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Paul

Owl's Head - January 5, 2019

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This was a trip that I was going to make a bit later in the season, but curiosity got the better of me, so I headed to Owl's Head to see what had been happening lately with all the changes over the past off season. There is a long term plan in place for Owl's Head for improvements, and if they are anything like what saw today, it's going to be awesome! First off I arrived at the mountain for 8 am, and the first change noticed was the main parking lot configuration. No longer are you parking with the width of the lot, you are now parked nose to nose for the full length of the lot row by row. This would allow for more vehicles to be parked. The next obvious change is the chalet outside and inside. The outside is not quite finished yet with siding left to be installed, but what was done looks amazing. Same building but looks a lot more modern now. The inside is amazing! The ticket counter is roughly in the same place as it was before, with the ski shop now located where the bar was before. The stairs redone and much easier to go up to the second level. You arrive at roughly the same point as before. The cafeteria has been totally redone. In the old section of the chalet where the dining room was, is now the bar and seating area. There is a bar menu for food now, or you can get something quick in the cafeteria. There is no going back and forth with bar drinks and food nor anything from the cafeteria is brought into the bar. It is kept separate from one another in this aspect. Ok! Now on with the ski report!fullsizeoutput_cf1.thumb.jpeg.6f51cf9a3f5dc01c6fcd12584fb05309.jpeg

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When I arrived the temperature was -5 degrees under a partly sunny sky. Today the Main Quad, Baby Quad, Black Quad, and Learning Zone carpet were in operation serving 13 trails. The conditions were excellent with groomed packed powder over a firm base. The ops crew, the snowmakers and groomers, did a fantastic job of covering up any evidence of the past few weeks of nastiness. This year another change is the ticketing system. It is now an RFID system. Being that they are main ports of access to the mountain, both the Main Quad and Baby Quad have scanners with the operators having mobile devices to confirm validity of your RFID card should the main scanner not catch it. The Black Quad does not have the main scanner, however the operators have the mobile devices for random verifications.

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The first runs were up the Main Quad to ski Lilly's Leap and Centennial. The first change on the mountain that was noticed was that the upper section of the Kamikaze has been widened. Before in this section Korman's Dive was not that visible, and now it is.

Upper section of the Kamikaze with Korman's Dive to your right.

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When I arrived at the summit, another change that you will notice right away is the entrance into Lilly's Leap. This also has been opened up and you no longer have to navigate the narrow chute into the first corner.

New entry onto Lilly's Leap:

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The coverage on Lilly's was fantastic. There is also a new snowmaking system with a ton of new guns this season and right away you will notice a difference with the quality of the snow being made that you are skiing on. The next trip was Centennial. This is another change you will notice as you no longer have to make that hard climb up around the corner. Also there is a new view of Jay Peak to take in, as the long tree island that separated the former Peak trail and the original Centennial trail has been removed.

The improved Centennial and the view of Jay Peak:

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Then it was on down to the Black Quad for some easy laps. The Nice and Easy along with the Chouette were the options. Again this sector was well covered with machine groomed packed powder. No major changes here to the terrain, but the upper and lower terminals of the lift have been cleaned up quite a bit. Oh yes, the Green Chair is no longer running down the Nice and Easy. To me it looks a bit odd to not see it there anymore. There is a bit more room now not having towers in the middle of the trail.

The Nice & Easy along with the Chouette and bottom of the Black Quad:

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After a few laps here, it was then down Cindy's slip from the Black for a ride up the Baby Quad before heading back up the Main Quad to tackle Korman's Dive and the upper section of the Kamikaze. One last ride up the Main Quad for another Lilly's Leap run. By 11:30 with the traffic today, it started to get a bit scrapey in places, so the finish to the day was on the Baby Quad for a couple of runs to cool off. Then it was time for a brew at a little after 12:00 in the bar. The line up at the Main Quad did get up to about 5 minutes max, whereas the Baby and Black Quad was non existent. 16 runs total.

There are many changes that have been done so far as detailed here, with a lot more to be done over the next few years to come. The floors in the chalet are now rubberized to limit slips and falls. Stairs have been reconfigured for easier navigation. No more big climb up to the Main Quad. All of these changes so far have already made a big difference in my opinion with more to come. While sitting in the bar, music is now played at an ambient level, a lot of new staff members that I don't know, along with some that I do bustling about. The vibe today at Owl's Head was something that I had not seen in quite awhile. It was upbeat and the place was full of buzz. The place is starting to come alive again and it was quite nice to see.

Here are some more scenes from the day:

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All I can say is WOW!

Sometimes change is hard or leaves you wondering if it made sense to do. From your report, everything so far is spot on. Opening up Lilly's Leap (without a doubt my favorite trail at Owl's Head and one of my top 5 anywhere) to make it easier to get in at the top definitely gets high marks. The other changes on mountain are fantastic as well. I love the new view that's more open towards Jay Peak. I think before it was mostly just limited to the starting loop on the Peak trail.

The chalet looks pretty sharp too, and using the old Dining Room space was an excellent move. I'm sure that space will get much more use this way.

I'm just super stoked and happy to see that smart decisions are being made and there is a clear interest by the new ownership and management to grow the destination.

I can't wait to see what else the future brings.

Happy you got to go visit Paul. Thank you for the report and the always stunning Owl's Head eye candy!

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That fog though!!

And wow, you can see Jay Peak!!! 

Looks like an absolutely beautiful day for it, and I'm looking forward to checking it out this year (pending my ability to wake up in the morning and be functional)! Love the view from the lodge!

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Here is Part 2 of the report. Took a break for supper and photo editing. 

What you will see here is the inside of the chalet and some other photos of the outside. These are major improvements to the lay out of the floor plan along with the decor of the new and improved chalet, now referred to as the MTN HAUS.

The Client Services and Ticket area:

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The Cafeteria:

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The Bar and Seating:

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The Ski Shop:

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Great report Paul. I’ll have to make sure to get out that way this season.  I generally go to Jay but maybe a long weekend of Jay, Owls Head and Sutton is in order. 

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Guest A must visit...

Very cool Paul! I can’t wait for my next trip to OH! It’s been years I have been avoiding it: time to go back home ?

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    • By Paul
      Avec les prévisions pour les prochains jours n'étant pas les meilleures possible, j'ai décidé de profiter d'une journée ensoleillée pour descendre à Owl's Head. Je me suis réveillé avec un beau lever de soleil et j'ai quitté Sherbrooke à 7h15 pour le trajet d'une heure. J’arrivé à la montagne à un peu après 8 heures, et je me suis préparé à rouler. J'ai rechargé ma carte RFID, c'était l'heure du départ! Les remontées mécaniques ont ouvert à 8h30 avec la Quad du Sommet, le Petit Quad et le tapis magique. J'avais appris que le nouveau Quad du Lac devait ouvrir plus tard dans la matinée. L'une des principales raisons de s'y rendre aujourd'hui. Il y avait 16 pistes annoncées ouvertes. La température était d'environ -8 et aucun vente, donc cela a permis une matinée confortable. Les premières montees du Quad du Sommet ont consisté à skier Lilly's Leap, Centennial et le Crossover à Lower Standard. Shady Lady était également ouverte, mais la chaise bleue ne tournait pas. Les conditions étaient d'une fine granulaire sur une base dure. La couverture était plutôt bonne partout. Une petite inversion s'est produite aujourd'hui alors que le sommet de la montagne brillait au soleil tandis que la base de la montagne était un peu embuée.

      Après les deux premiers descentes échauffements, c'était dans les sections supérieures de Korman's Dive sur le Kamikaze. A cette moment, j'étais sur le point de prendre quelques photos de cette section, mon téléphone a gelé à cause du froid et est mort ... n'est pas impressionné. J'ai donc descendu la montagne jusqu'au chalet et je me suis dirigé vers la voiture pour réchauffer le téléphone et y mettre une charge. Quand je suis arrivé au chalet, j'ai eu la très agréable surprise de croiser un vieux copain Jeff, qui avait travaillé à Owl's Head en même temps que moi. Lui et sa famille étaient également là. Son père était mon professeur de 6e année! Nous avons tous fréquenté Mont Glen à l'époque de son ouverture. Après une conversation, je me suis dirigé vers la voiture pour remettre le téléphone en vie. Ensuite, c'était de retour en haut de la montagne pour prendre les photos de Korman's Dive et Kamikaze.
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      Kamikaze et Korman's Dive a la distance:

      À 11 h, j'ai remarqué que la corde avait été enlevee sur la piste Traverse menant au lac. Le nouveau Quad du Lac était ouvert! Le dernier de la longue liste de projets que Owl's Head a sur leur liste pour le prochain peu de temps. Beaucoup de gens attendaient cette journée! La piste Upward Trail était faite avec de neige artificiale, damée sur une base ferme. Très bonne couverture avec quelques retouches à faire. À part ça, c'était bien. La zone de chargement du nouveau Quad du Lac est située où la piste Couloir sortent sur le Upward Trail. Le dernier pitch dans le bol où le vieux Quad du Lac a commencé est maintenant perdu et n'est plus accessible. Le nouveau telesiege a un tapis de chargement. Il était temps pour les premiers monte le nouvelle remontee. La montée est agréable et douce, et plus confortable maintenant qu'elle ne l'était auparavant. J'ai réussi à rejoindre la mere et le père de Jeff, sa sœur et son mari pour quelques descentes.
      Le Nouveau Quad du Lac et Upward Trail:


      L'embarquadiere et debarquadiere du Nouveau Quad du Lac:


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      Des quelques d'autres photos de la journée:



    • By Paul
      With the forecast for the next couple of days not being the best it could be, I decided to take advantage of a sunny day to head down to Owl's Head. I woke up to a beautiful sunrise, and I left Sherbrooke at 7:15 for the hour drive. I arrived at the mountain at a touch after 8, and got ready to roll. Got my RFID card reloaded then it was go time! The lifts opened at 8:30 with the Main Quad, Baby Quad and the Magic Carpet. I had heard news that the new Lake Quad was to open later in the morning. One of the main reasons for heading down there today. There were 16 announced trails open. The temperature was around -8 and no breeze, so it made for a comfortable morning. The first rides up the Main Quad were to ski Lilly's Leap, Centennial, and the Crossover to the Lower Standard. Shady Lady was also open, however the Blue Chair was not spinning. The conditions were of a fine machine groomed granular over a hard base. Coverage was pretty good all over. There was a little inversion happening today as the peak of the mountain was gleaming in the sunlight while the base of the mountain was a little fogged in. 
      The View Down Lilly's Leap:

      Centennial, and Lower Standard:


      After the first couple of warm up runs it was onto the upper sections of Korman's Dive onto the Kamikaze. At this time I was about to take some pics of this section, my phone froze from the chill and died........was not impressed. So I headed down the mountain to the chalet and head to the car to warm up the phone and get a charge into it. When I arrived at the bottom, I had the very pleasant surprise of running into an old buddy of mine Jeff, who had worked at Owl's Head at the same time I was there. He and his family were there as well. His dad was my Grade 6 teacher! We all frequented Glen Mountain back in the day when it was opened. After a chat, and a bit of catching up I headed off to the car to get the phone back up and alive. Then it was back up the hill to get the shots of Korman's Dive and Kamikaze. 
      The Middle Pitch of the Kamikaze with Korman's Dive in the Distance:

      By 11:00 I noticed that the rope had been dropped on the Traverse leading over to the Lake. The New Lake Quad was open! The latest in the long list of projects that Owl's Head has on the plate for the next little while. A lot of people were waiting for this day! The Upward trail was of groomed made made snow over a firm base. Pretty good coverage with a few touch ups to be done. Other than that it was fine. The loading area of the New Lake Quad is situated on the end of the flat where the Couloir trail exits on to the Upward Trail. The last pitch down into the bowl where the old Lake Quad started is now lost, and no longer accessible. The new lift has a loading carpet. It was time for the first rides up the new lift. The ride up is nice and smooth, and more comfortable now than it once was. I managed to catch up with Jeff's mum and dad, his sister and husband for a couple of runs.
      The New Lake Quad and Upward Trail.


      The Lower and Upper Stations of the New Lake Quad:


      By noon it was time for a break, and then it was back out for the last runs up the Baby Quad, over to the Main Quad for the last run down Lilly's Leap, and over the the Lake for one last ride. The day ended at 2:00 as the legs were telling me they had had enough. Today was a great day of skiing seeing some people I had worked with back in the day. The conditions were pretty decent considering the weather we have had in the past couple of weeks. Coverage was good, and nothing poking through the snow to run over. Highlights of the day were running into Jeff and his family, and riding up the new Lake Quad. Well worth the early departure from Sherbrooke. It's still early in the season, and it should only get better. Thank you again Owl's Head for another great day of skiing!
      Some More Scenes of the Day:

      This Scene Never Gets Old!


       
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