Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Braving Bitter Temps on Wildcat's Slopes

After yesterday's snow I wanted to get a first-hand look at the trail conditions on Wildcat. The forecast for today's weather was sunny skies but cold and windy. The higher summits forecast actually had a Wind Chill Advisory. Son Brandon decided to join me with his snowboard. So we loaded up the car and headed to Wildcat for an afternoon of shredding and carving.

As I drove up through Pinkham Notch we could see snow being whipped off the high summits. The wind was out of the west and while some of this would be blocked by the Presidentials I knew that it would still be a very windy Wildcat summit. Driving past the Imp trailheads I noticed the northern trail had not been broke out but the southern trail had one vehicle and was broken. There were several vehicles at the Nineteen-Mile trailhead.

Arriving at the Wildcat parking lot we found a spot near the lodge. The first thing I noticed was that people were leaving in droves and I wondered if the lift had closed down because of the wind. There were people still riding up so I'm assuming that the departing skiers and snowboarders had their fill of frigid wind for one day. We layered up and I was thinking maybe hitting the slopes under these conditions wasn't such a good idea but there was no turning back now.

I have a Vertical Value Card and can purchase a lift ticket for $22.50 on Sunday afternoons. One last check to cover any exposed skin and we were on our way to the Wildcat Express Quad. This was the only lift operating today providing top to bottom access on 11 trails. The wind was not that bad on the ride up until about the last 100 feet and then we were literally pushed off the lift by the wind. It was a sustained howling wind and there would be no lingering at the top basking in the sun.

We turned to the left off the lift and took the Polecat trail to the bottom. The good stuff seemed to have been skied off and we were left with a crusty hard surface although by keeping close to the edge of the trail we were able to enjoy some powder. At times the wind blew so hard that it almost stopped us in our tracks. It was a cold ride down.

After a couple of runs we warmed up in the lodge. Cold toes were the most prominent casualty. A short break and we were ready to head into the cold again. I think I was getting acclimated to the cold because it didn't seem to bother me as it had during the first few runs. That doesn't mean there was any less wind or cold. I stopped to get an occasional photo but it was a tough job, especially at the summit. The Presidentials were looking spectacular!

While there is currently a good base layer of snow it is going to take a significant snowstorm to really open up the mountain. We made several more runs and decided to call it a day. Despite the wind and cold temps the sun was bright in a clear blue sky and it felt great to get outside today!

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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