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A warm December to remember...

Posted by Heather Burke  December 28, 2011 09:23 AM

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This December may well spell disappointment for many skiers and riders hoping for that big holiday snow storm. The lack of natural snow has been obvious, but combine that with above normal temperatures prevailing throughout the month, let’s just say circumstances have been far from conducive for snowmaking to cover ground and increase trail counts. But there is skiing and riding, even terrain parks, on ski mountains around New England, all from the magic of compressed air and water. Resorts like Sunday River, Okemo, Killington and Loon have doubled their ski acreage over the past few weeks – a very impressive accomplishment.

sugarloaf_base_lodge.jpgMost ski resorts in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts have been able to open 20-50% of their skiing and riding terrain on manmade snow. Some smaller ski areas like Jiminy Peak, Pats Peak, and Ski Sundown in Connecticut have opened 70-80% of their terrain for this important holiday week when many families hit the slopes for the first time this season. And there are lodging vacancies for New Year’s weekend at many resorts, the upside for downhillers during a lean snow holiday. You can still book a ski trip this weekend, to Sugarloaf for example, and celebrate on the slopes with skiing, fireworks, hot tubs and hot toddies.

snowmaking_skier2.jpgHaving skied Sunday River, I can report that the conditions are surprisingly good, especially since I was walking the beach in balmy 50-degree weather the day prior. Each night, ski resorts resurface and re-groom their terrain, so my experience is that the best conditions are first thing in the morning, early birds get the cord ahead of the crowds, before the soft snow gets skied off. There is snow in the forecast today for Vermont and New Hampshire’s White Mountains, and if you are a skier and a believer like me, you know there will be more snow and plenty of skiing this winter. January is going to be super snowy!

Photos by Greg Burke

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Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.

Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at and


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