Viewfinders: Powder Dreams
For a five-day stretch last winter, Mother Nature delivered peak conditions at Sugarloaf
Text and Photography by Sarah Sindo
Issue: November 2020
On the morning of February 28, Sugarloafers woke up to 18 inches of snow—the fluffiest of powder. Because the mountain often sees westnorthwest winds, snow from a big storm typically gets deposited on the backside snowfields. But overnight, as this storm wrapped up, the wind had shifted to the east-northeast, filling the rarely open frontside snowfields with fresh powder and a fine crust on top, thanks to some mixed precipitation. In the morning—Leap Day!— the temperatures warmed a smidge, which allowed that crust to soften and turn into glorious pow. Ski patrol dropped the ropes from the frontside snowfields, and my friends and I were on their tails. The light was like nothing I had ever seen; my friends’ powder turns created shadows just downhill of the marks. Three days later, lo and behold, the wind shifted to the west-northwest and snow dropped onto the backside snowfields. The weather warmed, and we were treated to an early harvest of corn snow. Those days will be ingrained in my memory forever. I later spoke with Roddy Ehrlenbach, assistant ski patrol director, about that magical stretch of time. He said the uniqueness of Sugarloaf is the abovetreeline experience, and the beauty and character of the mountain is shaped by its wind events. The wind has the upper hand on that mountain, and you have to play the cards you’re dealt if you go above the treeline. On those five days, the mountain gave Sugarloafers a royal flush.