Here’s a few photos from our ascent up the legendary Thunderbolt Trail on Mt. Greylock, here in the Berkshires. This is backcountry telemark skiing at its best around here — fresh powder, good company, beautiful views, a challenging climb and then a decisive descent.
Mt. Greylock reaches about 3400 feet, and is the tallest peak in Massachusetts. The Thunderbolt Trail rises steeply about two-thirds of that distance. It’s a well-maintained trail that was once the 1940′s ski destination of the region, and today serves as backcountry delight and home to a new annual ski race.
Some observations: This is classic New England tree-lined skiing on a narrow steep trail. The day we made this ascent it took us over three hours and then the 2.5 mile trail down was about another hour. Beautiful. If you try the trip someday, bring more food and water than you think you’ll need… I goofed on the liquids this time and paid the price: major leg cramp halfway down the descent — stretched and walked it out, but painful and annoying. Another issue was snowcover — since the big blizzard last week the trail had been skied a lot and wind had made spots a bit bare in steeps. I’d like to try the trail after two or three more feet of base. The youngest member of our group, Zach, is about twelve years old and in some ways managed the ascent better than the rest of us. We were all wiped out by the end of the day. The best kind of exhaustion is the kind you’ve earned.
Looked like about 20-25 skiers and snowboarders made the hike, although many did not summit such that the top third of the trail was mostly untracked (think: super snow on a decent incline in trees covered with an inch of frost, gorgeous!)