Powder Hounds Flock to These Eastern Ski Resorts

One brisk, sun-filled morning early last year, residents in upstate Vermont awoke to over a foot a fresh powder. Plowing the driveway would have to wait. Stowe was calling.

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Northern Vermont snow is generated by storms called Alberta Clippers that develop over central Canada and then move east-southeast riding the jet stream. Bolstered by a good January, the snowfall provided off-piste skiers with the type of conditions that can make westerners green with envy. At Stowe, glade skiing is a natural evolution from carving out the groomed cruisers, and experienced skiers first go to the steep wide-open terrain on Hayride and Nosedive, as well as Stowe’s fabled Front Four Trails. All the glades adjacent to those trails are powder laden, and the Mansfield Gondola affords access to even more untracked terrain. People tend to head straight to the glades off of Chin Clip, and Spruce Peak can also be another place to search for fresh tracks later in the day.

Contrary to popular belief, there is plenty of powder to be found at ski areas from Pennsylvania to Maine. Elk Mountain in the Endless Mountains of northeast Pennsylvania lies within a snow belt that produces reliable powder. A decades-old tree planting project has added more than 30,000 Spruces which serve as wind breakers that help keep fresh snow on such slopes as the bump-filled Tunkhannock for longer periods of time.

It was early March, 2018, and the quaint southern Vermont town of Dover was abuzz as the snow continued to fall. All told, 41 inches blanketed nearby Mount Snow. Some storms moving from west to east settle in southern Vermont and stall out when they hit the Green Mountains, often resulting in double the snowfall that northern Vermont sees.

The North Face of Mount Snow contains steep trees, and all sorts of hidden glades are available if you know where to look. Take Freefall for your first run which offers sustained pitches as well as an easy run-out right to the lift. You milk Freefall for one more lap before heading over to the trees which offer wide spacing and great options for some East Coast airs. After that, slip into the woods alongside Jaws.

About 15 miles north of Mount Snow, Stratton Mountain received 17 inches of snow the first three days of December 2019. The mountain hosted skiers who were up early and in liftlines long before the bullwheel started to spin. Riders often prefer a quick line down Upper and Lower Liftline, echoed by hoots and hollers from the chairlift overhead, and then they take a quick lap right back up and go find some stashes in the trees. Skiers and boarders such as Andrew Kimiecik who want steep and deep runs will head up the Snow Bowl Lift for advanced terrain. For precipitous runs through tight trees, skiers might find themselves out in the West Pilot glade for added pleasure.

Sunday River, Newry, Maine, benefits from a unique position close to the White Mountains and the Presidential Range. The storms that drop the most snow tend to track directly northeast and start off very cold on Mount Washington, ultimately bringing cold air in from the Atlantic. You’ll get a short but sweet run on some connector trails, and then beat most others to first tracks off of the upper mountain lifts. If your legs can take it, wait to duck into the woods until later in the morning or take advantage of Sunday River’s boundary to boundary policy, which allows skiers and riders to carve pretty much anywhere that isn’t expressly closed with a marker.

Lake Placid, New York, which hosted two Winter Olympics, is home to iconic Whiteface Mountain where advanced skiers will find the Slides. A series of steep, narrow chutes, the Slides are open only when Ski Patrol deems them safe. This expert-only terrain contains 35 acres of in-bounds, off-piste, double black-diamond wilderness skiing accessible by hiking from the top of the Summit Quad Lift.

The best places to find powder on Cranmore Mountain in North Conway, New Hampshire, are the East Bowl or Schneider Pitch. After that, head to the glades to find some powder stashes in the woods. At Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, people love True Grit on a powder day or the North Side where the wind usually creates some deep pockets of snow and the trees make a beautiful tunnel of white on Tangent and Periphery.

Granted, champagne powder days east of the Rockies aren’t as commonplace as they are out west.  However, eastern skiers on the lookout for mounds of fresh snow often come away with smiles on their faces.

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