This Week in VT
January 4, 2006
It was good today at the Stowe nordic center. Shortly after I left the rain began. An hour ago it changed to freezing rain and the car is now encased in ice in the driveway. I hope that you guys are not washed out in the mid Atlantic.http://list.uvm.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind051....com&P=4835
How was the Steeple trail?
I'll be up there next week and plan to ski Steeple, Dewey, and some others. I assume they need a few more storms now for cover though.
I didn't do it, just located the approach from the Burt Trail. There is no way I would try it with rental XC skis with no edges and floppy 'system' bindings. I'm not that good.
I'm sure you're right about the snowpack. 'Real' skiing in the northeast starts several storms after the Jan. thaw is over. Some years that doesn't happen until March.
You missed a good day at CV on New Years Day, but things got wet and soggy yesterday. Have you tried the new lifts on Spruce Peak? Can you comment on the terrain (in and out of bounds) there?
I haven't spent much time at Spruce. Neither have most visitors to Stowe and that is why the mountain company chose to do a massive expansion there and exploit its potential. It used to be a great place to go when there was new powder and the quad had been tracked out. I also had a great day there when the upper half of the quad was socked in with pea soup fog. They always left some terrain ungroomed over there and typical Spruce skiers wouldn't touch it and few people went there to ski powder. There were good short moderately steep drops at the sides of, and between, groomed runs. It was very nice and there was no desperate competition for tracks. The best out of bounds there is accessed from the Smuggs side, but I haven't done much of that either, just one great day riding the Sterling lift. You really need a local guide for that.
The bad news about the expansion at Spruce is that now the secret is out and/or they will now groom everyting because that is the market they are aiming at. The good news is that the mountain company is leaving all the great things about Mansfield alone. Expert skiers have always had a love/hate relationship with $teaux. On the other side, the mountain company has always taken the attitude, 'here we are, we're the best, and you'll pay our price for it.' A few years ago I vowed I would never again pay them for a full price lift ticket; I'd just buy single rides and ski the sidecountry. Of course I have gone back on my vow.
It is interesting that Stowe and Mad River both owe their greatness to benign neglect. In Stowe's case their owner, AIG Insurance, is so big and so well capitalized that they don't pay any attention to the mountain company and they can use losses as a tax write off. Their arrogance and non user friendliness stems from the same thing IMHO.
Sorry if this post is long and obscure. I think it will make sense to those who know the mountain.
Thanks for the update. From reading the ski lterature, my take is that AIG finally decided to get serious about the losses it was incurring at Stowe. They essentially gave the town an ultimatum: allow us to develop Spruce or we're pulling out. The town knuckled. But in defense of AIG, the plan may work. Spruce (and the new village) might absorb all the low level skiers, leaving Mansfield to the more advanced crowd. One thing that gets me are the prices being demanded for condos at Spruce Peak--outrageous and much higher than anything on the East Coast (not quite Yellowstone Club level but getting close)...