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stowe vs. sunday river for blue/black groomers? better deal at SR.... advice please?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone,

Going skiing 1/31 and 2/1 with a couple of friends (we're all college students). They're both blue groomer skiers, occasionally trying a black. I'm probably a little bit more advanced, but by no means an expert - I'll go on any blue and virtually any black, except moguls. I like cruising down long runs.

Anyhow, we're pretty cost-sensitive, so here are the two deals I've worked out:

Option A:
2 days/1 night at Stowe, staying at some cheap hotel from Roomsaver, either in Montpelier or down in Rutland/Killington. We'd drive up that morning from Boston, so we'd have to leave at about 5 or 5:30 to make the most of the day. We'd also have to drive the 45 minutes between mountain and hotel.

Option B:
2 days/2 nights at Sunday River, plus a free clinic, and on-mountain condo lodging. We could drive up the night before, and avoid the wee-hours wakeup. 

Each of the options runs ~$200 including rentals, give or take $10.

Recommendations? None of us have been to either of them before.

Thanks so much

post #2 of 29
If you like cruisng down long runs as you say you will find some great stuff at Sunday River's Jordan Bowl (Excalibur, Rogue Angel, Caramba) as well as on other peaks.  Check out their trail maps, good stuff.

I did two trips to both Stowe and Sunday River last couple of years and while both have their own charm and idiosyncrasies based on your criteria you are likely going to enjoy Sunday River much more.

Stowe is absolutely charming but definitely more of a romantic getaway with wife, family, or signficant other.  While Sunday River is better with bunch of college pals. That's my recommendation.

Either way you will find challenging trails at both.
Edited by akaplan9 - 1/21/10 at 2:51pm
post #3 of 29
 stowe would rock if you didnt ski groomers! 

charming yes, and the vertical on everyone of our groomers is more than somedays bigger but in all honesty sunday river has ALOT more groomed runs than we do.
post #4 of 29
"Stowe is absolutely charming but definitely more of a romantic getaway with wif"

Huh? Yeah Stowe can be a romantic getaway if you stay in a B&B or something, but it is also just a vastly superior ski area when compared with the likes of Sunday River.

Stowe has more vertical rise and gets twice the annual snow fall. I believe Stowe's base is also significantly better so far this year.
post #5 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone - this is just the kind of advice I was looking for. From reading this forum for a couple months, I get the impression that Stowe is tops in terms of trees, ungroomed, steeps, etc - unfortunately, I'm not at that level yet. Anyone else want to share an opinion? So far it looks like Sunday River...
post #6 of 29
Hey, I love Stowe, ski there often, will continue to, but based on the preference of skiing groomers I think Sunday River has more options.

Now if he asked about vertical, powder, moguls, and black diamond runs I would say Stowe but he specifically said groomers.
post #7 of 29
Sunday River is cruiser city.....has some very good easy black terrain....Obsession for example is outstanding!

Also as mentioned above, Jordan Bowl is a lot of fun....

Sunday River trail maps on the web site are outstanding....check it out.

Enjoy and don't forget to post a report of your trip!
post #8 of 29
Oh come on people this is a no brainer, Option B, same cost, on slope lodging, they want to hit groomers and cruise, they wake up roll out of bed eat and hit the slopes. The only downside to Sunday River is night life, but if they have their own condo and they are college kids they got their own party right there. Book it and don't think twice. You will find all the terrain you would want at Sunday River. Stay off White Heat , don't get tempted.
post #9 of 29
Originally Posted by nkage487 View Post

 I like cruising down long runs.

Stowe. More vertical = longer runs, the Mansfield cruisers are 2,000 vertical feet with a single lift ride. Yes, the mountain is known for bumps, steeps, etc., but there is Perry Merrill and Gondolier which are practically the benchmark for long cruisers. Also, there is Lord/North Slope, Ridgeview/Sunrise/Standard (my favorite) and Sterling. When you feel ready to graduate to steeper but mild blacks, there is Main Street (always groomed) and Hayride and Nosedive which are intermittently groomed.
post #10 of 29
uh oh, maybe this is going to turn into another thread altogether...does more vertical really mean longer runs?
post #11 of 29
I normally would say Stowe, for sure. But, given the clinics and the logistics I would definately say go to Sunday River.  So ya, Sunday River will suit you well.

I spent a week at Stowe in '08. I liked it very much. And, there are lots of trails there that you and your buddies would enjoy. Long cruisers like the trail Sterling come to mind. Stowe is a party town. Great apre's skiing. I really didn't get the romantic comment.?? The locals there are a blast to hang with...true skiers in every regard. IMO, every skier should visit Stowe. It is classic New England skiing and I am not embarassed to say that I like that.

I have spent many, many days skiing Sunday River. I get bored there. But, it is a nice ski area and there are a lot of turns on those 8 mountain peaks. Thing is, each peak ski's just like the peak before, though there are some interesting trails off to lookers right. Navigating the mountain is not easy but, you can ski most anywhere without finding heart stopping terrain. It is an intermediate mountain, IMO, and I have a feeling you and your buddies will like it. Long groomed runs. Most all of the lodging is fairly new and the one night I spent there was really nice.
In this instance I say head to the River. Be sure to take part in the clinics. They will get your buddies over the hump from skiing blue squares to skiing groomed balck diamonds.

Have a good time.
post #12 of 29
 FWIW - if you do Stowe for Starters, you get two lessons a day with your lift ticket. The way it's priced the tickets are pretty much free though you'll probably still win economically going to SR.
post #13 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone - just booked two days at Sunday River! Very excited.
post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 
On a related note - what trails would you recommend we hit? I've heard a lot about Jordan Bowl, but as a newcomer here, I'll be perfectly honest - I don't know what a 'bowl' is.
post #15 of 29
How's condition in Stowe right now?
post #16 of 29
Originally Posted by nkage487 View Post

On a related note - what trails would you recommend we hit? I've heard a lot about Jordan Bowl, but as a newcomer here, I'll be perfectly honest - I don't know what a 'bowl' is.

Jordan Bowl really doesn't seem like a "bowl" to me, but since you aren't sure what that is anyway, I wouldn't worry about it. It has some nice blue groomers: Rogue Angel, Excaliber; and although Lolapalooza is green, it's a long run that can be quite fun. Off it is a small glade, Blind Ambition, if you'd like to venture into an easy glade. Check conditions in there before hand though by asking people who are coming out of it back onto Lolly.  The Jordan lift has been having mechanical problems and you don't want to get stuck over there. So if you're not staying at the Jordan Grand hotel, you might not bother going over there if you are skiing SR for just 2 days.  Spruce peak has a couple of nice blue runs: American Express and Risky  Business. The chair is a slow triple, though. But often not crowded. A nice blue groomer on Aurora peak is Northern Lights. Go to Aurora via Paradigm trail, not Quantum Leap if you aren't comfortable on a steep trail. I really like Obsession over on White Cap. It's a black diamond, but almost always groomed. Has a nice double falline. Don't be afraid at the top, which is very icy and windy most of the time for a short distance. Once you're over that, you're fine. Don't be tempted by White Heat, as has been mentioned before. Any more questions, I'd be happy to try to help. Have a great time! Oh, ride the Spruce chair and do laps on T2 to Monday Mourning if there isn't any race training going on!
post #17 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone!

Kim - I appreciate the detailed tips - I'll be sure to include them in my plans for the weekend!

post #18 of 29
If you can ski Sunday River for 2 days while staying on the mountain while only 1 day at Stowe & having to drive 1 hour to your lodging for the same price I think it's a no brainer. Not sure exactly how far Montpelier is from Stowe but it's not real close & Rutland is a 2 hr. drive away.

By the way I think Stowe is a much better mtn. & while it's noted for it's steep expert terrain it has way more intermediate terrain than most people acknowledge. Yes it has steeps off the Mt. Manfield Quad but also many long intermediate runs. Then you have the gondola which is all intermediate plus all of Big & Little Spruce Peaks which is intermediate. Stowe also has the longest runs in the East (don't believe that Killington stuff because it's a 3 mile runout). The scenery at Stowe will also blow you away. Between what they've done at Spruce peak with it's new village (really 1st class all the way) and the charm of the village of Stowe nearby by it also offers way more off hill variety.

I've only skied Sunday River a couple of times & really didn't think much of the ski area itself with everything being spread out with small mtns & short runs. The base areas also leave a lot to be desired & the scenery doesn't even begin to compare with Stowe. I don't know much about apre ski activities in the area but I'm sure it doesn't start to compare with Stowe either ( Stowe has the best in the east) But for you & your friends abilities Sunday River offers way more than enough and for double the time at the same price that's the way I'd go. Just my .02 cents
post #19 of 29
Thread Starter 
Just got back - good trip!

The conditions were mostly decent - not much snow, but only hit a few really icy patches and virtually no rock. I was disappointed though that all of the glades were closed - I had psyched myself up to try my first glade run over at Blind Ambition (the only single-black glade run), but once I made it over to Jordan I found out it was closed, and then we had to take Kansas all the way back over to the rest of the mountain, which was more jogging than skiing.

Otherwise, things were pretty good, didn't get on too many blacks until the second day, and then the ones I got on were definitely manageable - most were actually pretty wide open and plain, just a little steeper than the blues. I really liked the top of Airglow, as well as 3D, which is actually marked blue but I think was more challenging than a lot of the blacks.

Took lessons both days (included free with the ski-and-stay). The first day it became a private lesson with just me and my buddy, and a great instructor who really solidified my parallel carving - something I had never learned properly how to do, just picking it up from watching my friends. I've now managed to avoid semi-hockey-stopping on every turn. The second day lesson wasn't great - bigger group, and aimed lower than I would have liked. Didn't really learn anything new, and only skied green runs even though it was a 'blue' clinic. Based on a few ability level guides I've seen online, I think I'm now somewhere between levels 6 and 7, depending on who you ask. Next time I think I'll want a 'black' clinic.

Anyhow, thanks again for all the advice -  now it's time to figure out where to go next! And to think about buying a pair of boots, which I have zero idea how to go about doing...
post #20 of 29
nkage487 - Glad you had a good time even though conditions didn't allow you to ski Blind Ambition. Seems to me group clinics are hit and miss anywhere you go. I've had your experiences before where some that turned into private lesson and others that weren't very valuable. If you get a chance to go back to Sunday River and don't want to ski Kansas all the way back from Jordan, you can take lift #13 out, then take lift #3 which will get you to the top of North Peak.

Getting your own ski boots is a great investment and can really help you improve. Look on-line for a certified boot fitter in your area.
post #21 of 29
Thread Starter 
Turned out lift 13 was actually closed (as was all of OZ - very disappointed about that, forget to mention it in my trip report).

I notice that your location is Boston - would you be able to recommend a bootfitter? Also, do people typically buy a boot somewhere than go get it fitted, or do you buy the boot from the bootfitter? I'm ready and excited to make this investment, but I certainly want to do it as economically as possible. My 'Skiing' account is dwindling for the year....and I just found out about Berkshire East...

Also, what's the best time of year to buy boots? I obviously don't mind getting the end of last year's models, as it were, if that's a money saver.


post #22 of 29
Boots are the most important piece of equipment you will own, so be prepared to do it right!

You may still be able to find some deals on last year's models, but it's going to be hit or miss in terms of the make, model and size inventory. 

First step is to find a bootfitter you can trust.  If you post your location you can probably get some advice on bootfitters in your area.  Talk to the bootfitter and figure out what makes and models would work for your feet and the type of skiing you do ... then figure out if there are any leftovers in those styles.

Don't let a salesperson put you into the wrong boot at the right price!
post #23 of 29
Thread Starter 
My location is suburban Boston, and for the sake of argument, let's say I'd be willing to drive up to an hour away. Any recommendations?
post #24 of 29
@nkage487 - Glad you had a good time! Sad that you hit a time when a lot was closed. When I was at SR last spring I wandered on to 3D thinking "Hey a blue". Oh man. I remember thinking "This is a blue?!" I think it may have been after that I suddenly became a bit shy and started working the greens there which are closer to the blues back home. =D

Going out west in two weeks, completely waiting for the same realization again only. "WTF? Blue?!" (though now I'm skiing glades and the "blacks" here in the midwest so here's hoping less of a shock)
post #25 of 29
Ski Stop outside Boston (westwood) hands down. Had over a dozen different boots in my time, these folks know their stuff. Worth every penny. They spent over an hour fitting me before I even tried anything on.
post #26 of 29
Specific bootfitter recommendations may be better answered in another thread in the gear forum or boot forum.

I had my boots fitted at GMOL in Stratton, so the Boston shops I know only through hearsay ...

  • Ski Stop in Westwood is supposed to be very good (+1 to Whalerman's recommendation)
  • Wilderness House in Boston has had some recommendations in the past ... nothing I've heard recently
  • Summit Ski & Snowboard in Framingham has one of the best ski techs in the country and mention a new bootfit service on the SkiMD website.  If they fit boots like they tune skis, this could be a winner.
post #27 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone - based on all of your recommendations, I just made an appointment with Phil at Ski Stop in Westwood. Excited to own my first boots!

@bnferguson: Glad it's not just me :-)
post #28 of 29
Thread Starter 
Just to update everyone - I went in on Friday and walked out an hour later with a brand new pair of Atomic M-tech 80s. I'm very excited! I haven't read anything about them here, but they fit great and look cool. Excited to give them a whirl this Thursday!

Anyhow, thanks for all of the advice, and I'm glad I found this site - I think I'll be spending a good amount of time here from now on...


post #29 of 29
Congrats on the new boots!! That's great!
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