The Mountain Times

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The Mountain Journal: Storm tracks, the layover

Eastern resorts generally miss layover woes

For frequent flyers "layovers" do not typically promote rounds of laughter nor joy. For those unfamiliar with the term, a layover is that airline experience when flight delays or missed connections result in a "layover" whereby passengers wait until weather clears or seats become available on another flight to continue on one's itinerary.

A layover is not atypical for skiers going west.

Years ago, when heading to the U.S. Nationals in Colorado on a magazine story, we had a layover in Denver when a blizzard prevented our continuation. Fun? Nada! In fact, we barely found a motel at the airport and found that on arriving at the mountain the next morning all our luggage - and skis - had been mistakenly sent to New Mexico. While the resort nicely loaned us skis and clothing, our own gear did not arrive until a week later, just prior to our departure!

Honestly, Western layovers lack the fun factor.

In truth, while I've stayed at resorts in the East when heavy storms suggested it might be better to stay and ski then risk highway travel, I have always felt less trapped on these occasions. In fact years most times I have enjoyed fabulous snow the next day, thankful for the delay in my schedule! And within a day, simply drove home. Moreover, on more then one occasion it has snowed heavily at Killington while barely snowing at all just a half hour south!

This is a decided advantage of Eastern skiing.

Have you experienced a layover journeying to a Western resort? Many skiers have! Years ago, an old friend told me a tale of spending a week locked in the hotel at Snowbird during a powerful week of continuing snow. Lockdown? The avalanche danger was so high, that week, that the mountain could not allow skiing. In addition, the access road in and out of Little Cottonwood Canyon was closed while the storm raged.

Yes. Western layovers can be tedious.

In reality, not even pilots love layovers. Last year, flying in a friend's bush plane in very challenging weather, we diverted to a small airport in Southern New England when the weather became increasingly severe - and when a leaking door totally soaked my jeans and shirt. Sitting in the pilot lounge that afternoon, we listened to various tales as we heard pilots who had also landed talk about their adventures. While most accepted this diversion as a necessary step to maintain safety, no one was enthusiastic. No one! Then, as the skies began to clear, a half dozen aircraft, ranging from small private jets carrying businessmen to twin engine aircraft with families, quickly departed to each respective destination.

Fortunately, in this instance we did not require a seat on the next available aircraft, nor a hotel room. But, for many skiers travelling to ski resorts throughout the West, weather delays, weather closures, flight delays, and missed connections can each create a layover and possible delay. (These are generally covered at your own expense too, by the way.)

Eastern skiing can virtually eliminate layovers!

Plus, as many of us know, skiing truly deep powder is not confined only to Western resorts. If you watch the storm tracks carefully, and are able and willing to take a vacation at a moment's notice, you too can track Eastern Powder and catch it right almost every time. Eastern powder is like paradise.

Forget that possible layover. Discard the hassle of airport crowds. Push aside airport security checks. Skip the hassle of luggage woes and cramped aircraft. Central Vermont offers unrivalled convenience. In fact, it may be one reason that Vermont is the third most popular ski destination in the country.

A few years past, while working on assignment I found that it snowed about 3 to 4 inches each night. For 7 days! It was nice skiing Monday. Better Tuesday. And by Wednesday we were in heaven. That day, and the next, and the next, we just smiled. By diving through the piles of skied snow we found great lines. In fact, skiing 100,000 of vertical feet in five days we teased that we had matched the same vertical we might have enjoyed had we had the funds to spend a week helicopter skiing!

Do not underestimate Central Vermont. That year I scored several great powder days on my punch card and this year has proved that it will happen again. If you time it right, stay at the mountains an extra day, you may find new meaning to a layover.
Remember, powder skiing is sweet, East or West, from that first run, to that last run.