With a sunny bluebird sky in the forecast for today, the place to go was Owl's Head. This would make my second visit of the season here. I arrived at the mountain at 9:00 with a beautiful sky and a temperature of -10 degrees. The main parking lot was already half full by then which was a sign that everyone else was going to take advantage of a nice day like this. With getting ready, and recharging my RFID card, I was on the lift by 9:30. There was a bit of a line up to start, no more than a couple of minutes. The Main, Baby, and Black Quads along with the learning zone's Magic Carpet were in operation. 49/50 trails were open. The conditions were fantastic! Groomed packed powder over a firm base was what was waiting for you. The grooming team did a wonderful job in making the conditions what they were.
The first runs were on the Main Quad on the Centennial and Lower Colorado as a combo, and then a run on Lilly's Leap. The coverage was excellent! I love it now that you don't have to make the long hike up to get to Centennial anymore. The work that was done here during the off season last summer was well worth it. You will notice as well that the trees were cut to make a the trail wider that improves the view of Jay Peak immensely. Lilly's Leap was a treat as well. With the improved snowmaking system, you can instantly tell the difference in the quality of the snow that was made. Another big change you will notice is the opening of Lilly's Leap has been widened which improves the traffic flow quite a bit. If you ski the left side of this new opening, it is graded as a single black diamond, and if you ski the right side, where the original chute was, this is graded as Intermediate as it had been in the past.
The opening of Lilly's Leap:
The Centennial with the view of Jay Peak:
The Lower Colorado:
As I was skiing Lilly's Leap, I decided to cross over to the Upward Trail and Lake Quad. Now being that the Lake Quad has been down for the winter you can still access the Lakeside section even though the Quad is not running. Two options: Ski down to where the Lakeview trail exits, veer to your left and take the crossover on to the Black Quad, or if you are adventurous, ski down to the flat before the last pitch and crossover to the Black from there. Only thing about this route is that you need to get enough speed to make the rise on to the Chouette as this trail was originally the crossover to the bottom of the Lake Quad from the Black. The line you take to make this rise can make or break your success in getting over it. You may still have to climb a bit to get there. It all depends on your speed. The Upward trail was in great shape and not a lot of people skied here, and you practically had the trail to yourself. It is also noted that as of this spring the Lake Quad will be removed and replaced with a new Quad to be ready for the 2019-2020 ski season.
The Upward trail:
From here I spent sometime on the Black Quad and a few rides up the Baby Quad. Then it was back over to the Main Quad for a couple of more runs. By 11:00-11:30 both the Black Quad and Main Quad were getting quite busy. Using the singles line did shorten the wait time. At one point though the wait in the singles line got to be 10 minutes at the Main Quad. It was actually great to see how busy it was and everyone taking advantage of a beautiful day. The last run up the Main Quad was to ski a trail I had not skied in almost 20 years, the Upper Colorado with the infamous Wall section. The trail had been groomed so there were no bumps, however the Wall can be intimidating as this trail is classified as double black diamond. By the time I skied this trail, it was early afternoon and the coverage was still great with no ice anywhere to be found! It made for a great run down. It is a bit strange to see that the old Green Chair is no longer standing, but now there is more room to turn, and at the bottom of the pitch that connects with the Centennial has been smoothed out and the line of sight at the junction has been improved.
The Chouette under the Black Quad:
The crowd at the bottom of the Main Quad at 11:30:
The Colorado looking up from the Centennial after skiing the pitches:
From here it was time to cool down and made a few more laps on the Black and Baby Quad. There was a trip made earlier in the day down the Panorama trail where the old Mueller double is located and is scheduled to be removed as well sometime in the near future.
By 2:30 and after 20 runs made, it was time to call it, and get a cold refreshment. In front of what would be the old part of the chalet, there is a terrace now with chairs to sit in to soak up the sun, and to observe the action going on around. I took advantage of these chairs and had a seat. As I was sitting there watching everyone, I had the pleasant thought of "yeah this is the way it ought to be" and enjoyed just chilling out in the sun. I got pretty comfy sitting there and almost fell asleep in the sun. Both parking lots ended up being full. The outside of the chalet is almost complete as there is just a little section now that needs siding to be put on. The overall look of the chalet now is amazing. All the changes that had been made this past off season have made a difference already, and there are more to come. A great crowd, and super conditions made for another awesome ski day. Probably in the top 2 ski days of the season this winter for me!
Here are a few more scenes from the day:
The Lower Standard:
The Chalet from the Baby Quad:
Watching the action going on from the terrace:
News out of the Eastern Townships, Owl's Head is to be changing hands. There is an intent to purchase the mountain from the Korman Family who have been at the helm since the mountain's founding 50 years ago, by Sommet Memphrémagog lead by Gilles Bélanger. The story details on the future of the mountain and the investments to be made by the group to improve the infrastructure and renovations to the chalet. The link is from a local French newspaper La Tribune with all the details. I will keep a look out for an English link should there be one available.