Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll have seen that I spent my spring break in Stowe, Vermont for a little skiing holiday. It was the first time I went skiing in the U.S. and I really liked this totally new experience. I'm used to skiing in the Alps, so this was quite a change of pace. If you're ever considering skiing in the East Coast of the U.S., I can highly recommend Stowe in Vermont. It's rural but charming, and you'll have a skiing experience you'll never forget. I've made this post to guide you through your first skiing holiday in Stowe VT.

A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont


A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont


How to get there
From New York, Vermont is only a 45-minute flight away. I flew to Burlington International Airport from Laguardia Airport in New York with Delta Airlines. My family flew from Brussels to Montreal, Canada which is a 2-hour drive from Stowe. Don't come to Stowe if you don't have a (rental) car, public transport is almost non-existent aside from a couple of buses. Make sure you have a car that can handle snowstorms and steep hills. 


A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont


Ski rental
We rented our material at Pinnacle Ski and Sports. Everyone who works here is super friendly, fast and efficient. I've never rented ski gear in such a short amount of time. And they are really flexible with returning material mid-week or renting extras. Note: the helmet rental is very expensive, so bring your own helmet or buy a helmet like we did. 
3391 Mountain Rd, Stowe, VT 05672


A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont

A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont

A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont


Lift passes
Lift passes are not cheap in Stowe. Daily passes cost about $124 per person, but if you reload your pass online it costs $94. Buy a ski pass on your first day at the resort and then re-load it every morning. On some days, lifts will be closed due to strong winds, so it's best to decide in the morning if you're going to ski that day or not, considering the hefty price tag for a day of skiing.

A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont


A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont


Stowe Mountain Resort skiing
The resort consists of two mountains, Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak, which add up to 63 km of ski slopes. Spruce has some good beginner slopes and a really nice and secluded advanced slope called "Sensation". One of my favorite slopes on Mansfield was the scenic Toll Road. All the slopes going from the Gondola and the Fourrunner Quad are good because they go the longest way down. 

In terms of powder, we got lucky with a huge snowstorm but they also make extra snow in case there isn't enough. I found most black diamond slopes to be quite icy due to the strong winds, so you need to watch out here. The blue slopes were generally more fun for skiing. What I liked most about skiing in Stowe is that most of the time, we were all alone on the slopes. In the Alps, you always need to queue for lifts and watch out on the slopes not to bump into anyone. Here it was the opposite, no waiting and slopes all to ourselves! 


A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont

A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont

A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont

A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont

A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont

A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont


Stowe Mountain Resort App
The skiing resort has a really good app which I used throughout the week. It tells you the conditions for the day, whether some lifts are closed, which slopes are groomed and it even measures how many kilometers you ski. Super convenient! 


A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont


Food on the slopes
I kind of missed the Austrian gemütlichkeit in the mountain chalets. The food was overall not spectacular, but we found the best lunch at Octagon Café, located at the top of the Fourrunner Quad lift. The views are amazing, and they serve some delicious soups and wraps here. Don't go to the restaurant at the top of the Gondola, it's pretty bad. 


A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont

A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont


Temperatures & how to dress
On our first day, it was -18 degrees Celsius, so freezing cold and nothing like the pleasant temperatures you get in the Alps in March (the maximum up in the mountain was -13 degrees). I wore two thermal layers, a warm vest, a thermal snood and a very warm ski coat every day. Thermo leggings and thermal gloves under your normal ski gloves are also not an excessive luxury. Our best purchase of the trip were the Seirus ski masks, which protected our faces from the cold and potential frostbite. I honestly don't think we could have skied without these, so it's really a must when you go skiing in Vermont. 


A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont

A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont

A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont


Where to stay
There's a big hotel complex right at the Mountain Resort, which is convenient but not very charming and you don't really get the Vermont experience here. We stayed at a nice hotel a little outside town called Edson Hill where we had our own little chalet with fireplace. A perfect place to relax and unwind after a day of skiing. Our breakfast was included which is convenient if you want to get an early start. I'll post a review of Edson Hill on the blog soon!


A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont

A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont

A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont

A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont


Apres-ski & dinner
Stowe has quite a lot to offer on the restaurant and bar-front, but there's one place which we kept going back to. It's called Doc Ponds, and it's the ultimate combination of bar and restaurant. Apres-ski in Vermont means grabbing a bite to eat and drink a few beers after skiing, so there's a very relaxed atmosphere. The food is simple and quite incredible, and we tried almost everything from the menu. Get the mac & cheese, cauliflower salad, a burger and a Heady Topper beer (locally brewed, only available in Vermont). 
294 Mountain Rd, Stowe, VT 05672


A guide to skiing in Stowe, Vermont


Overall, skiing in Vermont was a very different skiing experience than what we were used to, but a good one! Like I said, we got super lucky this week with a snowstorm bringing in over a meter of some of the best powder I've ever seen, which provided a lot of ski fun but also very tired legs! I liked that it wasn't crowded at all, and that we were surrounded by locals. Apart from a few Canadians, we didn't meet any other foreigners, which is quite special. If you're looking for a leisurely skiing holiday I would definitely recommend Stowe! 



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