It’s a bit of a hike from Pittsburgh to Stratton in Southern Vermont for a ski weekend. Not far off a 9 hour drive each way in fact. All the ingredients for an excellent ski weekend were in place though. A deep snow base all over the mountain. A good weather forecast. Cheap on-mountain ski-n-stay deal. So we packed the car and hit the road.
Saturday made it all worthwhile. It was a perfect bluebird day, starting off frosty and firm with a northerly wind that would’ve made a well-clad Eskimo hesitate about ripping down a mountain at warp-speed (it was 9F at the top at 8,30am). While we waited for it to warm up, inviting sparsely utilized groomers gave us plenty of options for exploration. Snaking and winding through the trees, with a top-to-bottom vertical of 2000 feet, the upper 2/3rds provided consistent fall-line cruising. Nothing particularly steep and scary, but wonderfully manicured runs kept us more than happy until lunchtime.
By 1pm, softening conditions opened up many more options. Guided by the trail map, we sought out the moderately well disguised gladed areas. These were a true find. Seriously bumpy, tight in places, runs like Diamonds in the Rough and Dancing Bear were great, challenging skiing. I saw a total of two prostrate (possibly stoned?) snowboarders in the glades in maybe 15 runs during the whole weekend. I wasn’t complaining.
Sunday was the sort of mixed day the East is famous for. It started to drizzle as we got on first lift at 8.30am. A light overnight freeze meant soft groomers, perfect for high-speed shredding. By 10am we retreated into the mid-mountain lodge caked in a layer of ice – a first, skiing in freezing rain. Emerging at 10.15am, the precip had stopped, the sun came out and we were defrosted and dry by 10.45am. Then it warmed up, and the whole mountain became a skiing cornucopia until we bailed at 1pm for the long drive home.
There’s a lot of ski hills for us to explore in Upstate New York and Vermont. It’s something I’m really looking forward to. Stratton is one of the easier to get to, and if we can get conditions this good again, it’ll be a no-brainer destination.
Saturday 10,900m, Sunday 7100m vert
Season Totals: 62 days, 22 powder days, 568,600m vert