Okemo – Dec 15 2012

Okemo was running a promotion today, if you brought in 5 items or more of non-perishable food you got a $39 lift ticket. Seemed like the best deal for skiing today.

Also they claimed Friday night that Jackson Gore would be opening today, so I figured, cool, fresh corduroy to rip today.

I went up with my old man because he loves a good ski ticket bargain. This was my first time at Okemo -- previously known to me only as the mountain I pass on the way to Killington which a lot of people from Connecticut seem to always go to.

1.5 hours up there, arrived shortly after 9:00am. I was immediately impressed by the parking situation and very friendly staff. Getting a ticket and getting on the lift took no time at all, and they had a table set up before the ticket window where you could give you food items and get a ticket stub which you could redeem for the $39 lift ticket.

At the ticket window they gave me a pass for $49 ticket any time in January on a week day. My father somehow got two of these passes. That was nice of them.

Took the first chair up which is a quad that just takes you up a short ways. The trail underneath this was kind of like a ribbon of snow. It looks like Okemo has been struggling to cover trails just like everyone else in southern VT. Got off the lift and skied over towards one of the main mountain lifts. The surface conditions on this trail where like very finely ground ice crystals. Sort of like skiing in slippery sand.

So we made our way over to the main lift and took a lot of runs towards the left side of the mountain. Things over there depended on the trail. Most were fairly carveable. The snow was very fast. Hard pack in some places but other places seemed like it had got a fresh, if thin coat of man-made recently.

Fairly soon it started to get crowded, rather congested on the trails and certain trails were more like an obstacle course of humans than actually skiing. Figured it was time to head over to Jackson Gore and check out all the freshies over there..

Got over there and took a trail down to the bottom of it. This trail was very, very crowded actually to a somewhat dangerous degree. It was pretty scratched off as well which made the whole situation over there pretty sketchy. For some reason we took the lift up and did that trail again, because as we soon found out this was basically the only trail open on Jackson Gore. We were sort of disappointed that this "newly opened area" had what they called 4 trails open but actually skied like one run. And that run was probably the worst run on the mountain due to having 5x as many people on it as it should have and poor conditions. The upper part was actually okay, but the middle and bottom were a real skied off bottleneck.

There were a lot of little kids and teenage showoffs skiing over their ability throughout the day. There were countless times throughout the day where I was really concerned for my safety and the safety of the kids around me. Ski patrol was busy throughout the day with the sleds... a lot of people were colliding into each other due to congestion and slick conditions.

We explored the whole mountain several times, the best run seemed to be World Cup. Carveable snow and less crowds. The stuff off "The Glades" lift, well the 2 trails that were open over there, were not bad either. One other run had a terrain park on one side but the other side of the trail had pretty good snow.

So there were good spots to ski, but over the course of the early afternoon it seemed like the crowd doubled and the snow got twice as skied off. My Dad wanted to try Jackson Gore again, which I predicted would be an epic crowded trail and totally slick by this point. We went over there anyway and I was right. Skiing that run I felt was one of the more dangerous runs I've done. The only "snow" was in a thin band on the right edge, and an insane amount of people were careening down the "white ice" which was most of this trail. I witnessed so many near brutal collisions during this one run it was scary.

There was one point where I was skiing along and there were some humps in the trail where you didn't have great visibility over them until you were sort of over the top. Right below this hump some guy was crossing the entire length of the trail from one side to the other horizontally on skis. I called out "hey guy!" because I was in process of making a long arc which was getting wider by the millisecond just to avoid him. He kept skiing sideways unaware of uphill traffic and I had to ski off the trail to avoid creaming him. I actually did clip him with my parka, and fortunately there was no real collision and also fortunately I did not crash off the trail because there was a patch of snow and I was able to cut it back onto the trail once I was around him. I looked back at the guy with a look and gesture of "whaaaaat are you doing??" but, these things happen I guess.

We went back to the main mountain and took a few more runs but every run it was like more and more people skiing out of control and we witnessed several collisions and more people going down in sleds undoubtably due to being hit.

It was probably 2:30 or a little after and we decided to call it a day. Conditions were deteriorating and neither of us felt like being the next injury (or God forbid causing an injury).

Overall a very fun day and I was impressed with Okemo's staff and general way of doing things. Can't blame them for the conditions, it's obvious they have been working hard with what they've got for snow.

I will probably return to this mountain, but probably not very often unless they have a really good ticket deal some time.

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