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Stratton - 12/21 and 12/24


Dec 14, 2005
Jenkintown, PA
We came up for annual X-Mas trip to Manchester/Stratton. This is our 6th year in a row coming up during this week so we prepare for any conditions thrown at us. We have had years where we were skiing on barely 1/3 of the mountain with only a couple top-to-bottom runs and have had years where we could ski in the trees.

12/21 - We arrived around dinner time the day prior as temps were rising and rain was falling. Checking the reports, Stratton reported soft snow and major trail expansion to 77 trails. Temps were in the upper 40s but the rain held off until about 2 PM. The sun even poked through the clouds for a bit. Skiing was actually pretty good until the rain came. Snow was soft but not too soft and actually pretty fast. There were some areas of ice but it was soft. Even with the warm temps, Stratton still managed to groom a good number of trails. We hit a large variety of trails. ROTD was Bear Down which was ungroomed with large swales in the first half of the run and then big, soft bumps for the second half. For groomed, the Drifter runs skied the best.

Seeing the forecasts, we decided to take 12/22 and 12/23 off and wait for the cold to come back. Seeing all the snow melt at our hotel in Manchester we had no idea what to expect. Taking drives up to Weston to the VT Country Store, we noticed areas where there was still a decent amount of snow - though this was not always elevation dependent.

12/24 - The snow reports at Stratton still had trail counts in the 50s but we were expecting close to a skating rink with the quick drop in temps overnight. However, being Pocono skiers this wasn't going to be anything we haven't seen before. Driving up to the mountain the guns were firing. First few runs off American Express lift were surprisingly good. Definite frozen granular but basically what you would see throughout the year at many Northeastern mountains. Death cookies were minimal and was firm ice. Trails where the guns were blazing had nice soft skiable powder, not just dust on crust. Our ROTD was World Cup, which they had completely groomed but they hadn't blown snow on. It was firm but very skiable and we ended up hitting it twice. Overall, I have to commend Stratton for an outstanding job getting the mountain so skiable so quickly. We expected a s$%t show but ended up having what I would term an average Northeast ski day. We'll be returning tomorrow before heading home to Philly. With cold temps, the guns blazing for another night and another pass of the Stratton groomers we are expecting a pretty decent X-Mas ski day.
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