Halley O'Brien is at Bretton Woods, N.H., where the Snocountry correspondent presents this weekend's skiing and riding conditions throughout the Northeast.
What does it take to be a snowmaker in New England? Red Bull, dark cold night shifts and determination according to Sunday River's snowmaking team. As Sunday River's President Dana Bullen says, "It's part of our DNA." It also takes 10 million gallons of water to make 24 hours of snow, and 9 weeks and $2.5 million to cover Sunday River with their legendary talcum powder conditions.
Watch this Man vs. Weather pilot video created by Mainer Rory Strunk and see what goes into making White Heat white! Kudos to those who make snow!
Have you heard enough about Black Friday by now? Seems like a ridiculous way to spend a holiday. Wouldn't' you rather be skiing? But if you are feeling the pressure of scoring deals and shopping for gifts, here are a few ski resorts that have you covered. You can enjoy Friday's fresh groomed corduroy, do some shopping and enjoy some savings to boot.
Wachusett will be selling their COW card, a great gift valid for any purchase at the ski mountain, when you buy Black Friday you get a $55 gift card for $50 and a bonus holiday ski ornament. Also the first 50 skiers at MTNSide ski and ride shop will receive a free early season lift ticket.
Wildcat will have $39 lift tickets on Black Friday and throughout the weekend. Wildcat also sells gift cards and Vertical Value Cards which your ski friends would be wild about receiving.
Sunday River plans to open the Chondola on Friday, and will host Demo Days Saturday and Sunday so you can try before you buy the latest skis and boards from Fischer, Salomon, Head, Ramp, Dynastar, K2, Atomic, and Rossignol to name a few. Your $10 demo fee is applicable to a purchase at Sunday River Sports. You can ski, shop and save on lodging packages you reserve now for the season, just buy before Dec 1. The River is also promising some really big lodging and lift ticket deals on Cyber Monday too.
Sugarloaf is offering their sweet Zoom Room deal again, buy a $99 room reservation before Dec 1 and you can use it any time this winter within 48 hours (read: snowstorm, snowed in, sweet).
Sugarbush has a sweet Quad Pack, buy 4 lift tickets for $199, no blackouts, totally transferable to friends & family, but must be purchased by midnight Saturday!
After this pre-Thanksgiving rain and wintry mix from storm Boreas, snowmakers will get back to work making some cold fresh snow for your White Friday. Skip the malls and ski the mountains. Be sure to check your inbox after enjoying your turkey for more Black Friday ski deals and weekend offerings. Happy Thanksgiving skiers and riders.
Photos of Sunday River and Sugarbush by Greg Burke
Cold temperatures continue to this Thanksgiving week as the weather has clearly been switched to winter mode in the mountains. Skiers have much to be thankful for. Already this season 18 New England ski resorts have opened for skiing and riding. Compare that to last year when just 9 had opened. Turkey Day will be particularly chilly, and Black Friday could be quite white.
Killington continues to lead the pack with the most trails open (29) in the East, having opened back in October. Sunday River and Sugarloaf are next in line with two dozen trails each with natural snow mixed in with their bounty of man made. In New Hampshire, Bretton Woods, Loon, Waterville Valley, and Wildcat are all open, Cranmore was open for the weekend and will reopen Friday. Vermont has the most ski resorts open, Killington, Stowe, Okemo, Mount Snow, Stratton, Smugglers Notch and Sugarbush. Bromley and Jay Peak will re-open Friday. Wachusett is open, Jiminy Peak will reopen Friday.
If you are thinking of a last minute trip out west, Grand Targhee Wyoming is wide open, as is Wolf Creek Colorado - having received significant snow storms in the past few days.
So skip the mayhem of Black Friday, people pushing each other in malls and jamming shop parking lots. Make plans to hit the mountains and make your Friday White, burn off that tryptophan carving some turns in freshly made snow. Stay tuned for Black Friday White Sale lift ticket deals. See you on the slopes.
Photos of Okemo, Vermont and Grand Targhee Wyoming, by Greg Burke
Hey skiers and riders, looking to make tracks this week and weekend? Here is a rundown of where you can make ski runs right now. Sunday River and Killington both opened last month, and continue to offer the most ski terrain by far in New England. Sunday River has 19 trails and Killington offers 23.
Okemo in Vermont has 10 trails, while New Hampshire's Bretton Woods and Loon are skiing on 5 and 7 trails respectively. This coming weekend, look for Sugarloaf to open, along with Stowe, Sugarbush and Stratton. Bromley and Mount Snow hope to reopen this weekend. The weather is predicted to be colder later this week, providing snowmakers more favorable snowmaking conditions. Also potentially mountain flurries are in the forecast at higher elevations so more New England ski resorts may start spinning.
Out west, Wolf Creek in south western Colorado has the most terrain open, 70 of 77 trails, with a 36" base. In Europe, big snow has fallen on Austria and Switzerland. Obergurgl and Solden Austria along with Saas Fee and Zermatt in Switzerland have received over 100" of snow already this season!
Get your pre-Thanksgiving skiing in. Break out the skis and boards, go burn some calories before next week's big feast. Bring three cans of non perishable food items to Sunday River's Tin Mountain food drive this weekend, and receive a discounted lift ticket for skiing and riding, stay tuned for details.
Photos of Sunday River and Wolf Creek by Greg Burke
This was the scene at Jay Peak last Wednesday.
That is all.
Hey skiers, Bretton Woods is inviting you to play hooky the day before Halloween, with free skiing and riding today, top to bottom on the Range View trail off the Zephyr high-speed quad lift. How's that for a pre-Halloween treat? No tricks, except that this is today only October 30, 9am- 4pm.
Bretton Woods is New Hampshire's largest ski resort, and first in New Hampshire to open this season, following Vermont's Killington and Maine's Sunday River who opened to the public Saturday, Oct 26. Killington has remained opened this midweek.
Bretton Woods will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year, the New Hampshire resort has invested $1.15 million in snowmaking, and is offering a mile of advanced ski terrain on 1,000' vertical today. Bretton Woods will be closed Halloween day until colder snowmaking weather resumes, predicted early next week.
So ski free today while you can because tonight we will be celebrating the Red Sox World Series win, right?! Keep the faith and enjoy your first tracks!
Bretton Woods Photo by Greg Burke, March 2013 skiing
Anyone want to go skiing this weekend? Killington Resort just opened today, October 24 at 1:30pm - first in the East for skiing for the third consecutive year. The K-1 gondola will spin today and Friday exclusively for Killington season passholders and Express Card members . Killington, a.k.a. Beast of the East, opens officially to the public Saturday October 26, 2013, with $49 lift tickets, for advanced and expert skiers and riders on the Rime trail.
You may recall that last season Killington gave their passholders the longest ski season by opening first Oct 14, later opening for the public Nov 5, and staying open thru Memorial Day weekend.
This weekend the KBL, Killington Base Lodge, will be open with skier service, food and of course bar service. Killington's new summit Peak Lodge is not scheduled to open until December of 2013. Still the Beast is back and first!
Who will open next for early season skiing in New England? Sunday River just announced they will open Saturday October 26 at 8am on T-2 and Upper Punch via the Locke Mountain Triple. If Killington doesn't open to the public till 9am, does that make Sunday River first?! I will let you decide, it's all good news for New England skiers.
Out west in Colorado, Arapahoe Basin opened October 13, 2013 and nearby Loveland opened the following week on Oct 17, 2013. I know its Red Sox fever time, but ski season is on too. I personally love when the ski season and New England sports overlap. In Solden, Austria this weekend, the US Ski Team kicks off their World Cup racing season too with Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller back and in business. Go Sox, Go Pats, Go Skiing! #winning
Photo from Killington Resort
Memorial weekend will be your last chance, last dance on skis. Killington will be open free for skiing this weekend - their swan song and season finale. Although the Big K, a.k.a.: Beast of the East, had attempted to ski into June, Mother Nature has had other ideas, and significant rain this week thwarted that valiant effort for summer vertical.
Good news however, Killington will offer absolutely free skiing this Saturday and Sunday to everyone. So you can squeeze in some Memorial weekend skiing May 25 -26, lift hours are 8-5pm on the Superstar Express Quad with skiing on the Superstar trail. Some walking between snow-less patches will be required, late spring conditions are the word. But did I mention - "it's free"!? And it's your last chance for lift serviced skiing and riding in the East till - Halloween?
See you on the slopes!
The Beast of the East, Killington Vermont, wins the last ski resort spinning award again this spring. All the other big dogs of late season skiing have closed, most recently Sugarloaf and Sugarbush last weekend. While Killington is closed midweek, they plan to run the Superstar Express Quad with advanced ski terrain Friday - Sunday every weekend through June 2 if the snow allows. Lift tickets are $39, and if you present a ski pass or ticket from another resort you get 50% off Friday's ticket, 25% off Saturday and Sunday.
Killington was first to open this ski season as well, on Oct 13 exclusively to passholders. The last time Killington stayed open into June was June 1, 2002. The latest the Beast has been open was June 22, 1997 with that year's bounty of 301-inches of snow. This year's snow accumulation is at about 250-inches.
For decades Killington was The Beast with the longest ski season in the East, then Sugarloaf, Sunday River, and even Jay Peak, gave it a run. Looks like the Beast is back, and the European style umbrella bars, added in 2011 after Irene damaged the Superstar Pub, are the perfect complement to spring skiing.
Based on some of the images from this trip report, quite a few folks showed up for Sunday River’s final day of the season last month, when the Maine resort offered free skiing and riding. So, the odds are you might expect a similar crowd this weekend when Sugarbush is slated to re-open with free lift service both Saturday and Sunday.
Weather permitting, Sugarbush plans to run the lifts beginning Saturday for one final weekend this season, celebrating the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo while they’re at it. Simply show up at the ticket window, and you’re on your way. No strings attached, unless you want to donate a few bucks to the Vermont Land Trust to help preserve the iconic Bragg Farm in Fayston.
“In lieu of a ticket, I would just ask everyone to consider a gift of any amount to the Vermont Land Trust to help them complete the conservation of Bragg Farm,” resort owner Win Smith wrote on his blog.” We have donated $10,000 toward this effort but there is still much more money to raise. Your support would be greatly appreciated.”
Skiers and riders can also save time at the ticket window by putting their names on a will-call list.
Sugarloaf also plans to re-open for the weekend, and of course, Killington is still rocking the slopes daily with the hopes that Superstar may even have a few more weeks left.
Hard to believe as spring is in full swing that ski lifts are still spinning. Killington continues to run the Superstar Quad daily from 9am to 5pm all this week and next weekend, then plans to close midweek and reopen for skiing Friday, Saturday and Sunday May 10-12 (conditions permitting of course). Sugarloaf closed for the midweek but plans to reopen this Saturday and Sunday for skiing, and has not ruled out the following Mother's Day weekend for skiing, stay tuned. Jay Peak just announced they will not reopen this weekend as hoped, while Sugarbush decided to reopen May 4- 5 with free skiing with your donation to Vermont Land Trust.
May 4-5 weekend is the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo as well, so there are plenty of reasons to celebrate on snow. Don a Derby hat and drink mint juleps at après ski on Saturday as you watch the Run for the Roses. Skiing and horse racing all in one day - I may have put my money on Itsmyluckyday. Sombreros and tacos to go with your soft corn snow on Sunday, call it Ski-o de Mayo perhaps?
This late in the ski season, be sure to check the snow report and Killington, Sugarbush, and Sugarloaf's websites before you go. Some walking to lifts may be required, sunscreen and spring skiing costumes are encouraged.
I can't think of a better time to escape to the mountains. If you were about to put your ski boots away, reconsider a retreat to the snowy slopes for mid-winter ski conditions and the serenity that only the high alpine can provide. Lifts are still spinning in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont with serious snow depths and some traditional spring ski festivities. Here is what's happening in the ski hills this week and weekend:
Sugarloaf still has 97% of their terrain open, although they will scale back some lift operation during the midweek. The Loaf will host the East Coast Pond Skim Championships this Saturday April 20, this was postponed from two weekends ago when it was just too cold and wintry. Saddleback is open weekends through April - still sporting base depths of up to 52" of snow, and $29 lift tickets. Sunday River will wrap their season when they reopen this coming weekend, with $39 tickets Saturday April 20 and Free skiing on Sunday April 21 as their grand finale and thanks to their friends and fans.
In New Hampshire, Bretton Woods ended their ski season yesterday. Wildcat will reopen for skiing this Friday for the weekend, with pond skimming Saturday. As of last weekend, Wildcat still had 93% of their terrain ski-able, and they may offer skiing April 27-28 as well.
Vermont ski resorts still open include Killington, Sugarbush, and Jay Peak which is still at 100%. Stowe will ski through Sunday April 21. Mt Snow may reopen this weekend.
I never understand why so many skiers are so eager to ski one skinny snowmaking trail in November, but hang up their boards in sunny April when so many trails are still open with sweet soft snow. Well, it's up to you, but there is still great skiing, scenery, and goggle tanning up in the mountains.
They’re dwindling. Despite an above-average winter that helped blanket New England’s mountains to the delight of skiers and riders, reality has to smack in the face at some point. Over the last two weeks, local ski areas have been shutting down the lifts, pushing season passes for next season, and preparing for summer activities, all without the benefit of basking in the glorious aura of spring skiing, which has been close to non-existent thus far this March and April, with winter refusing to relinquish its grip in the north.
That appears to be changing, and just in time, as most area ski resorts, if they haven’t halted operations already, have announced closing dates for the 2012-13 season. We hate posting closing dates as much as the next skier, but the good news is that there is still plenty of time to get those final lift-served turns in this season. Here’s a roundup of who’s still open, when they plan to close, and what you might expect at the ticket window.
Sunday River – Open daily through April 14. Will re-open for one, final weekend April 20-21. $49 lift tickets, free skiing for all on April 21.
Sugarloaf - Until further notice
Saddleback – Open weekends in April
Bretton Woods - Open through April 15. $29 lift tickets the remainder of the season, $17.76 lift tickets on Patriot's Day, April 15. In addition, all who ski or ride on the final day of the season will receive a voucher good for a one-day lift ticket this fall prior to Christmas.
Cannon – Open through April 14. Two-for-$70 spring pricing in effect.
Loon – Open through April 14. $49 lift tickets. South Peak closed for
Wildcat – Open through April 14, re-opening April 19-21, with a decision on the following weekend to be made at that time. $40 lift tickets.
Mount Sunapee – Open through April 14. $49 lift tickets.
Waterville Valley – Open through April 14. $43 lift tickets.
Jay Peak – Until further notice
Stowe – Open through April 21. $64 lift tickets.
Sugarbush – Lincoln Peak aiming for its final spring fling weekend, May 4-5.
Killington – Open through May 5, with the possibility of opening weekends only beginning May 11, conditions pending.
Burke – Closed for the season, but may re-open April 13-14. Update: Now officially closed for the season.
Mad River Glen – Closed for the season, but will make the call on Wednesday if it will re-open for April 13-14. Update:Now officially closed for the season.
Mount Snow – Open through April 14. $45 lift tickets
Smuggler’s Notch – Open through April 14.
Okemo – Open through April 21. $65 lift tickets. Update: Due to a lack of business, Okemo has decided not to extend its season until April 21, and will close on April 14.
Stratton – Open through April 14.
Flash back to March 26, 2012, and my ski blog, there were less than a dozen ski areas still open - today there are four times that. What a difference a good snow year can make for skiers and riders.
This week last year, with temps in the 70's and 80's, the only ski resorts still spinning were Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Saddleback, Loon, Waterville Valley, Jay Peak, Stowe, Sugarbush and Killington. Riding the lift this weekend, I reminisced with skiers who recalled the Maine Adaptive Ski A Thon of 2012, held annually end of March, they were skiing from snow patch to patch in places. Flash forward to today, four dozen ski areas are open in New England, skiing on at least two feet of base depths, many still 100 percent open heading into Easter weekend.
The Weather Channel reports that last winter at this time only 7.7 percent of the county was covered in snow (primarily in the North West). Today 48.7 percent of the U.S. has snow cover. The forecast is for the North East is seasonable temps this week, followed by cold for the first two weeks of April. Having almost exhausted their alphabet with silly snowstorm names for winter 2102-13 (many of which brought substantial snow dumps across the states), The Weather Channel still has Walda, Xerxes, Yogi and Zeus that could deliver more snow this spring.
I don't care what Punxsutawney Phil or Climate Change prognosticators had to say earlier this winter. Sure feels like an amazing, long ski season to me. The only "warming trend" I see is a coat of wax on my skis.
Snow? Check. About a foot of fresh snow arrived on New England's ski slopes this week. Most ski resorts are at 100% operation, a dramatic difference from last season when many were closing up shop.
Forecast? Clear and cool temps, in the low 30's, to keep the snow cold and carve-able. Sunny on Sunday would be sweet.
Time? Check. It's spring, the vernal equinox brings longer brighter days to the slopes!
In New Hampshire, Loon Mountain hosts the Governor's Cup and Cardboard Box Races, Mount Sunapee holds its annual FestEVOL concert, Cannon is having their Old School Duel - 80s attire encouraged! It's Black Mountain's Red Parka Regatta and Attitash's Golf on Snow, Bretton Woods holds a Winterbike Championship.
In Vermont, Sugarbush hosts the US Airbag Tour, Mount Snow has Reggaefest, Bolton Valley has Pond Skimming, and it's 24 hours of Stratton.
In Maine this weekend, Shawnee Peak holds their hilarious Mattress Race, Saddleback has a Park Shark Series and Box Races. Sunday River holds the Maine's Adaptive 28th Ski A Thon, the 23rd Annual Eat the Heat Chili Cookoff and Firefighters’ Race. In Mass, Wachusett is hosting a Northeast Meltdown Park Jam. Maple Sugar Sunday will be celebrated on the ski slopes throughout New England as well.
Herb "The Skiing Weatherman" Stevens comes from Jay Peak Resort this week, breaking down an encouraging skiing and riding forecast after yet another late-season snowstorm blanketed New England ski resorts.
The images from the north are filtering through Facebook and Twitter this morning as I sit here with a scowl typing instead of booting up, but nevertheless, they are drool-worthy whether you’re headed to the mountains or not. As it seems, to say most ski areas received an average of a foot from the latest storm to hit New England is conservative. Jay Peak is reporting up to 20 inches. Sugarloaf reports 18 inches. Sugarbush picked up 15 inches, as Wildcat saw 14 inches fall (albeit with the nuisance of the quad breaking down for the day), and Wachusett enjoyed a new foot of snow and also announced they would be open until April 7 this year. Cannon (above) received 13 inches of boot-deep powder. And the line at Magic Mountain's red chair, where skiers and riders anticipated first tracks on a mid-week powder day on Wednesday was buzzing to say the least.
Winter “ended” at 7:02 Wednesday morning. Time for spring skiing. Or, something like that, I suppose.
Remember, it was only a year ago that many ski areas were shutting their doors for the season after the dreadful snowless winter of 2011-12. We deserve this. Sorry, golfers.
The only downside to all this bounty may very well be that we’ll have to put off the fun in the sun for a bit. Instead of T-shirts and sunscreen, expect parkas and hand warmers through this weekend, when we normally begin to see the first signs of the corn snow that will take us into the stretch run. That’s going to wait, with temperatures only predicted to be in the 40’s through Sunday. But if it elongates the season even just a bit, who’s complaining.
April awaits. What you got left, March?
Herb "The Skiing Weatherman" Stevens breaks down this weekend's skiing and riding conditions in New England.
I have to give props to Jay Peak for their Facebook post today. Ski resorts love to post powder shots, big base depths reports, corduroy profiles, and sunny pics on spring days. But it's rare to see a sincere "hey - the skiing is not that great today" kind of blog, including references to fog, clouds, wind, etc. If you are not obsessed with social media for your ski info, like me, here is Jay Peak's Facebook post:
If you'd like to see my best side, today you won't be viewing it. I'm just not feeling like myself- foggy, congested with a cloudy head and minor fever. If you'd like to come visit anyway and keep an old friend company, your time here is always valued dearly. I should return to my cool self in a day or so.
Sincerely, Jay Peak
Warm temps, wet premature snow and wind holds are an issue around New England today.
See you on the slopes, maybe tomorrow!
Yet another storm brought more snow to Boston and the coastline than the ski hills. Even though "Saturn" was not a huge snow event in the mountains, ski resorts are in fine shape heading into this weekend, having received several dustings of snow this week. This record ski season just keeps going and snowing. Trail counts in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Mass are near perfect and surface conditions are truly packed powder.
Saturday's forecast is for sunshine on the slopes, as spring marches closer. Remember to spring your clocks forward Sunday at 2am, and get out and enjoy the skiing and riding this weekend.
Sugarbush Castlerock photo by Greg Burke, Sugarbush is 100% open
Herb "The Skiing Weatherman" Stevens comes from Loon Mountain Resort this week, where he delivers the skiing and riding forecast for the weekend.
So this is not my favorite ski blog, since I prefer skiing to give you a firsthand snow report. But while I was rehabbing my knee this weekend, my husband was skiing soft fresh snow at Sunday River. Call it hearsay, but here's the word from the white room.
"I haven't seen the River with this much snow in years," said Greg Burke, who without me (his usual ski sidekick) had the pleasure of reconnecting with his brother Jon for a ski day. Banking over 35,000' vertical feet, it seems the boys had a very legal day, and Greg was able to show his bro (a Sugarloaf lover and not a real River fan) that Sunday River has some hidden gems and steeps when the natural snow is this good.
This weekend Sunday River was 100% open with 2-4" of pow and packed powder conditions - and that's not just marketing fluff. There's wall to wall skiing on Sunday River's eight peaks, including all natural trails like Hard Ball and Chutzpah, iCaramba and Wizard's Gulch. White Heat gets all the hoopla and headlines, but The River has some wild and worthy glade trails. If you haven't skied this handful of hardcore trails, this is the year to get at it.
Looking at snow reports across New England, it's refreshing to see trail counts at or near 100% and base depths upwards of 4 feet (50-60" at Sugarloaf, Stowe and Jay Peak). This is the snowy winter we skiers wish for. So unless you have a medical excuse (personal joke), you should be skiing in all this snow. Riding a stationary bike is no replica for carving cord on Risky Business. Call up your brother, or your long-lost ski buddy, and bank some vertical during this perfect storm of a ski season.
Sunday River Photos by Greg Burke:
GM Dana Bullen jumps for joy in all Sunday River's snow during first tracks Sunday
Jon Burke skiing Sunday River's "snowfields"
Here's this week's skiing and riding forecast from Herb "The Skiing Weatherman" Stevens, who comes to us from Nashoba Valley.
This February's snow fall has been record breaking or back breaking - depending upon your perspective. If you have been shoveling - you might feel this month has been more the latter. Boston received 43 inches of snow, which is 9 inches above the norm, and a lot of white matter to remove with shovels, plows, and pay loaders. The irony of back to back weekend storms in February was not lost on skiers stuck snow blowing their driveways and digging out instead of driving to their favorite ski resort.
But skiers and riders have had a creamy, dreamy month in the mountains, with last night's snow storm bringing the icing on the cake. This coming weekend looks like the first in three where the roads may be relatively dry and storm free, snow was delivered to the mountains this time - not so much in the cities.
On the ski slopes, Sunday River received over four feet of fresh snow this month, including a foot in just the past 24 hours. Saddleback has received 27 inches in just the past week, Sugarloaf got 20.
Jay Peak is posting 257 inches of snow this season. Burke, Killington, Pico, Okemo, Sugarbush and Mount Snow are all 100% open heading into March, after the last storm Rocky (more Weather Channel names). Attitash and Wildcat are hosting their first $40 Fridays tomorrow, with over a foot of freshies in the past 24 hours.
Out west, the season started slow for Colorado and Utah with a dry, warm January, but it started snowing when I visited in late January and has been snowing ever since. This is good news not just for skiers, but for their water supply as snow is a key source of year round water in the arid Rockies.
It's been a more consistent powder winter in the Northwest, Brundage in Idaho has base depths of 93 inches, Mt Bachelor in Oregon has a ten foot base. Montana's Big Sky and Moonlight Basin, Wyoming's Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole have had strong snow all season, and last year as well - proving the north gets more snow these days.
Tomorrow is March - often the snowiest month of winter, when snow tends to fall more in the mountains than lower elevation and latitude. The early part of next week looks dry and clear, perfect for skiing all this accumulation. So have your skis ready, this is it folks. Photos by Greg Burke Sugarbush powder skiing
Herb "The Skiing Weatherman" Stevens comes to us from Wildcat Mountain, where he breaks down this weekend's skiing and riding conditions in New England. And yes, more snow is on the way.
Herb "The Skiing Weatherman" Stevens comes to you from Attitash Mountain Resort this week, where he breaks down this weekend's skiing and riding conditions in New England heading into the President's Week school vacation.
Haven't we all accused The Weather Channel and overzealous meteorologists of snow storm hype. But Nemo delivered as warned, with so much snow its being compared to the Boston blizzard of 1978. The dilemma is how to get to the mountains, since you have to shovel out your car and driveway first. Folks on the coast got pounded, Connecticut, Eastern Mass and Coastal Maine have over 30 inches of snow - enough to bury cars.
For ski resorts, the big snow from Nemo is at Woodbury and Mohawk ski resorts in Connecticut at almost three feet, and Yawgoo Valley in Rhode Island. Butternut and Wachusett got dumped on too with two feet of snow.
The smart skiers hit the road on Thursday night, knowing school would be cancelled Friday, to arrive in snow country before Nemo.
In New Hampshire, Gunstock, Ragged, and Pats Peak are reporting up to two feet of snow while the White Mountain region received over a foot of fluff at Loon, Waterville Valley, Attitash, Wildcat, Bretton Woods, Cannon, Black and Cranmore.
Vermont ski resorts got about a foot of snow from the fish called Nemo. Maine's Sunday River, Shawnee Peak and Mt Abram got over a foot of freshies, while Saddleback and Sugarloaf picked up about 8 inches, and still snowing. Trail counts will see a big bump from this dump.
Of course, Nemo Thunder Snow also brought high winds to the wintry mix. Watch out for lift holds as the blowy snow fish moves out. And remember when shoveling to bend the knees so you don't throw your back out...you will need that core strength for skiing in the predicted sunshine tomorrow.
Photo by Greg Burke
There's big snow on the way for much of New England, with a blizzard watch in effect beginning Friday. What does it mean for skiers and rider? Herb "The Skiing Weatherman" Stevens brings you the latest from the slopes, and what to expect in conditions this weekend.
Herb Stevens, "The Skiing Weatherman" brings you the latest from the slope's in this week's skiing a riding forecast.
Here's this weekend's trail and weather forecast from Herb "The Skiing Weatherman" Stevens.
Here's this weekend's trail and weather forecast from Herb "The Skiing Weatherman" Stevens in preparation for the busy, long weekend.
The three day weekend approaches and it's snowing in the mountains. This winter just keeps delivering the downhill goods. After last weekend's thaw and spring-like skiing, ski resorts needed a fresh coating of soft snow and that's just what they are getting today. Many resorts are also turning on their snow guns again, as winter temperatures return, to resurface over their decent base depths. The stars are aligning for another good ski weekend ahead, and it's a three day with the bonus MLK Monday.
In the past, before online booking and social media mania, MLK weekend would be a sell out on the ski slopes. Not so much the case anymore. Skiers have taken a wait and see before they ski approach, leaving availability up to the 11th hour. Ski resorts around New England are still flaunting availability and special rates for this long weekend. So, skiers and riders, it's not too late to make plans for a snowy MLK at your favorite ski mountain.
See you on the slopes
Sunday River photo by Greg Burke
I just want to personally thank everyone that stayed home, off the slopes, this past weekend. Those of you who saw the warm, wet, gloomy forecast and decided to forego skiing - heeding the weathermen's warning of the possibility in the four letter word that rhymes with pain - you missed an amazing spring ski weekend in January.
We were dubious ourselves during our Friday drive to Sugarloaf. But turning Oh My Gosh corner, the fog lifted and there was Sugarloaf in her snowy white wonder. A great dinner at The Rack, and a chat with proprietor and snowboard star Seth Wescott sitting at his bar, reinforced we were in the right place at the right time.
Saturday we were dressed and ready for anything at first chair, along with a cluster of core Loafers gathered at the Super Quad at 8:15am. We skied between cloud layers, finding soft spring like snow as we scouted out sweet spots and pockets of clear sky from Skyline to Timberline and King Pine. Even Whiffletree offered up soft snow on fun trails like Buckboard and Springboard. A hearty lunch at The Bag sustained us for more exploring in the afternoon. Our last run was an adventure into Brackett Basin where the snow was pliable, as we danced our way down through the quiet trees all the way to the Burnt Mountain Trail back to our condo at Snowbrook on the lower mountain. The only other skiers we encountered were on Nordic skis, then we knew we were near our base.
Sunday was the big bonus, a beautiful sunrise over the Bigelows led to a sunny day with more spring skiing conditions on Sugarloaf's slopes. We skied everything from natural snow and soft bumps on Bubblecuffer and Gondi line to perfect cord on Scoot, then patrol opened the upper pitch of White Nitro and Powder Keg - and we were on top of that - boom! Our last run, before heading home for the Pats game, was a top to bottom Narrow Gauge (which can be slippery in mid-winter to say the least). The Gauge on Sunday was grip-able sweet sugar snow. See our Alpine Replay record of both days, we skied it all, and it was extra special to ski with our daughter - home on college break.
We all remarked that we can't recall seeing The Loaf with more snow or better conditions in mid January. Sugarloaf recorded 59 inches of snow in December, the snowiest since 1995, and it shows on the trails, in the woods and on the snowfields.
We hit the January jackpot, as every skier at Sugarloaf this weekend knows. It's a rare treat to ski in 35-degree sunshine and sunglasses in January. To top it off, we arrived home in time for the big game and the Pats big win over the Texans.
It's the same old skier's lesson, you never know till you go. And if you don't, you could miss out while others hit it. See you on the slopes.
Sugarloaf Photos by Greg Burke
Herb "The Skiing Weatherman" Stevens comes to us this week from Wachusett Mountain, where he runs down this weekend's lift and trail report for New England ski areas following this week's brief January thaw.
Herb "The Skiing Weatherman" Stevens brings you the latest conditions and trail counts at ski resorts throughout New England.
Herb "The Skiing Weatherman" Stevens brings you the latest conditions and trail counts at ski resorts throughout New England.
Last year, on Dec 28, the subject of my ski blog was "one of the worst Decembers to remember for skiers." A serious lack of natural snow and unseasonably mild temps over Christmas week 2011 held most ski resorts at 20-40% o f their terrain open on entirely man-made snow. Fast forward to today, Sugarloaf has 1,059 acres open, 91% of their skiing, including Bracket Basin and the new Eastern Territory - which is all natural snow gladed terrain. Sunday River and Saddleback are skiing on the majority of their trails, having received up to a foot in the past week. And it's still snowing...
Vermont ski resorts received as much as a foot of fresh powder in the last 24 hours, especially Jay Peak, Smugglers, Stowe, Stratton, Bromley and Sugarbush and its still dumping. New Hampshire ski areas got half a foot in the last 24 hours, and as much as a foot in the past few days.
In Mass, Jiminy Peak has over 80% of their ski terrain open, Butternut, Nashoba Valley and Wachusett are about 50% open with fresh snow to soften the manmade.
Of course, along with winter storm Euclid came winds causing lift holds for some ski resorts. They are accustomed to a dose of reality with every dump, and I am happy to report that ski resorts are providing better updates on lift statuses and more accurate snow accumulations in this era of social media and smart phone users that have every app on the planet tracking and verifying downhill resort data.
Friday should be a great ski day on this fresh snow, as winds die down, and travel conditions improve. Cranmore dedicates their new $1 million East Side Triple, the Herbert Schneider Triple - in honor of the Austrian ski instructor who came here in 1939 and passed away this June. Schneider served as both owner and GM of Cranmore - the ski area is 75 this season.
The weekend looks white and wonderful for skiers and riders, so much better than last December and definitely cause to celebrate. Call it Snowmageddon, Snowpocalypse, La Nina, or whatever you wish - but get out there and ski.
See you on the slopes!
Photos by Greg Burke
Sitting in the lobby at the Jordan Grand by the blazing fire, I watch family after family check in for the holiday ski week at Sunday River. If its Boxing Day for most, its packing and moving to the mountains day for skiers. Some arrivals are obvious condo owners, or at least seasoned customers, organized down to their big coolers and crock pots, they know the drill and its a delightful tradition. Then there are the newbies who saved, and stressed about this ski vacation, then stuffed everything randomly into their SUVs. As they open their back hatch, perfectly wrapped packages fall into the snow, ski boot buckles are tangled with poles, and kids climb out of every other opening. Helpful valets rush to provide support to these eager families who are paying premiums for their prime week on the slopes. The lucky kids, oblivious to their parents’ plight, head straight to the cookies and hot cocoa tray by the Christmas tree.
Dads pray there will be good snow and fluffy first tracks, moms hope no one gets hurt and that they didn't forget anything in their hurry to hit the road. Kids are excited to see real snow, and anxious about going to ski school. Credit cards are swiped, luggage is sorted, and its finally time for snow fun, or swimming in the outdoor heated pool.
I know from almost two decades of personal experience with my husband and our two kids, its a lot of effort to take your family to a ski resort – practically a downhill obsession.
Choreographed or chaotic, I am reminded these ski families are all here for the same thing: time away with our family, a magical White Christmas and snowy New Year celebration, the joy of sharing our favorite sport with our kids, making memories in the mountains.
Boring families stay home, it is certainly easier than hauling your whole family to the ski slopes for the holiday. But the best things in life often require bold action and a step beyond the ordinary (read: packing, planning and putting up the $$). I hope all the families vacationing in ski country for this big holiday week are rewarded with big smiles from their kids and irreplaceable mountain memories! I know they are in for some big snow the next few days. Thanks Santa for delivering my wish.
See you on the slopes.
Photos of Sunday River by Greg Burke
Herb "The Skiing Weatherman" Stevens brings you the latest conditions and trail counts at ski resorts throughout New England.
Ski resorts from Maine to Vermont received a bit of Christmas white gold this week, when more than 30 inches of snow fell in some spots in New England, just in time for the upcoming busy holiday vacation week.
The jackpot totals were in northern Maine, where Saddleback and Sugarloaf are both reporting 32 inches since Sunday night, when the recent cycle of storms began. The snow helped both resorts dramatically increase their trail counts, with Saddleback running on 53 trails and glades (19 groomed) and Sugarloaf on 102 trails and five lifts as of Thursday. On an average year, Sugarloaf aims to have around 50 trails open for Christmas week.
"It's as open as we've been in December for some time," said Ethan Austin, the resort's communications manager. "To have over 100 is insane, actually. We couldn't be happier with that much terrain."
Thanks to the heavy snow, the area surrounding Sugarloaf suffered a wide power outage on Wednesday, yet the resort managed to make do by running a pair of lifts by diesel. Further to the south in Maine, Sunday River has also seen 14 inches over the past five days, and is now skiing and riding on 59 trails.
In New Hampshire, Wildcat had reportedly seen two feet of snow at its Pinkham Notch summit as of noon on Wednesday, but will still resume snowmaking operations beginning Friday night. In Vermont, Sugarbush and Stowe have both seen about a foot of snow over the last 72 hours. Mad River Glen also reported about 11 inches mixed in with some freezing rain, a good base-builder for the yet-to-open ski area.
Northern Maine and New Hampshire should be in for even more snow beginning on Friday, when an event begins that could bring a mix of precipitation elsewhere. NECN’s Matt Noyes predicts that the same mountains that saw this week’s bounty should be for even more. Elsewhere…it could be wait and see, and hope the rain doesn’t wash out the snow predicted to fall through Friday throughout much of New England.
Finally, Mother Nature decided to help ski areas out with a little natural whitener. Northern New England ski resorts are reporting meaningful fresh snow this morning. In Maine, Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Shawnee Peak and Saddleback received 5 to 8 inches and it's still snowing.
The White Mountains of New Hampshire have seen 3-7 inches with the biggest yields of snow at Cannon and Wildcat reporting 7 inches so far.
In Vermont, most ski areas are reporting 3-5 inches in the past 24 hours. This is a great boost to the manmade snow efforts that resorts have been pumping for over a month a now. It may be a good time to do a snow dance and think cold thoughts - it would be nice if this wave of snow stayed as snow in the mountains - and didn't turn over to another four letter weather word.
With the holiday week approaching, and skiers wanting to hit the slopes for the first time with their families, a little white goes a long way to set the stage. New England skiers and riders are due for a White Christmas. That's what's on my wish list (my perennial request).
See you on the slopes.
Sunday River photo by Greg Burke
Why isn't there a song about skiing in the rain? I can just picture Gene Kelly dressed in Gortex whistling while carving down the soft slushy slopes. Skiing in the rain is greatly underrated, and incredibly rewarding. Seriously, Saturday was wet (okay - premature snow or mixed precipitation in ski area lingo - you get the drift) around New England - but the snow at Okemo was soft and pliable. Dressed in today's technical fabrics, I stayed pretty dry inside for my 16 ski runs, even though my outer layer told another soggy story (one lift attendant laughed when he saw me) and I wished I had a squeegee for my goggles (note to Santa - great skier stocking stuffer).
Call me crazy, but I love spring like snow conditions and mild temperatures in December. The dozen plus trails I skied were very well covered with manmade snow at Okemo, even though Mother Nature had not helped the cause at all. Sunday, the sun came out and with it colder temps, so the snow firmed up and was fast - to say the least.
The lesson here, if you wait for optimal sun, snow and super weather you could be sideline a lot in a New England winter. Wear the right gear and go for it - and you can be pleasantly surprised by the skiing and riding. December skiing is about getting your ski legs in shape, and getting outside when everyone else is shopping and panicking about the holidays.
See you on the slopes.
Ski resorts across New England have been pumping out the snow at every cold-enough opportunity. This weekend is a good chance to get your ski legs under you if you haven't yet. A trip to the mountains always trumps a day fighting the crowds Christmas shopping at the mall.
A look across the New England snowscape shows that Sunday River has the lion's share of terrain open, 32% with 41 trails and 190 acres for your skiing and riding pleasure. The River has even peppered in 16 terrain park features.
Killington and Stratton are not far behind with over 30 trails and 170 acres each. In New Hampshire, Loon leads the pack of the 12 ski areas open, Loon has 38% of its terrain open, 23 trails encompassing 155 acres.
I am heading to Okemo for some fresh made snow and a chance to demo new ski gear at the 4th annual December Super Demo. It is still early December, but the big dogs are open, 22 of New England's ski resorts are ready and waiting with white carpet.
See you on the slopes.
Photos of Sunday River and Okemo Mountain Resort by Greg Burke
It was about 5:15 this morning when I pulled into a gas station to fill up, the brisk chill of a 32-degree air smacking me in the jaw as I emerged from my car.
“We were spoiled,” the woman pumping gas in front of me said, as if I were into a break of dawn conversation about the weather.
“Love it,” I said, grateful that maybe, finally, winter is here.
Snowmaking resumed at many resorts across New England Wednesday night as the December temperatures became more seasonable, but it appears we’re not through with the unwelcome warmness. The low in Boston on Monday is supposed to be 50 degrees. Great for the Texans-Patriots game; bad for snowmaking.
But most ski areas have not suffered. While some have had to postpone their openings, some resorts, including Loon, Stratton, and Killington have up to 40 percent of their terrain open. In fact, according to Ski Vermont, 20 percent of all terrain in the state was open as of yesterday, the strongest opening since 2008-09.
So, welcome back winter. For now. Again. Wash, rinse…
It’s the first powder day of the season in Northern Vermont, where Jay Peak picked up a foot of snow last night, while Stowe, Smuggler’s Notch, and Sugarbush each picked up around 6-11 inches.
New Hampshire resorts made out as well, picking up anywhere from one-six inches. Cannon received four-six, while Bretton Woods claims a new three inches.
If you grew up in New England, you no doubt recognize Herb Stevens, aka, “The Skiing Weatherman,” who brings his segments to Boston.com this season. Here’s his first report.
The #1 thing I am stoked for this winter is snow. If last season was a natural snow blow out, then New England ski resorts got the memo to bring their snowmaking game up a notch so they can make more snow, with better energy efficiency. Already we have been blessed with cold temps and natural snow allowing Killington, Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Bretton Woods, Loon, Waterville Valley, Stowe, Okemo and Sugarbush to open.
I am stoked for Demo Days, a chance to try before you buy, and talk shop with reps about this year's gear best suited for your ski and ride style. On snow Demo Days will be held at Sunday River Nov 24-25, Okemo Dec 8, Sugarloaf Dec 8-9 and Mount Snow Dec 15. At the River and The Loaf there is a nominal fee, $10 and $5 respectively, applicable to any purchase.
Okemo's Take 60 is sweet. Skiers and riders can take an entire hour, 60 minutes after purchasing their lift ticket, to decide if they are completely satisfied with Okemo's on-mountain experience. This is a tweaked version of Okemo's first hour free. If you decide not to continue your ski day in 60 minutes (potentially six high speed runs), you can get a return ticket to Okemo for another day.
I like Attitash and Wildcat's Learn2 initiative to get more people skiing and riding. This year Attitash debuts a free magic carpet at Bear Peak. And at Wildcat, a new surface lift will aid ski instructors and those never-evers with their first ski or ride lesson, beginner terrain The Cat previously lacked.
I also applaud the return of January Learn to Ski and Ride month. Ski Vermont resorts will offer $29 lessons, equipment and rentals all month, go to SkiVermont.com for details. New Hampshire ski areas are hosting free Learn to Ski and Snowboard Week Jan 12 -18, go to SkiNH.com for the list.
Bretton Woods beefs up its backcountry offerings with 30-acres of glade skiing on Mount Stickney, reached by an old school 2,000-foot Dopplemayer T-bar, called the Telegraph (interesting story). Enjoy the new summit log cabin between glade runs.
I am stoked that Waterville Valley is bringing the ski week back. Select Sunday-Fridays this winter, a family of four can enjoy skiing, lodging, a welcome reception, après ski ice skating and pool parties, and more. Kids will love the keepsake photo ski pass and parents will like the inclusive price under $1,400 for a 5 night, 5 1/2 day ski vacation.
It's no secret I like on mountain dining, specifically summit ski lunches, sometimes it's my incentive - the more you ski the more you can eat and drink. So I am excited for Jay Peak's Sky Haus restaurant opening in the original 1967 Tram summit station. The Jay ski lunch has just been elevated, up there with Stowe's Cliff House and Bretton Woods Latitude 44.
The kid in me likes the Saddleback Snack Card, because as a mom I find hot cocoa at ski resorts to be pricey, but I know the power of cocoa when fingers get cold and energy slumps. For $50, kids 12 and under can get one hot chocolate and cookie each day all season at Saddleback. No more begging mom and dad for money, and kids get a special photo ID. Sweet.
I like big birthday parties on snow, any excuse for an alpine celebration. Gunstock, Cannon and Cranmore turn 75 this winter, Wachusett turns 50, and The Red Parka Pub in North Conway celebrates 40 years of après ski. Cheers, so much to be stoked for this ski season. See you on the slopes.
Photos by Greg Burke
With light snow falling across some portions of the Northeast, and cold temperatures in the forecast, Killington Mountain Resort said Friday that it may attempt to open for skiing and riding on Sunday.
"Our goal is to open as quickly as possible. Based on the current forecast, we believe that it will be difficult to open Saturday, November 3. However, there is a chance we will be able to open Sunday, November 4," the resort posted on its blog. "Weather for Sunday and into early next week is forecasted to improve substantially for snowmaking with lower temperatures and humidity."
Killington, of course, opened one weekend last month for passholders only, and was also aiming for an early November opening. It's odd to not see Sunday River, which prides itself on an early-opening, competing with the Beast to open, but warm, wet weather in the Newry, Maine area has limited snowmaking capabilities.
Here are more tentative opening dates in New England. Other resorts have yet to post a date, or are playing it by the ear of the weather.
Waterville Valley: Nov. 17
Bretton Woods: Nov. 22
Cannon Mountain: No. 23
Cranmore Mountain: Nov. 23
Gunstock: Nov. 30
Pats Peak: Dec. 1
Sugarloaf: Nov. 16
Mt. Abram: Dec. 15
Saddleback: Dec. 15
Killington Resort: Full opening day expected early November
Stowe Mountain Resort: Nov.17
Sugarbush Resort: Nov.17
Okemo Mountain Resort: Nov.17
Stratton Mountain: Nov.21
Mount Snow Resort: Nov.21, (Nov. 17 if possible)
Smugglers' Notch Resort: Nov.23
Bromley Mountain: Nov.23
Burke Mountain Resort: Nov. 23
Jay Peak Resort: Nov.24
Bolton Valley: Dec. 8
Middlebury College Snow Bowl: Dec. 14
Magic Mountain: Dec. 15, (12/8 if possible)
Pico Mountain: Dec. 15
Wachusett: Nov. 23
Catamount: Dec. 1
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 www.familyskitrips.com and www.luxuryskitrips.com.