Climbing Mount Mansfield

On Friday 2 August, I set out on a long-anticipated trip to Vermont. Saturday was the App Gap Challenge, a 7.2 kilometer roller ski race heading west on Vermont Route 17, past Mad River Glen to, you guessed it, Appalachian Gap. Sunday, I planned to climb Mount Mansfield.

Notch view Mount Mansfield trail

For many years my wife and I had gone in on a February house share in Waitsfield. The group that organized it gradually drifted apart. Age, work, kids, you get the idea. Two years ago, I’d raced App Gap, but immediately following the race, I had to get our daughter to sleep away camp in Massachusetts. This would be my first opportunity to hang out in this part of the world in a long time.

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Stowe, Vt: Ignition 2014

November is a dangerous time of year for productivity. If you’re like me, you’ve got a few extra tabs open in your browser at any given moment: one for NOAA, another for your blogging ski-weatherman of choice, and maybe another for a favorite mountain.

Stowe-Vt-November-2014

With rumors flurrying last week about a few inches here or a foot there and with Killington’s trusty machinery as a fallback, I knew I’d be on snow come Saturday morning. The question was where.

For the first time since I learned to ski at age five, the season snuck up on me. I’m usually watching powder edits by mid-August and scraping off summer wax in early October, just in case. Fresh out of college and living in a new town with a job, though, I had other things on my mind this year. When temperatures started to dip toward the end of last month and pictures of dusted peaks began popping up online, I almost wasn’t ready.

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Dispatch from the Top of Vermont

It’s hard for me to play favorites among the winter playgrounds of the northeast because I can find something to get really into at almost any of them.

VTFreeheel-Rips-Stowe

I love the die-hard ski culture evident at Greek Peak. I dig skiing Plattekill top-to-bottom with the need for speed and no runouts. Gore is a vast and many-tentacled monster, making it fun to get lost and surprising you with new views as you cover ground.

But some ski areas transcend skiing themselves when you look up at the mountains they live on. Driving up to Whiteface, it’s hard not to think “My goodness, THAT is a mountain.” Stowe is like that, placed on Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont.

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