Friday March 2, 2012

There’s really only been one story to tell on skiing and riding in the east this season. That’s the simple fact that we have been skiing and riding on great snow most of the season at most resorts, even in Connecticut, the Berkshires, southern Vermont and southern New Hampshire.

For anyone living south of a line drawn roughly from Bangor, Maine to Conway, N.H., and from Conway to Rutland, Vt., natural snow has been thin and sporadic at best. In many places we are set to go down as the warmest and one of the least snowy winters on record. The long-range weather forecast for March calls for a high probability of more warmer-than-average temperatures.

Above that line, there’s been some fairly serious snow, at least in spots -- and those spots happen to be where the ski areas are. The Mount Washington Observatory is only 15 inches below last year in total snowfall. Most of the resorts surrounding the big mountain are reporting 12 to 36-inch base depths, including Attitash (www.attitash.com), Wildcat (www.skiwildcat.com), and Bretton Woods (603-278-3320; www.brettonwoods.com).

Northern Vermont has gotten hit pretty well, too. Jay Peak (www.jaypeakresort.com) is reporting a 20 to 30-inch base, Stowe (www.


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stowe.com) is reporting 28 to 38 inches. Some of that is man-made, of course, but much isn’t.

One of the correspondents for EastermSlopes.com just emailed me to gloat that she and her family were enjoying a foot of fresh powder in the expansive glades at Mont Sutton (www.montsutton.com) in Quebec.

But even in "southern" areas, there’s still plenty of snow to play on. I told you last week about the well-covered, well groomed trails at Shawnee Peak (www.shawneepeak.com) in Bridgton, Maine. I found the exact same situation this week at Pats Peak (www.patspeak.com) in Henniker, N.H. Lots of good snow, and lots of happy people out enjoying it.

My spies are everywhere, and they are all reporting the same thing. Two of our young correspondents just filed a story marveling at all the great snow they found at Crotched Mountain (www.crotched
mountain.com) in Bennington, N.H., where they skied until 3 a.m. on Presidents Weekend. (Crotched calls this "Midnight Madness," and I’d have to agree). We’ve just published another story on the uncrowded slopes and sterling conditions at Waterville Valley (www.
waterville.com) this vacation week.

The only place I haven’t had a recent first-hand report on is Maine, where Saddleback (www.saddlebackmaine.com) is reporting an 18 to 30-inch base; Sugarloaf (www.sugarloaf.com) doesn’t report snow depths, but I’m sure their numbers are similar.

Here’s the deal:

That crashing sound you are hearing in the quiet of the night is prices in ski-country tumbling now that Presidents Week is over. Here are some examples:

Mount Snow (www.mountsnow
.com) in Dover, Vt., is offering a "Vernal Eternal Spring Pass" with unlimited skiing and riding every day through the end of the ski season for $299.

Pats Peak (www.patspeak.com) in Henniker, N.H., has a March special on 2012-13 season passes. An unlimited adult pass is $389, and it lets you ski the rest of this season free. Pats has had lots of snow all season long -- the people who bought season passes last year got their money’s worth.

Saddleback (www.saddlebackmaine.com) has ski and stay packages in a very comfortable trailside condo for as little as $69 per person.

Sugarloaf (www.sugarloaf.com), which now boasts of being the largest ski area east of the Rockies, offers Weekend Ski and stay packages for $109 per person; midweek packages start at $89. An adult lift ticket is $79.

Tim Jones writes about outdoor sports and travel. He can be reached at timjones@easternslopes.com.