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Sugarloaf or Sunday River?

kbroderick

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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.
There was also a recent year (meaning I can't remember which one, but since I moved back in 2018) that we were skiing everything at the end of November, and then by Christmas, we were back to a very limited menu due to melt, rain, and then a freeze.

I'd be willing to be on good groomer skiing that week. I wouldn't be inclined to bet on anything else, at either Sunday River or Sugarloaf (although, again, the edge goes to Sugarloaf for being better positioned to benefit from borderline snow events).
 

BodeMiller1

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Sunday River is a hop, skio and a jump ivr the N.H. line. The mountian was built by skiers for skiers. After a tough day nailing whoville The Sunday River Brew Co. is as good as beer get's (meow).
I thought I knew what steep was and then I rode the gondola up to the Sugarloaf cone. The unstopable cold and Bullwinkles. This is the best mountain in the east, butt I've never hit Saddleback...
and the beat goes on

Back country ib the east, as hawk knows sometimes you have the natural other years not so much. If it was great every year it would not be anything at all. People only want what they don't have...
 

Hawk

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Sunday River and the Loaf for the last decade or so have had a good amount of storms blow up in the gulf and dump. When I skied there earlier in my life that was not the cast. We always missed most of the big stoms. At least that is what I remember. Also and lately, the upslope events on the VT spine have been less frequent. I hope this trend ends.
 

jimk

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Here are three articles from about ten years ago. As a tourist I enjoyed Sugarloaf (big) and Saddleback (picturesque) the most, but Sunday River is nice too. I also had a fun day at Mt. Abram. These guys on AZ know these mtns much better than me, so take my input with a grain of salt.



 
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thebigo

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Even for you, this is some nonsense shit.
Sunday river brew co is the one place I recommend avoiding in newry/bethel. Only took one plate of nachos with uncooked chicken, plus the beer is lousy. We have tried most everywhere but always end up back at the matterhorn.
 

Tonyr

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Here are three articles from about ten years old. As a tourist I enjoyed Sugarloaf (big) and Saddleback (picturesque) the most, but Sunday River is nice too. I also had a fun day at Mt. Abram. These guys on AZ know these mtns much better than me, so take my input with a grain of salt.



Thanks for sharing these articles Jim. My back can't handle an 8 hour drive in the car at this point, I couldn’t imagine driving 12 hours each way! My son is 12 and hope we can continue to make these trips together for years to come as it appears you have been doing with yours.
 

SLyardsale

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Sugarloaf was my home Mt for 2001-2012. Most of the advice / comments here are mainly accurate. A couple of other points on wind / lifts. Besides Timberline, Wiffletree is a major wind prone lift. Prior to Skyline, that was a problem as Spillway Chairs didn't have the weight to move either. Now, you could have Wiffletree down but Skyline going in order to get over via Spillway xcut to that east side. And, I always recommend staying away from the base after you get out (via Superquad or Wiffletree or West Mt or next year Bucksaw )- which is another Sugarloaf problem not effectively mentioned here in detail. From Peavy xcut down, the mt is one big runout - but that shouldn't be an issue - but it can be if other lifts go on hold - things change there quickly - so keep an eye out. Ski Narrow Gauge (if open - often closed for race training) with your son - where the best skiers in the US have skied Nationals mutilple years since 2000. MLK weekend was more of a cold problem than wind or lack of snow problem in the 10 years I was there. Also, for the last minute decisions.. as many have said, the N'easter is what fuels snow at Sugarloaf and the winds on the backside of those hurt. After a N'easter, Sugarloaf is best skied at least 48 hour after the storm pulls out. Next day, can still have the wind. I rarely could not ski a weekend at Sugarloaf no matter what the situation - but there were those times. I'd take the chance - I often did.
 

Andrew B.

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Even for you, this is some nonsense shit.
There are 2 “breweries” in bethel where I won’t drink their beer. SRBC and if you haven’t tried the steam mill product I would say don’t. The food and other beer selection at Steam Mill is great.
The shout out for definitive is legit. Although I find their food hit or miss.
At least shipyards Finder is drinkable.
 

Great Bear

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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.
I don't want to come off as snarky, but if you have to get on a plane anyway, why on earth would you fly to Maine to do a 2.5 hour drive for most likely what will be marginal New England skiing? Why not head west?
 

Great Bear

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There was also a recent year (meaning I can't remember which one, but since I moved back in 2018) that we were skiing everything at the end of November, and then by Christmas, we were back to a very limited menu due to melt, rain, and then a freeze.

I'd be willing to be on good groomer skiing that week. I wouldn't be inclined to bet on anything else, at either Sunday River or Sugarloaf (although, again, the edge goes to Sugarloaf for being better positioned to benefit from borderline snow events).
This has happened more than once in the past several years - big storms early season - most of the mountains open. Then a thaw/rain event and back to a small handful of man-made groomers by Christmas week.
 

Tonyr

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I don't want to come off as snarky, but if you have to get on a plane anyway, why on earth would you fly to Maine to do a 2.5 hour drive for most likely what will be marginal New England skiing? Why not head west?
Good question, we'll be skiing out west over Christmas and New Years, then head up to Maine 8 days after we're back. The flight to ME is short and very cheap. Also, skiing those resorts up there have always been on our bucket list. We went all last season skiing out west and miss the east coast trees!
 

Great Bear

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Good question, we'll be skiing out west over Christmas and New Years, then head up to Maine 8 days after we're back. The flight to ME is short and very cheap. Also, skiing those resorts up there have always been on our bucket list. We went all last season skiing out west and miss the east coast trees!
Makes sense. I imagine New England will be a disappointment 8 days after being out west LOL. If you have skied Vermont, Maine is really no different (although I think typically less average natural snowfall). I guess between the two, I prefer Sugarloaf overall, but agree with some of the wind and cold comments. (Although we have mostly done Vermont the past 15 years) Sunday River probably caters more to the "groomer crowd". At either place, If it is a typical January of mainly man-made snow, get out early and be prepared to be done early. You will beat the MLK crowds a little bit and get the slopes before it is skied off... as other mentioned this can happen by 10 or 10:30. In New England man-made conditions, our mantra is usually "10 by 10" (get 10 runs in before 10AM) and then we wrap it up for the day.

You never know though; you may hit it right and get a good New England powder day!
 

Tonyr

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Makes sense. I imagine New England will be a disappointment 8 days after being out west LOL. If you have skied Vermont, Maine is really no different (although I think typically less average natural snowfall). I guess between the two, I prefer Sugarloaf overall, but agree with some of the wind and cold comments. (Although we have mostly done Vermont the past 15 years) Sunday River probably caters more to the "groomer crowd". At either place, If it is a typical January of mainly man-made snow, get out early and be prepared to be done early. You will beat the MLK crowds a little bit and get the slopes before it is skied off... as other mentioned this can happen by 10 or 10:30. In New England man-made conditions, our mantra is usually "10 by 10" (get 10 runs in before 10AM) and then we wrap it up for the day.

You never know though; you may hit it right and get a good New England powder day!
We have skied up in Vermont quite a bit and know all too well about the variability of snow conditions. When the weather is on, I can have just as much fun skiing Northern VT as I could anywhere out west. Too many times though that is not the case, so I know going west is definitely the safer experience especially in December and January. Just have to hope we get lucky with the weather!
 

MadPadraic

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I've given this more thought since my earlier post, which was more balanced. If this is your only trip to Maine for the foreseeable future, you should just go to Sugarloaf. It's the best in the East. If you don't have good weather then either SL or SR will be perfectly fine. However, if you do get good weather then the snowfields, bracket basin, the easy to find glades and some other unique trails will really pay off. Basically, the difference in good weather is so much greater than any marginal difference for bad weather that you should make the bet.
 
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newportland54

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Great info/advice......and Saddleback's tree section, once they get a dump, is a lot of fun. Brackett is nice when open. Will also be interesting to see what is going on on Burnt Mtn that they grabbed... The racers from the Ski Academy at Sugarloaf can often be a challenge when trying to get AM powder of any depth by yourself, when/IF the dumps happen...so you've gotta get up early, even midweek. SR can be a midweek, post-nightly dump sleeper.
 
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thetrailboss

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Great info/advice......and Saddleback's tree section, once they get a dump, is a lot of fun. Brackett is nice when open. Will also be interesting to see what is going on on Burnt Mtn that they grabbed... The racers from the Ski Academy at Sugarloaf can often be a challenge when trying to get AM powder of any depth by yourself, when/IF the dumps happen...so you've gotta get up early, even midweek. SR can be a midweek, post-nightly dump sleeper.
As to racers from CVA at Sugarloaf: that was the only disappointment in my visit back in January of this year. CVA had training going on Narrow Gauge ALL DAY both days and, with limited terrain, it would have been nice to have skied it.

Other than that, we had a great visit. Yes, the conditions sucked, but they had made a lot of snow and had some good options for us to ski.
 
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