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A powder-filled Sunday at Smugglers' Notch, Vermont

Posted Monday, January 20, 2020
— Alpine / downhill skiing, Smugglers' Notch

Today I headed over to Smugglers' Notch Resort to check out 5" fresh atop about 12-18" from Thursday's storm. It's great to see the mountain bounce back after last weekend's thaw.

The Sterling double lift opens earliest, so I waited in line (thankful that temps were in the 20s) and caught about the 10th chair after the rope drop. My first run was on Smugglers's Alley and it skied like every bit of 20" of powder. Woohoo!

One of the reasons Smugglers' Alley was so good is that it has a base from snowmaking. And that was the great divide of the day: generally great powder and packed powder conditions on the runs with snowmaking; and wind-swept powder — with little to no base — on some of the natural-snow runs. Some of that light powder had blown right off. For this reason, runs to seek out included Upper Chilcoot, Upper FIS, and Playground, all with snowmaking. Natural-snow runs to pass on included Drifter and Lower Chilcoot. If you're standing at the top of a run and you see snowmaking guns, you'll be in good shape! (Smugglers' Notch has 62% snowmaking coverage.)

There's plenty of powder to be had, of course. I found great turns on runs like Treasure Run, Upper FIS, Highlander Glades and lower Doc Dempsey's. Speaking of glades, there isn't much base in the them. I hit stumps, rocks and hidden branches, especially in steeper spots, and lower on the mountain. Enjoy the powder but assume "thin cover" in all the glades.

The combination of fresh snow and the MLK holiday weekend turned out an exceptional crowd. (I heard that it was busy at nearby resorts, as well.) Smuggs spun all three lifts on its Madonna and Sterling mountains. These fixed-grip chairs tend to spread people out, so it didn't feel as crowded on the slopes as the full parking lots and lift line mazes made it look.

Snow showers continued throughout the day today, and as of 4 PM Smuggs reported 26" of new snow in the past five days. Temps will be healthy for retaining this beautiful snow all week, so get out and enjoy it!

— Skimeister

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