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Get Out and Stay Out

It’s that time of year again. As the days grow short and cold here in Beantown, the upcoming ski season looms large in the hearts and minds of many.

One of the advantages that a Boston-based business school offers its students is easy access to a wide variety of ski terrain; almost all within a three to four hour car ride away. Many among us take advantage of this proximity by going in on a ski house with a group of friends or section-mates; the vast majority are located around Killington. This season, though, do yourself a favor. Bust out of the Pickle-Barrel routine that plagues most HBS’ers. Leave the comfort of the access road and head out into the great unknown: the rest of New England’s ski slopes.

Now, I know, it’s tough. Killington is close (2.5 hours drive) and huge (a mind-blowing 200 trails covering seven peaks). And after too many aprŠs-ski brews, it’s pretty tough to motivate for early morning road trips when there is perfectly good snow right out your back door. But Killington is also the most impersonal of all the New England ski resorts. It’s size, notoriety, and location all lead to crowds that make the Green-Line T seem roomy.

Our point is, there will probably never again be a time in our lives when we have this much time on our hands (and healthy ligaments in our knees) to pursue the full pleasures of Northeastern skiing. With this in mind, the following is a brief synopsis of some of the best ski resorts New England has to offer.

A great alternative to Killington is Sugarbush. Located in Waitsfield, Vermont, Sugarbush offers comparable size and terrain with a much more laid-back Vermont feel. It’s about a three hour drive from Boston, and thankfully beyond the normal weekend travel patterns of the throngs of New York/New Jer-z skiers that clog Killington’s slopes.

If you prefer brioche to burgers, Diesel to Levi’s, or Pravda to Shay’s…don’t even think of heading to Mad River Glen, Sugarbush’s old-school neighbor to the north. You haven’t tasted true Vermont skiing until you’ve taken the single chair to the top of General Stark Mountain. However, be advised: true to form, MRG offers no snowmaking and little grooming…so ski experience is necessary. But when the snow falls, there isn’t a better place to be.

The classic Vermont ski resort, Stowe, is a must-visit. Located on Vermont’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield, Stowe has great snow, great terrain and a fantastic nightlife. For those who would prefer cross-country skiing over alpine skiing, Stowe is home to the world famous von Trapp family lodge (The von Trapp family odyssey inspired The Sound of Music). About three hours from Boston, this resort is a personal favorite.
For those willing to forego incredible nightlife for incredible snow, Jay Peak may be just the place. This mountain gets the most snow in the east, averaging 315 inches per year, so the season lasts until early May. Jay Peak rewards those weary travelers who make the journey to her slopes with incredible glades skiing and over 2000′ of vertical drop.
Located in Bethel, Maine (about 180 miles from Boston), Sunday River is the birthplace of the American Ski Corp. Once a family mountain with 1 antiquated double chairlift and 10 trails, the resort now boasts eight interconnected mountains with over 150 trails to choose from. Sunday River’s snowmaking capabilities are arguably the best in the east, which makes it a particularly attractive option for early season skiing. There are also many nightlife options to choose from, both at the resort and in the town of Bethel.

Located in Carabasset Valley, Maine, Sugarloaf boasts the most vertical feet of any resort in Maine. It is a great mountain for families, and also has a fairly active nightlife. Financial troubles have plagued the mountain in the past years, which has impacted their snowmaking abilities (making snow is extremely expensive). And it gets cold, too!! The top 1000 vertical feet is above tree line. But if the weather is on your side, Sugarloaf has outstanding terrain, and makes for a great weekend.
Keep in mind, that these are just a few of the authors’ favorites. With over fifty spots to choose from, there’s enough variety out there to fulfill any New England skier’s needs. From small and homey, to steep and deep, New England has it. The challenge is finding the time to get it all in. We have that time now. You have the rest of your life to work. Grab a cup o’ Joe, hop in the car, and let the road-trip begin. Go ski!

December 3, 2001
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