Carrabassett Valley, ME, Dec. 12, 2000--The backcountry ski scene in the east isn't what you'd call thriving. Tuckerman's Ravine, NH is notable and some accessible out of bounds terrain exists around Stowe and Sugarbush in Vermont. Tuckerman's is about the only locale known for avalanches and these generally constitute tourist attractions and rarely cause injury. By most (Western and European) standards, "Eastern avalanche" is an oxymoron.
However, Sugarloaf USA, ME turned some heads recently with a slide of its own. On Dec. 2, a mostly manmade, eight foot deep and 30-40 foot wide wall of snow detached from the Headwall section of Narrow Gauge and slid 150 yards down the trail.
"Six to eight inches of natural snow, along with many inches from round the clock snowmaking" accumulated at the crest of the 34 degree pitch, resulting in "many factors happening at the 'right' time," said Jim Costello, Sugarloaf VP of marketing and sales. "It feels like Mother Nature is sending us a message that we are in for a big winter," added Costello.
Due to snowmaking efforts, the slope was closed and luckily, no one was injured.
In the aftermath, one 'Loafer praised the slide: "After they groomed out all that snow, the skiing was great!"