At any point during the winter season, the daily snow report for Vermont’s Mad River Glen might reference the dreaded, drenched “r” word, and discuss how the “snow on the mountain needs to drain.” At Mad River, it’s not just a made-up term. After 40-degree temperature jumps and multiple inches of rain, the mountain must suspend operations for the day to prevent skiers from leaving deep gouges in the snow, slicing up prized trails and coveted tree lines.
Although temperatures might be on the retreat by the usual opening time of 9 a.m., the mercury still hovers in the red on days like this. Waterfalls gush on the lower mountain. Chickadees chirp and hop around in apparent glee.
But the hill’s loyal locals aren’t surprised. It’s simply one of the mountain’s many moods. They know that in 24 hours it may be zero degrees, with the resort’s single chair spinning as snow squalls attempt to cover up the evidence of yesterday’s meteorological atrocity. Or it may be classic dust-on-crust, known locally as Green Mountain glacial, a ski’s edge deep. Or it might be an East Coast powder day, cold, deep and dreamy. Did we say cold?
Whatever it is, the skiers show up, and they are stoked. Some have waxed their skis the night before. Many haven’t tuned their skis in years. Veterans attempt to wait for not-so-experienced friends, but that often doesn’t work. No problem—all the terrain funnels back to a single base area, and the bar usually has Lawson’s Finest Liquids on tap…