As you can see, there are some pretty ugly developments happening at Stowe lately. You might also notice that the snow coverage isn’t that good either.
The development at Spruce Peak continues on its absurd scale. The new Spruce “Camp” Base Lodge feels more like a sterilized hotel lobby than a ski lodge. The faux wood benches and chairs are uncomfortable and lack practicality. Clearly this was a lodge designed by AIG big wigs without any input from skiers and riders. This seems weird to say but even the bathrooms took me out of the skiing mentality and put me into a city ambiance.
Adding financial insult to aesthetic injury, I had to pony up $5.00 for my “Evolution” card even though I already prepaid for a voucher. Unlike most other excessive ski resorts, Mount Mansfield’s terrain is worth dealing with the pomp. I made like an egg and crossed over to the Gondola. Due to the sun, I planned to take full advantage of the shade of the enclosed cabins.
Chin Clip was off the hook and had the best quality bumps and lines on the mountain. Coverage made for scrappy turns in a few areas including one nearly full length melt out and some ice bulges. But Chin Clip was otherwise awesome. It is almost astounding that this classic trail hasn’t been further widened or had some turns straightened out. A top ten New England classic for sure, especially when bumped top to bottom in the spring.
Off the Forerunner, I sampled bumps on National, Liftline, Starr, Nosedive, and Hayride. National’s Headwall is normally an ugly beast in the winter. But with massive corned spring bumps, it is a nice stair master workout.
The lower half of Starr was extremely thin but had great lines and quality snow due to its out of the way location. Liftline sucked the big one which is par for the course. And small bumps on Nosedive were a rare treat. I was unpleasantly surprised to find bumps on Hayride were not good.
Stowe is one of the best areas for spring skiing in New England. Once the bumps start forming, you have about a dozen nearly top to bottom bump runs. Two thousand vertical feet of top to bottom bumps serviced by high speed lifts; only Wildcat and Sugarloaf can compare. Normally, you can also get onto the ridge during this time of year but that was not the case today.
Considering that Mansfield leads New England snow totals along with Jay, coverage was abysmal but still better than any other mountain. Chin Clip and the lower portion of Starr will both bow out within the next day or two. Same for Switchback and Chin Clip Run Out which were both a total mess. Gondolier and Cliff Trail face some major challenges. Continued operation of the Gondola and Spruce Peak through next weekend can’t be better than 50/50.
Coverage on the main snow making trails off the Forerunner were all generally solid and mostly wall to wall. But the loading area of the Forerunner was slushy. A hard freeze and some creative grooming efforts might help. It is difficult to tell if the record warmth will take too much out of the mountain before we can get that freeze this coming weekend.