I had a nice leisurely drive to Pinkham Notch and then a nice leisurely skin up into Hillmans Highway.  I ascended into the Irene Slide where the skiing was raw crap - punchy death crust with occasional patches of wind slab.  The descent down the Sherburne was a bit odd with a strange grippy sticky hardpack that was sketchy.  Coverage was outstanding, however.  I checked into Joe Dodge Lodge and prepped for instructing the AIARE 1 in the library where I also caught a cat nap on the couch. Class commenced and we had 3 kids from Kennebunk ME High school who turned out to be exceptional students.  Prior to class, I had a discussion with a student who had guiding aspirations and I offered future advice should he need it for his PRO 1 course next season - since I'm no longer skiing at MRG for now, I'm allowed to play with splitboarders, lol!

Al Mandell ran the course and he has much experience including creating international ski programs (Iceland and Japan among other destinations) for both IFMGA guides Mark Synnott and Jon Tierney.  AIARE is using new material and formats and this was our first time using them.  This was a bit awkward but as I said during lecturing: I'm not a virgin, but this is a new position ...... and it still feels good.

A few beers and good discussion with students afterwards was had.  This light conviviality and heavy ski/avalanche dialogue was to pay off in our evaluations.

Saturday, I led the team up into lower Hillmans Highway where we did obs and other lectures along the way.  We stopped at HoJos and it was good to run into Rich & Marcia the Harvard High Cabin caretakers (fellow patroller Sue and I while skiing the woods crashed their wedding party at Harvard Cabin awhile back and they told us they would have been disappointed if we didn't crash it) as well as Hermit Lake Caretaker Sarah.  I was able to get Snow Ranger Ryan to give us an impromptu lecture on the porch - the US Forest Service is always good to me about that - and up above we went where we gave clinics on skinning and steeep skinning and I lectured on the complex terrain Boott Spur (yes, it is 2 ts) offers.  Descent down the Sherburne was much improved and fun with the 3cm of new - I am always pleasantly astounded at how even as little as an inch can bring that trail to life.  After class and dinner we hung out again as we did the prior evening, coaching students on their trip planning assignment.

Today, we had the students lead while we coached.  Up the Gulf of Slide trails we went and I purposely ascended the wrong way in order to test the students - testing the Expert Halo human factor.  GOS had very good coverage and we did some clinicing on some tricky steep ascent spots.  It was good to run into Jake who thanked me for my donations of time, effort and money over the years to the NoCon (that's dudespeak for North Conway) over the years.  Pit digging was done in GOS and a wonderful descent was had with astounding coverage for this time of year with fun edgeable New England hardpack skiing on bumps, double fall lines, sharp turns and rolls on a very narrow trail.

Mark P. Renson


On Saturday, December 15, 2018, 6:58:38 AM EST, Mark P. Renson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:


Oh, and Sunday after sweep, I brought me skis to the shop to get tuned. I was in awe at the number of race skis that were lined up for tuning which reminded me of how serious a race mountain it is.  It felt cool to see all of this and made an impression on me.  The patrol gets skis tuned for free but it is an unwritten rule that beer and/or salty snacks be provided as a gratuity. I rewarded the shop with a 12 pack of Torpedos on Wednesday.  

On Wednesday, I checked Boneyard and it skied very nicely with human groomin' - so glad to see my strategy worked.

AIARE 1 instructing at Acadia Mountain Guides this weekend and yesterday.  At Pinkham Notch now *with* wifi.  Some great dialogue yesterday, very cerebral.  This including discussion with a student who wants to become a splitboard guide (he's on the right track) and he explained to me how splitboard guiding is different than ski guiding ......... wow, I've gone from babbling about snowboard bans to encouraging students to get into splitboard guiding and how to go about it, LOL!

Mark P. Renson


On Friday, December 14, 2018, 9:16:23 AM EST, Mark P. Renson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:


Absolutely. Of course, I did just that - I'm a New England ski patroller after all.


On Fri, Dec 14, 2018 at 9:06 AM, Skip King
Mark, can you run those Edge toboggans from outside the handles?

On 12/14/2018 8:18 AM, Mark P. Renson wrote:
Had some vacation time to burn off......

Well, another trip top the clinic going over piles of test results, x-rays, CAT scans, ultrasounds and Gawd knows what but in the end, the doctra' told me in effect to suck it up and lectured me in her accent "Mark, you're overall health is great, you're young (wtf?), you're active and you go skiing (heavy emphasis placed on the importance of skiing).....come spend a day with me and you can see how bad things can get".

I exchanged raucous e-mails with AIARE Course Leader Training Mike regarding the AIARE Continuing Ed class we just had with Jonathan in early November as well as the NoCon scene. Mike while now leading a successful outdoor educators life in Colorado just can't let go of New Hampshire and Boston (as he bellowed out in class, "I was born in a hospital in Boston after being conceived on a beach in Lynn).

So, I was good to go!

Putting 2 and 2 together, I was able to figure out that many early season tasks would need to be done, hence I arrived at Waterville at dawn last Friday.  Yup, much 'boo and lift pads and rope needed to be placed amongst the chaos of snowmaking and grooming.  Yet, many natural trails were open and I got a nice trail check - the super steep Lower Bobby's which had a nice 2-3" new untracked over some crunchy-munchies. Fun day of skiing was had while we worked on the surprisingly deep base. Over a beer in the locker room, I entertained young rookie Jen an RPI grad nerd about some of our antics at UConn back in the day. Temps dropped deeply overnight and I could not shave the next morning as my shaving cream froze.  

For Saturday, the breeze had drifted some fluff into key spots.  I headed for True Grit, our steepest trail.  Looking at this on my desktop on hillmap.com revealed how steeep this is and when I first skied it last season, I was actually a bit intimidated by it especially during a late afternoon when I was taking a clinic led by PSIA hot shot Kathy Brennan - darn near had sewing machine leg.  But over time, I have learned to love the wide straight exposed shot over that roll on the headwall and now I enjoy it.  Snow had drifted on the hedwall and I was able to enjoy fun dust on crust turns.  The day went well and for end of day sweep I got lucky and was assigned True Grit again which was super enjoyable. In the middle of the day, young Bobby and I debated opening the natural Boneyard hence we were assigned to check it out.  Yummy dust on crust turns were had and in the end we deemed it to be opened as Human Groomin' would make it a nice ski - hey it does have a black diamond designation.

Sunday, not only was my shaving cream solid ice but also my filled pee bottle. Chris and I hooked up with Peter.  The latter in his 60s is very cerebral about skiing, hence a source of knowledge which for me is enjoyable.  We dragged out our new Edge Rescue sleds, made in the Pacific Northwest.  We got their special IC model where IC stands for - you guessed it - "Ice Coast". Wow, what fun it was to practice with these.  If you're a PD reading this, definitely consider getting these.  I ran a loaded one down Gemma and then an empty on hardpack on double fall lines and snowmaking whales and was stunned at how easy it was to run. No fishtailing on the double fall lines. In the afternoon, I was put on a walk-in call at the clinic for an 11 year old male.  This presented a unique challenge especially since I was solo. See the next to last homework problem in the latest OEC Refresher workbook and that's what I had and if you're a patroller, we can discuss backchannel. All went well especially due to our training and refreshers - yes, in New Hampshire you have to submit your completed workbook where it is reviewed.  It was a great learning experience and the Assistant PD and I had a very good discussion about it over a beer at T-Bars afterwards. It was the type of day that made psyched to be a patroller.

More vacation time to burn off.  Steve and Andrea of Petra Cliffs owed me some comp time for work I have done for them, so I hooked up with Steve to ice climb in Smugglers Notch.  I wish I had more time to do this sport!  I last did a climb on the Toilet Bowl at Mad River awhile back - that's the 2-3 pitch climb that overlooks Fox/Vixen and to my knowledge, it has only been climbed by Mad River patrollers.  The day in the notch went well and I got humbled and schooled as Steve is very talented (only 1 final exam away from being IFMGA certified) and in the end I wanted more.  Spent night at Hartford Ski Club where I did not go through toooo much of an inquisition.

Yesterday, I headed to Waterville as there were even more tasks to be done - early season is hard work at ski areas.  'Boo, rope and pads among other tasks.  We have made a monstrous amount of snow and we are hustling to open up Green Peak, soon.  The day started brilliant with fantastic views of Pierce, Eisonhower (sp? .....these are in the South Presidentials), our neighboring 4000 footers (at least a half dozen of them) and the Franconia Range.  On the latter, I noticed a very defined white gash descending from just north of the col between Lincoln and Lafayette which I suspect was a significant avalanche. A great patrol day was had as at the end we gathered in PHQ (quick: tell me what that stands for and how long did it take you to figure that out ...... this was actually part of the puzzle on Sunday) and was astounded at how much work we checked off.  Afterwards, I headed to Conway on the Kanc' and was astounded at the huge snow banks.  I checked into the White Mountain Hostel where the nice hippie chick with the sweet voice as usual provided fine hospitality and I went out for a quick beer where I ran into Head Snow Ranger Frank where we discussed the possible avalanche activity on Lafayette and he mentioned that there has been activity on that range. I also ran into someone who mentioned how he got a D in English in the 9th grade because for a book report, he did one on a November 2003 issue of Backcountry Ski Magazine.

Taking my time this morning as I catch up on some rest.  I'll do a quick skin up to treeline and then we get started with instructing at the first Acadia Mountain Guides AIARE 1 of the season.

Mark P. Renson
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