My buddies, Cosmo and Tim, and I made plans to ski the Thunderbolt yesterday. The three of us are teachers and we did the same thing our students do on snow days…we went out and played in the snow. We headed up right around 2 PM just as the snow was beginning to switch over from light powder to sleet. The snow was like sugar, and felt like zillions of little ball bearings under foot as we hiked and skinned up. Tim stopped just below the Big Schuss and decided he was going to ski the lower slopes for the afternoon. I gave him my truck keys in case he got cold, and Cosmo and I continued on. We ran into Heather Linscott just above the Needle’s Eye and 4 other guys on the Big Bend. The summit was howling and cold, but the fire somebody had left for us in the Thunderbolt Ski Shelter was a nice treat after our 2 hour climb. It was getting dark, so we didn’t stay long, just enough to warm up slightly, drink back some fluids, and have a snack. The skiing was fast! The sugar-like snow that made the ascent a little slippery made the descent a wild ride! You had to really drive the skis and with a lot of energy to make nice turns. But as always with skiing in powder, the faster you go, the more you float, and the more control you have. It’s counterintuitive if you haven’t skied powder, but skiing fast on the narrow and steep Thunderbolt actually gives you more control.
I snapped a pic of Tim as we left him, just in case we never saw him again…
At the Big Bend we saw Josh and Rich skinning up on their rondonee gear. These 2 guys are becoming permanent fixtures on the mountain. We chatted a while and then headed down. Cosmo was making nice turns on his fat randonee skis. I was making fast, wide arching telemark turns. It was great skiing! It was just a great time to be out on the mountain. When we got back to the truck we saw our buddy Tim waiting for us. He had the truck warmed up and ready to go. Cosmo and I were getting spoiled; a warm shelter on the way up, and a warm truck on the way down. Tim asked us about our run and we asked him about his…and it was then that Tim pulled his shattered ski boot from the back of the pick-up and told us about his crash. It seems he got going pretty fast and took a spill. Good thing for Tim his boot took the brunt of the crash and not his ankle.
Cosmo skinning up on his randonee gear.
Some might bemoan the Thunderbolt’s popularity today. Not me. I love to see people up there enjoying the trail. There is always a community of skiers, riders, and mountaineers to be found on the slopes…just like in the old days. In total we saw at least a dozen skiers and riders on the mountain…on a weekday. One guy was heading UP at 4:45 just as we were coming down. He was going to spend a night in the shelter and ski down in the morning. Now I’m glad I decided to throw a few extra logs on the fire when we were up there. Greylock belongs to nobody. And at the same time, it belongs to everybody. Come enjoy the mountain, the camaraderie, and the history….and ski the Thunderbolt until your boots explode!
There’s skiing the Thunderbolt…and then there’s skiing the Thunderbolt Herrmann style!