By Sasha Yakovleff
Sugarloaf Resort, located in Carrabasset Valley, Maine, is the true skier's mountain. This massive lone peak is not easy to get to, and once you are there it is even harder to leave. The mountain is as rugged as the Northern Maine landscape and the people who call it home. Sugarloaf is home to the only above-treeline skiing on the East Coast. A lack of crowds, a tall and steep mountain with a down-home-like atmosphere, and nearly unlimited glade skiing has already established Sugarloaf as one of the premier big-mountain resorts in the East. And it just got better! Starting this winter, Sugarloaf will open up a recently acquired gem of land just beyond the summit snowfields that will once again redefine New England skiing.
According to Sugarloaf Communications Manager Ethan Austin, this new seven-acre land acquisition offers "some of the most challenging, exposed terrain we have ever had. It is not for everyone but we are very excited to open it." This small parcel was previously outside the ski area boundary and on private property, effectively shutting down any chance of skiing or riding in the zone. This summer the mountain purchased the plot from the Plum Creek Timber Company, and has already thinned out the woods in preparation for opening once the snow arrives.
Be forewarned—this terrain is very challenging. It is composed entirely of glades and it is steep, exposed, and in places requires mandatory cliff drops ranging from 8-15 feet. Currently there are no plans to install a lift or snowmaking back there, so don't expect it to get easier anytime soon. The pitch allows skiers and snowboarders to cut back across to the other side of the mountain, so there is no need to hike out.
Local skiers and snowboarders generally have positive takes on the new project. The zone may get tracked out quicker, but it will be safer and more enjoyable for everybody now that it is officially opening. "It is gnarly!" says Chase Williams, a 26-year-old Sugarloaf native who used to ski the zone before it was open. "Steeps, rocks, cliffs… you don't want to mess around up there if you are not feeling it. But it is a killer little run with West-coast style for anybody wanting to send it. I can't wait."
For now, skiers and riders will have to wait until the snow piles up and the ropes are dropped. But this should give us all one more reason to make the pilgrimage to the 'Loaf for some good times and great turns.