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Sugarloaf or Sunday River?

Tonyr

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See, I'd much rather ski SR on a groomer only day than SL. Not because of the terrain, but because they have more lifts and they have less wind issues.

At SL, if you are an advanced skier, you are basically skiing off of three lifts only during groomer days; King Pine, Skyline or the Superquad. Any one of those lifts goes down and you are in for a long day of frustrating lines.

Contrast that to SR where you have White Heat, Barker, Spruce, North Peak, Aurora and Jordan. Even Locke and Oz will likely spin if crowded. So, it's just easier to avoid lines / crowds. I don't mind waiting in longer lines to ski trees or bumps, but if it's groomers only I get frustrated with lines.
If you were to take Brackett Basin out of the equation, which resort has the better tree skiing?
 

deadheadskier

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If you were to take Brackett Basin out of the equation, which resort has the better tree skiing?

Sugarloaf. Taking Bracket/Burnt away and SR actually might have slightly more tree skiing acreage, but Sugarloaf has more challenging trees still.

I wouldn't base my visit to SL based upon Bracket being open. While it's massive and unique, it's also extremely overrated unless you like to hike for turns. The trees on the main mountain are better overall IMO. What is lift serviced is quite limited on vertical. The further you traverse out, the less vertical you can ski and the longer the traverse back. If you miss the traverse back to King Pine, the ski down and slog over to Whiffletree absolutely sucks. Takes forever and is VERY flat
 

Tonyr

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Sugarloaf. Taking Bracket/Burnt away and SR actually might have slightly more tree skiing acreage, but Sugarloaf has more challenging trees still.

I wouldn't base my visit to SL based upon Bracket being open. While it's massive and unique, it's also extremely overrated unless you like to hike for turns. The trees on the main mountain are better overall IMO. What is lift serviced is quite limited on vertical. The further you traverse out, the less vertical you can ski and the longer the traverse back. If you miss the traverse back to King Pine, the ski down and slog over to Whiffletree absolutely sucks. Takes forever and is VERY flat
Great, that definitely settles it on SL then. We are going up there for the tree skiing. Between SL and Saddleback we should get our fill on the east coast glades we missed last season.

If Bracket Basin is open we'd try and stick to the trails near the ski boundary. I have zero desire to hike or make a long skate back to the resort. Thanks again for all of your insight, it is much appreciated!
 

machski

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Great, that definitely settles it on SL then. We are going up there for the tree skiing. Between SL and Saddleback we should get our fill on the east coast glades we missed last season.

If Bracket Basin is open we'd try and stick to the trails near the ski boundary. I have zero desire to hike or make a long skate back to the resort. Thanks again for all of your insight, it is much appreciated!
You can do the reverse as well. What has not been said yet is if winds ramp up, SL will be all but shutdown. This year, SR will know have two modern lifts that can tolerate all but the worst winds (Jordan 8 and new Barker 6). So if that pops up, may be worth the South drive for a day. Also in that regard, Saddleback has different exposures than SL and may not be impacted by wind the same so be flexible if you can and don't mind the drive around.
 

Hawk

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If you are in the proabability game then the probability that you hit Sugarloaf with no winds, good snow, not brutally cold and much terrain open is far lower than Sunday River. If you hit Sugarloaf on a day that things fall into place then it will be better than Sunday River. Everybody has thier Loaf experiences. It is a 4 hour drive for me and I have gone there about a dozen times thought the years. Mostly in my Sunday River days. I have yet to hit the mountain when it has shined. Not to say it doesn't have great days. Three times I went last minute on a huge dump. The mountain closed down each time with 60-70 mph winds and blew a ton of snow off the mountain. The first time it opened two days later with -10 temps. The other two times they opened the next day with limited terrian open. I have skied there in late March with excellent condtions and that was the only time the snow fields were open for me. Maybe things have changed but that was my experience.
 

Tonyr

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If you are in the proabability game then the probability that you hit Sugarloaf with no winds, good snow, not brutally cold and much terrain open is far lower than Sunday River. If you hit Sugarloaf on a day that things fall into place then it will be better than Sunday River. Everybody has thier Loaf experiences. It is a 4 hour drive for me and I have gone there about a dozen times thought the years. Mostly in my Sunday River days. I have yet to hit the mountain when it has shined. Not to say it doesn't have great days. Three times I went last minute on a huge dump. The mountain closed down each time with 60-70 mph winds and blew a ton of snow off the mountain. The first time it opened two days later with -10 temps. The other two times they opened the next day with limited terrian open. I have skied there in late March with excellent condtions and that was the only time the snow fields were open for me. Maybe things have changed but that was my experience.
I get that. It's an 8 hour drive for me. Rather than doing that though, my son and I are going to fly up to Portland Thursday night then we'll make the 2.5 hour drive up to the Saddleback/Sugarloaf area Friday morning from Portland. It's alot of time either way for a gamble on conditions.

While we've always wanted to ski the Maine resorts, unless we have an amazing time this is probably a one and done trip for us. The conditions up there appear to be even more variable than VT from what I'm reading.
 

machski

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I get that. It's an 8 hour drive for me. Rather than doing that though, my son and I are going to fly up to Portland Thursday night then we'll make the 2.5 hour drive up to the Saddleback/Sugarloaf area Friday morning from Portland. It's alot of time either way for a gamble on conditions.

While we've always wanted to ski the Maine resorts, unless we have an amazing time this is probably a one and done trip for us. The conditions up there appear to be even more variable than VT from what I'm reading.
They are because Maine does not benefit from Upslope snows that VT gets, typically early to midseason and Alberta Clipper systems typically get wrung out prior to Maine and while we get some, much less than to our west. Maine relies on Noreasters to load in the natural and some seasons, it takes a while for those to come in. Or they miss west (bad, we're warm) or miss East and we get nothing. SL and SB have had great early seasons in years where we get several early Noreasters, just depends on the year.
 

Former Sunday Rivah Rat

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Every time I have gone to SL I've been underwhelmed by the lifts and terrain. It's like 3 different grades on that mountain. Super steep at the top, nice in the middle and super flat at the bottom.
SR has a more areas that offer more consistent skiable terrain, better lifts, and a better overall experience. They are also one of the best run mountains, they bust their balls to make snow.
 

Edd

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You can do the reverse as well. What has not been said yet is if winds ramp up, SL will be all but shutdown. This year, SR will know have two modern lifts that can tolerate all but the worst winds (Jordan 8 and new Barker 6). So if that pops up, may be worth the South drive for a day. Also in that regard, Saddleback has different exposures than SL and may not be impacted by wind the same so be flexible if you can and don't mind the drive around.
That’s good news because SR is FAR from immune to wind holds; I consider them more vulnerable than most, but Loaf is worse.

I’m not one to ski MLK, but throwing in Saddleback, since committing in advance is necessary, I like the idea of positioning between any two of the three, and choosing last minute where to ski.
 

Tonyr

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That’s good news because SR is FAR from immune to wind holds; I consider them more vulnerable than most, but Loaf is worse.

I’m not one to ski MLK, but throwing in Saddleback, since committing in advance is necessary, I like the idea of positioning between any two of the three, and choosing last minute where to ski.
I'm stuck to a school schedule so I have no choice! But yes, we will make sure to keep the options open between the three resorts that weekend.
 

darent

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Jan and I go every year in March. we stay at SR and ski mid week and take Saturday and Sunday off, them if conditions are good we will head up to SL
WE have found conditions better at SR most of the time and have been real lucky hitting SL with excellent snow conditions some of the times. Check weather and snow conditions and don't forget about SB
 

parahelia

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I'm stuck to a school schedule so I have no choice! But yes, we will make sure to keep the options open between the three resorts that weekend.

A good base for keeping your options open is Farmington, just south of downtown proper on Rt 2. From there it's 1:10 or less to all 3 resorts, so you can make your play based on the conditions. I'll often stay in one of the cheap motels (Mt. Blue, Farmington, and Colonial Valley) -- perfectly acceptable, though I'm sure there are plusher options if you'd like. Farmington is a college town with a nice little downtown and various eating options. I like staying there when I go to the Loaf because it cuts an hour off my trip the night before, too.
 
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IF there’s a big dump and you like skiing trees definitely go to Black. SR gets mobbed and Black has at most five minute lift lines and tickets under $60.
 

kbroderick

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IF there’s a big dump and you like skiing trees definitely go to Black. SR gets mobbed and Black has at most five minute lift lines and tickets under $60.
MLK weekend has been one of the less-busy weekends at Sunday River in recent years, from a tree-skiing perspective. I think that enough of the regulars are blacked out because of the peak weekend that, while the number of people on the hill isn't small, they tilt more towards the groomers.

If you want to ski trees and are good with stuff that's not crazy steep, I think Sunday River offers more accessible glade acreage than Sugarloaf. Personally, I wouldn't put money on either having glades open any given time in January (even if we get the base depth, the chance of a thaw-freeze cycle is high). Sugarloaf is a better bet in that regard, being a bit further north and higher, but as already noted, the trade is that a cold day at Sunday River is usually still manageable and a cold day at Sugarloaf will have you searching for a tauntaun to crawl inside.
 

Tonyr

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MLK weekend has been one of the less-busy weekends at Sunday River in recent years, from a tree-skiing perspective. I think that enough of the regulars are blacked out because of the peak weekend that, while the number of people on the hill isn't small, they tilt more towards the groomers.

If you want to ski trees and are good with stuff that's not crazy steep, I think Sunday River offers more accessible glade acreage than Sugarloaf. Personally, I wouldn't put money on either having glades open any given time in January (even if we get the base depth, the chance of a thaw-freeze cycle is high). Sugarloaf is a better bet in that regard, being a bit further north and higher, but as already noted, the trade is that a cold day at Sunday River is usually still manageable and a cold day at Sugarloaf will have you searching for a tauntaun to crawl inside.
That doesn't surprise me, we skied Stowe 3 separate years over MLK weekend. Saturdays are kind of busy, Sundays not busy at all and by the time Monday rolls around the resort is dead. The pass blackout has something to do with it but I also think locals stay away on holiday weekends as well.

We'll just keep our options open that weekend and make decisions on where to ski based on the weather/conditions each day. Seems like there is a good chance that we'll end up skiing all 3 resorts during our trip.
 
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Dexter

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What is the snow usually like at SR the week after Christmas?

(Yes I know it will probably be crowded but that's just a fact of life skiing anywhere that week.)
 

Andrew B.

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What is the snow usually like at SR the week after Christmas?

(Yes I know it will probably be crowded but that's just a fact of life skiing anywhere that week.)
Man made (and lots of it) 8 years out of 10
A couple of years ago we got a serious Christmas week dump but they are the exception not the rule.
 

Hawk

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Proabably pretty good unless we get the R word again.
Usually they have trails open on most mountains. They push to get at least one trail to Jordan a couple on Arora, South Ridge, a cople on North peak and someing down to the Summit. Usually it is White Cap that lags behind.
 

Andrew B.

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Proabably pretty good unless we get the R word again.
Usually they have trails open on most mountains. They push to get at least one trail to Jordan a couple on Arora, South Ridge, a cople on North peak and someing down to the Summit. Usually it is White Cap that lags behind.
From what I have heard (Mach would know more than me) but I think that with the new snowmaking improvements we will get several trails in Jordan early.
There is a rumor that with the B6 construction they may open out in J this year.
 
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