Eventually, you will graduate to bigger and better things--a trip to New England or better yet, the mountains of Colorado or Utah or even Europe. However, you will always come back to the Mid-Atlantic. Skiers and snowboarders always have a special affinity for the mountains where they first learned to make turns.
For next season, consider buying your own boots and by the end of the season, maybe even skis. That will make your life easier when you visit the slopes (not having to rent is one less hassle to endure). Enjoy.
Many of the resorts in Vermont have excellent beginner terrain. However, for April you should probably head for a central or northern VT resort because of snow issues. In central VT, head to Killington. You can make it in about 8-9 hours. The resort has some excellent learning areas and also long green trails from the top to bottom like Great Northern and Great Eastern. I would start out at the Snowshed learning area, and once you feel confident on the green terrain there, take the K-1 gondola to the top of Killington Peak (the highest point at the resort) and try Great Northern. If you feel up to an intermediate run, Rams Head mountain has some very easy blue terrain. In fact, much of the blue terrain at Killington is very easy by New England standards, another reason to head here over most of the other mountains in the state.
Killington has some downsides (it's big, kind of generic, and can be confusing), but for beginners, it is fine--just stay on Great Northern or Great Eastern if you decide to go to the top.
For more on Killington:
For a nicer apres ski atmosphere and a prettier mountain, try Stowe. Stowe is about 11 hours from DC. It's a huge mountain (highest in VT), but it does have some excellent beginner terrain. Start out in the meadows at Spruce. Once you have more confidence, head over to Mansfield and ski Toll Road--a wonderful, top to bottom green cruiser. If you make it to intermediate slopes, Lord on the Mansfield side is fairly easy, as is Sterling over on Big Spruce. The beginner terrain at Stowe is a bit more limited than Killington, but the more interesting scenary at Stowe makes up for it in my opinion, not to mention the great dining in the Stowe area.
The downside of Stowe for the beginner is that much of the blue terrain there would rate black in the Mid-Atlantic. Gondolier and Perry Merrill, for example, are trademark blues at Stowe. They are also arguably more difficult than many blacks in the Mid-Atlantic. In fact, I can't think of a single black trail in this region that is more challenging than Perry Merrill except for Cupp Run at Snowshoe.
In short, Stowe does not offer much for a skier just graduating from greens. Killington, by comparison, offers many, many easy blue trails.
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 02-29-2004).]
Being in the same education boat myself, I'm planning a Utah trip for the first week of April during Spring Break.
I suggest Utah because you can fly out of the DC area by 7:00AM, arrive at SLC at 10:30AM, and be on the slopes by 12:00.
Flying will cost more, but you save yourself a day on the road. Plus excellent conditions out West will be almost guaranteed, unlike the East coast in April...
Try www.skiutah.com for details. Don't look too closely at the pictures, because it will cause you to want to move and teach in Utah.....
One problem with VT is that if a serious thaw occurs, Killington may start losing a lot of beginner terrain very quickly. Stowe, because it is farther north, will inevitably fare better but like I said in the earlier post, it's offerings for beginners are more limited, although certainly good by Mid-Atlantic standards.
One thing you could do if your heart is set on Vermont is to book last minute. Hotels never fill up during this month, so one does not need to reserve a room in advance. If the conditions are horrible, you will be able to save your money for next season or you can head for Utah instead.
You can take a train to Rutland and then hop a shuttle bus to Killington, but I don't recommend this approach. Killington is very spread out--you need a car to get to restaurants and you hotel after skiing. I think it would be frustrating to have to rely on the shuttle system, especially late in the season when it may not run as frequently.
At Stowe, a car is also a must.
"But expense of traveling to distant destinations is better justified when you have intermediate level skills to enjoy more of what they offer."
I thought about making a similar comment, but I changed my mind at the last minute.
For a new skier like Vesty, it may be worthwhile for him to see a big ski mountain even if he knows that he may not be skiing much of it on this trip. A big, hulking mountain like Mansfield has the potential to inspire Vesty to get to the next level.
With some additional private instruction along with a group lesson or two, he may even be able to ski Mansfield top to bottom via the green Toll Road trail--a true New England classic to quote their latest ad campaign.
I'll never forget taking my wife to Stowe for the first time. It was the first mountain she ever skied in this country, and she expected a small area like Timberline--something she was accustomed to in Slovakia. Instead, we drove up the Mountain Rd and confronted this massive mountain dripping with trails that cover over 2,000 feet of vertical. "Wow!" she exclaimed, "that's a big mountain." I said Darina, "there is no place like Stowe." I've skied all over the place and still get goose bumps when I see that mountain.
Mansfield could have the same effect on Vesty. I suggest that he stay at the Inn at the Mountain if he goes. It offers ski-in, ski-out access to the Toll House area (a nice learning hill connected to the main mountain via link trails).
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 03-02-2004).]
That's a great point, and I thought of mentioning that also, but then I thought of my recent experience.
My dilemma: How could I justify the expense of going out west and dragging my wife, who doesn't ski, along?
Solution: Get her addicted to skiing.
Do I do this by bringing her to a local resort, with all the crowds and ice, or do I show her the "ideal" place- a huge mountain, nice restaurants, hotel, powder conditions, etc.
To make a long story short, after taking lessons each morning, she experienced a snowing, foot deep, powder day on the last day, wobbled down an easy black run, loved every second of it, and I literally had to drag her to the airport.
Mission accomplished, hence the return trip in April..... :-)