I'm spoiled rotten. I got to stay slopeside at Okemo this weekend.
My friends, Jennifer and Dan, have a condo there that allows you to walk out the back door and click into your skis. You do have to go down to the bottom lifts to access the mountain, but that's a small price to pay to roll out of bed and ski. Thanks, guys!
We even bought our tickets at the base area on Friday night to avoid standing in the ticket line on Saturday morning. This is a very good strategy if you can swing it.
Southern Vermont did not get the powder dump that northern Vermont did last week. Nevertheless, the trails were covered pretty well and I even took a couple of glade runs and only had to pick my way around a handful of rocks.
Wide, groomed intermediate cruisers seem to be Okemo's trademark—and lots of merging trails. I think Saturday crowds are also a hallmark, but hey, that's when most people have the time to ski!
We stayed on the upper part of the mountain to avoid the scary line at the North Star Express Quad. In the morning we hit the South Face area, which is always fun, and the lift featured a reggae-dancing liftline usher who was also very efficient. He was having fun with the skiers and made the short wait entertaining.
In the midday we made our way toward the newer Jackson Gore area and its high-speed quad. My favorite run of the day was when I ducked into a glade called Supernova off the Jackson Gore Express. Somehow I missed the top of the run, but I saw people in the woods so I bushwacked over. Great fun!
Earlier in the day I also enjoyed Double Diamond, which has bumps and pretty birch trees sprinkled through it. When this trail has a bunch of snow it's really fun.
Then, the snow started falling. It started Saturday afternoon and kept going. The Skimeister hit the lifts on Sunday morning for Okemo's free ski hour (from 8-9 a.m. on weekends) and he said he was glad he did. The fresh snow was a welcome addition.
Okemo has developed a lot of skiing and lodging in the Solitude and Jackson Gore areas over recent years and some glitzy homes have followed. The mountain has also created more terrain parks and pipes for snowboarders and has increased its on-mountain eating options.
There's even a popular waffle shack on the lower mountain, and a young skier told me on the lift that the Belgian waffles with chocolate are very yummy. A reliable endorsement, I'd say.
OKEMO SKI RESORT AT A GLANCE
Located in Ludlow, Vermont
Vertical drop: 2,200 feet
4 high-speed quads (plus another that allows mountain access from Jackson Gore lodging)
37 beginner trails
42 intermediate trails
38 expert trails
97% snowmaking coverage
Lift capacity: 33,450 skiers per hour