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Seeking input on No. Vermont [from Columbus, OH]

post #1 of 81
Thread Starter 

I am a new member and just came across this great site.  I have been going through past threads, and haven't gotten exactly the information I'm looking for.  I've also see great advice given to folks who are seeking input on where to go.  So throwing my info out there and looking forward to great suggestions.

 

Live in Columbus, OH.  Wife has skied most of her life (Utah, Tahoe, Whistler, Jackson Hole, Tremblant, Summit County / Winter Park).  I picked it up in early 20s, been to Tremblant, Copper, Winter Park, and Beaver Creek.  Kids (8 and 5) have annual trips of skiing out West, mostly Winter Park.  Last year we got in two trips.  Wife and I are progressing intermediates, 8 year old can ski pretty much anywhere with us, 5 year old can snow plow and turn, starting to learn parallel.  The wife, me and the 8 year old were skiing groomed blacks on Winter Park, and the black bump runs on Mary Jane if any of you know that mountain.  Also loved the glades.  5 year old is good to go on greens, and was starting to hit some of the easier blues.

 

We have two trips out west again already planned (early Jan, mid-March), but I was dying for more last year.  Looking to supplement with some more local skiing this winter.  As with everyone with school aged children, we have a window on President's weekend.  Initial plan was Holiday Valley since we could drive there easily.  But turns out we can get a direct into Boston with FF miles, which puts us 3-3.5 hours from what sounds like incredible skiing on the east coast.

 

Been reading a ton, but have some concerns.  Number 1 is that this is a super busy ski weekend.  Number 2 is that conditions seem to be variable.  Surely you all can't predict the conditions, but would love input on the best bet for which resort handles the crowds and which best handle poor conditions.  We've been out west during spring break crowds, and it is easy to escape once past the lifts at the base.  Some standing in line is no big deal, bigger concern is running into people on the mountain, especially with the little kids.

 

I have been going back and forth between Stowe and Sugarbush, also looking a little at Smuggler's Notch.  Don't really care too much about non-skiing activities.  Goal would be to find the best on-hill experience.  Afterwards, we love to retreat to the cabin and hit the hot tub.  We would probably do either two half-day lessons for the kids, or a full day and a day with us.  Not super picky on terrain, just would like a noticeable bump up from Holiday Valley without fighting massive crowds or skiing on ice all day.

 

My impression from reading between the lines on the forum is Stowe gets a little better snow and makes snow better than Sugarbush, but that Sugarbush may handle crowds better.

 

What do all you sage experts say?

 

Moderator note: moved to Resorts, Conditions and Travel

post #2 of 81

"from what sounds like incredible skiing on the east coast."

 

"Wife has skied most of her life (Utah, Tahoe, Whistler, Jackson Hole, Tremblant, Summit County / Winter Park).  I picked it up in early 20s, been to Tremblant, Copper, Winter Park, and Beaver Creek."

 

I'm a 40 year veteran of least coast skiing, and if  you're used to Utah, Tahoe, Whistler, Jackson Hole, Summit County,  Copper, Winter Park, and Beaver Creek then you're going to be sorely disappointed on the east coast, and will certainly find it far less than "incredible" unless ice, bone chilling cold, and too many people in too little area are part of that experience.

 

Look at the size of the east "mountains" versus the west, then put a holiday weekend on top, and finish with potential for sub-par (at least as far as you're used to) conditions, and see what that adds up to. The liftlines will be monumental on Pres weekend if there's good snow, and if there isn't why would you want to be there?

 

Unless there's some real compelling reason why you HAVE to make it to the east, versus 7000+ acres at PMCR now that it's merged with the Crayons, which would seem to have everything you want.

post #3 of 81

The ONLY reason to ski Vermont is you're within driving distance from it!

 

If you're going to get on a plane and fly some place, Boston is NOT the gateway to decent skiing. Salt Lake City or Denver is. There're many less crowded mountain in the west that are far better than Stowe or Sugarbush. BTW, "crowded" in the west is not even comparable to "crowded" in the east. With little 5 year old, I wouldn't even bother with the east coast during President's week.

 

If your FF miles can reach it, Canada might be the best bet to escape the crowd. 

post #4 of 81

Full disclosure: I live in Vermont. I work at Stowe. I have a heavy bias. That being said, here's my take.

 

There is no reason to get on a plane in Ohio to go skiing and fly east. 

 

That is all. 

post #5 of 81
Thread Starter 

This is super helpful and exactly the type of input I'm looking for.

 

Denver would be the only possibility, and it is not a free flight and also tough on the kids with the time change.  We fly southwest, so no Canada options.  Boston certainly isn't ideal, but again it's a free flight, and with all travel included still keeps us to a reasonable turn around for leaving Friday and returning Monday with two full days of skiing Sat and Sun.

 

This is a supplement, since we'll get our big fix in Jan and mid-march out west, so it's either ski or no-ski that weekend.  But if it's just a gong-show in Vermont/New England no matter where you go, then we'll just hedge our bets and keep it local on smaller stuff.

 

Keep it coming, this is very helpful!

post #6 of 81

Having lived and skied in the East regularly (Ontario, Quebec, Vermont), and then skied in the West (Alberta, BC, Colorado).........I love Vermont, don't get me wrong.  But in no way, shape, or form, does ANYWHERE in the East even remotely compare to the West. 

 

Hit Denver, then pick a place(s) that suit your needs from there.  For family?  Steamboat, Winter Park, Keystone.  All of those will blow away Stowe and Sugarbush (which I love, by the way......for East Coast resorts).

 

We found: condo rental (East vs West) - about the same $$.  Lift tickets (East vs West) - about the same-ish $$.  So the only difference in cost was travel.  We flew out of Buffalo, and you're even closer to Denver.  Payoff in life experience - PRICELESS.

 

Go West!

post #7 of 81
Thread Starter 

Let me ask it differently...

 

Would you all prefer Holiday Valley (5 hours of driving for 750ft vertical) or local Ohio mountain (90 min driving for 300ft) or traveling to Vermont (via Boston 2hour flight + 3.5 hour drive + 3 hrs of overhead time in the airport) from Ohio on President's weekend?

 

This isn't a do I go west or east question.  It's do I go east or stay home question.  Our two west trips are already booked, and for a variety of reasons, don't think a third is gonna fly (if it would I wouldn't be here asking the question at all!).   I only added the west coast info to indicate that we are semi-experienced skiers...

 

The answers may still be the same, but it seemed like the discussion was getting off-track.  Carry on!

post #8 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by aerojack View Post
 

 

This isn't a do I go west or east question.  It's do I go east or stay home question.

 

 

Since your miles are with SW, it won't kill you to just book the flight and cancel when you see the actual conditions and do a costs analysis.

post #9 of 81
If you must choose from your options, go to NE. If flying to Boston, why not Sunday River or even better, Sugarloaf? I had only one day at the latter last season on a trip to SR and can't wait to go back. If driving, Blue Knob PA is a favorite of the Mid-Atlantic crowd here at Epic and where they often do their Gatherings.
post #10 of 81

You might want to consider some less traveled areas if crowd avoidance on Pres. weekend is a concern. You could still do Sugarbush but stick to the Mt. Ellen area to avoid crowds. Pico next to Killington would be another suggestion. Bolton Valley between Sugarbush & Stowe is an option. In southern VT. I don't think Magic Mountain would be very crowded if you can deal with old slow lifts. Just food for thought.

post #11 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by aerojack View Post
 

Let me ask it differently...

 

Would you all prefer Holiday Valley (5 hours of driving for 750ft vertical) or local Ohio mountain (90 min driving for 300ft) or traveling to Vermont (via Boston 2hour flight + 3.5 hour drive + 3 hrs of overhead time in the airport) from Ohio on President's weekend?

 

This isn't a do I go west or east question.  It's do I go east or stay home question.  Our two west trips are already booked, and for a variety of reasons, don't think a third is gonna fly (if it would I wouldn't be here asking the question at all!).   I only added the west coast info to indicate that we are semi-experienced skiers...

 

The answers may still be the same, but it seemed like the discussion was getting off-track.  Carry on!

Welcome to EpicSki!  As you may have noticed, getting a bit off-track is part of the fun of any online ski forum.

 

I live in central NC and drive 4 hours to my "home mountain" in northern VA with 1100 ft vertical.  Also take friends with kids on holiday weekends.  I also have flown out west during spring breaks with my daughter.  For a 3-4 day weekend, I much prefer to drive even though the skiing in VA is nothing like the Rockies, or even the northeast.

 

That said, have you considered Snowshoe?  Can be busy during the holidays, but never too bad over at Silver Creek.  I would guess that you, wife, 8yo could handle the Western Territories easily.  That doesn't get that crowded either because most people who go to SS are more likely to be intermediates with little or no experience skiing out west.  The other thought I had was the new Laurel Mountain.  Apparently the owners have a special deal for a holiday weekend that covers all three: Seven Springs, Hidden Valley, and Laurel.  Laurel has 900 ft vertical.

 

We discuss Mid-Atlantic options here:

http://www.epicski.com/t/147434/2016-17-southeast-mid-atlantic-meetups-weather-nc-va-wv-md-west-pa

post #12 of 81

Best way to avoid Pres. weekend crowds in the east is to go to Quebec.  Yes conditions are always a crapshoot.  Especially at smaller areas that may not have great snowmaking and grooming.

 

I would stay home if I were you.

 

You have skied Tremblant.  The big eastern ares are somewhat similar terrain-wise. Stow, Sugarbush and Smuggs do have more and better expert terrain, but that is not necessarily  what you are looking for.  Nothing compares on-mountain-village-wise.

 

How far of a drive is Tremblant from Ohio?

post #13 of 81

Burke. Go to Burke. It is actually closer in travel time than Stowe or Sugarbush, by about a half hour. Straight up 93 to 91, and you're there in 3 hours. It is never crowded, it has 2000 continuous vertical, plenty of nice blues on the front side of the mountain, and some nice blacks along the peripheries. They have a brand new hotel they just opened a couple weeks ago, with all the amenities. 

 

You may have heard that the former owners of Burke (and Jay Peak) got themselves into a ton of hot water over investment fraud over the past year. This is all true, but the old owners are out, and the group in charge is looking to put their best foot forward to attract a buyer. The only big drawback to Burke is that its pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but as you said, off mountain isn't important. Burke is probably the biggest mountain in Vermont that doesn't fall into the "resort" category, but they are making a play at being a major resort. That means the resort infrastructure is there now, but the resort crowds aren't yet. 

 

Wanna come to New England and avoid crowds on Prez Weekend? Go to Burke. 

post #14 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by aerojack View Post

This isn't a do I go west or east question.  It's do I go east or stay home question. 

 

Stay home.

 

If you haven't experienced absurd gaperlishous crowds, all flailing around a skating rink with some vertical included then count your blessings.

 

OK, it's worse the farther south you go, with probably Sugarbush the most south before the crowds START to thin a LITTLE, but if you've got young kids, you're going to be quite unpleased at how crowded it is, and probably if the conditions AND the weather (ie freaking cold) it is on the northleast hills.

 

President's weekend is the WORST possible weekend in the east. Staying home is a better alternative. while your miles may get you there, just check what the lodging costs are at any of the hills mentioned will be for that weekend.

post #15 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by crank View Post
 

Best way to avoid Pres. weekend crowds in the east is to go to Quebec.  Yes conditions are always a crapshoot.  Especially at smaller areas that may not have great snowmaking and grooming.

 

I would stay home if I were you.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by snofun3 View Post

 

Stay home.

 

 

I'll add my third voice, stay home. 

 

The flight maybe free. But lift tickets probably aren't? Rental car, condo, and god forbid, snowy roads. the 3 hr drive on Pres weekend WILL turn into 5 hrs!

post #16 of 81

You've never experienced crowded skiing like a major New England area over Presidents Day weekend. Steamboat1 had good suggestions if you insist on the east.  That's the only way I'd do it that weekend.  Not to mention that the rates on everything are highest then, too.  Can you use your FF tickets to Burlington?  Much closer to skiing than Boston.  Brings the Quebec areas into play with a car rental. (Can you cross the border with a rental?  I don't know.) 

post #17 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by DYNAMITE View Post
 

You've never experienced crowded skiing like a major New England area over Presidents Day weekend. Steamboat1 had good suggestions if you insist on the east.  That's the only way I'd do it that weekend.  Not to mention that the rates on everything are highest then, too.  Can you use your FF tickets to Burlington?  Much closer to skiing than Boston.  Brings the Quebec areas into play with a car rental. (Can you cross the border with a rental?  I don't know.) 


Southwest doesn't fly into Burlington. It does fly into Manchester, though, which puts you an hour closer to everything. 

post #18 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by DYNAMITE View Post
 

You've never experienced crowded skiing like a major New England area over Presidents Day weekend. Steamboat1 had good suggestions if you insist on the east.  That's the only way I'd do it that weekend.  Not to mention that the rates on everything are highest then, too.  Can you use your FF tickets to Burlington?  Much closer to skiing than Boston.  Brings the Quebec areas into play with a car rental. (Can you cross the border with a rental?  I don't know.) 

 

You can cross the border with a rental, as long as it's the People's Republic of Kanukistan. Mexico, not so much.

 

Then he can also add $150 pp for passports unless he already has them, but, of course, the $CDN is a lot cheaper

 

For a weekend of skiing - non starter.

post #19 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DYNAMITE View Post
 

You've never experienced crowded skiing like a major New England area over Presidents Day weekend. Steamboat1 had good suggestions if you insist on the east.  That's the only way I'd do it that weekend.  Not to mention that the rates on everything are highest then, too.  Can you use your FF tickets to Burlington?  Much closer to skiing than Boston.  Brings the Quebec areas into play with a car rental. (Can you cross the border with a rental?  I don't know.) 


Southwest doesn't fly into Burlington. It does fly into Manchester, though, which puts you an hour closer to everything. 


Also goes into Albany if they wanted to give Gore a try.  My impression is that it's crowded on a holiday weekend but not ridiculous.

post #20 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post
 

Burke. Go to Burke. It is actually closer in travel time than Stowe or Sugarbush, by about a half hour. Straight up 93 to 91, and you're there in 3 hours. It is never crowded, it has 2000 continuous vertical, plenty of nice blues on the front side of the mountain, and some nice blacks along the peripheries. They have a brand new hotel they just opened a couple weeks ago, with all the amenities. 

 

You may have heard that the former owners of Burke (and Jay Peak) got themselves into a ton of hot water over investment fraud over the past year. This is all true, but the old owners are out, and the group in charge is looking to put their best foot forward to attract a buyer. The only big drawback to Burke is that its pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but as you said, off mountain isn't important. Burke is probably the biggest mountain in Vermont that doesn't fall into the "resort" category, but they are making a play at being a major resort. That means the resort infrastructure is there now, but the resort crowds aren't yet. 

 

Wanna come to New England and avoid crowds on Prez Weekend? Go to Burke. 

This, or look into some of the other mountains that have been mentioned (Bolton, Pico, Magic). Otherwise you'll likely spend half of the weekend (or more) standing in line.

post #21 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 
 

Also goes into Albany if they wanted to give Gore a try.  My impression is that it's crowded on a holiday weekend but not ridiculous.

If you fly from West to East to ski Gore, you will be the first one who ever did that.  

 

BK

post #22 of 81
Thread Starter 

Thanks all, extremely helpful.

 

Boston is the only option to fly.  Southwest has a fare sale to there, which keeps it low enough to use points for free flights.  Lodging is pretty much a wash everywhere I've looked compared to Holiday Valley.  Lift tickets may be more expensive, but don't think it is significantly so.

 

I looked quite a bit between Blue Knob and Holiday Valley.  I settled on Holiday Valley because it had more skiable acres and also had the impression from reading Blue Knob didn't have as good of snow making capabilities as Holiday Valley.  Correct me if I'm wrong.  Looked at Snowshoe as well, but sounded like there where only two long runs that often got crowded.  Sounded like conditions were iffy there too???

 

Canada isn't an option because of the distance.  Tremblant was my first big mountain and I had a great time there.  But I was a noob just happy to have a run longer than 30s.  I recall the wife complaining about ice...

 

I'll look into Laurel and Burke.  Seems like the safest option with the family is to stay close...

post #23 of 81
You know, you could just... Go to Boston. It's a fantastic city, tons to do and see.
post #24 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by aerojack View Post
 

Let me ask it differently...

 

Would you all prefer Holiday Valley (5 hours of driving for 750ft vertical) or local Ohio mountain (90 min driving for 300ft) or traveling to Vermont (via Boston 2hour flight + 3.5 hour drive + 3 hrs of overhead time in the airport) from Ohio on President's weekend?

 

 

This.   I grew up in Dayton and went to whatever hill there was (don't remember).  It was fun because I was young and didn't know any better.   After skiing the west you would have to pay me to make a trip to the east.   Not to mention listening to my wife and kids complain the whole time.    I'd just make a few day trips to something local.  

post #25 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by aerojack View Post
 

Thanks all, extremely helpful.

 

Boston is the only option to fly.  Southwest has a fare sale to there, which keeps it low enough to use points for free flights.  Lodging is pretty much a wash everywhere I've looked compared to Holiday Valley.  Lift tickets may be more expensive, but don't think it is significantly so.

 

I looked quite a bit between Blue Knob and Holiday Valley.  I settled on Holiday Valley because it had more skiable acres and also had the impression from reading Blue Knob didn't have as good of snow making capabilities as Holiday Valley.  Correct me if I'm wrong.  Looked at Snowshoe as well, but sounded like there where only two long runs that often got crowded.  Sounded like conditions were iffy there too???

 

Canada isn't an option because of the distance.  Tremblant was my first big mountain and I had a great time there.  But I was a noob just happy to have a run longer than 30s.  I recall the wife complaining about ice...

 

I'll look into Laurel and Burke.  Seems like the safest option with the family is to stay close...


You are correct that BK doesn't have much snowmaking.  Also no town or base "village."

 

As for Snowshoe, not sure what you were reading.  The Western Territories is two long black trails.  The main Basin trails cover all ability levels and can get crowded after 11:00 or so.  Silver Creek is a separate area (free shuttle) bus that also has green/blue/black trails.  SS averages something well over 100 inches natural snow and has 100% snowmaking on 244 acres.  The main lifts are reasonably fast.  Although there are skiable trees, I wouldn't count on that.  Only tricky part is that the 2-lane WV roads are hard to drive if it's snowing.  Folks from DC and points south (SC, NC, TN, GA, FL) drive to SS for weekend skiing.

post #26 of 81
Thread Starter 

Sorry, meant to say that I read and have been told all the vertical SS is known for was on two long trails that can get crowded.  The rest of the area doesn't have as much...not sure on the discrepancies.  Sounds like you like it there?

post #27 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by aerojack View Post
 

Sorry, meant to say that I read and have been told all the vertical SS is known for was on two long trails that can get crowded.  The rest of the area doesn't have as much...not sure on the discrepancies.  Sounds like you like it there?


Yep, there isn't that much vertical at SS but then it's more than anyplace else in the southeast.  Max vert is 1500' while over on Silver Creek it's probably more like 700'.

 

It's not that I like SS that much.  It's just that I've skied there.  For me, it's a 7-hour drive.  My home mountain is a 4-hour drive.  It's a half day to fly to SLC on Southwest, no direct flight.  So my other "home mountain" is Alta.

 

I went during SkiSE gatherings with my daughter to meet up with friends.  Those are held in early March and provide discounted lodging and a free lift ticket on Sunday for staying 2 nights in resort lodging.  SS has an Intrawest village at the top of the mountain.  It's an upside down ski resort.  Other that resort lodging, there are very few lodging alternatives less than 30 min away.  No supermarket either.  SkiSE folks bring food with them to cook in the condo.

 

Just remembered, @ohioskier likes to take his daughter to SS.  She's about the same age as your kids but is a pretty good skier.  You could send him a PM if he doesn't respond to the @ message notification.

post #28 of 81

@aerojack : did you notice there is thread for folks in Ohio who ski Holiday Valley and other places in WV, PA, NY that are within driving distance?  Can ask questions over there and see what happens.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/147465/holiday-valley-seven-springs-snowshoe-bristol-lets-meetup

post #29 of 81

I don't understand those that say it's not worth skiing in northern New England, stay home they say. I'm an eastern skier & have been west many times but still find the skiing here to be pretty damn good. Me thinks they no not what they speak.

post #30 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post

 

Wanna come to New England and avoid crowds on Prez Weekend? Go to Burke. 

Excellent suggestion, didn't think of that.

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