Thursday, April 12, 2018

Mount Snow

Mount Snow is my favorite Vermont-area ski resort.  It’s also the southernmost of the large Vermont ski resorts and the resort with the best artificial snowmaking.  A big part of what I like about is in its location; it’s maybe sixty miles closer than Killington, making it a much better destination for single-day sessions or quick overnighters.  Granted, Mount Snow is not as large as Killington or Okemo and has fewer trails than Stratton on about the same acreage.  Still, with 86 runs spread across 588 skiable acres on four separate faces, it’s not exactly small...
Sally, Hannah, & Emma at Mt. Snow's summit.
The bunny slopes as seen from the parking lot.
The Bluebird Express
Sally and I went to Mount Snow on our honeymoon.  We went again for their Valentine’s Day special this year, with which we got two lift tickets for $59 and a chance to renew our vows at the top of Cloud Nine, a blue trail on the mountain’s Sunbrook face.  
That might be the best ski deal in all of Vermont.
Most of Mount Snow is geared towards experienced recreational skiers.  The mountain offers a whopping 58 intermediate (blue) trails against just 11 beginner (green) trails and another 11 advanced (black) and expert (double-black) trails.  These are served by some 20 lifts, the largest of which is a six-seat express called the Bluebird that runs from the main lodge all the way to the summit.  The Grand Summit quad runs parallel to the Bluebird and also serves the summit.  From there, the rest of the mountain is easily accessible.
The Main Face features the mountain’s longest runs, dropping nearly 2000 feet from the top of the Bluebird to the main base area.  The Main Face features mostly blues, though a handful of greens run along the southern perimeter or horizontally across the face itself, and there are a few blacks sprinkled at intervals up and down the mountain.  The southern-looking Sunbrook Face is broadly similar but features just three-quarters of the total drop spread over 10 blues and a single black, Beartrap, which is served by its own lift.  The North Face is Mount Snow’s expert area.  It features just 10 runs, but these are uniformly blacks save Ripcord, which is a double-black.  The North Face is serviced by two triple lifts and tends not to have much in the way of lift lines, though the runs are distinctly shorter than those on the Main Face.  Still, there is a lot of excellent skiing to be had on that side of the mountain—if you’re up for it.  Finally, there is Carinthia Face, the terrain park area, which is off away from the rest of the mountain.  There are maybe a dozen runs and two separate chair lifts on that side, but I’m not much on terrain parks and have never actually been over there.
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Mount Snow’s base area is so large that it was actually a bit confusing when we first arrived back in February.  The Main Lodge is not particularly hard to find, but there are so many buildings in the base area itself that we weren’t sure where we needed to go at first.  This was complicated by the fact that there are any number of hotels and condominiums clustered along the various base area access roads, along with a ski shop, a separate snowboard shop, a first aid center, a learn-to-ski center, an equipment rental facility, and an actual music club called The Snowbarn.  All of this was spread across such a large area that we weren’t even sure at first where we needed to park.  But we got situated soon enough, and once we got into the Main Lodge, things resolved themselves fairly quickly.  
The lodge itself is both large and well-appointed.  In addition to the various food and ski shops, they also have a free bag-check service that cuts down considerably on the amount of ski-related cutter left lying against the lodge’s various walls and corners.  There is also a separate Sundance lodge over by the first aid station and one of the beginning skier areas, and if the map is to be believed, they have plans for a Carinthia lodge as well.  Finally, there is a summit lodge called the Bullwheel that proved to be one of my favorite places on the mountain.  The Bullwheel serves both food and beer, including a nice selection of local ales and IPAs, with ample seating and a few flatscreen TVs.  Sally and I kicked back up there after maybe a half-dozen runs and sipped some rather enjoyable liquid bread before heading out for our last few runs of the day.  I was as happy as I’ve been in ages.
Renewing our vows at the top of Cloud Nine. 
Me & Emma at the bottom of the North Face looking up at Freefall.
Fresh powder at the summit.
Mount Snow is just off Vermont-100, easily accessible via CT Route 8 or interstate 91 (through some back roads) or via the Taconic State Parkway from New York City.  Google Maps claims that you can get there in just over four hours, which is not bad from the City.  Sally and I made it in just under three from Stratford, though this still felt like a long drive when compared to Ski Butternut, our usual day-trip destination.  Still, as much as I like Butternut, it was very, very nice to experience more varied terrain and to be able to kick back in a real, legitimately well-appointed summit lodge.
We find it tough to get up to Vermont more than a couple of times a year, but we’ve enjoyed Mount Snow every time we’ve been, and we’ve always said afterwards that we should try to get back more often.  We thought that this last time as well, and I’m hoping to get back at least once more before the season ends.  Whether or not that actually occurs, though, remains something of an open question.

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