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Maine Ski Safari ! Black Mountain (Maine), 3rd on the list, Sunday Jan 18th 2015

billski

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Eww! You have to pass Rumford ME on the way to the slopes. Probably one of the least scenic places in Maine. The smokestacks were belching out the most disgusting wood product byproducts. Factory worker housing surrounded the place.

Billski being billski, I decided to take the factory tour, of my own making. I came upon a wide bubbling brownish cauldron of disgusting liquid. These bubble are so big you can see them from outer space on Bing Maps (see for yourself!) The train switch yard was enormous and the latest load departed with a loud horn blast. The rusted old tanks saying "prevent forest fires" was memorable, at best. Well, anyways, back to the safari.

On the way to Black, the drizzle started. We were at 28F. Halfway up the road, enormous wet snowflakes began to dump. Well, here I am, who am I to not ski. Cars were parked well down the access road. Turns out there was a pretty substantial high-school cross-country race going on. It was actually quite exciting to watch, lots of onlookers, you can stand on the overpass connected to the lodge and tons of peeps cheering them on as they passed underneath.

This ain't no backyard ski tow. How do I describe it? Maybe Pats Peak in size, with a modern lodge, up to date chair lifts, and a fairly average looking modern lodge. Not to diminish, it was a well done lodge. A pretty profession operation, definitely a step up from, Black Mt. in Jackson NH, not to be confused. I paid my $25 all day ticket and booted up.

It was already raining when I went to the lift. Of course there were no lines. Everyone was watching the race, so it seemed. Up to the top on a fixed grip chair lift, with a very wet seat. I loved the trail names. Nothing cute. Androscoggin was a little scratchy, but turnable (Titcomb conditions were better overall). Next run, the liftee reported freezing rain on top. Easily detected from ice on the seats. Uck. second run was down Piscataquis to Penobscot, kennebago. It was a really nice trail, everything was well groomed.

By this point, my poles had iced over. The clouds socked in the mountaintop, signalling the warm air arriving. I then took Allagash, probably my favorite, classic trail. It winds, it weaves, meanders up, down, with a surprise around every corner. Boilerplate at the top of a couple of lips, easily passed over. Lazy River was a hoot too. Everything here was groomed, but the trails had their own "personality", unlike the uniform grooming I've seen on numerous Southern Vermont mountains.

The last run was down Swift, which has a nice looking set of tight but groomed glades on the side. They will give you your money's worth - you have to work for it!

At the bottom, a wardrobe change into my civies was in order. My clothes were dripping. Walking out to the car, I found the parking lot to be a sheet of ice. When I left, the access road turned to a sheet of ice too. It didn't matter that I had snow tires and AWD, the car just slide to the bottom. Fortunately the road then leveled, and went slightly uphill. After that, me, and everyone else drove with the right tires off the road in the snow and dirt. There was about 20 of us, and it took 20 minutes to go what had been five minutes. It was a line of sensible Mainers with SUV's and trucks all with snow tires. There was one car trying to get uphill and all it did was spin its front wheels.

Sometimes GPS can be absolutely silly. It insisted that the best way home was a traverse across rte 2, then south on 16, past Mt. Washington and over the pass. Entirely nuts. I turned onto route 2 The ten miles on Rte 2 were treacherous and it could only get worse. Besides, the conga line out of N. Conway would just be worse. So I hopped on a Maine state road and went south. At the first upward hill, there was an incredible amount of freshly laid sand. When we got to the top, there was a police car blocking the downhill lane, with a line of cars held up. Presumably they were waiting for a sander on the downhill side. Anyways, you're here for the trip report. I abandonded plans to hit Lost Valley. Just as well. A three hour journey turned into four. Well, there still are a lot of areas I need to hit, and Spruce is back on the list.
 

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billski

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More Photos

 

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billski

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Scenic Rumford

Scenic Rumford

 

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billski

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Rumford: If you live here, you'd be home now!

Rumford: If you live here, you'd be home now!
 

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Quietman

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Black of ME is a great hidden gem!! Teamed with Mt Abram about 20 minutes away it makes a great 2-fer. Black is a lot more fun than Pat's in my opinion(with 300'+ more vertical), and if the glades are in, it is no contest. I was there last year spring when 85% of SR's lifts were on wind hold, and had another great time. And all for $15 last year, now $25.
 

deadheadskier

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Those mills are much more scenic while operating then shuttered like they are in many parts of Maine. Need to make it to Black one of these days
 

Quietman

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Those mills are much more scenic while operating then shuttered like they are in many parts of Maine. Need to make it to Black one of these days

Very valid point!! Mills mean jobs, in this part of Maine, it is their lifeblood.
 

Tin

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These smaller places have to be my favorite trip reports. The pictures are great and I love to see trails with character instead of groomed highways.

Very valid point!! Mills mean jobs, in this part of Maine, it is their lifeblood.

Yes, they look much better this way than in Fall River. In RI they are turning them all into luxury apartments and such.

 

xwhaler

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Nice report. I really enjoyed my 1 day at BMOM last yr---hit it on a really sweet 2 days after the storm powder day. Being closed Mon-Thurs has benefits since you can get the goods from any midweek storm.
May be stopping there again on way to Summit---depends on snow, if glades are in then we'll go there. If not Mt Abram.

Comparing to Pats Peak is selling BMOM short I feel. It's substantially bigger, maybe not in terms of acerage but has a wider variety of trails that are longer and generally avoid the run out.
The triple to the top, while fairly new, (2005 ish?) is incredibly slow which is the one downside.
BMOM feels a lot like the Winslow side at Dartmouth Skiway to me. Similar feel lodges and terrain too.
If BMOM ever could cut trails in that East Bowl it would really be something. Maybe a T-Bar up to its ridge?
Definitely worth going to if anyone is in the area or on way to/from from Saddleback/Loaf.
 

dlague

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Black of ME is a great hidden gem!! Teamed with Mt Abram about 20 minutes away it makes a great 2-fer. Black is a lot more fun than Pat's in my opinion(with 300'+ more vertical), and if the glades are in, it is no contest. I was there last year spring when 85% of SR's lifts were on wind hold, and had another great time. And all for $15 last year, now $25.


Actually Black Mountain of ME has almost twice the vertical 1380 vs 770. I have been interested in skiing there for the fun of it. Maybe one of these days.
 

xwhaler

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Actually Black Mountain of ME has almost twice the vertical 1380 vs 770. I have been interested in skiing there for the fun of it. Maybe one of these days.
BMOM's vert of 1380 is over stated as to get the full vert you need to hike and do the backcountry terrain they cut in the East Bowl.
I've heard lift served vert is closer to 1100. Regardless, it feels and skis a lot more like a mid sized mtn than a community hill.
Ticket pricing is community hill like though!
 
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Angus

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Very valid point!! Mills mean jobs, in this part of Maine, it is their lifeblood.

I didn't even know the Rumford mills were open...honestly surprised. But found this...About 800 people work at the Rumford mill, which accounts for 45 percent of the town’s tax revenues, according to Gregory Buccina, chairman of Rumford’s Board of Selectmen. The mill is Rumford’s largest taxpayer. source: http://www.pressherald.com/2014/10/31/canadian-company-buy-paper-mill-rumford/

Look at so many other mills throughout the state that have shut down and the towns have just been gutted. If you dig into the state of Maine industry and look at statistics of families on assistance by location, it's a pretty frightening picture.

A couple of comments, Black Mountain's resurgence is part due to the Libra Foundation which source of capital was via the wife of Intel's founder, Robert Noyce's, ex-wife. The foundation's support of community based sports in Maine is impressive.

Black Mountain's nordic center is an important center of competition and hosted the World Championships in 1950 b/c Lake Placid did not have snow. They have hosted the US Championship maybe 3-4 years ago.

I should also say BillSki, your travels to these small, community ski areas is awesome, great reads and we should all try to emulate!
 

salsgang

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Black is great. Those glades rip! Sorry it was such a silly weather weekend to visit Maine! Looks like you had a good time anyway... Thanks for the posts!
 
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