European Skiing in North America

In the past I have visited Europe on many ski trips. There is something about skiing there that is different than skiing in North America. Some differences between skiing in Europe and the US are bigger mountains, differences in the pace of the Europeans lifestyle, skiing is less expensive and the areas are vast, the food and Après-ski kicks off as the lifts close.

mountain view photo by tremblant

Well I think I have found as close to European skiing near to our back door here in North America right across the border into Eastern Canada, an easy ride for all of New England. It is Mont Tremblant.

I have skied Mont Tremblant in the past but it was when their village was still in its infancy and not fully developed. I initially thought it was going to be more of a Disneyesque kind of duplication of the European village, but now after being away for quite a while I look at it as more matured and truly a good representation of the European ski town without being in Europe.

Firstly the Canadian dollar is good for the US buck. You are saving about 25% on the tariff. Secondly there are almost 2000 rooms to stay in if you want an extended vacation (and you should) rooms can be had for reasonable to not so reasonable. You get what you pay for but most of the rooms do come with breakfast of some sort.

You also lose track that you are just across the border because people are speaking French. Don’t despair most people are bi lingual and everything is printed in both languages.

view from cabriolet photo by Mike Roth

Your first approach if you are staying in the village or are a day tripper is to take the Cabriolet from the lower village and day parking area to the main base of the Gondola. The trip takes about 3 minutes and fly over the entire length of the village which you would not want to walk up with your skis and in your boot to get to the base of the lifts. At that point if you are there for an extended stay you can check your skis and never have to schlep them again back to where you are staying until you are ready to leave. There is no carrying your skis from the parking lot to the lodge which in some cases can be a substantial walk in the US, even if there is a shuttle from the remote parking areas.

Most of the lifts on the mountain are high speed detachable lifts. That can make a lift line very short and if you choose not to take the gondola up and take the lift you probably won’t have much of a wait even on the busiest weekend and it can get busy! But even on the busiest day I am sure that you can find some less busy trails that are out of the way that few people ski on.

view from mountain towards village
Photo by Tremblant

Mont Tremblant boasts 96 trails many of the easier trails go on for 3 miles or more and are nicely groomed. You can even buy a first tracks ticket for an extra $20 Canadian ($15 US) and get an hour extra of groomed corduroy at 7:30 in the morning. That’s an hour before the lifts open. The vertical is 2116 feet and there are 4 distinct areas to ski. We found the north side to be the best with regards to snow quality due to its orientation. While we were there the winds were from the west and the fresh snow that they received was blown off on the south side but the north side was more protected from the wind However, people seem to gravitate to the side with the gondola so many skiers just stay on the south face, It’s understandable since in Canada it can get very cold and riding a lift can be a bear on those kind of days but the 3 days we were there two were not windy. With the cold temperatures, the only caveat was to cover your exposed skin from getting frostbite, ride the protected lifts out of the wind and you can still have a great ski day as we did.

Another indication of European flare of Tremblant are the lunches and dinners , with restaurants all over the village not as much on the mountain other than their main lodge at the top but lots of choices from some 30 plus restaurant for dining pleasures, anything that you might want from Sushi, to French to tappas, to Italian,  pub food and more.  The menus are very varied and even the pub food was substantially more than burgers and fries ( which I might add I would not order because they would only cook it medium well yuck! ) Lunches went on for a long time and dinners went on forever with numerous courses and great foods

Lunch by Griff
First Night Tapas by Griff
first night Tapas by mike roth
Last night App by Griff
Last night desert by Griff

The First night we were there we had a tapas meal at the Gypsy in the Westin hotel where the food just kept  coming, the next day lunch was at Microbrasserie La Diable, a quaint micro-brewery.  That evening dinner was in the Fairmont hotel at the Windingo restaurant and our final lunch was at the base of the mountain in le Shack Bistro – Bar that reminded me of the Rainforest Café in downtown Disney with a tree in the middle and a blue ski on the ceiling. Fortunately there were no singing animalatronics .

Last Night Dinner by Griff
le shack bistro byMike Roth

Like in Europe, eating (and drinking) is a big part of the experience. Not like ski areas here in the states where the cafeteria line is the staple. However there are a few areas that are making strides in that direction.  I will make mention of them in another article.

In the US there are ski areas that are few and far between that have a town or village associated with them so when you leave a ski area at the end of the day it is mainly a barren place with little or no night life. Not so in Tremblant people are out and about walking the main promenade of the rue des Remparts and having dinner in one of the many restaurants, going to a late night dance club or bar  for some après ski partying well into the night as the Europeans seem to do.

To add the icing on the cake, Tremblant now has a casino on the premises. Although I had planned to get there and participate in a little Blackjack, my schedule while we were there was so jam packed and full from the long dinner that exhaustion overtook the desire to get over there late at night. So I am saving that for the next trip that I think will be very soon.

Yeah Canada! Yeah Tremblant!

This year getting the right start

top on the gondola at Whiteface Dec 14,2016 photo by Mike Roth
top on the gondola at Whiteface Dec 14,2016 photo by Mike Roth

It’s been snowing as we all can see and the ski areas are getting lots more snow than we are seeing here in the capital district. It seems the higher in elevation you get the more snow they are getting; even if it rains here there is always a good chance for snow in the mountains. Don’t let any rain dampen your spirits to go ski because there is some pretty good skiing here in the east.

Last week on Wednesday the 14th of December I went to Whiteface. Granted again not great amounts of snow on the roadsides during the drive up but when you looked up at the Whiteface terrain everything was covered and the skiing was FANTASTIC!

top of Excelsior
top of Excelsior

There were about 12 trails open but again everything was covered and as the day progressed more trails and lifts began to open. I am sure they are trying to save and make as much snow as they can for their big holiday week.

Thanks to the many weeks of early season snowfall, Vermont’s resorts have welcomed over 8 feet of natural snowfall to their slopes; they have expanded their terrain offerings and snowmaking coverage as the conditions have been on a positive note for this early season.

Jay Peak in Northern Vermont was reporting 5 feet of early snow in one week

In Southern Vermont, Mad River Glen opened on December 10th, and said it was one of the earliest opening days in years thanks to Mother Nature and the four feet of snow she’s brought to the Mad River Valley. Nothing like last year’s snow mounds

Bromley Mountain Resort has already received about a quarter of their average annual snowfall so far this season, and Killington Mountain Resort continues to see large increases in coverage. They are rapidly approaching last season’s total snowfall with 66” already fallen, including 18” in the last week. The holiday period in Killington is an exciting time, when operations are expanding with new trails, activities and attractions coming on line daily. They have lots of news this week, but most importantly, the skiing and riding conditions are the best we’ve seen in more than a year.

Consistently wintry weather, coupled with a healthy dose of natural snowfall, allowed the operations team to make serious expansion progress this week. They opened an engaging mix of natural snow trails, glades and snowmaking terrain, including the Needle’s Eye area, which boosted the Beast’s tally to more than 80 trails covering 359 acres. Future goals include Bear Mountain, within the next week, and Skyeship Base by the holiday. Check the Daily Report to follow the expansion progress.

With 18 inches of natural snowfall last week at Mount Snow, three more inches so far today the 22nd, and ideal snowmaking temperatures this week, they are prepared to make your holiday wishes come true.

If you’re planning on going to Mount Snow this holiday season you can expect snow-covered trails for every member of the family, from beginner to expert to park-lover.

They’re snowmaking team has been going to town and They’re planning to open Chute, Fallen Timbers, Milky Way, Ego Alley, and Roller Coaster by the weekend. Park builds are happening now in Prospector, The Farm, and Junkyard, and Grommet just reopened with a fresh build.

You can also enjoy a variety of events throughout the week, from Grommet Jam to the Torchlight Parade and Fireworks to live music at Snow Barn. If you haven’t made plans yet, there’s still time to save on lift tickets as well as vacation packages at Mount Snow.

great view from the top of Okemo 12/ 20/16 photo courtesy of Okemo
great view from the top of Okemo 12/ 20/16 photo courtesy of Okemo

Over at Okemo there is a beautiful snowy topping for your winter fun today ( 22nd)  dropping 2” around the resort! Reporting it’s some of the best early season skiing and riding they’ve seen in years!”

They are planning on opening Sprout, Promenade, Side Out, Rising Star, Day Break, Line Drive, Zip, and Moonshadow tomorrow the 23rd, which will bring their trail count to 70, which is over 60% of the mountain. In addition to our 371 skiable acres, they also have a variety of off-hill activities available for your holiday week. The Ice House is open for skating from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. almost daily with the option to rent skates and helmets at the rink. The Okemo Valley Nordic Center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. as well with options ranging from snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and an indoor golf simulator. The Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster opens today and tomorrow from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. Check Okemo’s website for further time frames.

All in all there is plenty of snow to be skiing on at most ski areas in all of New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Everyone have a great holiday season and hope to see you on the slopes!

SKI FREE AS SANTA!

Santa's in mass on slope
Santa’s in mass on slope

It’s getting whiter out there but with lots of red showing up early in the season

Last weekend nearly 200 Santa Clauses took over Sunday River Sunday morning for a holiday tradition.  Sunday River had their 17th annual Santa Sunday where skiers and riders who dressed up as Santa Claus got an additional free lift ticket for the day if they made a donation to the Sunday River Foundation.

The event is meant to draw skiers to the slopes early in the season.

There were Santa’s and Mrs. Claus’s everywhere as you can see by the photo. And it’s all for a good cause.

The money raised from the event will go to the Sunday River Foundation which helps fund community projects near the ski area. In years past upwards of $3000 was raised .

Since you missed the event at Sunday River or just did not want to drive to Maine from the Capital District there are 2 more opportunities to get to ski and ride for free as Santa coming up the next 2 weekend.

santas at whitefaceAt Whiteface Mountain resort, Tis the season for snow, skiing, and Santa, and Whiteface Mountain is celebrating with Santa’s Ski Free Day on Sunday, Dec.11. Skiers and riders who dress as Mr. or Mrs. Claus, participate in a group photo and arrive by 10 a.m. will receive a free lift ticket. Those who don’t have a jolly red suit can donate a gently used winter coat or a new toy (valued over $10) and receive 50% off a lift ticket for the day. Contributions will be a gifted to someone in need this holiday season.

Weekend festivities also include the Lake Placid Holiday Village Stroll from Dec.9-11. With a skating party, Santa meet and greets and a bustling Main Street filled with holiday shopping deals, live music, and a tree lighting ceremony, the holiday tradition makes for a spirited and merry occasion at Whiteface Lake Placid.

Visit www http://www.whiteface.com/events/santas-ski-free-day or contact Jon Lundin at jlundin@orda.org or 518-523-1655 ext. 5313 for more information.skisanta

And if you don’t want that Santa suit to go to waste you can do it again  the following Sunday , December 18th at 10am at  Windham Mountain Resort welcomes all skiing and riding Santa’s in head-to-toe costumes. A free lift ticket will be given for anyone dressed as Santa for the day, plus 1 additional midweek non-holiday voucher. All skiing and riding Santa’s will be required to pre-register. A minimum donation of $30 is requested at the time of registration. 100% of the registration fee will be given to the local food pantry at Hope Restoration Church in Windham, NY. Limited to 300 pre-registered guests. 8:00am: Pre-registered Santa check-in on the 2nd Floor, mountain side. 9:45am: Santa’s to meet at D-Lift for donation presentation. 10:00am: Group chairlift ride, followed by ski or ride down What’s Next. Check with Windham for more specific and pre- registration details.

I have attended numerous Santa days and the atmosphere is always exciting and great fun to participate or just watch all the Santa’s struggling to ski in the baggy Santa outfits.

Photos and cartoons by Mike Roth

There still is good skiing in the Northeast

Last Friday after 2 days of rain I went over to Okemo to ski. I did not go with much enthusiasm of great conditions but then again has anyone had that forethought when you prepared to go ski in the east this year? Of all the ski areas to choose from Okemo is one of the few areas that know how to systematically make snow and keep their trail as consistent as possible .

skier on Sapphire - photo by Mike Roth
skier on Sapphire – photo by Mike Roth

Taking that and all the factors against ski areas this season I was pleasantly surprised at the conditions that I found there. First after the 2 days of rain, we had a sunny day, there was a breeze that lowered the wind chill down a bit but at Okemo you can ride the Sunburst six or the Quantum four Lift.  Both are yellow bubble chairs and pretty much keeps you out of the wind. Or, take some of the lower chairs that don’t quite make it to the top like the Solitude Quad and thus do not get the wind whipping over the top.

The trail surfaces were nicely groomed corduroy with very little ice, which was certainly unexpected after all the rain. Okemo’s staff knows what to do when it comes to where to put the snow when needed. Of course it was a Friday so the slopes were not crowded as shown below on Sidewinder.

In addition there were some guns going on Sapphire which in my opinion made it the trail of choice for the day. I must have skied it 5 times. Coleman Brook and Sidewinder were also in great shape along with Upper and Lower Arrow which brings you to the Clock Tower lodge and the bubbled six pack. The six pack had quite a few people waiting, It took about 5 minutes in that lift line. No problem at all!

The only issue was as the day progressed the trails seem to degrade and on the trip back to the Jackson Gore area you have to take lower Limelight. This trail is always an issue later in the day and gets very scratchy because of all the traffic. The only choice you have is to ski the edges where all the snow accumulates.

While skiing the Solitude lift the choice of lunch was simple. At the base of the lift there is the Epic restaurant where you can sit, relax and enjoy a different meal away from the standard fair of the typical ski lodge offerings. Epic has become a very popular place to have lunch and basically just a few dollars more than the cost of soup , burger and fries you can have a different interesting meal. Plus you get waited on in a comfortable atmosphere. More to come on the restaurant in a future blog.

epic fare- noodle soup photo by Mike Roth
epic fare- noodle soup
photo by Mike Roth
Epic fare - pulled pork sandwich photo by Mike Roth
Epic fare – pulled pork sandwich photo by Mike Roth

So taking into consideration all the pluses and a few minuses, when the northeast ski season certainly has not been stellar, it turned out to be a great day of skiing.   Of course the season is not over yet and there certainly could be some storms in March, so let’s hope so.

Ski New York

I am living in the Capital District of New York State, where I  have the best of all worlds when it comes to skiing opportunities. (Well not really the best since we are not near western skiing) however almost the best, since I have numerous ski areas at my disposal which allow us  to do day trips. Day trips is one of the ways to keep skiing affordable for the family especially when you may have 3 or 4 or more in the family to ski.

Vermont and Massachusetts have their ski areas that are within 2 hours from my doorstep and in my opinion that is the limit to day trip skiing. So why do many people ski in Vermont instead of New York state?   Maybe it’s just the New England attraction, or the highways from the New York metropolitan areas to Vermont and New Hampshire?

There are certainly numerous larger ski areas that are comparable to those in Vermont  Here in New York, as a matter of fact there are over 50 ski areas in New York State. The larger areas are on the eastern part of the state which is closest to the Vermont border.

 

Whiteface mountain Photo from Whiteface gallery
Whiteface mountain Photo from Whiteface gallery
Hunter Mountain photo from Hunter Gallery
Hunter Mountain photo from Hunter Gallery

Areas like Gore with a vertical of about 2500 ft. and Whiteface almost 3430 ft. of vertical in the Adirondack and Hunter 1500 ft., Bellaire 1400 ft. and Windham 1600 ft. in the Catskills come to mind. All of these areas have substantial vertical and high speed lifts that can easily compare to many of the New England ski areas.  If you are looking for numbers of trails there may not be the same but you can only ski on one trail at a time and as far as I am concerned when I find a trail with great conditions on it I sometimes tend to stay on it and not jump around the mountain.

These areas are easy to get to, just up the New York State Thruway and 20 to 30 minutes west for those in the Catskills approx. 2 hours from NYC metropolitan areas. Gore and Whiteface are 30 minutes west of the Adirondack Northway about 1 &1/2 hour to 2 hours respectively from the Albany capital district.

Gore mountain photo from Gore gallery
Gore mountain photo from Gore gallery

When you get to the top of Whiteface Mountain, you’ll be at the top of northeast skiing. No ski mountain in the east reaches higher. Around you, dozens of Adirondack peaks jut into the horizon. The fresh air filling your lungs has just blown over a protected park larger than Yellowstone and Yosemite, combined. And below you lie trails that have led Olympic athletes to glory. American Phil Mahre won silver here in the 1980 Winter Olympics. Andrew Weibrecht, a Lake Placid local who grew up skiing at Whiteface, earned a Bronze Medal in Super G at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and a Silver at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics! It’s your turn. Of course you can’t forget Lake Placid with the rest of the winter venues to see and use.

Compare the verticals to Stratton which has 2000 ft. of vertical. I think one should not look at the vertical when choosing a mountain to go to but more the lift length and what they service because many of the mountains have similar capacities of lift. Not necessarily in numbers of lift but in vertical and lengths of lifts. As far as I am concerned as long as I am on the snow no matter how long the run is, I am happy.

The further west you go the mountains are not quite as big so if you were to live in the Syracuse area you can ski areas like Song Mountain, Greek Peak and Labrador. These 3 areas are smaller with about 750 vertical feet but if you want to ski and are not looking for the long expensive ski vacation or ski weekend with overnight stays and meals you can always ski these areas.

There are also areas further west that service the Buffalo and Rochester area. Again, many  of the ski areas with limited elevation but still great opportunities to get out and ski. The smaller ski areas provide an important service in the ski area business. They are the feeder areas for the bigger ones. They are the ones that are closest to your community to help supply the lesson programs and ski clubs for the public schools to get out and learn to ski, hence many of these areas are open at night for the afterschool programs.  West Mountain is another good example just 45 minutes from Albany and some new additions this year to the mountain.

For more information of about New York State skiing check out the websitehttps://www.iskiny.com/ you will find stat , deals and what ‘s going on throughout the season at all the NEW York State ski areas.

I guess I am lucky in where I live since I can ski probably 20 different ski areas within 2 hours of my house in New York, Massachusetts and Vermont. No real reason to venture further east into New Hampshire and Maine. Unless I plan a trip and then Utah and Colorado comes into mind. Since the start of the eastern skiing  season was really marginal this year I did take advantage of western skiing and will write about that trip next.

 

Seasonable Weather Returns to New York State Bringing Fresh Snow and Great Snowmaking

Great Ski Conditions for the Upcoming Presidents Week Holiday Period

Gore Face, photo from Gore Gallery
Gore Face, photo from Gore Gallery

Yesterday, I received a report from my friend David who went to Gore, he said that most of the trails were in great shape, including Sunway and their offshoots. Twister was well covered and Hawkeye and Chatemac over on the high peaks area again good cover and bumped up.  His comment for the day was given what the facility had to work with they did a great job. I am sure they will be making snow as much as they can over the next few days to get ready for the Presidents week vacation next week.

Seasonable weather has returned to New York State bringing with it fresh snow and great snowmaking weather which will set up a great week of skiing for the President’s Week Break. Ski conditions around the State are strong with plenty of open terrain. Ski areas will also be making snow to open additional trails and while there may or may not be snow in your backyard there is plenty at your local ski area.

Snowmaking on Hawkeye, photo from Gore Gallery
Snowmaking on Hawkeye, photo from Gore Gallery

While temperatures may start out chilly this Saturday, remember to dress in layers and take breaks. You can warm up with your favorite hot beverage at the base lodge of your favorite ski area.

Temperatures will quickly rebound for the rest of the weekend and will be absolutely perfect for skiing and riding all over New York State. Whether you are a seasoned skier or learning for the first time it will be a great week to enjoy the slopes around New York State. Chairman of I SKI NY Dave Riley said, “While this season has had a challenging start, there is still plenty of ski season left and next week looks positively great for skiing”.

Ski areas also have special events planned for next week starting this weekend, be sure to check our ski reports daily at www.iskiny.com. Remember if you have a third or fourth grader they can learn to ski free or ski free with our I SKI NY Free For Kids Passport Program. Find out more and apply today at www.iskiny.com.

Skiing is a great sport for life that whether you have learned when you were young or just learning now it is a great, healthy family activity. Put the phone down, get the kids away from the video games and plan to go skiing this weekend and next week and create new memories that all will treasure forever.

Kiss a Snow Maker

Guns going at Killington in Vermont
Guns going at Killington in Vermont

What a difference one week can make with the right temperatures and optimum equipment.

We don’t just have snowmakers, we have snow heroes. Let’s than them for what they have been able to do since the beginning of this season was pretty much a bust!

Guess what?

Today, January 8th, Most of the areas are about 20 to 25% open , but if you want to ski you only need to have one trail at a time.

Gore is reporting  18 trails and 8 lifts mostly at the Northwoods Area, I will be there tomorrow and give you a report of conditions when I return tomorrow night. I have spoken with a couple other skiers who went to Gore on Wednesday who reported back to me that the skiing was remarkably good taking everything is consideration, plus it was above freeing which made it even more comfy.

Whiteface is reporting 34 trails and seven lifts

Windham has with 25 trails, 129 acres, 5 lifts and they are saying outrageously great conditions! Last weekend they had 5 trails, 38 acres and variable conditions. That’s a big jump the snowmakers have made.

Mount Snow has 20 trails with 10 lifts going

The picture above is from early season at Killington  where currently they have 44 trails and nine lifts

The same goes for most of the other ski areas in Vermont and New Hampshire.  I will give you a report on New Hampshire next Wednesday when I return from there.

Don’t even think about staying home this weekend. There is some good skiing out there even though it is basically man-made but we all have to take the good with the bad. And if you are a skier the bad is pretty darn good.

Do you have friends who want to learn to ski? January is learning to ski month and many of the ski areas are hosting special for beginning skier. Check them out at your ski area of choice

There are many ski and stay packages at all the ski areas when you basically can stay and ski for the price of the room or the price of a lift ticket, depending on which way you want to look at it. We have been suffering long enough, get out there and enjoy what we have to work with, if you are waiting for a significant snowfall you may have to wait a long time ( let’s hope not!)

Winter is here!

Early Skiing Photo By Peter Hines
Early Skiing Photo By Peter Hines

It definitely feels like winter this morning… it snowed. There is some Light snow on Wednesday morning, but it is snowing. Ski areas in NY and Vermont received about 4” to 6” of snow during Monday night and Tuesday morning from Goliath. Combine that with the efforts of the snow makers who made snow until the temperature went above freezing.

 

Most ski areas have gotten some great and expanded coverage across the mountain.

Today’s forecast is calling for cloudy skies throughout the day. Temperatures are expected to reach a high of 34 there could be some wind.

At Mount Snow they will be skiing and riding on 83 acres across ten trails including Canyon, Cascade, Cooper’s Junction, Deer Run, Lower Exhibition, Launch Pad, Little John, Long John, Somerset Road, and The Gulch. With the exception of Somerset Road, our grooming team hit every open trail in order to smooth everything out and give you the best possible snow surface. Our Park Crew worked hard last night in order to give The Gulch a fresh rebuild. It now has an impressive 22 features for you to hit. Come see why Carinthia Parks are consistently rated #1 in the East.

The Bluebird Express, Canyon Express, Tumbleweed, Seasons, Apollo, Gemini, Discovery Shuttle, and Heavy Metal are scheduled to spin from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. today. Lifts are open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekends/holidays and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekdays.

At Okemo Mountain Resort they received 3 – 5 inches of natural snow on top of several days of snow making,

They will be skiing and riding on 27 trails with 12 lifts turning at 8 a.m. having added Nor’easter, Sweet Solitude and Village Run to our list of open trails.

Please note: There may have some lift delays today due to icing, so check back here for the latest updates.

Since we are still early season and still some thin cover, be aware that some bare/thin spots, rocks, decreased trail width in some areas, water bars, snowmaking equipment, etc… so stay safe and ski or ride with caution.

New Year’s Eve is just a day away, so make your plans to celebrate at a ski area! Many areas have Torchlight Parade & Fireworks shows and other specials going on You can celebrate the New Year in Mount Snow at the Grand Summit Hotel’s NYE Dinner & Dance Party or with the sounds of Sugarfoot & the Brass Kickin’ Horns at the Snow Barn.

At Okemo, you can celebrate a family new year with an early start at the Roundhouse in Jackson Gore Village.  Midnight arrives early for friends and family enjoying a whole host of activities. Magic show, wagon rides, party hat decorating, bingo games and trivia. Families can ring in the New Year early with a DJ dance party and still get the kids to bed in time for a full day on the slopes the next day. Calvin will be making an appearance and leading the kids in some fun party games. Balloons, noisemakers, photo both, Dux the balloon man, and fireworks add to the New Year celebration, complete with a kid’s dinner party including pizza, mac and cheese and a few other chief selections in the Roundhouse at Jackson Gore. Activities begin at 5pm. Pizza & Dance Party begin at 6:30pm. Festivities conclude at 9pm with an incredible fireworks display.

Check out your favorite ski area’s Events Calendar for full details. With fresh snow and plenty of fun activities going on here, you’ll want to check out our ski and stay packages.

See you on the mountain,

LEARN TO SKI THIS JANUARY ALL OVER THE NORTHEAST

There is no better place to learn a new winter sport than in its original state. For just $29, beginners in Vermont can rent equipment, gain access to beginner terrain, and take a ski or snowboard lesson from a professional instructor. This offer is available throughout January (except holidays) and lessons must be reserved in advance at skivermont.com/learn. Limit one per person.

It is also learn to ski Month all over the ski country here are a few examples of what is being offered. If you are interested in Skiing in Maine or New Hampshire there are plenty of great learn to ski deals as well. Go to the Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month website to find out more information for all the states offering learn to ski programs this January.

Here are a few examples in Vermont and New York

Go to skivermont.com.

Click on the link above to reserve your $29 package today at these Vermont resorts:

 Bromley Mountain Resort

The covered magic carpet at Bromley Photo by Mike Roth
The covered magic carpet at Bromley
Photo by Mike Roth

Start Fun, Start Free is another great Bromley Mountain program. Beginners to the sport are invited to join the Bromley Ski & Snowboard School this winter on December 21, 2014, January 19, 2015, or March 15, 2015. Bromley will offer 75 completely free spots to beginner skiers and snowboarders on these three days. Participants will receive a Learning Zone lift ticket, equipment and instruction. Ages 6 and up; must register in advance.

Check the Bromley web site for more information,  as well as my earlier blog entry.

Killington

Adults enrolled in Killington’s 4-day Discovery programs receive free Elan skis or a Burton snowboard, with mounted bindings, prior to completing their fourth lesson. Then, those who want to further hone their new skills with additional consecutive days on the slopes can continue learning with the MORE Discovery program discounts on ski and stay packages.

For kids ages 4–6, Ministar Discovery Camps offer four consecutive full-day lessons, equipment, lift tickets and lunches. At the end of the program, new skiers keep their boots and Elan skis. Plus, every Ministar Discovery Camp enrollment includes a complimentary adult lift ticket to be used each day in conjunction with the program. Inventory is limited.

Check the Killington web site for more information.

Sugarbush Resort

Follow up your $29 January Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month lesson with the First Timer to Life Timer program at Sugarbush Resort. Learners who finish three lessons in the First Timer program get a free Sugarbush all-mountain season pass for the rest of the season.

Smugglers’ Notch

Smugglers’ Notch Resort’s learn-to-ski or snowboard week January 4-11, 2015 includes free rental equipment and group lessons for entry level or beginner skiers or riders staying three nights or longer on the resort’s ski and stay package priced at $119 per night/adults and $89 per night/children 3-17 years old. Go to smuggs.com

Jay Peak

Jay Peak makes the beginner experience as intuitive and fun as possible. It starts with a complimentary two-hour group lesson with every rental package. The lessons are offered three times a day to guarantee time on snow with a professional instructor.

And for the third year in a row, all beginner lessons are taught through terrain-based learning. Terrain-what? It’s a learning technique that utilizes sculpted snow in the beginner area to help in the learning process. The resort uses a mini-halfpipe, rollers, banked turns and more to create an environment where the terrain helps guide the skier or rider so they can progress faster and focus on having fun. With the terrain helping, students can relax, learn faster and not be afraid of falling. Go to Jay Peak Resort for details.

And there’s more! Don’t miss these Bring a Friend, VT Offers…….

You ski or ride but your buddy doesn’t? That’s cool. Introduce that friend or family member to your favorite snowy slope this year and you could be rewarded for sharing your love of the freshies.

You can Discover NY Skiing this January 8th, 2015 with Discover NY Ski Day! You can purchase vouchers starting at $12 each that will entitle you to a lift ticket at participating mountains. Purchase up to 8 vouchers for you and your family. Just choose the mountain! These vouchers are good for a day or night lift ticket depending when you go skiing. ** Also Learn To Ski Packages available starting at $25 each!

You cannot order from multiple mountains on the same day and those will be void if you do. No refunds!

  1. Click the BUY NOW link at the bottom to start your order – scroll down to the ISKINY Discover NY Ski Day options.
  2. Select the ski area voucher and how many.
  3. Enter Guest Names- Tickets are transferable, so you’ll need to just enter the guest name or simply use Skier 1, Skier 2, etc., if you are unsure who will be using the tickets later on. It’s just a way for the system to store where each of the tickets are going. If you are purchasing as a gift or unsure if you will transfer the ticket this is the way to go.
  4. Complete your sale by entering in your payment information.
  5. If you wish to purchase a voucher for another mountain for 1/8/14 after you’ve completed the first purchase, click Keep Shopping, then select All Tickets to continue on with your next mountain purchase. ISKINY will verify all purchases and contact you with any issues.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 for all the mountains you’d like to purchase. Remember we are offering only one Discover New York Ski Day this year.
  7. Be sure to bring ID with you to the ski area ticket window in case they ask.

Reminder: Save your confirmation emails; you’ll need to print your tickets before heading out to the slopes! Also print what’s shown on the screen too!

Below is a sample of other New York programs. Go to the Iskiny.com web site for additional information

Greek Peak Mountain Resort

Learn to Ski or Ride for $35 – Greek Peak gives you the knowledge, skill and fun memories of going downhill, for the best deal possible! LEARN TO SKI OR RIDE FOR $35.00! Greek Peak Mountain wants you to see how much fun it is to hit the slopes and learn to turn. For $35.00, we will take care of everything! We provide skis, boots and poles or a snowboard and boots, a lesson and a lift ticket for the beginner slope! Phone: 800-955-2SKI

Here’s a great Learn and Lodge Package for YOU! Package Price….$428.00 double occupancy plus taxes and feesIncludes:

2 Nights Accommodations in a Northwoods Suite @ Hope Lake Lodge

2 Days of Breakfast for Two at the Acorn Grill

Learn to Ski for Two – This will include your lift ticket for the Alpha slope, ski or snowboard rental and your lesson.

Pool & Hot Tub Access

Shuttle Service to Greek Peak Ski Resort (Located adjacent to Hope Lake Lodge)

Rules: Subject to Availability

Valid Sunday thru Thursday Only

Excludes Weekends and Holiday Periods

Blackout Dates:  February 13 – 21, 2015

Reservations:  844-783-5289

Web: http://greekpeak.net/lessons/learn-to-ski/mountains-of-fun

 

Holiday Valley – Ellicottville, NY 

Explore Our Mountain Beginners Package: $60 during the day, $40 at night.

Holiday Valley is offering a beginner 1.5 hour lesson with rental equipment and lift ticket for beginner’s area (magic carpet, handle tow and Creekside quad). Boot fitting, and explanation of how to use the equipment is available. The program is available to those age 12 and up. Night lessons originate in the main rental shop and lesson is 1 hour.

Link to package: http://www.holidayvalley.com/explore-our-mountain/snowsport-lessons-beginners-guide

Special January Package – Holiday Valley has two offers.

1) “Bring a Friend” – Buy one Learn to Ski or Snowboard Package and get the second package free, age 6 and up.

2) Stay at the Inn at Holiday Valley midweek during the month of January and get a free learn to ski or snowboard package for all beginners in the room, age 6 and up. Available for up to 2 adults and 2 children. Includes continental breakfast and use of indoor/outdoor heated pool and hot tub. Lodging nights include Sunday through Thursday, excluding January 18, 2015. Link to package: http://www.holidayvalley.com/explore-our-mountain/snowsport-lessons-beginners-guide .Package Price: $60 for two people

Hunter Mountain

Adult Progression Sessions™ – Single Sessions are $35 or you may purchase a multi pack for $149 which will give you 6 opportunities during the 2013-14 season to work from Refresher to Extremes depending on your ability and comfort zone. Snowboard -First Time -Control – Discovering green terrain -Linking Turns – Making turns on green terrain -Refresher – Used to ride Blue Squares but it’s been a while -Dynamics – Can turn well but want to become more dynamic -Performer – Perfecting advanced riding -Extremes – Can ride well but want to master the entire mountain Ski -First Time -Control – Want better control of your wedge turn -Parallel – Can turn and control speed but want to ski parallel -Refresher – Used to ski parallel on Blue Squares, but it’s been a while -Dynamics – Can ski parallel but want to be more dynamic -Quick Feet – Can ski parallel, but want to make shorter turns – Extremes – Can ski well but want to master the entire mountain

Phone: 518-263-4223

Web: http://www.huntermtn.com/learning/progression-sessions/

Swain Resort

Second Turns Learn to Ski or Board – $89 (Novice to Intermediate Skiers or Boards)

One-day all inclusive package that includes: – All Day All Access Lift Ticket – Rentals – 1 1/2 Hour Novice to Intermediate Lesson For January Learn a Snow Sport Month This Package is discounted 20%!

Phone: 607-545-6511

Web: http://www.swain.com/lessons-programs/

Titus Mountain

Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month Package

Only offered during the month of January – 1 Full-Day Lift Ticket – 1 Full-Day Rental – 1 Hour Open Group Lesson – $49 for ages 13 – 21 – $69 for ages 22+

Phone: 518-483-3740Web: http://www.titusmountain.com/snow-sports-school/lessons/lesson-programs/

Never Ever Program : Titus Mountain’s offer includes a Learning Hill Lift Ticket (learning hill only instruction), a Full Day Rental  and a Never-Ever Lesson (1 hour) – $5 Discount on Full-Ticket Upgrade – Available at 10am or 1pm every day – Ages 13+ – $59 ($49 during January LTSSM)

Phone: 518-483-3740Web: http://www.titusmountain.com/snow-sports-school/lessons/lesson-programs/

Again there are many more programs all at many of the ski areas so pick one and get out there and learn to ski, it will change your attitude towards the winter months

Holiday week at Mount Snow

In the past years I have avoided skiing on the holiday weeks. The main reason was that there would be long lift lines and crowded slopes. Over the past couple years I have found that not necessarily to be true. On Friday January 2, 2015 I went over to MountSnow with my grandson Alex. I have never seen so many cars in the parking lot and found myself parking in Wilmington ( or it seemed like that). However Mount snow has it figured out with their cow black and white buses otherwise known as MOOvers transportation from each parking area that drops you off right at the main entrance rather than having to schlep all your gear and hoof it.

The 10 minute wait at the Bluebird Express photo by Alex Johnson
The 10 minute wait at the Bluebird Express
photo by Alex Johnson

That being said what would you expect to find on the slopes and at the lifts? As an older skier I certainly am tainted by long lift lines of yesteryear during the holiday week but no longer! As you can see the Bluebird Express, a blue bubbled 6 pack high speed lift, appeared to be jam packed but what you see here in the picture was no more than a 10 minute wait and the Grand Summit Express lift had more like 5 minutes or less that takes you to the same place on the top of the mountain. The lift system at MountSnow gets skier out and away from the base area very quickly, there are plenty of other lifts to access once you are up on top.

It was snowing lightly all day with the temperatures in the low 30’s. The snow guns were blowing on many of the unopened trails of which I would say about 50% were opened (or closed) depending how you want to look at it. The snowmaking capacity of MountSnow is real good but it looks like next year it will be getting better with the approval of a new snowmaking pond that has been in the approval stages of Act 250 for years.

The trails that were opened were all machine groomed packed powder with plenty of great cover. Admittedly there were areas that wore down quickly but the temperature was right to allow you to bite into it with your edge if you needed to. As the day progress the trails did degrade slightly but taking into consideration of lack of trails, numbers of people and snow conditions, the mountain held up real well.

Being with my grandson, he wanted to immediately go over to Carinthia to ski the terrain features that are permanently build there all season. We skied primarily over at the terrain park which was Nitro to Lower Fools Gold. Now I really don’t mind skiing along on a terrain park because all the snow on the sides basically never gets touched and unless you ski across below a feature from side to side  of the trail it is actually quite safe, if you cross you are taking your life in your own hands. It is amazing to see these skier and boarders one after the other hitting the feature with little or know concern of who is on the bottom of the landing zone ( no spotters). I am surprised that there are not more accidents there, but hey that’s another story in itself.

Skiers and Boarders waiting their turn to hit the big jump on Nitro at Carinthia Photo by Mike Roth
Skiers and Boarders waiting their turn to hit the big jump on Nitro at Carinthia
Photo by Mike Roth
Alex Catching some air off a feature on Lower Fools Gold Photo by Mike Roth
Alex Catching some air off a feature on Lower Fools Gold
Photo by Mike Roth

On the our return from Carinthia you have to take Long John, basically the only way to get back from there. Long John is the only beginner trail from the top ( with a couple cut offs like Deer Run and Little John) . It is a very nice long run but due to the lack of other trails it seemed to be the busiest trail on the mountain. Maybe that is a good sign that there are more people learning to ski and that is good for the ski industry. Don’t forget January is learn to ski month all over the east coast.

Just a few people at the end of Long John Photo by Alex Johnson
Just a few people at the end of Long John
Photo by Alex Johnson

For that matter when I went on other trails there seemed to be no-one there. I took Exhibition and Cascade to Snowdance myself (because my skiing companion’s feet were cold). The better skiers had there choice of plenty of terrain with fewer skiers on them even on a busy day.

I can’t end this without saying something about lunch. We always used to grab something in the cafeteria like soup and a burger which did cost a bit more than usual and it was all premade or should I say precooked, usually well done. However at Mount snow there are numerous dining choices with sit down fair and quick service, assuming you have made a reservation when you arrive at the mountain. Our choice is always 1900” Burgers. They serve specialty hand made angus beef patties made to your specification (I asked for Pittsburgh and that’s how it came out) that was around $12 which you would say seems high (not for a ski area) but it also came with a generous helping of fries and another side of your choice, I chose mac and cheese which was one of the 7 choice of sides on the menu. If you compared that to the food in the cafeteria lines it seems to be a much better option.

They also had haute dogs, numerous choices of grilled cheese and to top it off a delicious milkshake for desert. After eating that you may not want to go out and ski again so make your reservation for later in the day, ski through lunch and you can sleep on your way home from the big lunch (unless you are driving of course).

What a great ski day we had and Alex did sleep on the way back. I can’t wait till he gets his license so I can drive instead of me and I can sleep. Pretty soon!

One other thing I forgot to mention. The drive from Clifton Park to Mount Snow takes anywhere from 1 and a half to one and three quarter hours to get there. If you thrust your Garmin it will take you over Haystack Road, which avoids route 100 out of Wilmington. That is a big mistake. It may be a bit shorter but most possible the worst road I have ever been on, with potholes, glare ice and single lanes because of poor plowing. It may save a minute or 2 but the damage to your car is not worth it. Leaving MountSnow you do run the risk of a long wait at the light in Wilmington, which backs the traffic on route 100 for a mile or so depending on when you leave and the day you went, but taking the alternate route is not an option as far as I am concerned.