This was the scene Wednesday at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire where nearly a foot of snow fell.
And so it is … because you can now add Okemo and Sugarbush to the list of ski resorts open for the season. They join Killington (with 20 trails today) and Stowe (7 trails). The two Vermont areas kicked off the season at 9 a.m. with lots of sunshine and blue skies. Unfortunately, there isn’t alot of terrain open. But it’s a start.
This was the sunrise today at Killington in Vermont. With 20 trails, it has the most open terrain in the East.
Okemo is offering skiing and snowboarding on Buckhorn, Count Down, Upper World Cup and Drop Off.
Okemo reports: ”We will be shuttling skiers and riders up to the Northstar Express Quad, and uploading to the summit, skiing will be accessed all day long by the Glades Peak Quad. No beginner terrain is available today. We will be placing 3 park features on the hill by the top of the Northstar Quad, a flat box, a flat rail, and a cannon. Lift tickets are only $39 for adults, $34 for young adults and seniors, and $27 for juniors and super seniors.
Sugarbush is offering limited terrain on Jester-Allyn’s Traverse-Downspout. And don’t say they didn’t warn you … “We did not groom last night, and the new snow presents, and may be covering, early-season challenges,” Sugarbush reports.
No thanks, I’ll wait.
Other Vermont areas – Mount Snow and Stratton – are itching to open, but can’t until they blow more snow on their mountains.
Snow’s GM Kelly Pawlak writes in her blog: “Normally a November storm has me dancing but this one is bittersweet. Any snow is good snow but I know that its arrival one day before the Thanksgiving holiday will prompt all of you to ask, “Why aren’t you opening?”
This is the scene at Carinthia at Mount Snow after this week's snowfall. Nice, but not enough for the mountain to open.
The answer is pretty simple. 6” of snow is a good start but we need a lot more than that for coverage that can handle grooming and skier traffic. Looking up the hill right now, this snowstorm has not even covered some of the taller grass and water bars would send you launching (which some of you would enjoy!) “ I can assure you that we want to open just as much as you and this is a tough pill to swallow. But our 57th season of skiing and riding will be here soon enough.”
New Hampshire areas Bretton Woods (open with 3 trails) and Loon (11 trails) received between 8 to 10 inches
Check out the snow that fell at Maine’s Sunday River Tuesday and Wednesday:
Snowmaking has kicked into high gear at several resorts with the goal of opening some trails by Thanksgiving Day.
That goal, of course, is temperature and weather dependent. The long-range forecast for the upper peaks of New England call for nighttime temps into the 20s. Unfortunately, it’s also going to be much warmer during the day; 40s and high 30s.
After a night of snowmaking, this was the scene at Stratton in Vermont this morning.
Snowmakers say the best snow is made when there is low humidity and temperatures (ideally) in the high teens.
Mike Quinn, Stratton’s VP of operations, said on his blog: ”Short windows of cold followed by warm daytime temperatures let the sun do its damage by heating the ground and damaging any snow cover that may exist. Over the years we have learned that it’s just not worth it.”
Stratton, however, is optimistic on a T-Day opening. Last night it concentrated its snowmaking efforts on Black Bear, Polar Bear, Frank’s Fall Line and Village Walk. The southern Vermont resort is planning a big opening weekend celebration with fireworks he Gobble Gobble Wobble 5K, Village Rail Jam and an evening with the Stratton Mountain Boys.
Win Smith, president and owner of Sugarbush in Vermont, said on his blog he is shooting for a Thanksgiving opening. He said they began making snow last week on Lincoln Peak trails (shown right) including Upper Jester and Downspout to the intersection of Upper Organgrinder.
Now most of the snowmaking is happening on the upper mountain where it is colder, especially at night.
On Thursday, Vermont resorts including Okemo, Stratton and Mount Snow fired up their snow guns to begin the work of laying down a good base on some trails.
Stratton concentrated on Black Bear, Polar Bear, Frank’s Fall Line and Village Walk. The southern Vermont resort is planning a big opening weekend celebration with fireworks he Gobble Gobble Wobble 5K, Village Rail Jam, an evening with the Stratton Mountain Boys.
Killington opened in late October with a couple of trails in its upper peak. Skiers and snowboarders take the K1 gondola to the summit and cruise down the Great Northern trail to the open trails in the North Ridge area. To return to the base they have to use a walkway to the summit and take the K1 down the mountain.
Today, Killington is making snow on Snowdon, pictured left, which would allow top-to-bottom coverage from the summit.
In a post later today, Killington’s President and General Manager Chris Nyberg said, “Finally, the temperatures have begun to drop on the lower mountain and at this writing; we are making snow on Middle Chute, Bunny and Mouse right to the bottom of the K-1 Gondola. From now on, it is all about terrain expansion for the snowmaking crews through Christmas. The snow guns are cranking, groomers are ready, the lifts are all checked out, base lodges spiffed up, staff hired and everyone in our resort community is ready.”
Over in New Hampshire, the snow guns are also blasting.
Bretton Woods tweeted: “Snowmaking from top to bottom this morning, and a light blanket of the natural stuff overnight – it’s looking better out there!”
With snowmaking back in action, Loon is planning to be open on Turkey Day.
Waterville Valley also tweeted: “High Country (trail) is in the middle of a man-made blizzard with hopes of opening on Friday November 25.”
Killington Resort opened its winter season today with skiing/snowboarding on two trails. Hey it’s not alot, but The Beast is the first to start the New England ski season.
Or are they?
Mount Snow in southern Vermont opened Launch Park, a small terrain park on its lower mountain. And in Maine, Sunday River started its season at 10:01 a.m. Saturday with one trail on upper Locke Mountain.
Here’s opening day video at Sunday River:
Killington opened at 10 am., but when did the first skier/snowboarder start carving turns? It really doesn’t matter, the season has begun!!!
Killington received nine inches of natural snow in the last 24 hours and snowmakers will continue to make snow as well as expand the terrain as long as conditions permit.
Skiing and riding will be on advanced terrain only on the un-groomed Rime trail, providing roughly 600 vertical feet of terrain. No beginner terrain will be available at this time.
Hours of operation will be 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 pm on Saturday and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. The K-1 Gondola will provide uploading and downloading, while access from the top of the K-1 Gondola down and up from the skiing and riding terrain will be via a short walk on the Peak Walkway.
There’s nothing like the first snow to get skiers and snowboarders pumped for the season. Photo above is what Mount Ellen looked like this morning at the Sugarbush ski resort in Vermont. Several inches fell in northern New England on Thursday with more on the way this weekend.
Traffic was heavy on ski resort web sites Thursday as soon as the first photos and web cams showed snow falling on trails. Tweets from resorts gave a blow by blow account as the inches piled up in northern New England.
Okemo in Vermont plans to open Nov. 19. But they did post a video Thursday to get the juices flowing.
Even in the flatlands of New England there some snow that fell in Connecticut. And with more significant snow in the forecast for Saturday, this should put skiers and snowboarders in a very happy mood. A promise of a long and snowy season ahead of us.
In this Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011 photo, a Central Vermont Public Service Corp. lineman walks up the Killington Ski Area in Killington, Vt., during a snowstorm where he was working. Killington received six inches of snow and another storm is predicted for Saturday night. (AP Photo/The Rutland Herald, Vyto Starinskas)
Here’s a quick checklist to help get started.
This weekend haul the gear out of the closet or under the bed and take an inventory of the condition of your boards, boots and clothing. If you haven’t done it already get a plastic storage container and put all your clean ski/snowboard clothing, hats, helmets, socks, long underwear and have it ready to go for that first ski trip. Make a list of what you need and start looking for the best deals.
Discount lift tickets
This is the best advice I can ever give … save more than 50 percent off lift tickets if you join a ski club. Visit the Connecticut Ski Council and locate a club that works for you. Many clubs don’t even require you to attend meetings. You can simply go to their website, print out an application, fill it out and send a check. Memberships can be as low as $40.
Once you join, you’ll get a coverted membership card that allows you to get greatly discounted tickets on specific days, many on weekends. Below I posted the full schedule; some dates may change.
A great thing to do if you’re looking for gear or want information on resorts. Equipment manufacturers and distributors, along with ski resort reps will be there.
Closer to home on Nov 9-11, there’s the Connecticut SnowSports Expo in the Hartford Civic Center.
Everyone tells you to wait until the end of the season for the best deals on equipment and gear. Yes, it’s true. But they won’t tell you that by mid-season most of the best equiptment choices and sizes have been picked over and is out of stock. And many shops are reluctant to order more gear because the season is starting to wind down. This is especially true for boots. If you’re in the market for boots this season, get moving. Not only will you have the best selection, but the staff can give you the sufficient time to fit your feet into the right boot. If you can, go midweek when there’s few customers in the shop.
If you’re looking for used gear, head to one of the best sales in New England. Go to Okemo in Vermont on Nov. 18-20 for its annual ski and board swap with plenty of skis, boards, boots, and clothing at great prices.
Booking a room
Now’s a great time to start booking rooms for a future ski trip. Not only will you get the best selection, but many resorts are still giving pre-season discounts.
Select some dates
As the snow (hopefully) falls Saturday night. Talk to friends and family and set, or at least plan, some ski getaways. Get out a calendar and take some vacation days. Better yet, plan your ski/snowboard days around this days (if you join a ski club):
Up to 47 inches of fresh snow has fallen at the Bretton Woods ski resort in New Hampshire in the last seven days. More than three feet of the snow came from the weekend nor'easter.
The East finally lucked out with a major snowstorm that dumped nearly four feet of snow on some New England ski resorts.
And it could not have come at a better time for ski resorts – and the people who paid big bucks to go there this holiday week.
In just one day, The Big Snow put ski resorts in prime condition for the busy season with prime mid-winter conditions.
Several New Hampshire areas got pounded by the Blessed Blizzard. Just look at these Western-type snowfall numbers: Bretton Woods, 47 inches; Cannon, 39 inches; Wildcat, 34 inches.
In the Great State of Maine, it’s become the Great State of Winter with 45 inches of fresh snow at Sunday River; Saddleback got 38 inches; and Sugarloaf 34 inches.
Massachusetts areas also got a boost with up to two feet reported at Western Mass areas.
Even Connecticut ski areas got up to 18 inches (Woodbury’s claim) that puts them in perfect shape for the holiday week.
Southern and central Vermont resorts fared best with 25 reported by Okemo and 21 by Killington, Mount Snow and Bromley.
Another great thing about this snowstorm: it happened when most people were not working; schools were off, even state employees had a furlough day on Monday.
Sunday night most people hunkered down. And it’s very likely there will be some Blizzard Babies born in September.
ACCIDENT AT MAINE SKI RESORT
Meanwhile there was an chair lift accident Tuesday at Sugarloaf in Maine. Here’s the Associated Press report.
CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine (AP) — Officials at a Maine ski area report that there are about eight injuries in an accident on a chair lift.
Sugarloaf spokesman Ethan Austin told The Associated Press that Tuesday’s accident was “a big deal.” He says one of the ski lifts derailed and five chairs came down.
The resort says on its Facebook page that most of the injuries appear to be minor. Austin says the ski patrol is evacuating the lift. »A spokeswoman for Franklin Memorial Hospital about 45 minutes away in Farmington says at least two injured people are en route by ambulance.
Gray says it’s possible more injured people could arrive because it’s the closest hospital.
Worried about the quality of snow conditions for the upcoming holiday week even if there’s no snow in your backyard?
Relax, it’s going to be fine … just a little crowded.
After spending a few days skiing in Vermont, it was again proven that without snowmaking we’d be looking at brown ski trails. Sure there’s a few inches of natural snow in the mountains, but not enough to ski on.
This video was shot yesterday at Okemo’s Solitude area. As you can see the snow guns were roaring. That’s the way it’s been in the last few weeks at New England ski areas because storm after storm we’ve been ripped off. Let’s not even talk about the 17 feet of snow that’s fallen in California.
The Christmas-New Year’s holiday week is one of the most important profit-making times for ski areas, accounting for more than a quarter of their business.
And with so much business depending on that ski resorts have to crank up snowmaking to provide more open terrain. That’s exactly what such major Vermont areas like Okemo and Killington have been doing.
It comes down to this: they need to open as many trails as possible so crowds can be spread out across the mountain. If they don’t it will be very long lines at the lifts, crowded trails, madness in the lodges and lots of pissed off customers who may not come back.
And it’s not just about the number of trails open, but the quality of the snow conditions.
What ski resorts have been doing is opening up enough trails for the midweek skiers and snowboarders and concentrating their snowmaking power on areas of the mountain not yet open.
On Tuesday at Okemo there were 65 trails open, most of the front faces trails like Chief, Arrow and Definance. Most trails were open at Jackson Gore, a few at Solitude. The South Face area was closed because of snowmaking. Just as important, trails leading to the condominiums were also open.
At Killington on Monday most of its trails were open on Killington Peak, Snowdon, Ram’s Head and several off Skye Peak. Bear Mountain was closed because they were blowing snow for the Christmas-New Year’s break.
A few observations:
SURFACE CONDITIONS: Mainly packed powder, but with a hard surface beneath. On both days, light was flat making it a bit difficult. Overall, there was good coverage wall-to-wall. Later in the day there were sections that were scrapped off; make sure your edges are sharp.
A WHITE CHRISTMAS? Yes, in the mountains, but only a dusting to a few inches off mountain. But hey, it counts.
ACTION PLAN: Try to get to the lifts as soon as they open. That way you won’t have to wait in a long lines and you’ll usually get the the best of the grooming. There are however times when overnight grooming freezes up. That usually improves after about an hour of skier traffic. Planning your day to avoid the hordes always works best during holiday periods. Crowds start to peak at the lifts starting around 10:30 a.m and lodges are always packed at noon. If a lift has a long line, head to another area of the mountain. Mid-mountain lifts are usually less crowded.
But most of all try to relax. You’re probably going to be with friends and family during this special time of year. Enjoy the moment and the quality of time with them. These are the moments you’ll remember, not the number of runs you made in a day.
While it’s still early to tell exactly how much – if any – snow we’ll get from a weekend nor’easter, anticipation is building.
That’s because if we get a significant snowfall it will guarantee a White Christmas.
If the storm does not go out to sea, ski areas that would benefit include Wachusett in eastern Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire areas and up into Maine. Again, depending on the track of the storm areas in Vermont should not see a significant accumulation.
All of this, of course, is speculation.
But, if we do get some snow it will be a big boost to ski areas because a good part of their revenue comes from the Christmas-New Year’s break. It would be even better for Connecticut’s four areas.
Even if we only get flurries, ski resorts are in great shape thanks to days of ideal snowmaking weather.
Vermont areas had a good week. In the last 48 hours, Jay got up to 17 inches, Sugarbush 15 and Smugglers nearly a foot. Generally, Green Mountain areas have between a third to a half of their trails open.
New Hampshire areas are slightly behind in open terrain and would greatly benefit from a big snow dump. Best picks: Bretton Woods, Loon and Sunapee.
In southwestn Massachusetts, Butternut and Catamount are nearing the half-way point with open trails.
And all four Connecticut areas have their lifts turning. Best pick: Ski Sundown in New Hartford with nearly all trails open.
This Sunday at Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont, donate three non-perishable food items and get a lift ticket for $35; a savings of $46. Skye Chalmers photo courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort.
It’s good to see a dusting of snow on the ground after Sunday’s rainstorm pushed ski conditions downhill a bit. And thankfully cold temperatures have allowed ski areas to resume snowmaking that should greatly improve conditions.
Last Saturday, there were packed powder conditions on two top-to-bottom runs at Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall.
Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall opened its new beginner lift on Saturday. The easy-to-ride lift serves a gentle beginner slope.
There was great, side to side coverage. Opening day also saw the opening of Mohawk’s newest chairlift servicing its gentle beginner slope. This quad lift will end the worries of many beginners using the chair for the first time because it can be operated to a crawl by attendants.
But many skiers and snowboarders will have no interest in this chair serving the “Bunny Slope.”
They want long runs, big vertical drops and steep trails. For them, the big mountains to the north call.
And this Sunday, there’s even a better reason to head to Vermont, specifically Okemo when it holds its annual Cares and Shares Day. Donate three non-perishable food items at the ticket window and you get to buy a lift ticket for only $35.
That’s a savings of $46 off the regular price of a one-day weekend ticket.
Talk about an early Christmas present, not only for you but for the people who will benefit from the donated food.
This weekend brings additional ski areas opening, some fresh natural snow and, unfortunately some rain Sunday.
So Saturday will be the pick of the weekend with sunny skies in southern New England. I don’t think crowds will be too bad since many people are in the midst of holiday shopping, etc. The biggest crowds are likely at Connecticut ski areas and Massachusetts areas like Butternut, Catamount and Jiminy.
The best advice: get there as soon as the lifts open, ski/snowboard half a day and head home. That’s a particularly a good plan if it’s you first time out this season.
All day Saturday looks good with temperatures in the 40s south, 30s north. On Sunday in the north, snow is expected in the morning before turning to mixed precip then rain. Before it ends, it could turn back to all snow. The rest of the week remains cold with an increasing chance of snow. So things do not look so bad.
Throughout the winter, you should check out Mad River Glen’s weather blogger Josh Fox. This guy is usually accurate with his forecast and does not overhype.
For the first time this season, all four Connecticut areas will be open.
Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall has been blowing snow all week. The Connecticut area opens its season on Saturday.
Ski Sundown in New Hartford opens today with runs on Canyon, Nor’easter, Exhibition, Temptor and Stinger. Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall and Mount Southington open on Saturday. Woodbury has been open for a few weeks.
Best deal: Mohawk where a full-day ticket is $30 and a half-day (go for this one) is $20. Lifts start turning at 8:30 a.m.
Ski Butternut opens today; Catamount on Saturday. Catamont will be charging $40 for a weekend single-day ticket; Butternut $35. The areas join Jiminy Peak in having their lifts turning.
Most Vermont areas are in great shape thanks to lake effect snows. Heaviest snowfalls were in the central and northern part of the state. Bolton Valley was the big winner with up to 48 inches in the last week. Stowe, Smugglers and Bolton Valley got three feet and Sugarbush and Killington about two feet. Southern Vermont got less than a foot.
With the exception Magic, Mad River Glen, Pico and Suicide Six of all Green Mountain State are open. Even though Mad River got between 18 and 30 inches, it still isn’t open because the snow was light, fluffy and often, wind driven; not the best kind to build up bases. MRG is shooting for a Dec. 16 opening.
Okemo opens the Jackson Gore and Solitude areas; 44 trails will be open this weekend. A ski demo is planned both days at the Gore.
Bretton Woods got 22 inches this week allowing it to open a third of its trails. Along with BW, top picks this weekend are Loon, Cannon and Sunapee. Wildcat plans to open Saturday.
At Cannon on Saturday bring 4 non-perishable items to Guest Services and get a half price ticket for that day. Applies to full-day tickets only. Food collected benefits the Good Neighbor Food Pantry in Franconia, NH.
Best deal: At Sunapee on Sunday Ski or ride for $30 with the contribution of five non-perishable food items for local families & food shelters.