Sunny riding ahead for Stowe. (Stowe/Facebook)
On the heels of the news that Vail Resorts will be buying Stowe, buyers of the Epic Pass can now count Vermont as one of their destinations next winter. Vermont and the Northeast will be watching how this new pass offering will play out amidst the many other options for skiers and riders looking to maximize their time on the snow.
Lou Batori skis perfectly together. (Mike Terrell)
“He’s the Energizer Bunny of skiing.”
That was my first thought when Crystal Mountain Resort spokesman Brian Lawson contacted me recently to say that Lou Batori, legendary centenarian skier, had taken a few runs during the warm spell in late February.
At 106-years-old he sets records every time he takes a run. Batori is considered the oldest living skier in the world. The Hungarian Skier recently called him “Yoda of the skis” in salute to their native son’s latest accomplishment.
Batori first learned to ski in Hungary at the age of 10 on handmade wooden hickory skis equipped with leather straps for bindings. He continued to ski in New York and New England when his family immigrated to the United States a few years later and in Michigan when he moved here after he retired in 1973.
I had the pleasure of taking a few runs with Lou a couple of years ago on an April morning at Crystal. Skiing with a Centurion was almost a mystical experience. Standing on top of the ski hill recalling ski history he said, “I rode the first chairlift in the east at Stowe Mountain in 1940, the year it was constructed. That was a while ago.” I knew I was in for a treat. That was three years before I was born. Needless to say it was a treat I’ll never forget.
Dressed in a white jumpsuit with a 100+ patch stitched on the arm and a sleek Giro silver helmet you would never have guessed his age. He headed gracefully, skis together, down a corduroy carpet of snow making perfect turns.
“A run, a weekend of skiing justifies my existence,” he said with a grin as we paused for the mid-morning break in the cafeteria. “It’s funny, but when a person asks me why I ski, I immediately know they are not a skier. A skier wouldn’t have to ask that question.”
He credits grooming and the new gear with extending his skiing years.
“Today’s grooming leaves the slopes in immaculate condition. I don’t have to worry about changing slope conditions, and the new equipment is much lighter, more efficient and easier to use. Boots have improved immensely, and to me, they are the most important part or your equipment. If your feet aren’t happy you won’t enjoy skiing,” Batori chuckled.
He was featured in a 2011 CBS Sunday Morning segment when he turned 100 and still skied.
Despite not liking the word “inspiration,” Batori is an inspiration to all of us to get out enjoy life and make as many turns as possible down life’s endless slopes.
Plenty of great skiing at Stratton. (Stratton)
Known as the snowiest month of the season, March brings heaps of snow and warmer temperatures for skiers and riders in Vermont. Add to that a mix of great deals and events at Vermont’s mountains and March is sure to be a month that you don’t want to miss.
Vail's purchase of Stowe will mean more pass options for Eastern skiers. (Stowe)
Smart Stowe kids know where to find the deals. (Stowe)
If you haven’t already, now is the time to plan your Presidents week getaway to the mountains. Many families have the week off from school, and resorts are ready with many kid-friendly deals and activities to keep everyone smiling.
Furry friends enjoy the snow and fresh air on a snowshoe trail at Stowe. (Stowe Mountain Lodge)
For many of us, our dogs are part of our family, and many resorts across the country welcome our four-legged friends with enthusiasm. Rather than leaving the pup behind, enjoy the company of wagging tails on the trails.
The Stowe Rocks climbing center is fun for every age. (Stowe Mountain Resort)
In the snow covered months, some of us may have the inclination to huck a few cliffs along the edges our favorite mountains. Come summer, it's time to approach those mountains from a different angle, with climbing ropes and harnesses. Whether it's with guide up the rock face of a local route or auto-belayed on a man-made wall, climbing offers adventure and summer fun in the mountains.
Red, white and blue cowboy at the Fourth of July parade. (Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association/Facebook)
If you're looking for more than your average backyard barbecue, head to the mountains this Independence Day weekend to combine stunning vistas and summer activities with a celebration worthy of the nation's birthday.
Looking to ditch lugging your gear and long lift lines on the weekends? You invest a lot in making skiing a lifestyle, whether it’s with your buddies or the groms, so why not make the most of that time and money for a first class, no hassle experience?
It all began as a bet in 1945 between two amazing skiers - Austrian Sepp Ruschp who was hired to come to America and head the new ski school at Stowe and Erling Strom, world famous mountaineer from Norway – to see who could make it from the top of Mt. Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak, to the historic village of Stowe on one pair of skis.
Stowe Mountain Resort’s Summit Gondola re-opens for access up the state’s highest peak Saturday, Sept. 13, just in time for the Vermont fall foliage season. The Gondola will operate daly from 10:30am to 4:30pm through Oct. 13, weather permitting.
The Stowe Country Club opens May 10 for their summer/fall season. The country club is located in the Village of Stowe and is only half of the 36 holes of golf offered by Stowe Mountain Resort.
Ski Vermont reports Jay Peak will debut the new Stateside Amphitheater, a 1,500-person outdoor music venue offering seated and lawn options this summer. It will open July 25-26 with the Jeezum Crow festival, featuring nine acts.
Magic Mountain comes off its second consecutive record year. Upgrades will continue this summer and fall with more snowmaking investments. That capital will come, uniquely, from Magic’s skiers and riders. The funding will be directed toward new equipment enabling more man-made snow earlier and more efficiently than in years past.
At Okemo Mountain Resort, the Haulback Challenge Course offers a self-guided treetop adventure. Monkey Crawl, Bridge to Nowhere and Tarzan Swing are just a few of its 27 features.
Smugglers’ Notch, an award-winning ski and ride area for families, continues that theme in the summer with new offerings that include soap-making, green tea skin care and stand-up paddleboard yoga.
Stowe Mountain Resort and Spruce Peak Realty has begun construction to improve and expand the heart of Spruce Peak. Amenities will be built around a new ice rink that will double as a community plaza and green in the summer.
Stratton Mountain will bring the kids into the kitchen. Kids Culinary Classes, Aug. 4-7, will explore how to make fresh Italian-American favorites from scratch. Taught by the Stratton Mountain Club Chef Ralph Capalupo, kids will learn kitchen safety, sanitation, nutrition and how to make cooking fun.
Investments of over $1 million will be made this off-season at Sugarbush Resort. Mechanical and electrical upgrades will occur to several of the resorts lifts, with additional upgrades in snowmaking. Permitting and construction of additional parking will also begin.
Poster: Jezzum Crow Featival will be held in new Stateside Amphitheater at Jay Peak in July (Jay Peak/Facebook)
At a time when many resorts are usually thinking of their closing ceremonies and skiers and riders are starting to look toward warm weather vacations, the Eastern and Mid-Atlantic region in spring 2014 is changing the paradigm. Lots of snow, deep bases and more of both coming, will make those typical spring events look quite a bit different.
It all begins Valentine’s Day, but consider spending your entire Presidents’ Week at ski resorts throughout the East. Better act right away as its one the busiest times of the year. Here’s a sampling of offers:
Stowe, Vermont’s 10-year development effort at it’s Spruce Peak area will get a decidedly family-flavored makeover starting later this spring. This next phase comes after extensive conversations with homeowners, club member, and guests.
Stowe, the classic eastern ski resort, is in the midst of massive capital improvements, with more snowmaking capacity at the core of those projects.
The northern Vermont resort receives an average of more than 300 inches of natural snow annually. But, the periodic vagaries of winter weather on the eastern seaboard likely precipitated a half-billion dollar master plan that began with the formation of a 116 million gallon water storage area.
It was a long time coming, however. Stowe’s Jeff Wise told SnoCountry.com that concept “was over a decade in the making after Vermont Act 250 approval in 2001.” Act 250 is the state's tough environmental process.
Stowe’s investment, in that time, has included new lifts, access systems and terrain. Stowe has been cognizant of its’ environmental stewardship, while enhancing the on-hill guest experience.
“Through a pair of conservation easements donated to the Vermont Land Trust and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, over 2,000 acres of wildlife habitat has been permanently protected,” Wise said.
“Those lands include 10 acres of summit ski terrain on Spruce Peak that have been restored to their natural state, providing crucial habitat for the Bicknell’s Thrush, and dense forests adjacent to the base village that provide nesting sites for Peregrine falcons, and habitat for moose and black bear.”
Stowe, in 2010, became the first eastern resort to receive the Sustainable Community Certification from Audubon International.
Investments continued this past summer in its snowmaking operations, including an additional $3.4 million in new equipment and upgrades, which consist of 100 HKD tower guns, three Super Pole Cat fan guns, a new pump-house and miles of snowmaking pipe.
That is in addition to the $4.7 million invested last summer, bringing their snowmaking arsenal to 445 HKD tower guns, 150 energy efficient land guns, 20 Super Pole Cat fan guns, and another seven miles of new snowmaking pipe.
Wise said the improvements allow Stowe to operate with greater energy efficiency and eliminate more than 100,000 gallons of diesel storage, use and emissions.
From a guest’s standpoint, the snowmaking buildup increases potential for more early season terrain, raises overall snow quality, and allows mountain operations personnel to resurface quickly after adverse weather.
“Stowe is scheduled to open Nov. 23 with top-to-bottom terrain off the new FourRunner Quad,” Wise said.
Photo: New snow guns installed at Stowe (Stowe Mountain Resort)