I have to admit: I’m ready for this cold snap to end. Look at my car dash this morning:
But this is New England. Cold snaps, January thaws, you gotta embrace it all. The Safari must go on. Today we skied Smugglers Notch. I’ve always loved the name. It sounds so romantic, so dangerous, and yes, even a little bit bad ass.
Bad ass may be a bit of a misnomer. Smuggs, as it’s commonly known, has a national reputation for its family programs. It’s been named #1 in this category by Ski Magazine for 14 years.
Even still, this is no mamby-pamby mountain. There’s plenty here for everyone. (It’s just nice to know that you can bring the little ones and all of you can have a great time.) This year SKI Magazine ranked it as the top ski resort in Vermont and #3 among Eastern resort rankings. It also received top 10 ranking among Eastern resorts in value, off-hill activities, challenge, and variety of ski & ride terrain, as well as grooming, snow, weather, and scenery.
So let’s look at some of the stats:
Over 1,000 acres of terrain
2,610 vertical, the fourth largest in New England and the 3rd largest in VT
Average annual snowfall over the past five years: 322 inches
Something unique: Black Hole, the east’s only triple triple black trail
I’d only skied Smugglers once before; it was very late season, and there wasn’t much was open. So I was especially looking forward to skiing here again. After all, a lot has change since my visit. Recently, the resort invested more than a million dollars in a new snowmaking system. And there’s a new natural features terrain park on Madonna Mountain. (To find out more about what’s new, go here.)
Smugglers Notch is essentially three mountains: Morse Mountain, which is pretty mellow with greens and a couple blues, Madonna Mountain, the highest peak at 3,640′, and Sterling Mountain, at 3,040′.
Madonna has a fixed grip double chair lift, and yes, it’s very slow. But you know what? It hardly even matters. The view is astonishing, and the patrol said it keeps the crowds down on the mountain (BTW, the Smugg’s patrol is awesome. A big shout out to Bernie and Chris.) When you near the top, you can look off to the right and see Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont, and the trails at Stowe. And when you get off, all of Lake Champlain lies before you. It’s breathtaking.
The bitter cold prevented us from skiing a lot today — it was -20°F air temperature at the summit, with a very brisk wind. I’ll bet it was -40 or more with with wind chill. But take it from me — there is some great terrain here. So great that I am definitely coming back again, when temperatures are a bit more moderate.
Here are a couple pics from the day, from the top of Madonna:
Next stop: Jay Peak, either tomorrow or Saturday. Check back to see.