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Last Hurrahâ€™s: Wildcat
words and photos by Tim Fater
The last few days have been a pleasant surprise in the snow-starved East Coast. While many of the valleys have been enjoying a record-breaking early start to spring and summer, a number of northern ski resorts were hanging on to the last of their snow. Mountains like Jay Peak, Killington, Wildcat Mountain, Sugarloaf and Sunday River made it through the last 2 months which were characterized by a number of torrential rain storms and unseasonably warm weather. In fact, the last time Jay Peak saw snow measuring more than 4 inches was February 25th. The mountain’s bases were finally somewhat replenished over the weekend by a backdoor low pressure system which slowly exited into the Canadian Maritimes.
As I packed up my car with ski gear on a rainy late-April afternoon in Boston, I received a number of confused looks. One guy shouted to me as he drove by in a thick Massachusetts accent: “ya’ know, most of the mountains are closed”. “Thanks”, I replied. Despite the lack of support from the locals, a handful of mountains were reporting solid snowfall totals. Sugarloaf posted 8-12 inches by Sunday morning. Wildcat reported 10-12 inches. Anxious to get some closure to my lift-accessed season, I rallied some troupes and headed north.
We ended up at Wildcat in New Hampshire. It rained most of our drive until we began to notice a slushy coating of snow around North Conway. Even taking into consideration my usual overly-optimistic attitude on ski trips, our whole crew was pleasantly surprised when pulled into the parking lot amidst light snow high in the White Mountains. The parking lot and base lodge were bustling.
The snow at the top of Wildcat’s 4,062 foot summit was light and true to what was reported – a solid foot. The heavier snow towards the middle and lower elevations coated the mountain’s base and formed into perfect spring bumps. I ran into a Loon Mountain local and all-around ripper, 5th grader Ian Gobbi. “Loon closed last weekend and when I heard there was all this new snow here at Wildcat – I knew I had to make the trip”. Keep an eye out for Ian in the next few years!
Marketing Director Thomas Prindle wrote on Wildcat’s blog, “If you haven't heard, and I'm doing cartwheels to try and let everyone know, we received over 10 - 12" of new snow from a late-season spring storm that started Friday and lasted in to Sunday and returned Wildcat Mountain to mid-season form. Take a look at our current snow report to see the amount of terrain open, second most in the East at this time, and only resort in New Hampshire to be spinning lifts”. The new snow ended the season on a good note, with the last scheduled day for the lifts to spin Patriot’s Day, Monday, April 19th.