Areas that have massive snowmaking arsenals like Okemo, Mount Snow, Stratton and Killington in Vermont lead pack with open terrain. But if you look at Magic Mountain in central Vermont, there’s only five of 40 trails open despite the 7 inches it received Thursday. Why? You guessed it, an antiquated snowmaking system that has hurt this area for years.
Stratton opened five more trails today including Upper and Lower Liftline and Lower Kidderbrook, and Solstice Way ; Bolton in northern Vermont dropped the rope on seven more trails.
And something many have been waiting for … Outer Limits at Killington is now open. I’ll wait.
Mad River Glen in Vermont is absolutely giddy this morning.
Its report: “Finally it is GAME ON here at MRG and after what has been an interminable wait we are going to FINALLY re-open the main mountain today. We picked up 4-6″ of snow in part 1 of the storm and we are expecting another 6″ (the Single Chair Weather Blog says maybe as much as a foot) in part 2 which is expected to start later this morning and continue into the evening. It could be one of those amazing days when conditions just keep getting better and better, but be aware that temps are expected to fall precipitously throughout the day.”
In Massachusetts, Jiminy got just three inches, but that combined with their snowmaking will open up 85 percent of its trails this weekend.
Butternut in Great Barrington got 5 inches at the summit, allowing it to open all 22 of its trails, one of only three resorts in the East to achieve that. Catamount now has 25 of its 33 trails open.
Despite the rain, Connecticut areas will be in good shape this weekend.
Ski Sundown has all of its trails open. Mohawk has 13 of 25 open; Mount Southington 9 of 14; and Woodbury 10 of 15 trails. If you want to go skiing or snowboarding today here’s a $15 off coupon for Southington.
It’s the long Martin Luther King Jr. weekened, meaning resorts will be charging higher holiday rates. But don’t expect large crowds this weekend because of the combination of very cold temperatures (in the single digits Sunday) and the football playoffs.
Hopefully the Snow Gods, and the meteorologists, aren’t playing any games with us this time.
But … there’s significant snow in the forecast for upper New England Thursday into Friday. I’m trying not to get too excited, but it’s possible that more than a foot of snow could fall in the higher elevations, maybe more.
Sunrise at Stowe, Vermont this morning.
It’s one of those situations where you got to keep checking the forecasts and see if this dream forecast becomes a reality. And that means the complete forecast, not just the snow totals. For example, the NWS’s mountain forecast for Thursday calls for summits to be “in and out of the clouds” with southeast winds between 35 to 50 mph. And we all know how wind can ruin a day and put lifts of hold.
But if you really want to get teased, read Josh Fox Single Chair Weather Blog from Mad River Glen in Vermont where he says “it’s possible” this storm could drop between 10 and 20 inches.
In southern New England it’s also possible that ski areas can pick up a few inches of fresh snow before it changes to sleet and dreaded rain.
Overall, it looks likely this could set the stage f0r an excellent MLK weekend.
Since this could be the first big dump of the season, there could be a run on moderately priced lodging this weekend; like the chain hotels popular with skiers and snowboarders on a budget.
Naturally, skiing and snowboarding midweek is always better, both in terms of ticket deals and crowds, especially since the college kids will be heading back to school next week.
And here’s a nice incentive:
Mount Snow in southern Vermont is offering FREE midweek lodging next week. The offer, based on double occupancy, costs $75 per person, per day. You can stay between Monday and Thursday next week. But you have to book by 5 p.m. Friday. Details here.
By the way there’s interesting reading about how Mount Snow has survived this poor winter on GM Kelly Pawlak’s blog. She notes that Snow’s December temperatures average 8 degrees above normal with a series of “rain events.”
Next week is National Ski Safety Week, the time to remember the “Skier’s Responsibility Code.” You know that code that is often printed on napkins or cafeteria tray liners are ski resorts.
It includes: Always stay in control … People ahead of you have the right of way… Stop in a safe place for you and others … Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield … Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment … Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails … Know how to use the lifts safely.
But what about the other stupid things skiers and snowboarders do?
Not looking uphill before crossing a trail. Guilty of this one. I nearly bought the farm when I was broadsided by a skier on Killington’s Upper Cascade trail. I was on the High Traverse trail and, stupidly, didn’t look uphill before crossing. The skier who hit me flew over my head and flew about six feet. Fortunately, both of us were just bruised … for weeks.
Going down a tough, expert trail on the first run. Very guilty of this one, but learning. I’ve had friends curse me for doing this. Taking a few warm-up runs on blue cruisers, not only make sense, but is a good way to check your equipment … and your body.
Not putting the safety bar down on a chairlift. Have you ever gotten on a chair with a bunch of people and they pull the bar down? You wait and wait and finally do it yourself saying “coming down.”
I’m sorry I want that bar down; probably from that time in Utah when my ski hit a lift tower and I almost fell. Some lifts in Utah have no safety bars; in Vermont it’s state law.
Skiing and snowboarding buzzed. Back in the heady daze of the 1980s, it was common that someone would light up weed while riding in the gondola. Before that people would carry along “wine sacks” and sip the alcohol throughout the day. Some would finish the day by having a few drinks in Killington’s summit lodge bar and later ski down the mountain.
Yes, people still … indulge … but as with everything moderation is the key. Let’s be honest you not going to ski or snowboard at your best if you’re buzzed. And you’re more likely to do stupid things and endanger other people; not a good thing on slippery mountain.
Not drinking enough water. You need to stay hydrated in the moisture-sucking mountain environment. Ideally, using something like CamelBak hydration pack that has extra insulation to prevent freezing. You’ll be amazed on how much energy you’ll have if properly hydrated. Even stupider … not cleaning the water container in your hydration pack at the end of the season.
Taking a shortcut through the trees. If you’re not a good tree skier or snowboarder why take chances? If you want to be one, take a lesson. Slamming into a tree off the trail in the woods can be a death sentence. And if you get lost, you can be charged the cost of rescuing you. Have you ever lost a ski in the woods and deep powder? Grabbing on branches to pull yourself out of deep snow? Not fun.
Then there’s what they cal lthe “Deep Snow Immersion Accident. “ This happens when a skier or rider falls into an area of deep unconsolidated snow and becomes immobilized and suffocates. Not good.
Not wearing a helmet. I was guilty of this until this season. Yes a helmet will not save you if you slam into a tree of lift tower, but a helmet can help prevent mild concussions and reduce the severity of head injuries.
Who wears a helmet?
According to the National Ski Areas Association 93 percent of children 9 years old or younger; 79 percent of kids between 10 and 14 wear ski/snowboard helmets; 73 percent of adults over the age of 65 wear ski/snowboard helmets.
Forty-eight percent between 18 and 24 wear helmets.
Helmets are much lighter and cooler looking than they were years ago. Some helmets have embedded areas where you can put headphones. Others also have Bluetooth to hook into your phone.
Stopping in the middle of the trail. Stupid. You not only are going to get slammed, but are ruining the run for many skiers and snowboarders.
Eating too much during lunch. That huge burger, fries and dessert will taste good during lunch, but it will take you a few runs to regain your energy. I like to go for the soup and chili; just enough to fuel you up.
Buying full-price lift tickets. Blindly walking up to the ticket window and paying full price is very, very stupid. Before going to a ski resort check out their web site for price breaks. Okemo has one of the best areas on its Steals and Deals page.
Better yet, one of the best ways to save money on tickets is to join a ski club. You can save more than 50 percent off on lift tickets, on select days and resorts. How much? Check out the Connecticut Ski Council’s Awareness Days.
There’s plenty of other stupid things … like speeding through small villages … eating lunch exactly at noon … getting to a ski resort on a weekend day at 11 a.m. … not getting your gear together … rushing to make as many runs a day as possible … borrowing a friend’s ski equipment … crossing ski tips … tucking you ski pants into ski boots.
We’ve finally hit the mark – the coldest day of the season so far.
Ranging from -9.5 degrees on Mount Washington, to the single digit and teens in ski country. All we need now is some significant natural snow to get the winter in high gear.
Temperatures are expected to moderate across the East the next few days with an increasing change of light snow and snow showers.
That combined with great deals is the right combination for some good skiing and snowboarding in the days ahead.
One of the better deals is THIS Sunday at Mount Snow in southern Vermont kids pay their age for a lift ticket. That means if a kid is 12, their lift ticket is only $12. The deal is for “kids” 18 and under. Snow warns: “For some ages, valid ID may be required for verification.” If you’ve been looking to take the kids skiing or snowboarding this is it!
On Thursday at Mount Snow, college students pay just $29 for a lift ticket on Thursday with a valid ID.
Hunter Mountain in New York is also giving college students a discount; $35 tickets through Friday and from Sunday to next Friday.
At Okemo in Vermont when skiers and riders pre-buy a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday lift ticket online in advance, they pay just $49. This offer is valid every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through the month of January.
Also at Okemo, kids ski or ride for $1 when their family stays at an Okemo Mountain Resort managed property for at least two nights in January (excluding MLK weekend). In addition, if they book three nights, everyone stays the third night free.
Jiminy Peak in northeastern Mass. has just posted a number of e-coupon days through March that can greatly reduce the price of a lift ticket. Even better, some are on weekend day. Check them out here.
Despite the lack of a major snowfall, ski areas from New York State to Maine are steadily expanding terrain thanks to continued snowmaking. Both Okemo and Stowe in Vermont are nearly the 50 percent mark of having all its trails open. Sunday River in Maine leads the pack in that state with 53 of its 132 trails. Loon and Sunapee have half their trails open in New Hampshire.
In New York, Hunter’s got 31 of 55 trails open, Belleayre has 16 and the big mountain of Whiteface is reporting 35 of 86 open.
Massachusetts areas like Butternut, Catamount and Jiminy Peak are pushing to get 75 percent of their terrain open. And in Connecticut…Ski Sundown now has all 15 trails open.
A post on Sugarbush’s Facebook page from late Wednesday: ”It was totally dumping all day at the mountain, 12″ or more and still coming down. At points, Valley House was not visible from Gate House, maybe 2″ an hour. Burlington got nothing, Boston was sunny all day, Sugarbush was in the snow globe. Last run was best and rumors of rope drops tomorrow should have pow-hounds here early. Game on!”
In southern Vermont, areas like Mount Snow, Okemo and Stratton were less fortunate with the inch or two from Wednesday’s storm.
New Hampshire areas also picked up a few inches. In fact, loon got 14 inches in the last six days.
Also this makes it a more compelling reason to head north for New Year’s weekend, especially since many resorts have rooms available.
At Mount Snow in Vermont there will be free demo boards from Burton, Forum, and Never Summer out in front of Backside Snowboard Shop. A credit card and driver’s license will be required for security deposit.
Over in at their Snowboard school they will be offering FREE group lessons at 9:15, 11:15, and 1:15. All you need to do is meet at the bottom of Launch Pad just outside the Discovery building.
Stratton in southern Vermont will also be offering a free group snowboarding lesson at 9:45 a.m Sunday.
Ski Sundown in New Hartford will have lifts turning starting at 8 a.m. Saturday. It plans to have six trails open: Canyon Run, Nor’easter, Exhibition, Stinger, Temptor and Little Joe.
Best bet: Buy a two-hour ticket for $31, instead of an all-day one for $55. The clock starts ticking when you buy it.
Mohawk Mountain will start its 65th season on Saturday. Viewing their webcam it looks like they’ve made lots of snow. New this season is a four- and eight-hour flex tickets . The price on Friday, Saturday and Sunday is $54 for eight, $49 for four.
Best bet: Want to save money? Ski/ride midweek for $30 ($5 more than last season).
Mount Southington. Scheduled to open Thursday, Dec. 22. Print out this coupon to get $10 off an eight-hour ticket on opening day.
Woodbury. Opened weeks ago. Will have at least two trails open this weekend. Check out its livecam.
Butternut will open Friday and expects to have 10 trails open. They will also have lifts turning through the weekend.
Catamount will open Saturday with nine trails and four lifts running. No word on whether there will be a discount on its $61 Saturday or Sunday ticket.
Jiminy Peak. Already open with 15 trails, the resort will start night skiing/snowboarding on Saturday. Best bet: Go online and print e-coupons. For Friday, it’s only $25 and on Sunday, it’s $40 for an eight-hour ticket or $30 for a twilight one. Note: You need to print them out 24 hours in advance.
Berkshire East will open Sunday. They made snow on on Exhibition, Big Chief, all of the base area, Competition, Upper Competition, War Dance and Upper Flying Cloud.
Tip: Got a nice discount page, including $5 off tickets for AAA members.
VERMONT and NEW HAMPSHIRE
Nearly all Vermont areas will be open this weekend. Don’t expect lots of terrain open, but nearly all have satisfying top-to-bottom runs. Killington leads the pack with just under 30 trails. Ski Vermont has all the details.
Over in New Hampshire, best bests are Bretton Woods and Loon. Ski New Hampshire has the last updates and quick links to all resorts.
Ski resorts around New England should not be crowded this weekend because many people are wrapped up in holiday plans.
Okemo in southern Vermont will be holding its annual Shares and Cares Food Drive on Sunday. That means if you bring five non-perishable food items, you can buy a lift ticket for $39.
Today Okemo has 14 trails including Buckhorn, Countdown, Double Dipper, Drop Off, Fairway, Jolly Green Giant, Link, Lower Arrow, Lower Mountain Road, Lower World Cup, Route 103, Sapphire, Timberline, Upper Arrow, and Upper World Cup.
Open terrain is for advanced and intermediate skiers.
Expect that number to grow by the weekend thanks to aggressive snowmaking. Last weekend, Okemo had only seven trails open.
While in Okemo’s hometown of Ludlow, checkout the local Shaw’s supermarket. The store’s building was heavily damaged by Tropical Storm Irene.
Shaw's supermarket is operating inside a series of tents in Ludlow, Vt.
But that hasn’t stopped the supermarket from doing business. The store is operating out of a series of heated tents in the parking lot. The store has everything from canned goods to fresh meats and veggies.
The store expects to move back into the building. Last Sunday, it was warm inside the tent store, but temperatures were in the upper 40s. I expect it will be chilly inside once temperatures drop into the single numbers.
The make-shift store is the only reminder of Irene. Roads and bridges leading to Okemo from I-91 are clear and repaired. The only roadwork encountered was an I-91 bridge in Brattleboro that is being replaced. All traffic is diverted onto the southbound lane for a short distance.
Also noted were more electronic message signs on I-91 in Massachusetts, telling you of construction delays or detours. Most of the messages were for roadwork days or weeks away.
Look for trail counts to grow at northern New England ski areas this weekend and the days ahead.
Cold temperatures are allowing ski resorts to expand terrain in preparation for the upcoming Christmas/New Year’s week.
Already Okemo in southern Vermont posted on its Facebook page today that it plans to have top-to-bottom skiing and snowboarding on up to a dozen trails.
Killington in central Vermont is up to 15 trails and is expected to open more trails this weekend. Those skiing there today may get blasted by the snowguns. “Skiers and riders who like cruising under the guns, you’re in for a treat! Our snowmakers are getting an early start to the weekend this Friday, and while temperatures stay down, the snow is piling up,” The Beast reports today.
This morning Killington started blowing snow on Skye Peak.
Mount Snow in southern Vermont has been making snow for nearly 24 hours and plans to offer 80 “skiable acres” when it opens on Saturday. Snow does not list trail counts in its reports. Prices for the weekend? Adults(19-64): $55. Youth & Seniors(6-18, 65+): $45.
The closest ski area open is Woodbury which will offer very limited terrain for a few quick turns.
Other Connecticut areas … Mohawk, Mount Southington and Ski Sundown … should be open next weekend.
Jiminy Peak in northwestern Massachusetts will definately be open on Saturday.
For Connecticut skiers and snowboarders, I’d wait a week before heading to New Hampshire because trail counts are low. That, however, should change shortly.