In feb what resort would be the best for two couples and no children (a little break!) to go for some good skiing? One is an advanced skier looking for some good glades and the steeper the better for me..and the hardest part, the resort needs to have a quality first timers program. Would prefer slope side lodging but needs to be somewhat reasonable, good aspres ski and some nice shops! It took us long enough to finally get the wives on the slopes. Wouldn't go near them while living out west..!
Oh yea it will be on a weekend friday to maybe tue or wen...
[This message has been edited by snow1214 (edited 12-06-2003).]
If you want to get slope side lodging try the other side of Mansfield at Smugglers Notch-- also renown as a "family" destination (good with or without kids, good introductory program) but something for everyone there, too. I think it's a little less crowded and less expensive than Stowe also. If you can't decide, you can ski in-between the two resorts in February and try both.
Suicide Six is a net little rresort - very friendly and mellow despite the name.
If you're browsing around and you think of going to Sugarbush, you've GOT to go up by yourself for a day to Mad River Glen. That is the definitive ski hill for expert skiers. Might be worth going to Sugarbush just so you can split off on your own for a day or two to MRG.
Stowe closed that trail. There's a big flat section that goes past a lake. Also, the Big Spruce Double doesn't run in winds so Smuggs people often got stuck at Stowe if the winds picked up in the afternoon.
I would concur that Stowe is one of the best. Stay at the Inn at the Mountain for slopeside access. They have condos, townhouses, and hotel rooms, all a stones throw away from the Toll Road access chair. If you are going in February, book now.
Killington is a bit too New Jersey for my tastes.
If you're a nature boy and the granola graciously spills out of the open sides of your Wrangler, try Mad River Glen (by the way, a cooperative not unlike Cabot Farms). I agree with Roger Z that Mad River is one of the "must try" experiences in skiing if you're interested in the uniqueness of the sport. And you will be doing it to the tunes of Grateful Dead, Neil Young, John Prine, and the latest in protest music... :-)
If your testosterone level is significantly higher than your bank account, or if you're a college sophomore, love the Osborns and don't mind finding old vomit in the restrooms, try Killington. It is huge, brash, trails out the wazoo, with a young, brash, party crowd. Even the little kids act like little Bart Simpsons... However, expect excellent conditions and massive natural and artificial snow due to its snowbelt location. The other thing is that you can access it before even getting to the resort, one of the gondola systems starts about 10 miles from the resort. It is the Wal-mart of New England resorts.
Then there's Stowe... If you like to take your Hummer or Land Rover on long trips and miss the refinement of Europe, have a craving for Beef Wellington and Chateau Latour, don't want to see little Bart Simpsons stepping on your skis, but instead enjoy kids on their vacations from Choate or Fairfield Prep, then Stowe is the place for you. Well, think about it this way, when the Trapp Family had to split from Austria, they chose Stowe as their new home. There is a quiet dignity to Stowe along with excellent skiing in what I can only describe a Continental flare. If there is enough snow for the double-fall-line Goat or the rest of the Front Four, you can have a workout. And if you want excellent cruisers, the Gondola-accessible Trails of Strerling or Main Street are a pleasure. Take the family to Lunch at the Cliffside Restaurant at the top of the gondola and feel like you're in Switzerland or Austria. No fast food, no hamburgers, just exquisite continental cuisine with service. I will acknowledge Stowe is only second to Zermatt as my lifelong favorites. There are dozens of outstanding places to stay, from the large Commodore or Snowflake Inns complete with hot tubs and cross-country, to the convenient Inn at the Mountain, to the historical Trapp Family Lodge, to the small intimate B&Bs. Another plus: as you said that you needed a first timers program, Sterling, separate from the rest of Stowe, is an awesome beginner's mountain, same lift ticket, nice bunny hill, and once they get their ski legs, loooooong cruisers that can accommodate different proficiency levels.
In the middle of these, there are numerous other excellent resorts which are family-oriented. Bolton Valley is off-the-road and has some excellent skiing, lodging, and food. Smuggs, as Roger Z said, is an excellent family resort.
If snow is what you're after, Jay Peak takes it. Over 400 inches a year. The Northeast Kingdom is not a place for luxury, although the towns surrounding Jay Peak, such as Montgomery Center, have undergone some significant gentrification. The quality of Jay Peak is indisputable... if you can wear layers upon layers of clothes and skiing at 20 below doesn't bother you...
My take: if you have two couples with no kids and want to have an optimum place for both skiing and pleasure, go to Stowe. Smuggs is a close second.
1 Superior terrain. Don't be alarmed by the fact that the resort only advertises 48 runs. Most of them take advantage of the full 2,360 foot vertical of the mountain. Skiing ten runs on this mountain per day is an achievement--especially if one or two of those runs are on a "Front Four" trail. But don't be alarmed if you are not an expert, this mountain offers loads of great intermediate trails: Perry Merrill, Gondolier, Lord, Standard, North Slope, Smugglers, Steerling, etc. It also offers some decent beginner terrain including the 4.5 mile long Toll Road trail.
2. Natural Beauty: Mount Mansfield is a 10! It's a beautiful mountain with very little slopeside development and views forever.
3. Lodging: Great cheap hotels like Innsbruck Inn and many finer venues such as Top Notch and the Trapp Family Lodge.
4. Food. Great food ranging from Pie in the Sky (pizza, low end) to Miguel's (mid-range Mexican) to top quality cuisine (main dining room at Trapp).
5. Natural Snow and off-piste. It's not unusual for Stowe to get 8 inches of lake effect a day for weeks on end in January.... This makes for perfect conditions and great off-piste.
There's a good strand on Stowe on Epic:
Stowe is my favorite, but I rarely get there due to the extra two hours from S.Vermont.
[This message has been edited by Lietmotiv (edited 12-08-2003).]
I went to K'ton last year and the year before and the year before, and all the way back to my college days in Colchester VT. But going to K'ton, one knows that one goes for the skiing, period. At my age and as my tastes have changed, I look for skiing and for the ambiance that goes along with the overall experience. So K'ton is great for a workout weekend, but if I am going on vacation, it would be the last place I would stay.
And one more absolutely wonderful thing about Stowe... There is one, repeat, one Wendys or some other fast food chain in the entire Stowe area, left over from the '70s. And the townsfolk are doing everything possible to kick it out of town. No McDonalds, no Burger King, no Pizza Hut, even not a Starbucks... Yes, plenty of coffee houses, but all original. That in itself is worth the trip.
[This message has been edited by lbotta (edited 12-08-2003).]
I almost took a civilian Army job at FayetteNam, but my Army friends (yes, I do have one or two) convinced me that it was not a wise move--especially for a skier. Go Navy!
No raw bones here ! I just meant that it deserves its propers as a great skiing mountain. It is not my favorite by a long shot, but when it is on it is really on.
Yeah no question the road up is depressing, no pawn shops though. (I did an 8 week stint at Bragg in '87) If you're talking about the whole experience as representative of Ye Olde New England its definitely the pits.
I generally go to other mountains if I only have a weekend. Bromley is worth a look, as is Magic Mountain and Okemo.
The downside is price and crowds. The lines can get pretty long on a weekend. Smuggs seems to have a little less of these two problems, but I haven't skied that place in a L-O-N-G time so can't confirm.
Again, these are only "all around resorts." If you were going to be skiing advanced by yourself it really comes down to two places: MRG and Jay Peak.
It is crowded, lots of soccer moms, Bart Simpsons, and big hair.
Stowe, on the other hand is more Vermont. Despite the Obermeyer and Bogner ski suits, there are real people at Stowe. They can be found at the Matterhorn and Rusty Nail (two great apres ski spots). If I had a week to spend (and indeed I do 12/29 through 1/04) you would find me taking the extra 2 hours up I-89 and hitting Stowe and all of its off mountain and on mountain splendor.
Also, the family side of Stowe is called Spruce Mountain, not Sterling. Also an excellent option for kids and wives with no skiing experience.
When I ever get around to replying to JimK's article on best cruisers, Gondolier will be on my top 10 list.
Base lodge is way too tiny and overcrowded @ lunch. The expert terrain is not well segregated, so you'll get stuck in long lift lines, even when skiing the tough stuff. Lift lines are real bad on weekends. The expert terrain and labelled glades do rock.
Very scenic, even by Vermont standards. Nearby town is classic Vermont. The nearby Trapp Family Lodge is pricy, but the scenery and service are outstanding. You can't go wrong with Stowe. You are also a relatively short drive to Mad River Glen, Sugarbush and Smuggler's Notch. (Direct road from Stowe to Smugg's is closed in the winter.)
>> If you were going to be skiing advanced by yourself it really comes down to two places: MRG and Jay Peak.
Have to disagree with that one, there's plenty of excellent terrain in Vermont beyond those two areas. The big downside with MRG is that on a weekend with good snow conditions, expect a wait of 30-45 minutes on the single chair.
Smugg's has the only "trailed" terrain in Vermont (non-woods or non-cliff jumps) that is truly scary and truly steep. Even by KT-22 standards, there are a couple of runs off the Madonna Lift that will make you think twice before you ski down them (Liftline and Robin's Run). The frozen waterfall on Paradise in MRG is tame by comparison. Depending upon your line, Liftline has a series of 10 foot rock jumps on a >35 degree pitch. If you don't land one, you'll tumble down several hundred foot vertical over rocks, tree stumps and between lift poles. As an added challenge bonus, don't expect much snow on Liftline. Goat @ Stowe is technical and can be a hazard to the bottom of your skis, but Liftline can be a hazard to you. Fortunately, there are several other trails next to Liftline/Robin's Run which are challenging in a safe sense.
Castlerock Mountain @ Sugarbush also has some great expert terrain, with the great advantages of having it's own uncrowded experts-only lift and being some-what sheltered from the wind. However, because of it's sheltering and exposure, you can expect spring-like conditions at the bottom of Castlerock, even in the dead of winter.
Any area in Vermont north of Killington will have some great tree skiing if you're willing to look for it.
[This message has been edited by JohnL (edited 12-08-2003).]
The town of Stowe is nice, I personally like Wendys McDonalds etc, but I guess elitist type skiers may be too good for these establishments. Stowe is becoming very similar to the posch ski towns in Europe where movie stars and the royal family ski.
An often overlooked destination is Magog just over the border in Quebec. Its not far from Jay, Orford and Sutton. If you're worried about snow and want to save a buck, this is the destination for you. Sutton is on the small end in terms of vertical drop but it does have a lot of trails and glades. Orford has been neglected for many years, but has great terrain and a better snow record than Jay Peak. Its lift line trails are as good as your gonna get in the East. They have added a heated gondola which will be a nice complement to their terrain. Then the almighty Jay is on average the best day of skiing in the East. Glades, powder, cruisers, moguls, and making your own lines is what its all about.
Kmart is awful, unless its a nice midweek day as the variety is somewhat nice.
Carefull. I don't think I'd label any of the regular posters on DCSki as elitist. Far from it. Plus my butler posts for me most of the time anyway, and he's a regular chap.
Vermont is very refreshing in the lack of billboards, chain restaurants and stores and suburban sprawl (South Burlington excepted). When most of the places you vacation to start looking like where you live, Vermont is a nice exception. Plus nearly every rural gas station has a deli counter for cheap eats on the fly.
The lack of these McBusinesses is one of the best draws of a town like Stowe. As far as it "becoming" a town like one or the other, Stowe has been Stowe before Stowe was cool. Besides the great skiing, the way of life is particularly New England, definitely tolerant, and quintesentially civil.
As far as price, there are still very good deals in town and that includes the myriad of B&Bs around the place, you just have to do some homework.
Part of Stowe's charm is its lack of a slopeside village and the natural terrain on Big Spruce. Little Spruce is the family and learning area, but it connects with Big Spruce--an interesting natural snow area with some great cruising terrain (Sterling just to name one). Don't confuse the Sterling trail with Sterling Mountain (one of the mountains at Smugglers Notch).
All this will change as Stowe begins building a slopeside village at Spruce Peak. AIG, the owner of the resort, basically gave the community an ultimatum: allow us to develop Spruce or we are going to bail (the resort has run in the red for years). Surprisingly, the community said ok to the development. In 10 years, Stowe will be a different mountain. It will have all the modern conveniences of Stratton or Sunday River (more high-speed lifts, more snowmaking, more grooming, etc). That's not to say that Stowe will be blasting on the Front Four to make those trails flatter nor will it eliminate some of the backcountry secrets like the famous Bruce trail (you will not find it on the map JohnL). In short, Stowe is a mountain in transition so I STRONGLY encourage people to ski the old Stowe before the new Stowe arrives.
PS: I forgot to mention that it can occasionally get cold at Stowe.
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 12-08-2003).]
As a shot in the dark, does your ski gear include some green plaid?
Well after looking at all the great replies we are going with stowe! The problem I ran into is every place I look at is booked! It just one thing after another. I'm going to keep on looking and researching but does any one know a good place to look up for lodging at Stowe?
I'll email my sister today. She lives in Stowe & works at the mountain. I'm sure she can tell me where to find a place to stay. What kind of price range are you looking for - or will any place do?
Development isn't necessarily bad. If the village includes the additional facilities that are both environmentally supportive and sustainable, as well as provide the expanded services that could make Stowe an almost perfect place, so be it.
The other thing is that the new village is not geared towards the same clientele that would frequent Killington (or Massanutten for what matters). Stowe, and Vermont in general, IS a way of life, a little bit of Europe in America. Yes, it is marketed, but they don't need to. People will come to Stowe because it is Stowe. Its proximity to the other ski areas is a draw, and so is its near location to Burlington, constantly rated as one of the ten most livable small towns in the country.
In making that last post, I did not mean to imply that I am opposed to the new Spruce Peak development. I'm reluctantly in favor of it. I realize that to survive and flourish in the future, Stowe must modernize and improve its aging facilities. The only way this will happen on a grand scale is if the mountain can develop some residential and commercial real estate at the base of Spruce Peak. For skiers, this development won't be the end of the world. There will inevitably be more groomed slopes on Spruce but there will also be more high-speed lifts (both at Spruce and on Mansfield). In other words, no more freezing cold rides on the Big Spruce double-a 15-minute ride that can only be described as torture in the middle of the winter.
Out of curiosity, how much are small condos going for in the new development? My brother, a Boston area realtor, thinks that Stowe is one of the best ski investments in region. He claims that the resort does as big of a business in the summer as in the winter. In other words, there is a huge demand for summer rentals. The resort offers some of the best hiking and biking in the state and is also just a hop skip and a jump to Burlington in the summer when the Smugglers Notch road is open.
If you have not read these articles already, check them out:
PS I've dreamed of living in Stowe my entire life. I sincerely hope you can make it a reality just to prove it can be done.
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 12-09-2003).]
Won't find it on a trail map, but you will find it on other maps. Top of Fore-Runner Quad to Stowe XC Center? It's on my ever growing to-ski list. Have you skied it?
I've only skiied Stowe 3-4 times, and I've never been to the Spruce side of the road (maybe once my first time @ Stowe looking for the main parking lot). How much development is on that side already?
Roger, care to share some more info? As I recall Nosedive Glades are pretty open and easy to spot, but what about the other goods?
Tres Amigos Glades (on the trail map) has some fun steep stuff, but you have to hit it before inexperienced snowboarders do. They have a bad habit of skidding sideways through a tight spot, taking all the snow with them, and leaving a steep bobsled run behind. Not good for speed control.
JohnL-- Bypass Glades. Basically you ski onto Bypass off of Nosedive. When you come to the drop you ski into the woods and come to a nice semi-open, spruce covered pitch that you can ski all the way down to the official glades on the lower part of Nosedive. I wasn't the first or only tracks into it so I don't mind sharing-- it even seems like a ski run but is not marked on the maps. Didn't get to hit Tres Amigo but was disappointed with the Lookout Glades there.
If they have dogs: the 2 Dog Lodge, the Northern Lights, or the Commodores.
If they don't have dogs: Try the Inn at the Mountain: There's a great package called the "Breakaway" that includes lodging Sun-Thursday night, 5 day lift ticket and 5 lessons for $599pp, and that's Slopeside! There are other properties in town offering the same package starting around $400 per person. Tell him to check out the following link: http://www.stowe.com/lodging/breakaway.php If he still can't find anything, tell him to call the friendly folks at the Stowe Area Association 800-24-STOWE. They're the central res office for the town.
Also, I have some friends that just purchased an Inn in Waterbury Center (15 minutes from Stowe) their site is here:
I've heard about it from one of the ski mags; I think it's even on the trail map now. I thought I heard that the jump was in the 30 to 50 ft range - that's best left to the guys/gals who appear in movies. Every time I remember to take a look at it the gondola windows are too fogged up or the weather is so nasty up top that I want to start skiing right away.
Sounds like you were lucky enough to catch a Burton photo shoot. Sometime I'll have to post about my first trip to Squaw. Palisades was open (didn't know what it was at the time) and some of the "locals" were jumping off it or figure 11'ing down it. I remembering thinking, these "locals" are pretty good...
The pictures section is the most telling. These guys do it all. The cliff line trail off Nosedive, Balls Falls below the Gondola, Kitchen Sink, etc.
>> I read many praising posts about Stowe in another thread and I'd just like to add that the front four , with the exception of goat use to be much more difficult and narrow. National use to be one of the most difficult fun trails in Vermont, and then they widened it and even groom it sometimes.
I've only skied Stowe in the past 10 years. The Upper Liftline and National intersection area is very wide and looks like it has been widened. Even so, it can be a zoo-y section. Has Starr been widened also? I haven't skied Starr (always been closed) but I thought it was as narrow as Goat?
All this talk of Stowe is getting me pumped. I'll be spending 3-4 days of skiing in VT after Xmas, so Stowe will definitely be one of the days!
There's a lodge at the Little Spruce base area but nothing at the bottom of the Big Spruce Double. That double is your ticket to some interesting terrain, including the now closed passage to Smugglers' Notch. Nothing except Sterling is groomed and it's the place to go for face shots 2 days after a big storm. This area gets very little traffic because it is only served by 1 ancient, slow double, which is often closed midweek. I love this part of the mountain but all will change with the development.
Has anyone ever skied the frozen waterfall below the gondola top station? This would be a good playground for Canaanman....I once saw some riders from the Burton Company huck the falls--pretty impressive sh*t.
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 12-09-2003).]
Thanks for all your guys help and I will let everyone know how it turns out!
Miguel's Stowe Away (Mexican)
Trattoria La Festa (Italian)
It's also not far from Matterhorn--the main apres ski bar at Stowe.
If you want a day spa and a big apres ski scene, you need to book somewhere pricey like Top Notch, but if you are looking for simple convenience, Innsbruck will work fine.
I have to 2nd (or is that a 3rd or 4th) on the Matterhorn for apres ski. That's where many of the mountain employees go to have a few.
PS Thanks Jimmer for the tip on Gracie's. I will be sure to check it out next trip.
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 12-10-2003).]
Make sure you top into Charlie B's (their pub with a very extensive wine list) and say hello to my favorite bartender, Ed. He is the king of wines. He won't steer you wrong on a recommendation. Have a great time on your vaca, and maybe we'll see you on the hill!