Mt. Snow, Okemo, Wachusett 3/9-11, 2006
March 14, 2006
A quickie recap of my recent family ski sojourn to New England. Hope to file illustrated reports at a future date. Bottom line: I had fun. This is a year (at least in the East) to ski areas known for good grooming, snowmaking and trail maintentance. I visited three that are very good at that kind of thing and had a blast carving soft spring snow.
Mt. Snow VT, Okemo VT, Wachusett Mtn MA 3/9-11, 2006
Visited these three in order listed on consecutive days. No lift lines on Thurs and Fri, small lines on Sat. All had 90-95% of their terrain open with good spring surfaces. Due to variable spring weather that info could already be OBE by the date of this post. There was little to no natural cover on the Vermont & MA countryside at time of visit. All had one or more impressive terrain parks/pipes that surpass anything in the mid-Atlantic.
Mt. Snow (135 trls/1700vd): had a ruggedly good time here cruising blue and easy black groomers on all faces of the mountain with 15 yr old son. Frozen ice pellets fell all day, anything not recently skied or groomed got real funky later in day, sort of frozen/crusty slush. I donned poor man's Gore-Tex, a large trash bag with holes punched in it for head and arms. Son refused to make that fashion statement even after 6 hours with ice coated jackets. Motel sauna felt good that night. Believe Ripcord (possibly Mt. Snow's most challenging run, similar to Lower Shay's or Extrovert) was temporarily closed that day, but passed below and it still had lots of cover and large moguls. Enjoyed other, easier blacks on North Face like narrow Challenger and wide open Freefall, and lots of stuff down the main face.
Okemo (115 trls/2200vd): very impressed with Okemo on my first ever visit there. Like Mt. Snow - lots of trails open with great manmade snow cover, even well into March in a less than stellar winter. Due to late arrival and family of four in tow essentially had only a half day to ski Okemo, which barely allowed us to scratch the surface. Nonetheless, we greatly enjoyed the upper mtn from the summit and over on the south face. My kids had a blast on Okemo's terrain parks/pipes, they are some of the best I've seen - no wonder they spawned the likes of recent Gold Medalist Hannah Teter. Blind Faith terrain park is a border cross type set-up laid out high on the mtn with nice views, lots of fun (there are three other large parks or pipes on lower mtn). Several nice long green runs from the summit heights for my easy skiing wife. Just a first glance, but Okemo seemed pretty upscale in a way similar to Stratton, Deer Valley, Beaver Creek/Vail and is a model of modern ski resort management based on real estate development. Lots of nice homes around lower trails, many luxury vehicles in parking lots and in nearby town of Ludlow. I have no hardcore pretenses and will gladly enjoy the very fine infrastructure of a posh resort, especially on an low crowd weekday. Too warm for snow, but occasional sprinkles and fog down low, good viz up top. Never made it to the newer black diamond trail pod of Jackson Gore, family togetherness took precedent, maybe next time?
Wachusett Mtn (20 trls/1000vd): first time here too, overnighted with relatives living nearby. Weather was great, sunny 57 degs, had much fun on classic spring ski day. Fairly healthy Saturday crowd, but many left or burned-out by about noon. Burgers on the grill and lots of sunbathing, reminded me of a primo spring ski day at Seven Springs. A pair of express chairs kept lines to 5 mins or less. Summit runs feature 1000' honest vert down easy blue and black terrain with beautiful views of nearby lakes/reservoirs. Spotted the high-rises of Boston about 50 miles to the East. One summit run features a good stretch of moguls. This is a fine little central MA ski area on the order of Wintergreen or Whitetail and great to hit for a day trip or on the way to/from bigger hills up north. Not far from major interstate highways.