Sugarbush was the chosen location for a sparsely attended AlpineZone.com Meet Up for spring skiing in late March. This was the last weekend for Mount Ellen and Lincoln Peak was holding a pond skimming. I got a later start than normal and suffered through quite a line at the lift ticket window. The combination of end of season festivities and good weather brought out the crowds.
Lincoln Peak was still 100% open on all trails but snow conditions were rough to start. A recent rain/freeze event made the non-groomed trails rather variable and interesting despite a warm start to the morning. After a warm up down Lower Organgrinder and The Mall, I met up with a small crew and headed for Heaven’s Gate.
After four previous days at Sugarbush in my skiing career, I was happy to finally give all the marked terrain at Sugarbush South a legitimate hammering after having eluded me during previous visits for various reasons. Could not have picked a better day short of a big powder day to do it! Certainly the best Spring Corn days rank right up there just below the best of powder days (though in a season like this, today would not even crack my top ten).
Paid the man $46 for a lift ticket and ascended Super Bravo to warm up on Murphy’s Glade before heading up to the summit for a run down Paradise and on to Castlerock for a marathon session on the trails offered off the double. I was particularly impressed with the refurbished lift design. The Castlerock Double is rather high speed for a fixed grip chairlift but has its chairs spaced out at a rediculous distance. Good management decision regarding this chairlift, thank goodness ASC never bouched up this gem.
I am going on the record to say that Rumble is the best non-gladed marked trail in the Northeast. Big statement, I know. So the caveat on that statement is I have never skied Smuggs, Whiteface, Gore, or Sugarloaf (since I was rather young). Otherwise, I stand by the remark and was very appreciative of the trail which had it all: Good Pitch, Lots of Curves, Very Narrow, Terrain Features, Tree Options around the Curves, Good Mogul Rhythm despite Narrow Trail, etc. Essentially, a slightly steeper and more turny version of the best untouched leftovers from the CCC days. Beautiful.
After much debate regarding skiing plans for the final weekend of April, I decided on taking advantage of Sugarbush’s $10.00 lift ticket Saturday afternoon. Due to an over night freeze, I decided Tuckerman Ravine could wait until Sunday and one final day of lift serviced skiing for the season would be preferable to hiking for turns at Jay Peak. My decision was sound and resulted in a fantastic afternoon of skiing under a bright warm sun and Blue Bird skies.
Due to the overnight freeze, I slept in and took my time getting ready. Temperatures were still a bit brisk when I packed up the car around 8 A.M., but forecasts called for temperatures to soar into the fifties during the afternoon hours so I worried not. I made a quick detour and stopped by work to pick up my camera before making the drive down Route 2 and Route 100B to Sugarbush.
One would think people would come out in droves for $10.00 skiing on a perfect Blue Bird afternoon. But pulling into the parking lot at Mount Ellen, one would be sorely mistaken in believing many people thought skiing in April is a worth while endeavor. Their lose is my ski on lift.
After bailing on Sugarbush’s opening day on Saturday due to fatigue and just not feeling it, I rolled myself out of bed on Sunday hoping for the best but expecting the worst. My expectations were not to be disappointed.
Sugarbush opened up one run down from the summit of Glen Ellen. An upload on the Green Mountain Express dropped skiers off at the Summit Quad. A slow ride to the summit through a few snow guns landed way too many skiers and riders on way too little terrain. Rim Run to Elbow was the trail combination of the day. One fellow chair rider joking asked me “which trails have you been skiing today?”
Views were enjoyable with clear skis and minimal wind. Temperatures were above freezing at the base lodge but just below freezing near the summit which allowed for snow making on F.I.S. and Lower Rim Run.
After skiing the previous day at Mad River Glen, I was fairly sore but ready for more of the Mad River Valley. Staying one hour south at the Turn of River Lodge in Killington, VT reduced drive time for the low price of $20 per night. My mini two day vacation continued on Tuesday at Sugarbush, a mountain a faintly remembered from a teenage ski trip with the family. From that earlier first trip to Sugarbush, I most vividly remembered making High Speed GS turns down the windy Upper Jester and eating pizza at a local establishment. We camped out at a four season camp ground in a motor home and had an awesome weekend at Mount Lincoln. Those memorable family trips laid the ground work for my developing skiing habit that later became a major focus of my life.
I started my day at Mount Ellen but quickly found out that the conditions were less than satisfactory and the Slide Brook Express was closed during mid-week. After only one run in low visibility, I packed up my gear and drove over to Mount Lincoln. Conditions were much better and I began the morning skiing the Lynx area. After skiing the four Lynx runs, I returned to the lodge for a break before trying Castlerock. Or so I thought. Castlerock was later put on Wind Hold as was Heaven’s Gate relegating my skiing to the Super Bravo and Lynx chairs.
Overall, this was a rather disappointing afternoon at Sugarbush due to poor conditions, wind hold, and not being able to ski the Castlerock and Heaven’s Gate trails. I would return a few years later to properly sample the mountain in its entirety.