February 23rd, 2021
White Heat & Whiskey
White Heat casts an impressive vision from the road leading into Sunday River. From the proper angle, it looks like a wall of white. If you didn’t have a healthy respect for White Heat and Shock Wave (to the left looking up), the warning signs posted as you get off the chair will have you paying attention. It starts off with a couple of nice gentle rollers, then the long consistent pitch drops off and you know you’re in for a good ride.
Early in the day when skier’s right (looking downhill) is freshly groomed, you will not find a snow surface any finer. The smooth corduroy begs you to unleash as much speed and as high an edge angle as you dare. The first time I skied White Heat, the snow was firm, but easy to carve. I could hear the snow landing and sliding from the rooster tail coming off my skis. I was honestly giggling by the time I reached the bottom.
Approach White Heat with fresh legs, smooth snow surface, and sharp edges. Then, whether you opt for smooth, rhythmic speed control turns or laying them over as far as you can in huge giant slalom turns embracing your inner Ted Ligety, you’ll want all your strength, balance, and concentration.
Pay particular attention to that last part—concentration. If you tumble on White Heat, several things will happen. You will spread your gear in a classic “yard sale”; you will slide a considerable distance, and last but most certainly not least, you will be vocally and ruthlessly judged by the skiers and riders on the chair running right over White Heat. It always reminds me of the Lunch Rocks crowd at Tuckerman Ravine. Whenever someone eats it, there’s a moment of respectful silence to ensure they’re not injured, then uproarious cheers and laughter once they raise a hand.
Once you’ve blazed a couple of runs down White Heat, you’ll need some refreshment. Equip yourself with a bottle of Fifty Stone Highland Style Whiskey. This whiskey reminds me of a Balvenie or a Glenmorangie—a smooth single malt style with a bit of complexity hidden beneath its smooth golden complexion. You won’t be disappointed with the first sip, the warm embrace, and the smooth finish. I prefer it with a single ice cube to impart a wee bit of water to open the whiskey and cool it down. So, pour yourself a glass, and have a seat. Better yet, pour yourself a double.
— Text: Lafe Low. Life is the former editor of Explore New England and Outdoor Adventure magazines. He is also the author of Best Tent Camping: New England, Best Hikes on the Appalachian Trail: New England, and 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Boston, 2nd Edition. He has no more room in his garage for any more skis, but that will not stop him from trying.