One Massive Winter Trip Report

I have to admit that this winter has been a weird one. As I learnt last year, even the best laid plans can often go wrong, opportunities and excitement exist where you didn’t even think to look, and well – life is just an adventure. So, I sincerely apologize for being gone so very long but I swear I have been up to some good stuff! Consider this a season long trip report. =)

I started out this winter with a fantastic plan to try to complete my New England snowboard adventure. I had this grand list of 25 more places I wanted to check off and I was stoked. Wouldn’t you be?

Lori & Carin on Smuggs' bunny hill.

Lori & Carin on Smuggs’ bunny hill.

As luck would have it – weather and plagues had other plans for me. First up, the adventure crew and I attempted to make a weekend trip of Smugglers Notch shortly before Christmas… but instead of bountiful Vermont snow, we were greeted with lots of ice and minimal coverage on just a handful of trails (not Smuggs’ fault of course). Thankfully the trip wasn’t a total bust. We finally convinced Lori to give snowboarding a shot, and it turned out she was a natural (even if she did break her tailbone a few weeks later).

As for the aforementioned plague, I of course just HAD to catch some awesome virus on the very first day of winter (coincidentally the day the world was supposed to end) and it was a good one. After doing just one run at Bolton Valley, Rob informed me I was done for the day because I was alternating between shades of blue and white. Oxygen? Who needs it.

The tallest climbing wall in the US!

The tallest climbing wall in the US!

Fortunately, winter wasn’t a complete bust though. After surviving yet another fantastic virus (this time something that has me not remembering a week other than my roommates calling me ‘Patient X’), Rob and I were off to Reno and Lake Tahoe for a week and half long snowboarding trip. Jealous? You should be.

After landing in Reno on Saturday and exploring a little bit (saw the tallest climbing wall in the US), Rob and I quickly decided the next day to head to Mt. Rose which we had spied while flying in. It looked steep and covered in snow. We had no clue what we were getting ourselves into, other than the fact that they had a ticket deal going on and a section of the mountain called ‘The Chutes’. Um. Heck yes!

Overall, we were blown away. For a mountain that we had basically never heard of until we arrived, Mt. Rose was a snowboarding dream (even if it was 50 something degrees out) and it was seriously only a little more than a half hour away from Reno’s airport. To make it even better, they frequently have ticket deals (and can be found on Liftopia), the staff was insanely friendly and welcoming, and the guests rocked (I love locals). We’re definitely headed back there again on our next trip out to Tahoe.

Just one very tiny portion of Mt. Rose. So much more to explore!

Just one very tiny portion of Mt. Rose. So much more to explore!

The next day, we started the drive down to South Lake Tahoe. Along the way, we decided to stop at a climbing gym in North Lake Tahoe’s Incline Village called High Altitude Fitness. While I’m sure the place can be very welcoming while in full swing, we weren’t terribly impressed. For one, the climbing gym is primarily a gym so the climbing community many of us are accustom to just doesn’t seem to exist as we discussed with a few regulars. Routes are really poorly marked and hard to follow. The insanely terrible lack of lighting didn’t help much. And seriously – don’t fall. The crash pads were hard as bricks! Eek! I think we’ll just stick to our plans to climb outside in Tahoe sometime soon.

One happy snowboarder. =)

One happy snowboarder. =)

Now here’s where the trip gets really interesting (some of you will know why already). On Tuesday, Rob and I took the mountain – Heavenly Mountain that is. We had heard there was an awfully good chance of high winds, and they weren’t kidding. I spent the entire day being blown backwards, uphill, over, and every direction but the one I wanted. All the powdery stuff was getting blown off the trails, and I kept yelling ‘I just found New England ice!’ It just wasn’t my day. And Rob was acting weird. Fortunately though, we got an awfully sweet picture taken (while being blown over) at the summit by an EpicMix photographer who turned out to be from Pelham, NH. Small world!

On Wednesday, the weather was a whole heck of a lot better so we got up early and hit the trails with big plans. We wanted to make sure we got a picture at this scenic overlook we had visited last year, but of course every time we went by – no photographer. Finally Rob suggested we just head back up to the summit and do some runs from up there, so up Sky Express we went.

As we were approaching the unload zone, I noticed an EpicMix photographer was at the summit overlook again. For some reason or another, we both decided it would be a good idea to get a second round of photographs taken while we weren’t being blown over. We were pretty stoked to find out it was the same photographer from the day before too.

And then this happened… Yep.

Yep. Heavenly Mountain proposal right at an elevation of 10,040 ft. So us. (Thank you Greg M from EpixMix!!!)

Yep. Heavenly Mountain proposal right at an elevation of 10,040 ft. So us. (Thank you Greg M from EpixMix!!!)

My adventurous better half apparently decided he wanted to make sure I’m his belayer, snowboard buddy, and outdoor partner for life. So, without hesitation (but definitely with some hyperventilating), I said ‘yes’. I can’t really think of a better place on earth for such a question. =)

020713135044Thursday was our “rest” day, but we’re never really any good at just sitting still so we decided to break out the snowshoes and attempt to find some decent trails. We soon ended up at an area by Spooner Lake. While we didn’t quite make it to the lake, I did learn an important snowshoeing lesson: Snowshoes turns into skis when you least expect it. That quickly made me a wimp on steep downhill sections.

Friday was pretty much just epic. We started off the morning with Rob’s family on some easy stuff but ended up going off on our own. If there’s one thing to love about Heavenly more than anything else (besides the fries covered in cheese and garlic!?!), it’s the overwhelming amount of glades, canyons, and general offbeat goodness. There is seriously something for everyone, but Rob I quickly found our new favorites of the day: Dipper Bowl, follow the trees all the way to the bottom, bear right back to Dipper Express. The Dipper Bowl was full of gnarly massive bumps that are intimidating from the top, but if you make it the bottom you just might be rewarded with powdery tree runs ranging from wide open to so tight you’ll be hooking every turn. So. Much. Fun.

Saturday was yet another rest day, but this time with Rob’s family in tow we actually did kind of rest after dragging a couple of them to one of our favorite lake overlooks. Soon after, shopping, drooling over Dr. Seuss artwork (why yes – I did nearly buy a $1700 piece of artwork), and partaking in far too much of SLT’s sweets occurred.

It doesn't look bad in 2D, but I swear Bill's was a vertical descent. Awesome!

It doesn’t look bad in 2D, but I swear Bill’s was a vertical descent. Awesome!

Now, if you’re really looking for the epic day of the trip – Sunday was it. After much hesitation and a lame “I don’t know if I can handle this” attitude, I finally decided to just suck it up and tackle what I came to Heavenly for: Mott Canyon. For those unfamiliar with it, it’s just about vertical and it has a whole lot of flavors. We decided to tackle Bill’s first. With my heart in my throat, and my back up against the canyon wall, I carefully but pretty artfully made it down. This was the type of run that if you wiped out, you didn’t stop (shortly after, we saw a skier hurtle down… without skis). That run alone had me addicted, so Rob and I spent the afternoon playing around Mott Canyon, Dipper Bowl, and a pretty fantastic tree section just off the California Trail.

And with that… Tahoe came to an end. Until next year!

A few weeks later, we found ourselves on our first ever international ski trip and visited Mont Tremblant just an hour or so north of Montreal. It was definitely an interesting place, but we found it to be really aimed at skiers. The easiest of the trails were often flat and sometimes even uphill. Even with harder trails, the grading just seemed really off. We’re accustom to black diamonds that are steep or narrow, while their black diamonds were often gentle and massively open. But regardless, it was a great trip. The village at Mont Tremblant is stunning, the staff is beyond kind (even to us tourists who kept butchering French), and the food was phenomenal. We definitely recommend visiting Le Shack for burgers and La Forge Bar & Grill for fine dining (make a reservation!).

What else is new?

Our malamute puppy Kina. Soon to be a hiking, crag loving, Winnipesaukee cruising pup. =)

Our malamute puppy Kina. Soon to be a hiking, crag loving, Winnipesaukee cruising pup. =)

We’re proud to introduce the newest member of the canine outdoor family. Meet Kina! She’s a 2 month old red malamute who is loving everything about picking on her (completely unrelated) Siberian Husky brother, Yuri. We’re psyched to introduce her to hiking and Lake Winnipesaukee this summer. So if you happen to see two people in your travels with a wolf (Yuri) and a bear (Kina), that’d be us. Say hi! =)

So – lots of good stuff going on, and we’re psyched to be headed into warmer weather sometime soon. There’s a ton of rock climbing to be done, a wedding (ours), white water rafting trip, kayaking, and who knows what else. Bring it on!

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About Jillian Bejtlich

Hey! I'm Jillian Bejtlich. I’m a lifelong New Englander with a serious love of the outdoors, adventure, and a pretty serious inability to sit still. I’m plagued by the travel bug, and it seems I’ll try any relatively sane and safe thing once. My big goal in life: Get people outside!