Southern Vermont Mountain Resort Offers Many Options

By Eric Leiberman

Standing atop the North face at Mount Snow, overlooking Somerset Lake, raises a predicament for the skier/snowboarder. Should I go down knowing that I will enjoy the perfect combination of packed snow and powder? Should I get off the slopes to go snowmobiling on Somerset Lake? Or should I just stay up here for a while, admiring the dazzling views as the sun begins to fade in the late afternoon?

It was still early in the season when, traditionally, New England ski conditions can be dicey. But even in the opening days of the season, the benefit of some $3.5 million in improvements to Mount Snow’s snowmaking technology was already evident, as I was able to enjoy an incredible number of Mount Snow’s trails (there are 107 in all, but who’s counting).

They’re called polecat fan guns and they are already fulfilling the promise of Mount Snow’s new owners, Peak Resorts, to open more terrain earlier in the season and sustain conditions longer through stretches with marginal temperatures.

These machines are state-of-the-art and actually look like cannons. Traditional snowmaking devices stay fixed in a single direction, only distributing snow to a single location, and have to be moved manually, which is time-consuming. But these new machines turn, spreading fresh powdered-snow evenly across a trail.

Polecat fan guns require 20-25% less compressed air than other technologies, while putting out more snow in marginal temperature conditions. Ultimately, the new technology combined with access to more water supply will mean that Mount Snow will be able to make snow on all four mountain faces right away.

Mount Snow seems to be all about choices and options. No matter how many times you ski/snowboard at this resort, you have memorable experiences that transcend your “ordinary” skiing vacation. There’s just so much to do; yet it’s contained within a mountain community.

Mount Snow's new polecat fan guns make it possible to open more terrain earlier and sustain great conditions longer through stretches with marginal temperatures (photo courtesy of Mount Snow).

Year after year, Mount Snow is ranked tops in the East when it comes to terrain parks and pipes. That’s no surprise. Un Blanco Gulch was the first terrain park in the East; today, Mount Snow offers five terrain parks covering more than 40 acres, a superpipe and a tubing park, so there is something for everyone.

The East’s original terrain park, the legendary Un Blanco Gulch was doubled in size last season and offers a variety of features designed to prepare you for the big stuff at Carinthia. With a complete line-up of boxes, rails, tables, hips and more, this is the park to perfect your new trick or nail the landing. Located on the Main Mountain off Canyon trail, Un Blanco Gulch is 3200 feet long and covers 8 acres. It’s easily accessible via the Canyon Express.

Mount Snow made a new park by combining Inferno and El Diablo into one incredible park. At 4700′ long it is the longest flowing park in the East, consisting of the best of the legendary Carinthia jibs and jumps of medium and large sizes on one of the most rhythmically rolling trails at Mount Snow. To top it all off this park runs right underneath the Nitro Express Quad from top to bottom, so no more lengthy commutes between sessions in the park – not to mention the ability to scope your lines from the lift.

Even if you aren’t interested in working on your freestyle in the terrain parks, I would definitely suggest going down a couple times just to watch what some of these riders and skiers can do. It is truly remarkable to see a front flip from a mere 8 feet away!

Jiblet, the new mini-rail park will remain on the Mixing Bowl trail in front of the Grand Summit Hotel at Mount Snow. This park has lights and remains open until 7 pm during weekends and holidays.

The Gut Superpipe, located at the base of Carinthia, is one of the nicest I’ve seen in the East – in fact, it is consistently rated as one of the top 10 pipes in the country. 460-feet long, with 18-foot walls, it’s built to competition standards. In fact, this pipe hosts major pro and amateur competitions throughout the winter.

Grommet, a teaching park, is specially designed with mini versions of the same features found in the bigger parks. This is the place for sharpening your skills before moving on up to Un Blanco Gulch, so you can look like a pro when you get there. Grommet features rails, boxes, rollers, banked turns and mini tables over an acre of terrain. It’s located on Beaver.

The Vermontster, is a new park area at Carinthia serviced by the Heavy Metal double lift.

Au Natural (formerly the Rusty Nail trail), at Carinthia, is natural snow-only park connects with the Vermonster for added thrills.

Although not technically a terrain park, Beartrap is where the bump-lovers hang. The music blasting from the lift towers, big bumps, southern exposure and dedicated lift make this Mount Snow’s most popular bump trail.

Mount Snow is a major mountain, offering 107 trails – 37 miles, altogether -on 590 skiable acres including 98 tree terrain acres. It rises from a base at 1,900 feet to the summit at 3,600 feet, accessed by 19 lifts including 4 quads, 7 triples and 4 doubles, 3 surface lifts and one rope tow. There is terrain for every ability: 14 percent of the trails are appropriate for novice skiers; 73 percent for intermediate and 13 percent are rated as black diamond in difficulty.

Family Friendly

Mount Snow’s main face offers back-to-base trail system makes it easy for skiers and riders of all ability levels easily meet up at the end of an enjoyable day on the slopes. Most of Mount Snow’s signature cruisers are here: Snowdance, Standard, Exhibition, and the 3.1 miles that make up Long John/Deer Run. Learning areas are located near both the Main Base Lodge and Sundance Lodge.

And when everyone is ready for adventure there’s a lot of faces to see: Carinthia (where the Superpipe is located) is great for beginners to step up to intermediate trails; Sunbrook (for wide open, scenic cruisers and one heck of a bump run) and the North Face, for the steeps. The mountain faces converge close to each other on the summit, and it is easy to get back to any point. Additionally, Mount Snow’s wide-open super trails, like Canyon, Ridge and Snowdance provide plenty of room for the whole family!

The Gut Superpipe, 460-feet long, with 18-foot walls, is consistently rated as one of the best in the country (photo courtesy of Mount Snow).

Mount Snow offers many other reasons for families to love the mountain: kids 5 and under always ski/ride free; it has a state-of-the-art Sprint ® Perfect Turn Discovery Center where the children’s ski programs are housed with indoor and outdoor facilities (Cub Camp is for 3-year olds; Snow Camp for 4-6 years old and Mountain Camp for 7-13 year olds); teaching terrain with 2 magic carpets, a rope tow and beginner chairlift; care givers in the childcare center receive early education training yearly and are CPR first aid certified; ski and snowboard pros are certified instructors and LOVE what they do. For non-skiing tikes, there is a State-licensed Child Care Facility with age specific rooms (for children from six weeks to six years).

Special lodging packages, deals and events at Mount Snow through the remainder of the 2007-8 season include:

Kids Learn and Ski for Free Weeks, Jan. 20-25 and Mar. 2-7 & Mar. 9-14: Kids age 3-12 receive a free 3, 4 or 5 day midweek value lift ticket (Monday through Friday) and half day morning clinic when their parent or guardian purchases a 3, 4 or 5 day midweek ticket and lodging package. Additional fun family activities will also be going during each of the weeks. Packages start at $408. One free junior lift ticket and clinic for each adult lift ticket of the same duration purchased.

Freestyle Grommet Jam, Jan. 21 and Feb.16: Kids ages 6-12 interested in learning to freestyle ride or ski get a morning of safety and technique tips from experienced coaches. Then in the afternoon, they get to show off their newfound tricks in front of their peers and parents at the Grommet – Mount Snow’s terrain park designed specially for beginners.

Fun On/Off the Slopes

The Mount Snow Valley offers plenty for a family to do on and off the slopes.

Enjoy tubing? Just head over to a two-acre park located on Ski Baba at Carinthia Base Area and take the Covered Bridge Magic Carpet ride to the top. Tubing is offered Saturdays and Sundays (weather and conditions permitting), from 9 to 11 a.m. and 11:30-1:30 p.m. and again at 2-4 p.m. ($20/session, or $8/single ride; (children have to be at least 36 inches tall).

High Country Snowmobile Tours at Mount Snow are guided tours through the Green Mountain National Forest. Tours are customized and provided for all riding abilities. You will experience a variety of terrain ranging from thick wooded pines to wide-open stretches. In order to operate the snowmobile you must be at least 18 years of age. All snowmobiles are new Ski-Doo’s touring ELT’s, 380 cc and can accommodate two people. They ask that children be at least 4 years of age to ride as passengers. This sport is not recommended for anyone with back problems or anyone who is pregnant.

Dress sensibly: a coat, snowpants, boots and gloves are a must (they have some things available if you forgot). Plan to arrive 20 minutes prior to your reservation time dressed and ready to go. Oh, and don’t forget your camera! Tours leave from the Lift Operations Building (building to the right of the Discovery Center). This is also where you check-in (Contact Mark & Wendy Pederson, 800-627-7533 or 802-464-2108,

Enjoy an intimate horse-drawn sleigh ride under the stars at Mount Snow with White Wolf Ranch. Sleigh rides leave from the Discovery Area and glide along the base of the mountain past the Grand Summit Hotel towards Carinthia. The half-hour sleigh rides are offered Friday and Saturday evenings (weather permitting), 5-7 p.m. ($50 for up to 4 people; 800-245-7669 or (802) 464-8501).

Since 1980 the Adams Farm has offered afternoon and evening traditional Vermont sleigh rides pulled by Belgian draft horses, through the maple sugar grove, up along the ridge of their mountain, to an old log cabin for a warm up by the wood fires before coming back down the mountain. At the cabin, visitors warm up by the fire, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and some tunes from the player piano. Sleigh rides are offered days and evenings as well as special sleigh rides for Christmas Eve, the New Year, full moons and Valentine’s Day (802-464-3762 or email

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing is an entirely different way to experience the snowy wonderland. There is nothing so peaceful as gliding along through the Vermont forest or along a murmuring stream on a pair of cross country skis or snowshoes (especially on a moonlit night). There are cross country ski trail systems, instruction and rentals throughout the Mount Snow Valley. Popular centers include: The Hermitage (802-464-3511); Timber Creek Cross Country (802-464-0999); and The White House, which also offers guided snowshoe tours (full moon tours are incredible), extensive trails and rentals (802-464-2135). In addition, Mount Snow Sports at The Grand Summit Resort Hotel offers Tubbs ® Snowshoe rentals.

Teen Zone

The vista from Mount Snow's summit (photo courtesy of Mount Snow).

Mount Snow has made a new commitment to providing a space for teenagers to enjoy après-ski activities at the Grand Summit Hotel this winter.

Guests of the Mount Snow Grand Summit Hotel and other resort properties have access to a “Teen Zone.” The location of the space varies from space to space depending on what rooms are available on a given weekend. Schedules are available at the front desk in the lobby as well as by calling the resort.

The primary goal is to give teenagers their own space without obtrusive adult supervision. Plans for activities include making a number of gaming options available, from ping-pong to arcade games to movies. Certain dates will also be given over to dances with DJ’s spinning music.

Lodging Choices

There are any number of lodging choices, including the fabulous and luxurious Grand Summit Resort hotel- which has the added advantage of an outdoor pool and spa where you can get a massage (they even have a massage geared to pregnant mothers); the legendary Snow Lake Lodge, which offers an affordable family vacation right at the base of Mount Snow, and Mount Snow Condominiums offering all the comforts of home. In addition there are scores of lodges, hotels, country inns, condominiums and motels in the area.

In April 2007, Mount Snow was acquired by Peak Resorts, along with Attitash, for $73.5 million. Peak Resorts operates 11 ski areas and 2 golf courses in 6 states and sees Mount Snow as its “flagship destination resort”.

The new owners have wasted little time putting their stamp on their new purchase, spending over $6 million to improve the resort in time for Winter 2007-08.

In addition to the $3.5 million investment in energy efficient snowmaking technology, Mount Snow is spending an additional $2 million to “refresh” all buildings in the base area. This project includes new interior and exterior paints, roofing, carpeting, tiles and a new face for the clock in the Clocktower.

To make reservations and get more information about lodging packages, call 800-245-SNOW or

Wednesday, 16 January, 2008

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