Peter Hines

by Peter Hines

Vacation End Eases Crowds

Sometimes the last day of a holiday week can be the best day for others.

Such was the case for this Christmas/New Year's season at Stratton Mountain Resort in Vermont.

This season has been tough.  No one disputes that. But people still want to get out on the slopes.

I was able to make two trips to Stratton during the Christmas/New Years break.  The first was on December 30th, a Wednesday, and again on January 3rd, a Sunday.

Wednesday was very active with masses of season pass holders coming out after Storm Goliath rolled through.  Goliath had subsided significantly by the time it hit central Vermont and only left with a few inches of natural snow.

Seething with the pent up demand pass holders headed out in droves to get some of what they have been yearning for.  Conditions were good where there was snow but the lack natural snow and warm and humid weather had limited snowmaking.  This resulted in only a few lifts being operated.  The gondola was not running.  I think it had to do with the layer of ice on the towers and cables from some freezing rain that Goliath left.  Wise move, safety first!

The result was long lift lines.  Everyone seemed to be taking it in stride though.  They seemed glad to be out and on their boards and skis.

Fast forward to four days to Sunday.

Those who had booked the week had appeared to had left town, or were packing to leave.  Driving up Route 30 I saw several vehicles loaded up with skis, boards and boxes on their roofs. 

The Mountain seemed like a different place than it was a few days earlier.. The lodge was less crowded with ample seating and room to change.

The crowds were gone and so were the lift lines.  The gondola was open and was essentially a walk on. While ski school participants were lined up for the American Express Lift the line moved quickly.

The URSA Exress on different days
Two views of the Ursa Express. On the left December 30th. On the right January 3rd.

The Ursa Express, which had a 30-minute line on Wednesday, was down to three minutes.  By noon there was no line and the lifties went about their chores without ensuring that every single chair had six people.

Snow conditions were better too.  A few more days of cold weather allowed for more snowmaking that continued on the upper mountain.  Although some up the upper expert trails like Tamarack and Polar Bear got a little scraped off by 1:00, good snow was found on Upper and Lower East Meadow and Lower Wanderer up until 3:00.

You should know that Stratton Mountain is the home of the Great Snow Guarantee: "On any day, ski or ride for one hour from the start of your day (time at which you bought your lift ticket - ticket is time stamped); if you are not satisfied with the snow conditions bring your ticket to guest services and receive a voucher for the same type of ticket good until the end of the current season."

So if you can start your vacation, or take a day trip on the last day of the a school vacation, Stratton, or any other mountain will be a different place.

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Some video from Stratton Mountain from Janary 3rd.






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