Being my first year here at Sunday River, I quickly realized there is no better way to get to know a mountain than by spending time on-hill with dedicated skiers who have been enjoying the slopes for longer than I’ve been on this earth. (Hope that doesn’t make you feel too old, gentlemen.) So, I decided to catch up with some of our lifelong loyal skiers and riders to have a look at Sunday River through eyes that have seen it all.
This week, I was able to grab a few runs with the Three Musketeers: Rob, Gary and Captain Dave, all long-time Sunday River skiers for first chair on North Peak and some afternoon turns on Barker. Between the three, the Musketeers boast well over 50 years of combined experience and definitely know their way around. They are one of many dedicated crews who can be found in line for first chair well before many of us are even thinking about rolling out of bed.
This ‘Old Boys Club’ crew has been skiing together for more than 10 years. They united when Gary first came to Sunday River and sought out the expertise of other locals. Gary found both Rob and Captain Dave in the Barker Lodge, and soon after a few runs together the Musketeers were formed. The three began to meet up regularly to hit the slopes and the rest was history.
Rob started out in the very early days patrolling at Mt. Abram. He also has a long history with Maine Adaptive, having started out as a volunteer and served on their board for 11 years. Rob has now been skiing Sunday River for just over 25 years.
The Captain has been religiously skiing the River for 35 years and has two children that have taken up the torch. Both of The Captain’s children started in Someday Bigger Day Care, took up Tiny Turns at the age of 3, moved on to River Runners at 4, later joined the Gould Academy’s weekend race program, and now his daughter attends Gould Academy.
While reminiscing on years past while riding the North Peak Express, both Rob and Captain Dave explained that when they both began gracing Sunday River with their presence, the mountain was unrecognizable to what it has become today. Captain Dave spoke of the days when only the Barker Lodge existed with a few lifts on South Ridge and a T-bar on Locke. Rob talked about the early days on Barker and being hired as a contractor siding the original Grand Summit Hotel prior to any lodging or ski access outside of Barker and North Peak.
While they may not be in the same shape they were in those early days, have no doubt, these guys can still rip. Rob has the technicality one would expect from a long-time ski coach and despite a recent knee replacement, floats downhill with flawless technique. Captain Dave is an unstoppable force, carving wide powerful turns. Gary rightly earns the nickname ‘Laser’ and reputation as the speed demon of the group, carving up terrain like someone half his age.
It quickly became apparent that The Musketeers know Sunday River like the back of their hands. They had no hesitation when deciding on where to go to find the snow or the best corduroy. Morning turns on North Peak provided some fresh stripes while a quick afternoon session on Barker allowed us to bask in the sunshine and enjoy some views.
As a parting note of wisdom, I obviously had to ask which trails our veterans liked the most. Captain Dave said: “Vortex because of nice sustained steep and great fall line. Nice cruisy groomers as well, like Escapade, Dream Maker, and Monday Mourning”, Rob said lap down “T2, Cascade, and Wildfire is my Happy Place”.
My day on the hill with the Three Musketeers gave some great insight for a newbie such as myself and both a glimpse of the past and present of this mountain that boasts some of the most dedicated, loyal, hardcore, wacky, welcoming and wonderful skiers and riders in the East.