Sugarbush, VT, Dec. 6, 2018

Tony Crocker

Staff member
We arrived a bit after 10AM to temps a bit over 20F but it was overcast and snowing intermittently. Sugarbush had received maybe 6 inches new snow after the rain and probably an inch or two while we were skiing. This allowed us to ski the only ungroomed and natural snow terrain of our trip.

We first took 3 laps on Super Bravo, first a warmup cruiser on Spring Fling. A short slog on Reverse Traverse brought us to the middle of Murphy’s and our first moguls of the trip. The new natural snow on top was light and dry, skied nicely when you hit it right but it was easy to go through it to the rain/frozen subsurface. We wandered onto lower Birdland, which had had the opposite problem in a short section where they were blowing snow, viewed here from well below.

The new manmade snow was very thick, heavier than Sierra Cement. As I learned at Sun Valley in 2010 manmade water content can be calibrated and in the early season it tends to be very high in the interest of base building.

But as at Killington the natural snow coverage was very good. Both Killington and Sugarbush have had 65 inches natural snow so far this season and are 65% open this weekend, same as a week ago. Sugarbush was 44% open when we skied there Thursday. Areas farther north in Vermont have had a foot and a half of snow since the rain and all have more terrain open this weekend than last weekend.

We skied next Lower Jester and after that moved to the Lincoln Peak chair. Liz enjoyed the look of the trees.


We skied the blue but classic winding New England tail Upper Jester first, then Organgrinder, which was a black groomer fairly similar to Killington’s Superstar. Next were the ungroomed bumps of the liftline trail Ripcord.

While we needed to always be aware of the firm subsurface, there was quite a bit of new natural snow up here for energetic but enjoyable skiing. It’s a lot more of a workout for me than the steeper blacks with smooth softer snow in the West. But I could tell Liz was more in her comfort zone here from her decades in the East as I rarely had to wait for her.

By this time our toes were getting cold so we went in for some clam chowder.

After lunch we skied one run on Murphy’s before returning to Lincoln and heading for the natural snow only Paradise trail. A short distance down the trail is the hike to Castlerock.

A few pics of Liz skiing Paradise:



There was quite a bit of fluff out here. Castlerock would be similar with fewer moguls. But it’s a 15-20 minute hike in not the greatest weather so we passed. I do applaud the hike only policy in early season in the interest of snow preservation on trails Liz said were narrower than Paradise.

We skied repeat runs on Organgrinder and Upper Jester, cutting over from the latter to Valley House Traverse. Liz wanted to show me Lixi’s Twist , another natural snow trail.

Even though it’s near the bottom of the mountain there was enough new snow for it to be pleasant skiing.

My final run was not so pleasant. I skied Upper Birdland down the liftline of Bravo, another mogul trail which was fine. But I continued too low and would up on lower Organgrinder which was a gauntlet of snow machines blowing 30% cement which made for very difficult last turns. I finished the day at 21,100 vertical.

When Liz lived in NYC she would typically take her first ski trip in mid-December. She said overall this was about average for those trips with the exception of this day at Sugarbush. While the subsurface was firm, there was dry new snow on top and it would be very rare for black natural snow trails like Paradise and Lixi’s Twist to be open on Dec. 6.
Glad that you made it to Sugarbush. A shame that you missed the unusually good snow the previous week and instead got average early/mid December conditions throughout this trip. Have you ever been to Mount Ellen?
I have not skied Mt. Ellen. Three new areas on this trip brought my total to 226.

The trip was booked over a month in advance. I have been tracking percent of terrain open in the Northeast over a decade so my expectations were low. Thus we got better than expected, but of course it was a big tease to watch those last two weeks in November. But not entirely as the rain was accurately predicted a week ahead.

Stowe would probably have been at least as good as Sugarbush per Powderfreak
Note Scott is independent now and no longer working at Stowe, presumably thanks to Vail.

However Stowe would not have been as good as my prior day there viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5012 so overall it was probably better to see new places despite the extra driving.
Tony Crocker":3f9i87fz said:
Three new areas on this trip brought my total to 226.
My list is currently at 153 (you had a 25-year head start on me :-"). I expect to be in the 170s with the two upcoming Alps trips.

Impressive how you and Liz have absolutely no reservation about driving numerous hours to shoot for better conditions, with last year's road trip to the Dolomites as Exhibit A. I draw the line at a couple hours.
Nice report Tony , Sugarbush was my home for a few winters so I enjoyed the upper mt. pictures , miss the old gondola.