Any advice for intermediate/beginner skiiers headed to Sunday River, ME?
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February 16, 2004
My family is headed to Sunday River to ski next week. Our skiing abilities range from advanced beginner to strong intermediate levels (on the slopes around here) even though we have skiied a few local, easier black diamonds.
Has anyone skiied there before? How do the slope levels compare to around here? Any particular slopes that you would highly recommend for or against?
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
February 16, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,986 posts
You've chosen one of the best mountains in New England for your family's ability level. It's also one of the best in terms of infrastructure: fast lifts and snowmaking.

I was there last year and wrote a firsthand report for DCSki:

I went early in the season, so much of the mountain was closed but the article should give you some perspective on the main trails in the middle mountains of the resort.

February 16, 2004
For sure, you will have an excellent time at Sunday River. It's a great family resort, and the mid level lessons are AMAZING. I learned to ski here and go back often. OZ bowl (I think that's what it's called) can be a bit tricky but most of the other peaks, top to bottom, have great mid level trails (blues and greens).
Buckeye Skier
February 16, 2004
Member since 01/11/2004 🔗
54 posts
We went to Sunday River last year for a week. They have a lot of blue cruising runs. Lazy River and Monday Mourning were 2 of our favorites. South Peak has a large area with green trails for the beginners. If the black diamonds are groomed a strong intermediate should be able to enjoy them. The conditions when we went were pretty much frozen granular, and some runs were icy by the end of the day. I was disappointed that they didn't make more snow while we were there, it certainly was cold enough.They waited until Thursday night before they decided to cover very many trails. The lift system was as good as it gets. If you're driving up on a Sunday Wildcat NH has a $15 lift ticket after 12:00.(at least they did last year) They have an express lift that covers 2112 vertical feet in about 6 minutes. The view across the road to Mt. Washington is something to see. It was cloudy on Mt. Washington's summit so we didn't get the full effect. We also took the 2 hour drive to Sugarloaf where our Sunday River tickets could be used. That is definitely worth checking out, but keep your eye on the weather if you do that. It was a windy day when we went and the lifts that take you to the summit were closed. You should have a great time especially with the way the conditions have been this year.
February 17, 2004
Member since 01/25/2002 🔗
316 posts
Oh boy I wish - Sunday River has definately on my todo list for too long!
February 18, 2004
The ski area seems to go on forever. I believe it is 8 miles across the entire mountain. I don't remember the slope names but the area over near the Jordan Grand Summit Hotel had some very long nice blue cruisers. On the opposite side of the resort near the Grand Summit Hotel, there were some nice black runs. DO NOT stay at the Grand Summit Hotel. It has all the character of a Motel 6, paper thin walls, a tiny hot tub that is always full and mediocre restuarants. The American Skiing Company must have been cash poor when they built this time share hotel. It's only positive was easy slope access.
February 18, 2004
Member since 11/20/2001 🔗
218 posts
> My family is headed to Sunday River to ski next week. Our skiing
> abilities range from advanced beginner to strong intermediate ...
> Any particular slopes that you would highly recommend for or against ...

FWIW, lots of people (probably most people) seem to think of Amex and Risky as SR's signature cruising runs. Everybody and their uncle knows about these runs and skis them. My personal opinion is that they certainly are pleasant, but undistinguished parallel wide slashes down the mountain.

For the novice skiers in your party, IMHO, Lollapalooza (sp?) is one of two SR green trail not to be missed - its long, it has rolls, twists and turns, a great view from the top, etc. - a real hoot for someone new to skiing.

Lolly is truly a wide easy green, but be advised that there is a dropoff near the top that has a great view, but freaks some people out (especially if windy) in spite of the safety fencing that has been installed. Served by the same lift, Rogue Angel and Excalibur are near-by blue cruisers that I prefer over American Express and Risky Business - fewer people and more character. Also nearby are easy glades (ie, single black) for the advanced members of your party).

The other green trail that really turns on a lot of novice skiers is the incredibly long interconnect back and forth between Barker and Jordan. Going L to R (looking up the mtn), you start out on Three Mile Trail and follow the green circles (Sensation then State Fair, as I recall) as far as they will take you.

A slightly more scenic variant of this route is to take 3 Mile to lower Risky or Amex, ride Chair 8 back up to the top of Spruce (if open), and then take Sirius over. Going the other way (ie, R to L), take Kansas back.

Many advanced skiers hate this incredibly long (5 mi, maybe more?) but flat route. OTOH, to early stage skiers it gives them a feeling of roaming for miles high over beautiful mountains without any fear. Kids also seem to love doing it, probably because they don't have to make any turns for most of it.

Towards the L-R center of SR, the area above South Ridge (ie, North Ridge, accessed by Chair 6) has a bunch of really nice greens and very easy blues that see some traffic (particularly ski school classes), but certainly not like the mixing bowl area that every novice at SR does first. Dream Maker, Polaris, Last Mile are the greens in this area. Rapids, Escapade and Lower Absolutely are the easy blues. They all eventually feed back to the South Ridge base area should you decide to face the hoards.

If you have any seriously timid skiers in your party, there is a small, secluded area right above the Grand Summit Hotel that will be perfect for them. It has its own lift (6?) and *very* easy greens and blues.

One word of caution. Should you be staying at the Grand Summit, at the end of the day, you may be tempted to ride up Chair 9 to save you a 100 vert ft hike from Road Runner to the entrance of the hotel. Think twice about doing this. If I'm not mistaken, the only way back down to the hotel is a short black (Tempest), or a narrow, double fall line blue (Jibe) followed by a short but extremely steep blue, all of which I've seen in pretty horrible shape, and certainly not the best choice for tired legs.

Finally, since you mentioned that nobody in your party is a black skier, you obviously should stay away from Shock Wave and White Heat, but as I recall there is a short blue way down from the top of White Cap if you want to look over the best known blacks (double blacks?) at SR. I forget its name, but its actually quite a nice trail.

If the snow conditions are good, and the more skilled members of your party are feeling their oats, Vortex is a nice black that is steep at the top but mellows out pretty quickly. Airglow is an even easier black, but just don't get sucked into the nearby Black Hole - its probably even steeper than White Heat and Shock Wave. Similarly, stay away from Agony. As I recall, it's not all that steep, but its narrow, right under a lift, and usually bumped up.


Tom / PM

[This message has been edited by PhysicsMan (edited 02-18-2004).]

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
February 18, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,986 posts

Thanks for the very informative post. I was unable to ski many of the trails you mentioned in early December, so it was great of you to fill in the blanks....

Ski and Tell

Snowcat got your tongue?

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