I love how much everybody hates March.
No, no, not you. It’s perfectly understood that if you’re reading this, you’re likely along for the same ride. You already know what I know. The month of March, the bane of the yearly existence for those poor folks who don’t strap boards to their feet and throttle themselves down a mountain, is the best duration we’ve got.
March is our prime time. It’s the kind of month when we can expect 30 inches of snow at any moment (hello, Vermont), or a 65-degree afternoon accentuated by the scents of Coppertone and Kingsford. It’s the kind of month that gives us Daylight Savings Time, meaning that 3:59 lift ride is definitely in play. It’s the kind of month when spring flings, pond skims, and other warmer-weather events increase the jovial level at ski areas across the Northeast.
It’s sunshine, mashed potatoes, and après sessions of watching college basketball in that sport’s own best month. It’s shedding layers and swapping out goggles for shades. It’s the stretch run, yes, but with that comes a certain sense of savoring every turn, knowing that the weeks will turn into days, which will turn into monitoring the snow pack on Superstar.
Elsewhere, March apparently isn’t so perfect. There’s no holiday, which means (gasp) four, uninterrupted work weeks. The weather can be fickle, and maybe your college basketball team couldn’t even make the NIT. As far as overall popularity is concerned, March is probably the least-liked month of the year among non-skiers.
I love that. Let us have all the reasons to cherish March. Take pride every time somebody says, “There’s still skiing?” with a look of astonishment. After all, you already know what they don’t: March is the best.
Cody Townsend does Mount Washington
Professional skier Cody Townsend’s web series “The Fifty,” in which he tackles the 50 greatest descents in North America, makes its latest stop in New Hampshire to visit Mount Washington’s Huntington and Tuckerman Ravines. Townsend is a proud Californian, so it’s fun to watch him experience some East Coast treats, including the bitter cold stretch that greeted the Mount Washington Valley in mid-February. It’s also cool to see Andrew Drummond, of Ski the Whites, give Townsend a primer as to why he’s an East Coast skier at his core, this despite Townsend’s dubious nature outside of his normal element. Townsend also calls it “Tuckerman’s” Ravine, which is a dead giveaway that he’s in foreign waters.
Alpine-related deaths in the news
A couple of sad notes to relay from the mountains over the last week, where fatalities made headlines.
In Stowe, where more than 35 inches of new snow last week tempted backcountry skiers galore, Andrew Hryb, 36, of Darien, Conn. was found dead last Saturday evening after going off a cliff. His brother, Alexander, 35, was in contact with Stowe Search and Rescue workers, who found Andrew’s body. Lisa Lynn of Vermont Ski and Ride Magazine has a detailed rundown of the operation it took to locate the brothers, and how the tragic ending is a reminder to always be aware of your surroundings.
Meanwhile, Sunday at Loon, Brent Narkawicz, 55, of Coventry, R.I., became the second fatality of the last few months at the Lincoln, N.H. ski area. Narkawicz died after hitting a tree. He was wearing a helmet. According to the Union Leader, “members of the ski patrol responded to the crash and began CPR on an unresponsive snowboarder.”
Vail launches new pass for Northeast
The guess here is that Vail’s new Northeast Value Pass is going to be a big seller in New England. In addition to its ever-present Epic Pass lineup, Vail Resorts announced Tuesday that it was launching the “Northeast Value Pass,” priced at $599 and featuring unlimited, restricted access at Vail’s Vermont properties Okemo and Mount Snow, as well as unlimited, unrestricted access to New Hampshire ski areas Wildcat, Attitash, Mount Sunapee, and Crotched. The pass also comes with 10 restricted days at Stowe Mountain Resort, as well as access to other Vail properties in the Northeast.
The pass is priced at only $130 less than the Epic Local, which also gives access to a lot more resorts out West. For comparison’s sake, the similarly-priced Ikon Base Pass ($699) will deliver unlimited access to Alterra’s New England properties Sugarbush and Stratton, as well as up to five days each at Sunday River, Loon, Sugarloaf, and Killington-Pico. But frankly, for skiers coming from the metro-Boston area, the Northeast Value Pass probably presents a better deal, considering the favorable driving distance to Wildcat, Attitash, and Sunapee, all within a three-hour commute.
Meanwhile, it is only March. Can I just enjoy this year’s season pass without having to worry about next year yet?
Steals and deals
We’re still a bit more than a week out from St. Patrick’s Day (Tuesday, March 17), but that gives you plenty of time to file for that personal day if you haven’t already. That way, you can head for the hills, where Mount Snow, Waterville Valley, and Sugarbush’s Mount Ellen will all offer $17 lift tickets for the day.
New England Ski Journal TV visits Cranmore Mountain Resort and North Conway, N.H.
Check out the latest edition of New England Ski Journal TV, where we take a trip to visit the always-bustling New Hampshire vacation destination of North Conway, including Cranmore Mountain Resort, one of the most historic ski areas in all of New England. Tune into NESN Friday night at 6 for an all-new episode when we’ll travel to Jay Peak Resort to get the latest from Northern Vermont’s popular resort.