Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sugarbush, VT: 03/15 & 03/16/2012

Early morning clouds clear from Lincoln Peak at Sugarbush, Vermont. 

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.

For the last five years or so, I’ve gone away around Saint Patrick’s Day with a group of work associates for a couple days of skiing and “professional development.” OK, forget about the professional development, it’s really all about the skiing.

Heading down Ripcord, off the Heaven's Gate chair

We usually pick a destination in Vermont (last year’s trip to Mont Tremblant is the exception), and this year we chose Sugarbush for its varied terrain and natural snowfall. Obviously it’s been a tough winter all over the East, but northern Vermont ski areas have done better than most. At 161" season-to-date, the Bush is only at around 60% of their average annual snowfall, but recent reports from skiers have been extremely good.

Looking north to Mount Ellen from Lincoln Peak. Camel's Hump is in the distance.

Thursday, 3/15:
Since temperatures have been in the 50s and 60s all week, we've been hoping we'd catch some prime spring conditions, and our timing was just about perfect. Some early morning clouds and fog quickly burned away, and by 10am everything top to bottom was baking in the sun.

An early run down Organgrinder, one of Lincoln Peak's black diamonds

Paul heading for Paradise

Howard skiing the mellow bumps below Paradise. 

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.
Sugarbush is a big ski area, spread out across two mountains: Lincoln Peak and Mount Ellen/Sugarbush North. The only connection between the two areas is a connector lift or shuttle bus: it is not possible to ski between the two mountains. Since we are staying at Lincoln Peak, we stayed there all day today, mostly skiing the black diamond trails off the Heaven's Gate summit chair. Maybe we'll hit Mount Ellen tomorrow, but for now why mess with success?

Plenty warm for the patio at lunchtime

Ripcord, Organgrinder, Spillsville and Paradise were all in excellent spring conditions, with good coverage and soft bumps. Lapping those black diamonds on the Heaven's Gate chair, we soaked up the sun and spring bumps 1400 vertical feet at a time. Of those trails, Paradise was my pick of the day for its steep, narrow, twisty character and natural snow bumps.

Stein's Run

The black diamonds skied great all day, but by late afternoon anything with less pitch was turning to glop in the hot (mid 50s) March sun. With no end to the heat wave in sight, it's hard to imagine Sugarbush - or any ski area in the east - making it much further than another weekend or two at most. We skied for as long as the lifts ran, 4pm, knowing there's not much left for this season.

Late afternoon on Ripcord

The accomodations are pretty nice too

Friday, 3/16:
It rained overnight, pretty hard at times, so we didn't have a lot of hope for Friday. However, by morning the rain had ended and most of the fog lifted from the mountain. Not a great day for pictures, but at least we could ski, and since temperatures never got close to the freezing mark the snow would still be soft.


We spent the morning repeating all of our favorites from the day before. We had originally thought we might head over to Mount Ellen today, but the poor weather conditions put a damper on that and we stuck to Lincoln Peak. Hopefully a bunch of skiers were taking advantage of the $17 Saint Patrick's Day lift ticket special over there.


I guess we're not very hardcore, because we called it a day after lunch, happy for the great day that we had on Thursday and for at least salvaging Friday. This was my first visit to Sugarbush in 5 or 6 years, and even though I've skied here quite a bit in years past, this visit certainly whetted my appetite for more.

The bottom of Paradise - won't last too much longer


  1. Great Post! Glad you are having a good time. We are following our sugarbush trip from last week with a Saddleback spring day on Saturday. Enjoy!

    1. Thanks Michael, we had a great time at Sugarbush. Looks like this weekend should be fantastic. I will be skiing at Gore with my family, it could be our final weekend.

  2. Great photos, sounds like a good time!