We leave, it snows
It almost never fails. We leave Tahoe for our Big Trip and the biggest storms of the year happen. This year was beyond anything seen before. About 90″ of snow fell on top of the 210″ that had already fallen this winter. It made the news repeatedly as buildings collapsed and resorts were buried. Sierra-at-Tahoe and Heavenly were both closed for days and most of the days they were open operations were very limited. Luckily we have the best neighbors ever and they kept the driveway clear for us! There is nothing like coming home to 3′ of heavy snow and ice blocking the driveway and they saved us from that. Thanks Jason!
Lucky with the weather this time
Even though we regret not being in Tahoe for the historic event, it was actually the perfect time to ski the last 8 resorts in the Northeast on our list. This was without a doubt one of the most fun and memorable trips of the project! A few big storms came in just before we went and we caught 2 more while we were there. Most of the resorts were 100% open, or close to that. Temperatures were reasonable, and we didn’t hit ANY rain! Amazing luck. The 2 previous trips featured rain, sleet, and -40F wind chills.
We started the trip by flying into Boston on a red-eye and driving up to Northern Maine to ski Sugarloaf. The last 30 miles featured pretty heavy snow, but driving through a typical storm in the northeast is not like driving through a blizzard in Tahoe. They do a great job with the roads and the snow banks are low which leaves the road just as wide as normal.
Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Cannon, Smugglers’ Notch and Jay
We skied 6 days in a row starting with 2 at Sugarloaf, then on to Sunday River, Cannon Mountain, Smugglers’ Notch, and Jay Peak. For Sunday River and Cannon we spent only one night nearby and then drove on to the next resort after skiing. We tend to ski until late in the day for the review, so this gets really tiring and hectic. Not to mention our legs which get more and more sore! At some point you kind of settle-in to the routine and your body adjusts to the demands of skiing 25-30K of vertical a day thankfully.
Travel and rest day
For the 2nd half of the trip we left our excellent cabin in Jeffersonville, VT at Sterling Ridge Resort and did some winter tourist things on the way to Lake Placid, NY. This was our only day off from skiing. The ferry across Lake Champlain was a unique experience for us — especially on a ski trip.
Back in my birth state New York we made our way to Lake Placid and looked around the 1932 and 1980 Olympic sites and did a sled dog ride on Mirror Lake. This was AiRung’s first time walking on a frozen lake and it was funny when I noticed she was walking gently almost as if she was afraid of falling through.
Whiteface, Pico, and Killington
Whiteface was a special treat with probably the most steep grooming we have ever encountered. Add to that rare bluebird conditions, temps in the high 20’s, and no wind! It’s the highest resort in the northeast with the largest vertical drop and ranks 2nd on our eastern resort rankings after Sugarloaf. We call it the “Sun Valley” of the east because the resorts are actually very similar the way they ski.
After skiing almost 30K we popped back in the car and drove several hours back to Rutland, Vermont to ski the last 2: Pico and Killington. Rutland looks a bit like many towns in California strangely. Our hotel had a panoramic view of the large mall parking lot LOL.
Our last resort Killington had to be skied in one day instead of 2 because a large Nor’easter was coming in and we had to get out before that happened. We rescheduled our return flight for one day earlier. This was a good decision because that storm made the national news with plenty of footage of mayhem on the roads shown. We did almost 31K of vertical at Killington and really enjoyed it even though almost everyone we talked to before going there gave us a bad impression of the place.
Getting back to the airport in Boston was a reminder of why I don’t like driving in Boston. The last 6 miles took about 1 1/2 hours and we barely made the cutoff time for baggage. We lifted off in the exact same weather we arrived in — pouring rain.
It’s a huge relief to have pulled this trip off without missing any of the resorts on our list. Anything could have happened, but it didn’t and the conditions were perfect for reviewing these resorts fairly. Skiing in the northeast is really appealing and fun when conditions are good.
Northeastern resort rankings
After 3 trips across the continent and 14 visited resorts we are ready to rank them! Note that there are a few resorts that we would have liked to have skied and reviewed like Magic Mountain, Burke, Bolton Valley, Stratton, Wildcat, Gore, Saddleback, Attitash, Waterville Valley, Okemo, and Loon, but tough decisions had to be made to keep the list at only 100 resorts. Admittedly, we have favored western resorts due to somewhat more reliable and likable weather.
|3||Le Massif, QC|
|7||Cannon Mountain, NH|
|8||Smugglers’ Notch, VT|
|9||Mad River Glen, VT|
|10||Jay Peak, VT|
|12||Sunday River, ME|
|13||Mont-Sainte Anne, QC|
Now we will enjoy late-season skiing in Tahoe. Palisades is planning to stay open until June and although we haven’t heard anything about Heavenly and Sierra I bet they will extend as well. We will wrap it up as always with a skiing/camping trip to Mammoth, which plans to stay open until late July. This could end up being another year where our final ski days are on the 4th of July week!