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Sugarbush VT area for beginners?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone.

My fiance and I are getting married right after New Years, and are planning a 3-nights mini-honeymoon to Vermont before getting back to work.
We booked a nice B&B in Warren, VT, and later saw that it was right on the edge of the Sugarbush resort.

My fiance wants to try cross country skiing and snowshoeing which we understand is decent there and have never done before (can anyone confirm?)

However, she also agreed to try alpine skiing for the first time. The problem here is that with the rain in PA, we probably won't get to try a local resort until we actually get to VT, so that would be her absolute first skiing experience.

I know that it's not ideal, especially compared to the great beginner trails in Killington and in Stowe (would have loved to try the 5km trail). However, neither of us is a fan of winter driving so we'd rather avoid making the daytrips there if we're already in Warren.

So the question is: can either sugarbush or nearby mad-river-glen
offer her a positive first-skiing experience? Are the beginner trails really beginner level there and do they have any real length to them? Is the place and the ski school beginner friendly at all?

Also, how hard are the intermediate slopes compared to other places? I considered myself a low-intermediate but that's in PA terms, I'm probably on the upper side of beginner there. My turns are a strange breed, especially on my new skis (I upgraded from a 150 to a 160, and seem to have lost control of my skis).

Any help would be appreciated (as well as tips about the area).
post #2 of 19
I'll let others comment on the suitability of beginner terrain at Sugarbush and MRG. However, regarding the winter driving thing -- unless it's actually snowing (as in, big time snowing), don't worry about the driving in Vermont. Seriously. Vermont keeps the roads to and from their ski areas in amazing shape. There aren't any mountains that you'll be driving over between Stowe and Sugarbush.
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
I appreciate the tip.

I learned to drive where it never snows, and last week I had my first experience going up to seven springs PA and fishtailing on the snow covered roads. At some point, some jerk with no lights on and a truck came down the mountain and nearly hit us.

One of the scariest things in my life (reminded me of an accident I had when I was younger after losing traction in the desert).

Luckily, I spent extra on my car (a Camry) to get the vehicle stability control; it did wonders in ensuring that my horrible instincts would not get me killed.
post #4 of 19
Assume your staying at either Sugartree, West Hill or if your really splurging, the Pitcher Inn although the latter is not really at the edge of the resort. The Bush has plenty of beginning terrain for a first-timer and I would highly recommend a 2-hour group lesson to start the day. They have 3 part first timer package of 2 hr lessons but she can just do the first lesson and use the equipment and lift tik that comes with the lesson the rest of the day on the nearby beginning slopes. http://www.sugarbush.com/skiandride/...1&nid=71#first

MRG has little beginning terrain but for a first-timer you don't mean much so that would work as well.

Lots of great x-c country and snowshoeing trails and paths. Some with the best views are basically flat and easy. The Mad River Pathway which meaders along the Mad River is great for that. Two nice cross-country centers in the valley as well.
www.madrivervalley.com
post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by uricmu View Post
Luckily, I spent extra on my car (a Camry) to get the vehicle stability control; it did wonders in ensuring that my horrible instincts would not get me killed.
Get yourself a set of high traction snow tires for your Camry if you're planning on driving in snow country. Fishtailing and spinning out can happen even with a FWD on snow covered road. Outside of a 4X4 or AWD, they are the next best thing without going with studded tires.
post #6 of 19
My sister (late 40's) did a beginner ski clinic at Sugarbush last year and it was great. There's a reason she never tried skiing until this late in life, she was, is and always will be terrified, so it didn't "click" for her. But I was with her at the start of the lesson, every step of the ski school / rental process was well thought out and easy for a beginner to handle. At the end of the day I shadowed the lesson a little and then skied some of the beginner terrain with her. There is a LOT of beginner terrain and it's not just the lower slopes of bigger trails with advanced skiers blasting down; they're separated and safer feeling. Plenty of intermediate terrain too if she gets it and wants to move up. I would not hesitate to take a never-ever to Sugarbush. Especially the week after New Year's, you'll have it all to yourself.

Or to MRG for that matter. There's not as much beginner area but as someone noted above, how much do you really need? GREAT instructors and as romantic an old-time ski hill as you'll ever find.

Last but not least: (FWD + snows) > (AWD). Put it on your bridal registry: Blizzaks (or Dunlop Wintersports) + rims for the Camry at TireRack.com .
post #7 of 19
For cross country skiing there's a place up from Warren Village, Blueberry Hill. I've never been, but several of my friends have and like it.

I learned to ski at Mad River at 38 yrs old. There's more than enough beginner's terrain and, as an added bonus, you don't have to worry about out-of-control snowboarders - no boarding allowed!

I love MRG. Great instructors, friendly people, great vibe...real sense of community, not insular, but welcoming.
post #8 of 19
You can't go wrong with either MRG or Sugarbush. As a fellow PA skiier, I love both resorts for their terrain, snow conditions and lack of crowds. Sugarbush will offer more variation for the beginner and because of the relatively early season, generally will have better snow. I don't think MRG makes any man made snow so you should base your decision on the snow conditions. You B&B will have a morning snow report for you to look at.

Have a great time.:
post #9 of 19

yeah, but...

just skied MRG Thurs and Fri - awesome, lot's of snow...just check the snow report when you go. I would never take a noob to ski on man-made snow; that stuff's awful.
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Milllah View Post
I would never take a noob to ski on man-made snow; that stuff's awful.
Well, given that the original poster is from Pennsylvania -- they're going to have to learn to deal with man-made snow at some point. I'd wager that the vast majority of skiers in the north-east and mid-Atlantic regions learned to ski on man-made snow.
post #11 of 19
Boy, New England finally has a decent early season and now we are becoming snow critics? Last year we couldn't even get cold enough temps to make man-made snow let alone have enough natural snow to open the slopes on the east coast. Let's keep it real. In VT in late December early January you go with who has the best conditions and the most open terrain.
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinF View Post
Well, given that the original poster is from Pennsylvania -- they're going to have to learn to deal with man-made snow at some point. I'd wager that the vast majority of skiers in the north-east and mid-Atlantic regions learned to ski on man-made snow.
I live in Western PA, so I don't think I've ever skiid on purely natural snow. Whenever there's anything coming down they're also snowmaking.

Wouldn't man-made snow be easier to groom and ski than real snow? One of my problems is when there are bumps or powder accumulations.
post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JHrefugee View Post
Assume your staying at either Sugartree, West Hill or if your really splurging, the Pitcher Inn
We were thinking of the sugartree.
The West Hill seems nice (and I like the pool table for the evening), but my fiance is severely allergic to cats, and that could ruin the trip. On the other hand, she loves dogs which is a point for the sugartree.

We haven't really considered the Pitcher Inn, though maybe we should have. We are on a honeymoon, but on the other hand we're poor grad students, so that one may be too fancy for us though I like the gourmet dinners.

Any recommendations on good cross-country company there? (we'd probably want it guided)

As for snowshoeing, can we make it ourselves (easy trails), or should we take a guide ?
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by uricmu View Post
Wouldn't man-made snow be easier to groom and ski than real snow? One of my problems is when there are bumps or powder accumulations.
Man-made snow doesn't hold up to skier traffic the way that the natural stuff does. i.e., natural snow stays "softer" longer and groomed out soft snow is much, much easier to ski then groomed-out rock-hard man-made snow (and much more pleasant to fall onto). My impression is that the difference in "durability" is mainly due to the difference in water content between the man-made vs. natural stuff.

I imagine there are minimal differences in the difficulty of actually grooming either version.
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinF View Post
I imagine there are minimal differences in the difficulty of actually grooming either version.
Sorry, the way I asked it came out dumb.
What I meant is that it seems to me that the man-made snow is icier and less fragile, so it would be more difficult to create a really even and flat spread of corduroys. Also, I would imagine that man-made snow has a uniform consistency that regular snow doesn't.
post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by uricmu View Post
We were thinking of the sugartree.
The West Hill seems nice (and I like the pool table for the evening), but my fiance is severely allergic to cats, and that could ruin the trip. On the other hand, she loves dogs which is a point for the sugartree.

We haven't really considered the Pitcher Inn, though maybe we should have. We are on a honeymoon, but on the other hand we're poor grad students, so that one may be too fancy for us though I like the gourmet dinners.

Any recommendations on good cross-country company there? (we'd probably want it guided)

As for snowshoeing, can we make it ourselves (easy trails), or should we take a guide ?
I was in the lodging business here in the valley for about 5 years. The Sugartree is nice, several good ski lodges close to the Bush like the Sugar Lodge, Slide Brook, and the White Horse. They are more like small hotels so maybe the romantic angle would not be so good there.

Not sure what you mean by cross country company but unless your really beginners renting the equipment and going on the Mad River Pathway would be a nice activity.

In addition to the cross country centers, the valley offers miles of marked cross country/snowshoe trails The Mad River Pathway is an trail along the Mad River approximately six miles in length. The terrain is relatively flat and meanders through farm fields and wooded areas. The trail is free to all users. Here is a pic I shot last spring on a northern loop of the pathway



Ole's Cross Country Center www.olesxc.com has a awesome trail system, rental and lessons. Perhaps you can hire a guide to take you around. Beautiful views up there. You can rent snowshoes at the Bush, who also does offer guided snowshoe tours, and Clearwater Sports in town. As mentioned by another poster Blueberry Lake is another cross country center.
post #17 of 19
Sugarbush has a dynamite beginner/ slow speed skiing family area--with a high speed quad to service it. Really, mid-way up the north lynx area (Sleeper, pushover, etc)-very pleasant and pretty with some very low-challenge "park-like" ski runs (by that I mean trees and not half-pipes!) that a second-third day skier can start to enjoy. There is a similar area on adjacent Mt Ellen as well.

The Madriver Valley in general is the loveliest area of the very lovely state of vermont (IMHO)-and, among all the bigger VT ski area, Sugarbush always seems the least crowded (you're just north of the aggressive Ny/NJ weekend crowd, and just enough off of 89/91 to limit the Boston weekenders). Lots of nice little places to stay--honestly, It's my favorite place to ski in the east.

You'll like it.

Liam
post #18 of 19
You'll love the blue/green trails at Sugarbush, and it's a good place to take a lesson. Definitely a great place to learn. It's only gotten better in recent years.

JHR named the magic name for XC in the area. Ole's is the place to go. I believe you can buy a ski the valley pass that works at Sugarbush, MRG, and Ole's which might not be a bad idea if you like the idea of variety.

Manmade snow is a lot more resilient to temperature changes and it ultimately holds up better under skier traffic from a durability standpoint. As we all know, however, it's a lot less pleasing to ski on and can quickly degrade into an abrasive, hard surface. This is the tradeoff for durability. The difference is that manmade snow comes out in the form of ice crystals, grains, or badly deformed snowflakes, while natural can take on a more classic snowflake shape. Manmade has a higher density because of that difference.

Have fun up there, and congratulations on the wedding! The Mad River Valley is a great place to go for a honeymoon. Be sure to eat at The Den (casual but nice) on Main Street in Waitsfield and The Common Man (more elegant and romantic) on German Flats road between Sugarbush North and Sugarbush South . I took my wife to The Common Man after making the mistake of teaching her to ski, and the dining experience nearly made up for the torture on the slopes!
post #19 of 19
3-days...

One day at SB south, one day at MRG and one day at SB North.

Probably want the first day at SB South to take a beginner lesson.

SB has great novice terrain. As already stated, the family area at South is very lo key and perfect for new skiers. MRG is just absolutely old-time VT skiing even for novices. Bird land at MRG is a mass of delightful twisty little groomed novice trails. SB North has some nice easy stuff two. It's more laid pack than SB sought. It's got this one green trail that isn't groomed a lot and doesn't have a lot of pitch but a lot of interesting texture. One of my favorite green trails anywhere.
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