow I received a refresher on snowmaking. Like many major ski areas they have to make a lot of snow to cover their trails, and recent seasons have exhausted their water supply. As a result they are in the process of building a 120 million gallon lake and three miles of pipe to get it to the mountain. It will take a while to fill to capacity, but once complete, Mount Snow will have enough water to fill its snowmaking needs.

This isn’t the first huge reservoir for snowmaking. When I visited Stowe sometime back for the opening of their golf course, we had to play around their manmade lake on a couple of holes and a million plus gallons makes quite a water hazard. This is the extent to which ski areas must go at times to have an adequate supply of water. Most are not as fortunate as Shawnee Peak with 11 mile long Moose Pond at the foot of the mountain.


I also learned something else about Peak Resorts the company that owns Mount Snow and six other resorts in the East, two of which are nearby, Attitash and Wildcat. Recognizing the need to attract more skiers, they cut their season pass prices in half. Purchased before April 30, a full pass good at all seven resorts is $599 for adults. As is obvious with the building of lakes for snowmaking, ours is an expensive sport. Let’s hope cutting season pass prices will attract enough skiers to cover the costs.

Interestingly, there is a Maine connection to Mount Snow. Most skiers are aware that Killington purchased Sunday River in 1972 and sent Les Otten over from its management training program. But most are unaware of the Mount Snow connection. For a few years, Killington invested in Sunday River, running snowmaking to the top and building the south Ridge Lodge to expand the beginner area.

Then in 1976, Killington got the opportunity to buy Mount Snow. Being prudent businessmen, they not only bought it but began investing there as it made more sense to expand close to the population centers of Connecticut and New York , than in Maine. By 1980, a frustrated Les Otten went to Killington and said, “If you’re not going to invest in Sunday River, why not sell it to me?” They did, and that’s how Mount Snow had a big influence on Maine skiing.

Now that my last long trip of the season is behind me, it’s time to plan the final weeks of the season, which have changed considerably with the most recent warm weather. Mount Abram and Lost Valley wrapped up the season last weekend, and Sunday is the final day for Shawnee Peak.

Of course, next weekend will feature a variety of events for Easter. Sunday River has a busy schedule with the Ski Museum of Maine and Bethel Historical Society teaming up to present “Sisters of Skade: Women in Maine Skiing, 1870-2016.” This will be at the Bethel Inn from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Along with an informative talk, it will feature a panel discussion with Julie Parisien, Nikki Pilavakis-Davoren and Leslie Morrill.

Sunday will start with the traditional Sunrise Service at the top of North Peak. The Chondola will load at 6:45 a.m., with the service at 7:00. Those attending should be prepared to ski down, as the lifts will not be running at the end of the service. There will also be an egg hunt and more. Go to www.sundayriver.com for details.

The Super Quad will load 5:40 to 5:45 a.m. for the Sugarloaf sunrise service, and skiers should be intermediate or above ,as surfaces could be quite firm at that time of day. The Easter Bunny will be in Sugarloaf’s King Pine Room from 8:45 to 9:30 a.m., and kids can sign up for the scavenger hunt. The Spring Costume Parade will happen at noon, with registration at guest services in the base lodge from 8 to 11 a.m. Go to www.sugarloaf.com for details.

With Easter weekend coming so early, we can count on skiing for a few more weekends, and as this was written the forfecasters told us snow might be coming Sunday night. That could brighten the Easter Weekend. See you on the slopes.

Dave Irons is a freelance writer who lives in Westbrook.

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