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.
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.
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.
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.