Glades rock – Ski the trees



There was a time when skiing glades – pockets of trees between trails – was forbidden. In the 80’s, ropes went up alongside every trail to keep you out of the stashes of snow between the groomed and bumped boulevards. Trail maps and tickets had disclaimers that skiing off trail would result in the loss of ski privileges.


Like everything, skiing is cyclical. The era of restricting skiers to trails has been replaced


at some ski areas by a dropping of the ropes and a boundary-to-boundary “ski wherever you like” philosophy. Several New England resorts including JayPeak, Smugglers’ Notch, Sugarbush, Sugarloaf, Saddleback, and Bretton Woods have cut significant glades and now mark them on their trail maps.



Glades skiing is a unique treat – off the beaten groomed path, you can often find preserved powder days after a storm, not to mention glades are beautiful. Birch and pine trees stand among sparkling snow, with rays of sunlight streaming in.



Glades are good for your skills too, as you must turn and react to the ever-changing terrain. But glades are not necessarily more dangerous than groomed, open trails, even though you must avoid stationary old growth obstacles. Your descent between the trees is decidedly slower (or should be) as you pick your path, navigating the bumps and occasional stumps.


Kids love glades for their adventurous nature. Experienced skiers enjoy the undulating inherent terrain and the soft protected powder in the trees.


Try a glade. Use the buddy system and ski in groups of three or


more. Here’s a tip: Focus on the space between the trees, not the trees themselves. Look where you want to go, not where you fear you might end up.


Heather Burke is our family ski guru, for more of Heather’s ski trips and tips go to: Photos by Greg Burke

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