Sugarbush - A full week of Sugar for me.
With the end of the season fast approaching, my friends and I packed our gear and headed to Sugarbush to use our free tickets we got from the Warren Miller event earlier in the season. We arrived just after the lifts started turning and headed up the mountain. We quickly discovered that both 'Heaven's Gate' lift and the 'Summit Quad' were closed, meaning we could not get to the summits of two of Sugarbushes 3 mountains. 'Heaven's gate' was down due to mechanical issues, but there were no signs as to why the 'Summit Quad' was down. Not a very good way to start the day.
As soon as the 'Slide Brook Express Quad' opened, we decided it would be easiest to start on Mt. Ellen and work our way back across. This lift has got to be one of the most unique lifts I have ever ridden. It is near two miles long, and traverses 3 different ridge lines to get you from Lincoln Peak to Mt. Ellen and back. Descending into the base on Mt. Ellen is not an experience I will forget anytime soon. After a few groomer runs with my friends, I decided to head down 'Exterminator'. Shortly into it, I got very sick of the moguls. A quick map examination revealed a glade called 'Bravinator Woods' Running along side me. I dipped into there for what I hoped would be some relief. I found none. It was a pretty brutal ride, although it did get me past the moguls.
From there, I headed for the park. I like a mountain that keeps all their parks in one area, and Sugarbush does just that. Located off the 'Sunshine Double', they have a main park on 'Riemergasse' and a small progression park located on 'Sugar Run'. The large park on 'Riemergasse' is one of the most unique and creative parks I have ever seen. In fact for sheer unique-ness, I think it takes the cake. Although it seems to be geared more towards snowboarders than skiers, it appears to be modeled after a skate park almost. Tons of unique features strewn about the slope with reckless abandon, it seems to offer an endless number of lines through. There were a load of guys lapping the park, and a fellow NSer recognized me as I rode up the lift with him (Shout-out to whoever you are, I didn't get your name!) After getting my pictures, I had one of my friends attempt to take some shots of me before going off to explore the rest of the mountain with out me. We only got a couple shots where I was not sucking, as trying to take photos on your first run through a park is never a good idea.
I spent an hour or so lapping the park while my friends explored the rest of Mt. Ellen. The stand out feature that was definitley unique was an old schoolbus located at the bottom. It is easier to show you what it looked like that try to discribe it as a feature. Check it out.
After a few nasty spills, I was all set with park for the day. I picked a bad place to bring out a new set of skis for the first time. I more than learned my lesson about de-tuning new skis after face-planting off a battleship rail because I caught an edge hard. We discovered the cross mountain lift was on wind-hold, so we took a shuttle back to the Lincoln Peak base area. After a quick lunch, it was time to explore the other two-thirds of the mountain. After several groomer runs, I ran into this sign.
This...this is my kind of sign. With my friends not feeling up to the challenge, I again departed from them and headed up on my own. Castlerock Peak is much, much more difficult than the rest of the mountain, and for being a fairly family friendly resort, I was surprised to find such a hard-core area of the mountain. They groom nothing off this peak, the trails are filled with massive moguls, and rock drops abound. I started down 'Castlerock Run' and quickly ran into what I THOUGHT was a marked glade called 'Rumble'. I bombed off the trail into the forest, failing to realize that 'Rumble' was actually a trail and not the forest. The forest next to 'Liftline' is not marked as a glade (although numerous tracks through it seem to indicate otherwise). It had some of the hardest skiing I have found anywhere, rivaled in difficulty only by its near-by neighbor, Mad River Glen. This forest was rugged, the snow in some places was as deep as my poles, by the half way point I realized it was clearly not cut for skiing and it had multiple fall-lines throughout. It was extremely challenging, and totally worth it. I have no idea if it really was something I was suppose be skiing, but I loved it. A single run through that and a few other of the glades on the way down took me nearly an hour. By the bottom I was exhausted. I cannot remember another single run anywhere that tired me so much.
I made my way back, met up with my friends, and took it easy with them for the rest of the day, exploring the numerous blue trails. There are definitely some pretty cool trails as far as groomers are concerned. One particular standout was Sleeper and Sleeper chutes, with a very odd path through the woods, and numerous trees left in the trail, it was pretty different than the groomers I was use to.
Overall, I honestly don't know where my opinion on Sugarbush stands. To be fair, having two summits closed does taint the experience significantly to me. The park is amazing, and I could easily spend an entire day on the Castlerock Peak alone with out an issue. The rest of the mountain however, for the most part did not seem to have much character to me. Its something I have been struggling to come up with how I felt about it for the last few days, and a lack of character is the best I can do. Again, I am not saying it is a bad mountain by any means, because it is not. The place is definitely worth a visit for sure.
Coming up next is Ragged Mountain on Wednesday 4/2. Ragged is the last ski resort I need to visit for the tour (not including Tuckerman Ravine, which will be getting done).I do have the article for Gunstock finished up but I am waiting on a few things before posting it. Keep your eyes open for the final few chapters in the GTNS!
Keep on shredding NS!