“Ski It If You Can” – We Can and We Did
February 7, 2021
7:30 AM Mad River Glen Report for February 3rd: 18 degrees; freezing drizzle upper mountain; snow flurries at base; “biting” north wind 10-20 mph; no new snow
Me: Probably no need to get first chair!
My brother: Ah come on, the west has spoiled you. I bet the wind has blown in some nice snow and the woods will be great!
And thank God I beat some sense into him. We didn’t get the first chair. We got the 4th chair.
My trip west to spend the winter ensconced in the Utah mountains has been delayed by Covid, so recently I have been taking advantage of the impressive northeast conditions to explore old haunts. This particular adventure fell together quickly, and on a recent Tuesday morning I met my brother and two close friends outside the MRG Basebox (aka base lodge – you laugh but I will wait right here until you Google “basebox/skiing” – ha, see!) to catch that 4th chair.
Unique place, this MRG. The ski gods put this scrappy puppy on the spine of the Vermont Green Mountains and “blessed” it with a little over 200 inches a year and an average January low temperature of 5 degrees. It has minimal snowmaking, and grooming is a four letter word. It has some of the steepest pitches in the east and a typical trail rhythm, if you can find it, is – mogul, mogul, rock, mogul, tree, mogul, tree, mogul, tree, rock, tree – you get the picture. (But I digress – for more on MRG specifics, see my brother’s previous piece – Mad River: Boarders Need Not Apply.
So why ski a mountain that proudly touts its slogan “Ski It If You Can?!” Well, amazingly, for once my brother was right. When it’s good, MRG is great. We did indeed find great snow – soft bumps, yes, some soft groomed runs and tree runs. Great, somewhat hidden, skiable tree runs. And damn it, we rocked, particularly for folks in our mid 60s. We took it to the place. That 4th chair launched at 9:04 AM, and we finished at 3 PM. There indeed was some freezing drizzle and wind. But the drizzle gave the snow a smooth sugary feel and the wind had filled in the edges of trails.
As for those trees and rocks – we actually know where many of them are. They are in the same spots they were 55 years ago. You see, that’s the other reason we absolutely love this place – personal history. While we can never agree on the exact dates and numbers, my brother and I have been skiing Mad River Glen since we were young. I mean under the age of 10 young. And our fellow two travelers for the day have the same proud MRG pedigree. And equally importantly, the company and conversation was primo. Years of bonding and skiing together results in both high grade smack talk and serious discussions about relationships and life. Politics snuck in a tad, but we didn’t let it dampen the day.
The day was the definition of why we ski. A challenging mountain and weather; great friends and conditions. Made all the sweeter by history – history of the place and our relationship to it.
And you even get music as you pass by mid-station.