it was too cold for pics...

Airbnb in Waterbury was very nice with a wood stove. We chose it because in theory is was walking distance to town, but given the night time temps, we drove the .9 miles every night.

More on Waterbury later...

So, woke up 12/29 to forecasts of a high of -3 at the bases of both SB and MRG. Decided to hit Sugarbush, Lincoln, reasoning that the high speed lifts would get us out of the cold, and that we could find good skiing on the trails serviced by the lower mountain lifts if it was unbearable at the top.

Pulled into the parking lot with the car calling it -8. Yikes. Luckily there was little wind.

Couple of runs off the Gate house - snow was nice. Couple of ice patches on the Sleeper trail, then into the rental shack to warm up, then on to castle rock - Wow - it was just plain awesome. Wind blown boot deep drifts on the edges of middle earth up top, and totally edgable packed powder the rest of the way down. Castle rock run was fantastic - such a fun trail - classic New England winding rolling trip....loved it.

We left Rumble on the table. It just got too cold....down to the lodge for lunch. Great hot noodle bowls, then back out...made our way over to Heaven's Gate and whole family went up to the summit and we enjoyed Jester - such great views and the snow was awesome.

But cold.

That was enough for everyone but me. Was torn between trying Paradise or heading back to Castle Rock - decided on the rock and had some more nice runs before I was frozen solid.

Whole family was psyched - it was really a great day considering the temperatures.

Back to Waterbury...Waterbury dining run-down:

Night 1 - Blackback Pub - fun. Great bar scene, super friendly staff and patrons. Good food. Some vegetarian options. Great beer. Hill Farmstead Edward became my 'last one' every night of the trip because it was on every menu, and is just so damn good. But had two other very good IPAs, which I can't remember now....

Night 2 - Reservoir. Ditto. Just a very nice place, tons of great beers which I can't remember - except the Edward - and decent food - though I think my meal was kind of Meh. Wings were decent and there were decent vegetarian options for the vegetarians among us.

Night 3 - Prohibition Pig - outstanding. Frost beer works Lush on tap - exceptional DIPA. And Edward. Brisket platter, salads, roasted chicken...all excellent. Great night.

Day 4 - tacos from the Pig's brewery - very good.

Night 4 - New years eve...the only kind of clunker of the trip. We had reservations at Sugarbush's Rumble for the fireworks but we bailed on it - just got sick of that drive, and frankly, the food there isn't memorable based on our experience last year. We were having too much fun in Waterbury and getting back to our wood stove for games to spend the time driving. So we went to Blue Stone. Last year we enjoyed a great meal at their Waitsfield (or Warren? I forget) location. But the Waterbury location was purely mediocre. Pizza wasn't that special, and the service was kind of off. Didn't help that the place was kind of empty on New Years Eve.

While the family finished up, I ran over to the Pig for some take out deserts - and a Big Bang IPA - and they were empty too! Turns out NYE isn't really a big deal in Waterbury....strange.

Anyway, back to the skiing..... to MRG.

Forecasted highs of about +8....but was below zero when we started....

Double first.....Catamount bowl...BOOM. Knew it was gonna be a great day. Certainly no fresh snow on the ground, but again, the packed powder was just so completely edge able. and ice free, it was just plain awesome.

I remain true believer in the MRG mojo....low skier volume, no limited man-made snow, no snowboarders* (sorry) = longer lasting good conditions.

The other fun thing about that mountain, and the double in particular, is, when it's 100% open - as it was - you just kind of ski anywhere....the trails aren't always really well defined, or just bop here and there, and make your way down. Fun stuff.

Up the single for Antelope>Lynx>Beaver, then Antelope>Glades, all great. Only time there was any scratch was down low. For example, lower glade was a bit sketch, while upper glade was beautiful. Then Paradise....

As we were making the traverse to Paradise, I mentioned to my daughters that I seem to remember a couple of mandatory cliffs....they just started laughing....

They survived the waterfall cliff, and had a blast. Conditions were unbelievably good considering the dated of the last snow fall. Soft, carvable - what a treat.

A line developed on the single after about 1Pm, so we spent the rest of the day on the double. Canyon/Grand Canyon was great, that long blue skiers left- stuff.

really, a great day. Top 5 family day for sure.

BUT THEN....someone took my wife's skis. Yikes. She left them on the road rack and they were gone after we had a beer (Flyin Ryan from Long trail. No Edward at Starks Pub)

Of course they weren't stolen - that would be so un-MRG. Someone had just grabbed them by mistake. And we got them back the next day.

We bailed on skiing our last day because the forecast was for a high of -8 at the base with winds. When I drove down to grab the skis, I saw about 5 people load the single and maybe 3 pairs on the double in the five minutes I was watching, so I think we made the right call. It was pretty breezy. But I was bummed to only get two days in.
Oh well - means I will have to head back this season to burn p the rest of my Mad Card....

All in all, a great trip, with two exceptional days. Skiing Castlerock and the single chair stuff with my daughters is just such a gift.

So my season starts with 4 days total in December, which is good for me, and all of them in VT, which is unheard of. Usually it's a few in the pokes or cats if I'm lucky.

* I think the thing is, beginner level snowboards spend a great deal of time side slipping down the mountain, and that scrapes and compresses the snow, and leads to a harder surface that more easily turns to ice. Certainly, advanced level boarders do no harm to a mountain's skiing surface, but lower level boarders vs. lower level skiers....i think there is something to this.