We drove the EV up to the condo at Attitash for our yearly White Mountain skiing vacation, hoping there would be sufficient charging locations. Stopped at Sawyer Road on the way up on Sunday for a little nordic action, and decided to hit Wildcat on Monday for some alpine action. Its our favorite place to ski in North Conway, they just had a big snow dump and the high speed quad was running, according to the website. Except it was not. And hadn’t been for a while. All the chairs were disconnected from the cable and stacked up at the base of the mountain. The triple chair that was running took as long as getting a live person at the US Treasury on the phone and stopped short of the top, cutting off access to a number of trails. There was not a happy face in the lodge and lots of grumbling. Was this a deliberate bait and switch to get skiers there, or just incompetence at updating the website? Or since Wildcat is now owned by Vail Corporation, maybe they just don’t give a rat’s ass about a few skiers in New England? Welcome to the world of corporate skiing.
Telemark vs Alpine Touring
Free the heel, free the mind. My mind endorses the concept but my body rebels. Asking it to make a telemark turn is like asking Mark Zuckerberg not to screw up Instagram. After skinning up Mt Abram last month and barely making it down I finally admitted defeat and went shopping for Alpine Touring equipment. My hopes were not high, based on previous experiences trying to acquire telemark gear. Few stores carried telemark equipment and often as not they couldn’t explain the functions adequately.
First stop was Ragged Mountain Equipment in Intervale, NH. For bindings I went with Fritschi Vipec Evo 12, made in Switzerland. They were not the lightest at just over one pound, but recommended for my heavier Scott Powd’Air skis. They have 3 modes in front: step in, walk and ski. In back they have 2 height settings for uphill/level ground and when you’re ready to come down, the binding clamps onto the boot heel.
For boots I went with the La Sportiva Vega. It felt tighter than the Scarpa which the salesman said was too big. The boot weighs in at just over 3 pounds, has a 70 degree forward flex and changes from walk to ski with the simple flip of a switch in back.
While Ragged Mountain was setting up the skis, we fit in a trip to Sunday River, which looked liked it was in a cloud forest in the morning and Bretton Woods on St. Patrick’s Day, where we bumped into the kilt skiers.
Equipment Field Test
The next day I took the new set up out for a test run. The step-in feature was a major factor. No more bending and squatting, trying to get that crazy telemark heel contraption locked on. I skinned up Zealand Road in walk mode. Extremely comfortable. Spruce Goose Trail did not have enough snow, so I took off the skins and tested them on a level section of the road – fantastic. On a slight down grade, I locked the boots and had perfect control. All adjustments can be made with out taking the boots out of the binding.
Usually, we ski to a destination. In this case we had plan A (ski) and plan B (hike), not knowing if there would be adequate snow. After skiing for about 1 mile the snow diminished on the road, so we turned around. Arriving at the trailhead to Sugar Loaf Mountain, it was only 2:30 and the day was too nice to quit. I suggested we stash the skis and hike up. It was a fateful decision. Two hours later we strapped on our skis. I was excited to try the downhill mode, with some trepidation, since it was solid ice in the steepest section. As soon as we set out, we came upon a couple in distress. Actually, she was having severe intestinal distress and he was distressed about getting her help. She had her skis off and could barely walk. Did we have a cell phone, he asked? I offered mine up, but a couple going the other way had made a connection and requested an ambulance. The man picked up her skis, my wife took her back pack and strapped it in on in front of her. I went on ahead to meet the ambulance at the gate, about a half mile ahead. The series of random events that transpired to put us in the exact spot at the exact time they needed assistance is a great example of the synchronicity that occurs with increasing frequency the more one travels.
Ragged Mountain Equipment
The other amazing thing was the staff at Ragged Mountain. I dealt with 3 different salesmen and all were knowledgeable, friendly and patient. The wall of bindings in front of me was overwhelming but over the course of an hour the AT ski expert educated me on the different functions and features of each one. I tried on 4 different pairs of boots; he went over the pluses and minuses and checked the fit; suggested I try on 3 more styles of boots; said that I should think it over for a while; if I regretted my decision tomorrow, I could bring them back for a full refund. Talk about low pressure sales! His recommendation was spot on, after the thermal molding the boot fit perfectly and was way more comfortable than my old Scarpa T2s. They know their gear and take time to explain it. I would highly recommend this store to anyone in the market for AT gear, or any other gear for that matter.
Finally a word on EV charging. Attitash Mountain Village installed two EV charging units. The one at Unit 9 was continuously occupied by a Tesla. I even parked next to them once hoping to give them a clue that another EV was in the area. They never moved. We were able to charge a couple of times at the one near unit 4, but found it off line several times. There is going to have to be a whole world of etiquette developed until sufficient numbers of these are installed. Props to AMV for trying, I know they are expensive.