Sugarbush - December 18, 2003

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  1. #1

    Sugarbush - December 18, 2003

    December 18, 2003
    Sugarbush, Warren, VT
    A windy disappointment

    As you might have seen in the "Solo or group skier?" topic, I was planning on skiing Mad River Glen today. I got up and was on my way with plenty of time to arrive and buy my half-day ticket, but MRG was not in the cards for the J-Dog. I've been shopping around for a new set of tires because the tread on my current set is wearing down and I don't have much traction. More on that later. The drive up was not easy. I drive 495 to 93 to 89. It wasn't until just before King Ridge that there was any sign of new snow on the ground. That's when things started to get tricky. At that point on, usually only one of 89's lane was clear. As I started getting into Central Vermont, the light rain changed to light snow. After getting off at exit 10, the driving was very difficult, but I'm impressed with Vermont drivers. They handled the 10-12 inches that fell in the Mad River Valley very well, taking it slow all the way. It was a winter wonderland. But my car wasn't sticking that well to the road because of my old tires. As I was driving up one of the steeper hills on Rt. 17 toward Mad River Glen, I realized I wasn't going to make it. Sadly, I didn't even make it as far as the left turn to Mt. Ellen. Feeling defeated and frustrated, my body temperature rose as I made a U-turn and headed back down 17 toward 100. I decided to go to Sugarbush (Lincoln Peak) because I knew there were no steep roads to embarass me and I had checked out their trail report yesterday and was impressed with the percentage of open terrain, including the Castlerock Chair. I knew I'd still enjoy myself and get a little taste of MRG-like terrain on that chair.




    Birdland (my biggest challenge of the day...besides trying to drive up the MRG access road) underneath the Super Bravo Express Quad

    I bought my 1/2 day ticket for $38 and got onto the Gate House Express Quad (normal speed) which would let me off at the Castlerock Connection trail. At the top of the lift I was a bit disoriented because the sign to the trail didn't seem to point in the direction of any tracked trail. I walked on my skies toward where the sign was pointing, but a ski patroller ran out of her hut and told me it was closed. "The Castlerock chair is closed?" I asked. Not good. A powder day and the Castlerock area is closed. The rest of the report will be abriviated because I found out later that the Heaven's Gate Triple was also closed, meaning only the lower mountain was available. I like Mount Ellen better anyway, so I decided to head to the Slide Brook Express and get the hell away from 1/2 Lincoln Peak. Closed. It was a very windy day. There was some incredibly deep snow and just soft moguls in their beginning stages. The few groomed slopes were a welcome treat to rest my burning legs. It was snowing hard all afternoon. My jacket and pants got very wet. I enjoyed Murphy's Glade and Jester the most. Nice skiing, but right now I wish to blaze a fire on Sugarbush.


    Can't see the summit? Don't worry because it was closed anyway. Actual wind hold or just not enough employees? Hmmm.

  2. #2
    Greg's Avatar
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    Thanks for the report Josh. Still better than work, eh? Should've met me at Jiminy...although the trouble with the 6 was kind of a bummer.

    Great pics. The powder on Birdland looks shweet!
    I ski double black diamonds.

  3. #3
    jlangdale
    Guest
    Next time, use exit 9 the Moretown/Waitsfield exit. Don't go through Waterbury and over the mountain. Going out of your way, bro.

    Great pics! Sorry you ran into the mid-week we-are-closing-the-lifts issue. No matter wind or not, they are choosing not to run the split brook mid-week as well as potentially a few of the others. I'm not sure how much of this is wind or cut-backs in staffing to save money for the summit. It really does suck and seriously hurts mid-week skiing. Almost makes it not worth going when the good stuff is closed. I would really expect season pass sales to suffer next season. Didn't look too windy to me, but I wasn't up there. I think probably staffing is low as is and some potentially didn't show due to the weather, power and roads, etc. But who knows.

  4. #4
    JoshuaB, your trip report sounds much like my mid-week trip report when i went to sugarbush last february! castlerock and slide brook closed!! the only two reasons i went their! i actually started at north and drove to south after i found out the slide brook was closed (contrary to their report) and then found the castlerock on a wind hold.

    it sure was blowing hard that day. but the heaven's gate was running, and that seemed to me more exposed than castle rock was. eh, whichever i guess.

    been to the bush twice and yet to have an incredible experience there. yet to even have an average experience there. i think they seriously need to re-evaluate what that resort is all about and what that resort should mean to skiers. wind hold or not... something isn't right at the bush lately in my opinion. and here i thought the change of ownership would be a HUGE benefit to the moutain.
    -Steve
    TheSnowWay.com "Skiing is not a sport, it is a way of life." - Otto Schniebs

  5. #5
    Yes guys, let the fire blaze! Of course I mean this figuratively.

    Jon, I don't know why I said exit 10. I did take exit 9.

  6. #6
    I posted these pix elsewhere, but I'll put 'em back up for AZ. These are from Monday, right after the 30" dump. Castle Rock was down that day too, as was the North Lynx chair. Luckily, Heaven's Gate was open -- check me out in the second pic; I was second down Ripcord after they dropped the rope .


    Top of Super Bravo


    First Tracks on Ripcord


    Lower Paradise


    Sleeper Woods

  7. #7
    Greg's Avatar
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    Great pics, Klugscheisser. Thanks. Welcome to the boards!
    I ski double black diamonds.

  8. #8
    jlangdale
    Guest
    Sugarbush is great. You can have an awesome time there, I have many times. Although i can see how someone coming up mid-week could have a less than great time. It's just too bad that you're likely to have to go on the weekends to get the other lifts. Add to that if you go when it's not a blue sky day, limited terrain it can be so so. Even so, on nice days during the week with ideal conditions you're still likely to see some lifts not running, ie. split brook because it hardly gets used during the week.

    I don't know what it would take to get Sugarbush in better shape for day tripping mid-weekers. Well, yea I do know. More ticket sales in general I guess to support the staffing and resources. I don't know either way, but my guess would be the previous seasons and this Lodge deal have hurt financially so things are tight. Last year mid-week things were completely dead, I mean deader than dead it was so dead it was scarey sitting in the base area with music playing and nobody walking around.

    How do you get more people mid-week? Open more terrain (the terrain you have) and make more snow if you ask me. But that sounds like Killington's market approach and the bush people will tell you they don't want to be that. So what is left? If you lose season pass sales, that would leave well-to-do people coming up for vacations/holidays that don't mind all the opern terrain (who are these people?) and the holiday/weekend time money makers.

    I heard something/rumor on RSN that perhaps more terrain was planned to be cut for North. I don't see how something like this would even be considered when it seems difficult to have all terrain open during the week. In some cases, given the wind, even some of the key areas and summits are closed.

    I can sympathize, last season I was working as a contractor with mid-week time off. Before I moved up here I choose to get an all-east ASC pass to Killington because of the season length, snowmaking and terrain. Luckily I got a part-time job at Sugarbush. I've had some awesome times skiing on the weekends at Sugarbush. I think in part because of the low volume even on weekends it doesn't get too especially crowded. Certainly not like Killington on the weekends. Mid-week, Killington is manageable for later day skiing. Sugarbush, forget about it... it can be dead and you can have whole runs to yourself easily. That makes it hard to justify amount of trails they can have open due to expenses.

    So, my recommendation would be to goto Sugarbush early morning for a weekend or two when the weather is prime.

  9. #9
    WOW - check out that powder! Never skied in anything like that in the East.......outstanding - !! Was it dry or mushy? Looks mighty good.....

    Post #100.......

  10. #10
    The snow was great. Certainly not as dry as the blower snow that fell during the previous week's nor'easter (while I was out in Colorado skiing dogpoop boilerplate and ice ), but very yummy nonetheless.

    Whaddaya mean you never skied powder in the East?

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