3/9 Stratton (first time impression)

I’ve never been to Stratton before despite having Ikon pass. We had an event to attend at Manchester VT on Friday night so decided to check it out on Saturday.

It was a beautiful day, blue bird, warm and no wind. We started at sun bowl around 9am, parking was easy and we started skiing around 915am. There was a long line at the bottom of sunrise lift. But it moves relatively fast because of fast speed 6 person lift so we only waited for 7-8 minutes. Shooting star chair had no line so we continued to the top. We decided to warm up on a groomer so went down bear down. The grooming was nicely done except the it was at most blue pitch despite marked as double black. Moved to test pilot to ski trees in the second run. The surface was bulletproof without soft snow. The single track at the top was pretty dangerous. Once it opened up it was better – the surface is still too slick but there is room to turn. The tree run took us to the sun bowl base with a huge lift line (10+ minutes wait). Once we got to the top we skied kidderbrook ravine, which has better condition than test pilot but still slick. Then we moved to ski the area under URSA lift – grizzly bear, diamond in the rough and moon dance. Grizzly bear is another blue pitch groomer marked as double black. Diamond in the rough had thin cover, especially near the entrance with a lot of roots and rocks. Moon Dance has the best condition among the tree runs in morning with some soft snow here and there. We tried to rerun but URSA lift line was a shit show with 10+ minutes wait every time. After only 6 short runs in the morning it was lunch time. We ate at middle mountain lodge which was extremely crowded. About 100 people were eating outdoor. After lunch, we moved to ski the snow bowl lift. Surprisingly the lift line was short and the wait was under 5 minutes. Spruce was another double black with blue pitch. Shred wood forest had pretty bad condition with a lot of ice. West pilot glades gave me a pleasant surprise – it was long and the snow wasn’t too bad. We enjoyed the run but unfortunately it took us to the main base. At first sight of the main base it was full of people everywhere, waiting in lift line, waffle line or walk around. It was so crowded that it looked comical. We got out via Amex chair then snow bowl and had a few tree runs before calling it a day.

Overall it was an okay day. The groomers were boring but some tree runs were fun despite having poor condition. Stratton’s natural terrain seems to hold snow much worse than other resorts, maybe because it is somewhat east facing and exposure to sun. The mountain is flat but that was actually a good thing for Saturday given the icy condition in trees. Stratton is definitely crowded- it was easy to find hundreds of people waiting at the line. ThEy do have impressive uphill capacity though with high speed 6 person chair amost everywhere, which turned 30 minutes wait into 10-15. Last Saturday at Stratton was definitely the busiest day I’ve skied this season including Xmas, New Years and MLK. I couldn’t imagine how bad it will be during holidays here.

This was my first time at Stratton and I am sure I won’t return for a long while. It was too crowded and the terrain was boring. I am sure the tree skiing can be fun after a storm during a weekday. But then with similar drive time (from Boston) I can get to much better terrain in northern Vermont.