Vermonter Tells of New England Ski Slopes and Facilities
(Editor's Note: Here's a quick tour of New England ski sites, prepared by David C. Dionne, The Harbus's advertising manager and a native Vermonter familiar with the slopes of his region and how to get there.)
Northern New England presents a world of skiing opportunities to both the novice and Kanonen -- from the "chicken slopes" of local ski facilities to the dizzying drops of Stowe and Tuckerman.
With the changes in altitude and length of run, of course, comes similar changes in the price of slope tickets and accomodations, to say nothing of available social recreation.
Where, the unfamiliar one might ask, should one go when confronted by New England's great variety of both natural and man-made resources for winter sport?
The answer depends, first of all, on how good a skier you are. The old adage that one must crawl before walking applies particularly to the new skier, for there are few activities that make more physical demands and require better conditioning than alpine skiing.
The new skier's first step should therefore be a few skiing lessons on local slopes to learn the fundamentals of balance and form, as well as to learn the basic exercises that will get rubbery ankles and unused joints in the proper form for 30 miles per hour downhill runs.
If one were to follow this advice, the first stop would be a slope such as the near-by Blue Hills Ski Area in Milton, Mass. Complete with chairlift and snowmaking machine, the area's ski school is under the direction of Olympic Champion Penny Pitou and her husband Egon Zimmerman. Only 30 minutes from Boston via Routes 9 and 128 South, Blue Hills could be a convenient local practice slope as well as the first stop of a formal New England ski tour.
North of Boston, the Boston Hill ski area in Andover, Mass., offers similar practice slopes for the late-afternoon or beginning skier.
Heading due west from Boston on the Massachusetts Turnpike, the slope-hopping enthusiast would want to further his skills on Mt. Tom in Holyoke, Mass. (five miles north of Exit No. 4). There he could take advantage of a recently-expanded mountain-top-to-base slope that is serviced by a 3450-foot double chair lift and 220-foot T-Bar. A Friday night of skiing after classes would be possible, in that the slope is open to the public seven days and seven nights a week.
Wheeling back onto the Turnpike, it is a 40-mile drive to Route 7 and then 12 miles south to South Egremont's famous Jug End Barn -- an overnight haven for the tired skier. Concentrating on social activities, Jug End offers all the facilities needed for the proper way to top off the first day of chapped cheeks and tired ankles.
The dawn of the next day could see the skier, hopefully rested and refreshed, either taking advantage of Jug End's 1600-acre winter sports facilities or burning up the trails at nearby Catamount in Hillsdale, New York.
But the lure of Vermont's fabled resources may be overwhelming at this point, no there's time enough to hit the road North on Route 7 to Routes 9 and 100 and Mt. Snow.
Mt. Snow is a place of contrast with its nine chair lifts and slopes that range from expert to cow pasture, complete with snow bunnies that splash in the heated outdoor swimming pool at Snow Lake Lodge during the day and gambol in the lounges of several lodges at night.
If the cost of the lodges and resort motels at the base of the slopes are too heavy for the budget, the nearby towns of West Dover and Wilmington abound with accomodations from economical dorms and private guest homes to modern motels with meals and recreation facilities at moderate rates.
Vivid With Color
As vivid with color and attractions as Mt. Snow is, Vermont does not end there. A very short drive brings the slopes of Big Bromley at Manchester to the skier who is looking for some rugged down-hill runs. Or one could continue North on Route 7 to the less crowded but equally challenging slopes of Pico Peak and Killington Basin in Rutland.
In fact Killington Basin claims the highest skiing in Vermont with a base elevation of 2200 feet rising to a top elevation of 4241 feet with December to May skiing.
Although lodging at all prices are available in and around Rutland, the student skier may find the three-quarters of an hour drive to Middlebury worth his while. In addition to being the site of an annual Intercollegiate Winter Carnival and host to several ski jumping meets, Middlebury is also the home of Middlebury College and some of the most charming coeds in the east.
Most social activities center around the Middlebury Inn, which boasts room rates as low as $4 per person.
Mad River Parties
Back onto Route 100 North, a half-hour's drive in the morning opens up the twin challenge of Sugarbush and Mad River Glen to the serious and not-so-serious skiers.
Reputed to be the center of winter operations for the jet set, Sugarbush is a whirl of impromptu private parties and socializing. And across the river, Mad River Glen offers five full miles of expert rated slopes alone--which are not recommended for the cocky beginner who feels he is "ready."
A new attraction at Sugarbush this year is the famous Norwegian ski champion and now top instructor, Stein Eriksen, who is now top instructor at the area's ski school.
Should your wallet and limbs still be in good shape after a whirl at Sugarbush and the Glen, point your radiator North on Route 100 again to the appropriately named "Ski Center of the East" -- Stowe, Vermont.
The virtual "home" of U.S. skling, the Stowe area is typifield by the Mt. Mansfield Co. which operates multitudes of trails and lifts on Mt. Mansfield and Spruce Peak. The area is so vast in its development that the ski school alone employs 50 instructors.