My wife and I smelled beef sizzling on an outdoor grill at one of Colorado’s premier ski resorts. An employee there was systematically flipping what must have been four dozen beef patties.
The wind is blowing snow across the mountaintop. Temps are well below zero. Visibility is bad.
“This is an adventure,” said Chris Jarnot, sidestepping in his K2 skis up a narrow ridge, heading toward Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s precipitous, powdery Teocalli Bowl.
We watch Olympians on TV every four years, but you don’t have to wait that long to rub elbows with skiing stardom. Several mountain resorts around the country offer opportunities to ski with their most prominent athlete ambassadors, and learn the slopes from a pro perspective.
As we bid a fond farewell to 2018, the editors at SnoCountry take a look at the news that shaped skiing and riding at mountain resorts across North America over the year.
The sale of the lease and operating agreement of New Hampshire’s Mount Sunapee to Vail Resorts was discussed at a public information session Wednesday night at the resort's Sunapee Lodge. Many attendees of the meeting came for reassurances that the new owners of the lease would continue stewardship of the state park’s natural resources and protection of affordable outdoor recreation.
Colorado’s mountain resorts roll out the fun carpet during the summer, especially for families with children. Base areas abound with entertainment for the younger set, while most resorts put kids on the mountain for outdoors activities, like mountain biking and tubing.
Willy Booker, head of Burke Mountain Academy which hones some of America’s finest ski racers, bemoans that kids are less active and athletic today and don’t get outdoors enough.
One way to remedy that is to have fun at a mountain resort this summer.
Vail Resorts launched another salvo in the battle to own the winter destination market and a larger slice of the ski marketplace with the purchase of Vermont’s Okemo Mountain Resort, Mount Sunapee in New Hampshire, Crested Butte in Colorado and Steven Pass in Washington Monday.
Epic skiing and riding under the orange bubble chair at Okemo. (Okemo/Facebook)
Mount Sunapee, New Hampshire, Okemo, Vermont and Crested Butte, Colorado have entered into a multi-year season pass partnership with Vail Resorts and the Epic Pass, bringing the total number of Epic Pass mountain resorts to 64 in eight countries.
Easier to get around Purgatory this year. (Purgatory/Facebook)
Each ski and snowboard season brings upgrades, improvements and just plain new stuff at Colorado resorts, where the competition for visitors is fierce.
Tetons loom over Jackson Hole airport. (Jackson Hole Airport/Facebook)
Vacationing skiers and snowboarders can be an anxious lot. They want to get the most runs possible in the time they have, so getting out of the airport quickly and onto the slopes as soon as possible is paramount.
The whiskey is lined up in Park City. (High West/Facebook)
Catching a cocktail after a long day on the slopes has been a winter tradition since the beginning and, recently, the distillers are making the good stuff right at the resorts.
Selected days at Wolfie mean deep stuff on the cheap. (Wolf Creek Ski Area)
Going to college has many benefits for one’s future, but one perk for the present is a discount on season passes at Colorado ski resorts.
Ready to go after landing in Aspen. (Aspen-Pitkin County Airport/Facebook)
This season, it will be easier than ever to hop on a plane and head for where the powder is freshest in Colorado.
Catchin' some rays at Crested Butte (Crested Butte/Facebook)
One of the perks that comes with sticking out the ski and snowboard season to the end is a great sun tan – and lots of party time in the sunshine.
Most mountain resorts make space for sun-worshippers to engage in their favorite apres-ski activities, and SnoCountry took a look around to find some of the best.
Purgatory. Look out, or you might ski right into Purgy's at the base of the southern Colorado resort. Hit up the outdoor bar for craft beers, order an appetizer, and lounge in the deck chairs for some of the best people-watching locales around.
Park City. Mid-Mountain Lodge once served more than 1,000 miners a day. Now, it's the 10th Mountain outdoor grill at the base of the Pioneer and McConkey's Express lifts. Lodge has two-tiered decks and hosts weddings during summer.
Squaw Valley. Take the tramway to High Camp halfway up the mountain. Even if the pools are empty, there's tons of deck chairs and plenty of choices for a nosh – and the views of the Sierra and Lake Tahoe will amaze.
Lutsen Mountains. Summit Chalet at the top of Moose Mountain lays out food, drink and spectacular views to the North Shore of Lake Superior. Menu offers wraps, soups, burgers and pizza -- including local fave walleye sandwich.
Loon. Camp III, a log cabin in the former logging area on New Hampshire mountain, sits at the base of North Peak Express Quad. It's famous for its venison stew, bison burgers and daily specials – but if the sun's out, hit the expansive deck with a beverage and sun screen.
Sunday River. Foggy Goggle, at the base of the Maine resort, is reputed to have the longest après ski party in the East. Also venue for Bud Light Music Series, with massive deck and tons apres-ski eats on the menu.
Crested Butte. The new Umbrella Bar atop the Prospect Lift gives novices and intermediates a place to catch some rays – if the weather's right. Retractable windows create open-air atmosphere for munchies and local craft beer – and eye-popping views of southern Colorado Rockies.
Sugar makers throughout Vermont will open the doors of their sugarhouses, inviting visitors in to experience and enjoy this remarkable time of year when pure Vermont maple syrup is made. (VMSMA)
We all know about the great non-ski things we can do on snow at ski areas — snowshoe, tube, fat bike, snowmobile. But there are also wonderful off-the-snow experiences that showcase local flavor and history for a memorable trip or vacation in the mountains.
When visiting New Hampshire’s Cannon and Bretton Woods, we visited Peckett’s Hill where the first ski school was. Seeing the historic site marker and the gentle meadow made me appreciate ski history more.
Ditto for the visit to the historical museum in Crested Butte. Seeing the miners’ 14-foot “long boards” up close was mindboggling, fostering an appreciation for how rudimentary ski equipment once was.
Here are some suggestions for après action or a day off so you can make some special memories.
Maple Madness to Micro Brews
Maple sugaring season is upon the Northeast so it’s a great time to visit a sugarhouse.
The entire state of Vermont features open houses March 25-26. See the process as well as sample sugar-on-snow and more — from candy-making to pancake breakfasts to the Whitingham Festival near Mount Snow, it’s educational and tasty fun.
The Woodstock Inn and Resort features a Sugar Season Escape through May 18. There’s a spa at the inn, sugarhouses nearby, shopping in historic Woodstock, and skiing at Suicide Six. Plus you can visit Gilbert’s Hill Historic Site where the first U.S. rope tow was installed and the Billings Farm and Museum.
The Maple Taste Around at Suicide Six April 2 (6-8p.m.) features chefs’ maple specialties.
In addition to their sugaring operation, the Adams Farm near Mount Snow offers a fantastic way to entertain and educate the kids — don’t miss all the new baby animals.
You can tour craft breweries from Maine to Utah for another chance to learn, taste and have fun. Would you believe a Shot Ski 404 skis, 1942 feet and 1086 humans long?! The Wasatch Brewery in Park City set the Shot-Ski World’s Record.
Beer festivals abound in summer but Okemo offers Hops on the Snow April 1, showcasing seasonal Vermont craft brews.
Mineral Springs to Museums
Hot water is great for achy limbs and tired bodies so soaking in the world’s largest hot springs pool makes the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort a great day or overnight destination. Located between Vail and Aspen/Snowmass and near Sunlight, you can also stay at the 107-room lodge with numerous amenities.
Check out Idaho’s hot springs as well. You can take a snowmobile excursion to the Burgdorf Hot Springs, soak, and return to Brundage for a truly unique day.
Thrill seekers can enjoy a history lesson as they sit in a quad chair that gives a life-like ride and sail over Mount Superior in Little Cottonwood Canyon at Park City’s Alf Engen Museum. It’s just one of the museum’s four virtual rides on the quad chair Executive Director Connie Nelson said, referring to another virtual thrill of ski jumping.
Exhibits at the Colorado Snowsports Museum in Vail include a history of snowboards, 10th Mountain Division, Vail Dream, competitors, bindings, timeline, etcetetera.
Other major U.S. ski museums include: U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum in Ishpeming, Michigan; New England Ski Museum at Cannon. N.H.: Lake Placid Olympic Museum, N.Y.; Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum, Stowe; and the Western Skisport Museum, California.
Although their first choice team won't be in the big game this year, Crested Butte avy dogs show their colors. (Chris Segal/Crested Butte)
The penultimate games of the National Football League season took place this past weekend, leaving only two teams to battle it out for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. As you make plans for the big game, rather than leaving the slopes early, you might want to plan for a night of cheering on the Atlanta Falcons or New England Patriots at Crested Butte, and cheap skiing and riding the Monday after.
Butte 66 will be hosting their annual Big Game Party with deals on wings and customized specials related to each team throughout the game.
Guests should plan on sticking around on Monday as the price of Monday’s full day lift ticket will be based on the final combined scores of Sunday’s game. The price will be determined using the following formula: $1 per point scored. If the final score is Atlanta, 24, and New England, 21, the price of a lift ticket for Monday, February 6 will be $45. However, there is a cap in the event of a high-scoring game; guests will pay no more than $65 for a full day lift ticket.
The big question arises, how low could it go? If the score at the end of the game is 3 to 0, tickets at CBMR would be $3 on Monday. As a reference, the highest scoring Super Bowl in history was in 1995 when the San Francisco 49ers defeated the San Diego Chargers, 49–26, for a total of 75 points. The lowest combined Super Bowl score was in 1973 as the Miami Dolphins bested the Washington Redskins, 14–7, but CBMR is willing to bet on the odds and regardless give everyone a discounted day of skiing.
"Bury the Butte." (Crested Butte/Facebook)
Starting in the Sierra and moving across the Wasatch to the Colorado Rockies, a dozen Pacific-laden storms unleashed their largesse in January to set up skiers and snowboarders for the rest of the season.
"Stop" - a word hardly ever muttered by ski areas in the winter. But, with recent crippling snow in the West, we may have had a little too much of a good thing. A break to regroup is in the forecast. (Image: Crested Butte/Facebook)
In this week's SnoCast, a brief respite from an extremely active West, and variable conditions in the East leading into the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. Here's what to expect for weather conditions by region.