Deep into a Steep Vermont December

In December 2016, on an early-season trip to Killington, our group planned to visit Okemo on the second day. Conditions in the region were typical for December—the snow was hard, crusty, and mostly manmade with a slick layer of ice hiding underneath. When I saw the next morning that Jay Peak had landed nearly two feet of surprise snowfall, I headed north in search of powder, with or without my friends.

I arrived to waist-deep powder runs on some of the steepest trails and glades in the northeast, making the day trip well worth the five hours of extra driving. That was my first day as a “powderhound,” obsessively checking the weather and allowing Mother Nature to steer my Subaru to the mountains I would visit.

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Smugglers Notch

Smugglers Notch has been on my radar for more than five years. Without ever setting foot on the hill, I knew that Smuggs had it all: snow, terrain and old school vibe.

smuggs trees

My experience in Northern Vermont is limited. I skied Stowe many years ago, as an intermediate. We had friends in the area and we would ski for a few days around Christmas. In those days I wasn’t a tree skier and I don’t remember us getting any new snow.

Then, about five years ago a bunch of us skied together for three days at Jay. The first morning the Jay Cloud went off at opening and delivered 5-8″ before lunch. My first experience with nice powder skiing in really widely spaced trees.

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