Early Season Skiing in New England
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johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
July 30, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Since we're on the topic of ski shows, I thought I would raise another topic: early season skiing in New England.

Last year, I made a mid-December trip to Sunday River. Despite limited offerings in terms of terrain, I still had a great time. Even if only 15-20 percent of SR gets opened by December, it's still enough to make a lot of turns on! There were also 0 crowds and lots of speedy lifts to drag me up the mountain.

Question? What are other good bets for early season skiing in New England? I have a good lead on a condo at Smuggler's, but I am a little turned off by the all the ancient lifts at that resort. Does anyone know how good the snowmaking is there?

Also, does anyone know if Jet Blue will offer direct flights from IAD to Burlington this winter. That would be a cheap and easy way to get to Smuggs, Stowe, Sugarbush, Mad River, etc.

Killington is another idea. Haven't been there for a while, and they do boast of having the best early season in VT.

Tremblant and Okemo are my final ideas.....

JohnL
July 30, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Mid-December in New England can really be hit or miss - you may be able to ski natural snow trails or the conditions may be so bad and the number of trails open so few that you may not want to waste the time and money. The longer you can delay your December plans, the better you can decide where to go. As a fallback, you can always find a motel room in Burlington or Rutland and have access to a lot of Vermont.

Outside of the mid-Atlantic areas, I tend to avoid snow-making like the plague, so I'm not the best expert here. From my limited experience, Sunday River, Killington, Okemo, Stratton and Hunter have the best snowmaking. Sunday River probably will have the smallest crowds since it's the least accessible. Even in mid-December, you may hit some weekend crowds at the other places.

Jay Peak is probably the best bet in New England for natural snow. The Quebec resorts have surprisingly small annual snowfall amounts, but they probably can start making snow a lot earlier than Vermont. Don't know if they actually do...

If you have the vacation time and money to burn, most consistent early-season natural snow can probably be had at Grand Targhee, Wolf Creek and Utah.

Why no love for Smuggs? Have you ever skied there?

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
July 30, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
I'm choosing New England b/c it is relatively cheap and b/c I'd like to meet up with my brother who lives up there.

We'll probably end up at Smugglers b/c my brother knows a condo owner up there. He also has young children and likes their "familly" programs.

I've skied Stowe many times but never Smuggs. What turns me off about Smuggs is the infrastructure--mostly old, slow lifts.

From www.ski-guide.com:

Uphill Lift Capacity: 7,200 per hour
Types of Lifts: 2 Surface Lifts
6 Double Chairs

That part of VT can be quite cold in Dec and the thought of sitting on a slow double for 15 minutes does not turn me on. The coldest experience of my life was getting stuck on the Big Spruce double (other side of Sterling Mt. in Stowe) on a cold day in January. Fortunately, no fingers were lost on that ride.

Mind you, I like cold, but Stowe cold is horse of a different color...

JohnL, what are your thoughts on OKEMO?

[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 07-30-2003).]

ski_guy_59
July 30, 2003
Member since 11/9/2001
221 posts
John, When I was researching Smuggs last year they sent me a video tape that summarized the whole mountain. Their children's programs definately look to be top-notch. jetBlue offers routes to the major ski airports, including Denver, Salt Lake and Burlington. I threw some dates into their computer about the same time as my trip, but they couldn't provide me with a frequency of flights. I'd drop them an e-mail to get specifics.
myrto
July 30, 2003
Member since 10/4/2001
259 posts
I've never been to any of the New England resorts but I've been to Snowshoe after one week of snow guns and it was exceptional and I went to Tremblant the last week of March and absolutely loved it. My point being that if they are open they are Intrawest as is Snowshoe and they seem to have that snowmaking thing down. With the exceptional exchange rate You get a lot for your money. Great food! And the lifts are almost TOO fast they don't give your knees a chance to recover. My 8 & 10 year old loved it as well.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
July 31, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Jet Blue does not offer direct flights from Dulles to Burlington YET. They may in the future, but not at the moment.

Myrto, my brother likes the idea of Tremblant b/c his wife does not ski and Tremblant has many other activities.

Snowshoe would actually be as good a bet as any for an early trip. Once the weather gets cold, they really make a supreme effort to get the whole mountain open as quickly as possible.

My problem is that my brother lives in New England and wants to go somewhere up there, including Canada. If I drive, Okemo or Killington might be the best bets, but as I said in the earlier message, my brother has a friend who owns a condo at Smuggs. Terrain at Smuggs is supposed to be great. It's main drawbacks are the slow lifts and cold.

I have skied neighboring Stowe many times and everytime I go, I thank Url for the gondola. Without it, there would be mornings that I would not have been able to ski--it's that cold.

Last year, Sunday River was pretty cold in December but their fast lifts made it bearable.

[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 07-31-2003).]

(Anonymous)
October 10, 2003
Hello...I live in Vermont, about 40 minutes away from Smuggs. This year I'm starting a learn to snowboard program there, which I'm excited about. I've been there a couple times snowshoeing and during the summer and the place is great during all seasons! It's a really good place for families and people at all different levels. A LOT of people living here ski during the winter and most choose Smuggs. The season passes and rates are good for what you get (I've heard), but I don't know if it's the place you wanna go once or twice if you're looking for someplace cheap. Other than cost, it's the best!
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