On my last weekend at Moosilauke I climbed 9/10ths of the mountain twice, not quite reaching the top. The skiing and hiking were excellent, and summiting isn't usually a big deal for me, but I felt the need to get up top at least once this winter. This time I was going with Dave and Kathy, and staying at a cabin next to the Ravine Lodge meaning we would be able to get an early start. Being the optimistic soul that I am, I believed Kathy when she said they'd be at the cabin at 6:00 PM, at the latest. I skied up a little early and got some turns in on the front lawn. However, 6:45 found me standing in the lee of the lodge, wearing most of my gear, cursing at them. But they did finally show up and we got into the cabin, cleaned up the mess, and lit a fire. Things improved quickly after that.
We were going to ski up and down the Gorge Brook. I had my plastic tele boots and my lift skis, Dave and Kathy both had standard backcountry gear. Kathy was borrowing my backcountry skis since her bindings were having troubles. With our oatmeal scented water we started skinning up around 8:00 AM, breaking trail through the 8-10" of nice fresh snow. The ascent was pretty uneventful; steady climbing through familiar terrain. We'd all been up this trail 50 times so we know what to expect around every bend. The snow was great, I was looking at all the great snow on the sides of the trails, thinking about the trip down. It was nice weather down low, but as we got higher the clouds closed in. Coming across the Balcony things were pretty grey, and we shuffled across the rocks and ice on the two bare sections of East Peak. At treeline, Dave led us right, along the edge of the open summit to gain elevation and angled to the summit from the north. We made it to the top but it was so early and the weather so nasty that we elected to eat down lower and spend no time up top.
We left our skins on to traverse the ice and rock up top, and to handle the first few turns coming down. From the Balcony down to the first view into Jobildunc we had a nice run. There we took off skins, ate our lunch, delayered, and started the really fun part. Since I was on heavier gear and enjoy turning more than Dave or Kathy I took the lead. Conditions were as good as we hoped, 10" of fresh snow over an unbreakable crust, no tracks other than ours, excellent visibility. I had a fantastic time, using all the open terrain on either side of the trail to swoop and glide through the trees. Just above the logging road section of the trail I saw the first skier coming up, there would be several more. Dave and Kathy caught up and we skied the rest of the way together.
Kathy is a survival skier, her goal is to get down the mountain safely. She uses snowplows, pole dragging, veering into deep snow to slow herself down. Someday I'll convince her to turn more. She can turn, quite well in fact, but she doesn't enjoy it on narrow treelined trails. Dave is limited by the very long skis he uses and his soft boots and the full pack he was wearing. But he does mix it up a bit. The switchbacks on this trail were designed to be cut on skis, and I obliged.
There were probably a dozen people coming up; many skiers (two on X-C racing skis!), some snowshoers, and two folks on snowboards. The last two turned around fairly low but their tracks were fun to follow. On the bototm section, below Last Water, you can just let your skis run. We made it back to the Lodge by 12:30, our trip down taking one third the time of our trip up. After a second lunch in the cabin we packed up and headed out to ski the access road to our cars, went shopping in Lincoln, and had an early dinner at the Common Man. Yummy.
Back to White Mountains home page