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Wachusett Opening Day 11/20/20

Zand

Active member
Joined
Dec 30, 2003
Messages
3,460
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Location
Spencer, MA
After last season ended way too prematurely on St. Patrick's Day due to the onset of Covid and then the weirdest and shittiest summer ever known to man, I wasn't even sure how to approach this upcoming season. Still really not sure how optimistic I should be that it will be a normal winter days-wise, as it seems like we're heading toward another shutdown. After last week's stretch of 70s and the overall warm outlook for the next couple weeks, early season was almost looking like a total loss. I have no interest in dicking with Vermont or Maine's quarantine rules at this point of the year, and NH didn't really have any early players popping up. Needless to say, somehow during the 36 hour cold snap we had on Wednesday-Thursday, Wachusett managed to go batshit with snowmaking and suddenly the early season thoughts went from being "maybe Loon will open next week" to "the ski area up the street is going to be the first to open in the northeast."

I arrived shortly before 9:00 (noticed people already skiing as I drove by) and had my first experience with the ticket window at Wachusett...ever. Other than my senior year of college when I had a house on Rt 114 in Lyndonville 5 minutes from Burke, I've had a season pass at Wachusett about as long as I've been skiing. The last couple years, I only used my pass maybe 5 times each year and lost money on it, so last year I decided I'd just get a three-peat pass this year and that's it. Sometime in October, I thought to myself that maybe I should get a pass one more time as skiing may be limited to Massachusetts for a period this winter, plus the lack of school groups this year would make Wachusett bearable to ski midwinter. Naturally that was the same day that they "sold out" of passes, so guess I'll just have to pay up for day tickets a few times and otherwise avoid Wachusett midwinter like usual.

Ok, sorry for the boring details. Ticket line was quick and I was hopping on the summit lift at about 9:05. The people coming down were commenting on how surprisingly good it was. And, well, they were correct. It was warm from the get go this morning and for the first couple hours it was a dreamy cream-cheese type surface and it was easy to get right into some nice GS turns. Crowds were small, but with most of Conifer only half covered it did start to get skied off, although the loose snow was still skiing nicely down the sides. It was getting downright springy by noon with full sun and temps in the 50s. There was a very thin spot with a large rock poking through at the top of the pitch that leads to the first road crossing, but otherwise coverage was good everywhere. The base depths aren't very good right now...should make it through Sunday but they'll need Monday night to be productively cold to reopen next weekend I think. Most mountains wouldn't have opened today, but kudos to Wachusett for taking 36 hours of snowmaking and putting together a decent product with it. Summit lift was running fine all day, although the repainted tan lift towers will take some getting used to.

Can't say the same for Minuteman. I went to check out Ralph's for a couple runs and the thing stopped over and over again. I could hear people inside the bottom terminal and even when I was sitting at the picnic tables it probably stopped once a minute and it wasn't because of people falling. This thing must be the most problematic HSQ this side of Sunday River. Ralph's was similar to Conifer...nice carveable butter and mostly half covered. The very bottom featured a Superstar in May-esque cat track back to the lift. Would've liked to have skied it a few more times but couldn't take the constantly stopping lift for more than two runs. Challenger doesn't look even close to opening, not sure if they fired the guns up late on that or what. Kind of surprised as they always open that and Ralph's at the same time.

Never checked out Indian Summer but looked similar to everything else. Most mountains are happy to throw "advanced skiers only" signs all over the place early season, but Wachusett ALWAYS opens beginner terrain right from the get go and opens up lessons right away.

Might upload a couple pics although there's nothing you haven't seen on Instagram anyway. Overall, a big thumps up for Wachusett today. This is the 8th consecutive year they've opened on Black Friday or earlier. With the current events plus the warm weather, this year was a perfect excuse to say "screw it, we'll wait for real cold weather" but they went for it anyway. Not sure what's next for me. Next week looks not great weather-wise. Maybe Loon will have a good opening lineup?
 
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