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For what might be the closer to the 2022-23 season, Lukas and I headed off to Owl's Head today for his first visit there. He's heard of the stories of my working there way back when, so it was his time to experience the mountain for himself. We left early, and arrived just before 8. There were a few cars already in the lot when we got there. It was partly sunny, and mild but wow the wind was howling! I wasn't expecting to be windy. We got ready, picked up Lukas' RFID card, and headed outside to get ready for the morning. The schedule was for the Summit Quad, Family Quad, and the Panorama to spin today. I ran into my buddy Adam who works at the mountain, and let me know that the Summit Quad was on wind hold. It was blustery at the base of the mountain, and you could really hear it up the hill. While talking with Adam, down by the Family Quad we had a visitor running up the trail, a young moose ran by! Out of the years working there, I had not seen a moose on the hill. Lots of porcupine, and a variety of other animals, but not a moose! After the excitement Lukas and I headed off to the Family Quad to start the day. The conditions to start were a bit crusty. The trails had been groomed during the night however with the wind, and temperatures right around freezing made for fast skiing. Spring has definitely sprung. There were some ice patches poking through to watch out for but nothing to worry about. There was plenty of space to avoid them. After a few runs on the Family Quad it was on to the Panorama Quad. It was down the Nice & Easy then the Chouette to get yourself to the bottom of the Panorama Quad. The coverage was pretty much the same, groomed granular snow with a bit of a crust, and a few ice patches to boot. We spent awhile in this sector, and with the sun starting to appear more, the snow started softening up but not to the degree of becoming like the typical spring time mashed potatoes. There were some crosswinds riding up the lift but nothing that affected the operation of the Quad. You could still access the Upward Trail with a few crossover connections, The Lake Quad was not in operation today. There no lines at either Quad. The Nice & Easy and Junction With the Chouette: The Chouette Further Down and The Bottom of the Panorama Quad: We had a few turns on the bottom part of the Upward Trail on the bottom of the Lake Quad and back over to the Chouette. It was crusty as well on the Upward Trail but softened up pretty quickly with the sun being out. When the sun disappeared behind the clouds, and with the wind, it started to get a light crust again which softened up when the sun reappeared. The Upward Trail Looking Up: We then headed back to the Family Quad by the way of the Bambi Crossing to the last pitch of the Kamikaze. Back up the Family Quad, Bambi Crossing to the last pitch of the Lower Standard. After 15 runs or so we finished the morning, The Summit Quad was still not running at noon as it was still windy on top and you could really hear it. We had a really good day despite the limited operations on what would be most likely our last day, well Lukas' last, but I could be easily coaxed into another later day in the next couple of weeks. Until next season Owl's Head, we are looking forward to it! Here Are A Few More Scenes of the Day:
I received a text Monday from my friend Adam wondering what I was up to on Tuesday. Normally I'd be in the office however it had been quiet on the phone. So I asked for Tuesday away, and it was no problem for a ski day. Thank you for my colleague Brady for covering the phones on this day. So Owl's Head was the choix du jour for the day. I picked Adam up, and off we went. We arrived at the mountain at roughly 8:30 to a bright blue sky. Temperature was a fresh -12 degrees. We got ready in the chalet, and picked up our passes. All four Quad chairs were in operation with 48 of 50 trails available. It had been awhile since I'd been last, and was overdue. First run up was on the Summit Quad and one Lilly's Leap to warm up, and then headed down to the Panorama Quad, and the Chouette trail. The coverage was great! Groomed powder over a firm base. Conditions were consistent everywhere we skied. Lilly's Leap & the Chouette: It was back to the Summit Quad for a run on Centennial, but first we made a stop at the top of the Family Quad to pay a quick visit to someone I hadn't seen for sometime. Leonard who I worked with when I started at Owl's Head many years ago. He is still there after all this time, and hasn't changed a bit! So up to the top for Centennial, back to Lilly's with a quick cut over to the bottom portion of the Colorado. On more trip up, and headed off the Lake Quad via Lilly's Leap. Centennial & The Bottom Portion of the Colorado: We skied the Upward Trail, Lakeview, and Couloir. Again coverage was of groomed powder over a firm base. After a couple rides up the Lake Quad, it was then over to the Panorama chair, and one ride up the Family Quad. We made our way over to the Summit Quad to tackle Korman's Dive & Kamikaze full length. Then it was time for a break. Under the Family Quad the trail has been split in half with a Snow Park on the left side heading up with the right side for skiing. The Upward Trail, Couloir, and Family Quad With Snow Park: Korman's Dive & Kamikaze: After break I headed back up the Family Quad to spend sometime with Leonard, and catch up with him. We had a great chat reminiscing about times past, and the people we had worked with back in the day. After this visit it was time for lunch. We then did some runs back on the Panorama, and Lake Quad. We were done by 2:30 after I don't know how many runs......... I lost count. The day was the best, and longest of the season so far. To me skiing Owl's Head is like going home. It was my home mountain as I worked here from 1989 - 2001. They have made great changes here to the mountain, and chalet improving it these past few years. It needed some TLC, and current management has done a great job so far. Some things have changed here, but some things have stayed the same to me. It felt like I was home again. Adam had a great idea to ski here today, I am grateful for sharing such a super day with him. Thank you my friend. I really needed this. A Couple of More Scenes of the Day:
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. http://www.lapresse.ca/la-tribune/actualites/201708/08/01-5123027-owls-head-change-de-main.php?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook
On Monday, Jan 15th, a major power outage caused electrical damage to the main summit detachable quad chairlift at Owl's Head. Replacement parts and repairs are currently still in progress but no return to service date has been given. Since Thursday until today, the old Green Chair (Heron) double chairlift was opened up restoring access to the summit. Today (Saturday, Jan 20th) an incident occurred in the morning on the Green Chair, in which a chair slid down into another. The lift was evacuated and is now closed pending inspection by the Quebec government. www.facebook.com/owlsheadresort/posts/10155616691922639 The Green chair is now taking out of service, and summit access is again no longer possible. While lift incidents seem to be more commonly published in the news recently (Sugarloaf as an example), how do you feel about lift security? Are the mountains and regulatory bodies doing enough to ensure reliable lift operations? With aging lifts in Quebec, the fear is reliability could become a large issue. I do hope everything gets sorted out in quick order at Owl's Head as these incidents do affect visitor flow and perception of a mountain and can affect revenue. I sincerely hope that the event today does not tarnish the amazing experience we all enjoy when visiting Owl's Head.