Last season, we pulled together two totally random, social-media generated lists of favorite resorts for tree skiing and powder skiing in North America. These were posted here at Braveskimom.com and also at the Liftopia.com blog.
In each post we asked for more suggestions, for help in building out the lists.
Powder-skiers, well, you all remained tight-lipped, going only so far as to confirm that Utah does in fact have the “greatest snow on earth.”
So today, as we recap the comments, we’re all about trees and glades and the joys of ducking into the woods.
Skiing Sauvage in Quebec
One resort, Mont Sutton in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, generated the most comments.
Fully 45% of the skiable terrain at Mont Sutton is gladed, and the resort is Ski Canada’s choice for “best glade skiing.”
And while one respondent shared that Mont Sutton has “amazing tree skiing for all levels of skiers, from novice to expert,” another offered up some history.
Apparently, Réal Boulanger, the founder of Mont Sutton, popularized glade skiing (skiing sauvage) during the 1960s.
“Not only did Réal figure out the best way to cut a glade run (wait ‘til spring, then cull the trees and branches that have blood on ’em), he and his crews also mastered the fine arts of grooming them, whether by Tucker snowcat or on foot, by hand and shovel.”
Bloody branches aside, glade skiing at Sutton ranges from reassuringly gentle (Barcarole, CouCou, Forest of Wonder) to hardcore (Fantaisie, Extase, Seduction) with everything in between (the terrain progresses in difficulty moving from skier’s left to skier’s right).
Nearby Mont Orford is another popular destination for sauvage skiers and riders. According to one reader, Mont Orford has outstanding glades, along with “decent lift prices, short lines and Magog, a great town.”
The resort has seventeen glades spread over Mont Orford and Mont Giroux. Most of them are rated for experts including La passe de l’ours, La chevreuil, L’orignal and L’écureuil on Mont Orford and Mont Giroux’s Les sous-bois des legends, so named for two local Olympic legends, Loyd Langlois and Nicolas Fontaine.
New England’s Finest
Just south of the Eastern Townships, you’ll find Vermont. As international boundaries means nothing to trees, Green Mountain tree skiing is also acclaimed.
Known for it’s family-friendly vibe, Smugglers’ Notch was noted for extensive tree skiing and “old-time charm.” Smuggs’ likes to start ’em young and even the littlest rippers enjoy skiing Whitetail Woods with the resort’s Snow Sport University.
There are 22 marked glades and over 750 acres of forest to explore at Smugglers’ Notch. Beginners enjoy Red Fox Glades, while intermediates gravitate to glades on Madonna and Sterling Mountain.
Black Hole is the pinnacle, the resort’s most difficult glade, a “triple black diamond” array of steeps, cliffs and moguls threaded through the woods.
This is the comment we received about Sugarloaf, Maine: “Sugarloaf. ‘Nuff said.”
While that was intriguing, we needed more information. Reaching out to locals, we learned that the mountains signature glade experience is found amongst 650 acres of ungroomed steeps, chutes, downed trees and cliffs in Brackett Basin.
If that sounds too intense, the Whiffletree Quad will take you to easier tree skiing along Broccoli Garden or Rookie River.
Up in the U.P.
Mount Bohemia is intriguing. One hundred seventy acres of untamed winter fun with the most vertical in the Midwest (900 feet), this Upper Peninsula resort gets around 300 inches of lake effect snow each winter.
“It’s the best kept secret in skiing and snowboarding,” shares Scott who nominated Mount Bohemia.
There is no grooming and only two intermediate runs. Everything else is advanced and expert, a diverse wonderland of tight trees, craggy hillsides, creek beds, cliffs and frozen waterfalls. Some of the mountain’s terrain is hike-to and some requires a bus ride back to the base, and there is cat skiing on neighboring Voodoo Mountain.
In the Spirit, a gladed run on Blackcomb Mountain at Whistler Blackcomb, was dubbed “the ultimate,” by one enthusiastic skier.
A double black diamond with tight trees, fast turns and long-lasting powder, it’s an advanced and expert experience. Easier glades, with more widely spaced trees and lower angle terrain, are found off of Symphony Chair on Whistler Mountain.
Hellroaring Basin, at Montana’s Whitefish Mountain Resort, was noted for “great tree spacing, mostly pretty deep.”
Or, as local skier Randall Zuckerman puts it “Whitefish really is a tree skier’s mountain. The majority of great skiing is found in the trees, which are found all over the mountain.”
Finally, I’m going to add my shout-out to this list, sending up a cheer for Sugar Pine Glade at Northstar California.
Northstar was on our original list, but it wasn’t until I skied the mountain for the first time in February that I understood why.
Built on lands originally acquired for logging, the entire resort lies below tree line, with all of the runs cut from the forest. This means you’ll find nicely spaced glades across the entire mountain. Sugar Pine Glade, on Lookout Mountain, offers some of the steepest lines, with the fewest people.
More North American Favorites:
- North America’s Favorite Powder Day Resorts, March 7, 2016.
- More of North America’s Favorite Ski Runs, December 28, 2015.
- Get Lost in the Woods: North America’s Best Resorts for Tree Skiing, February 15, 2016.
- An Unofficial, Totally Random List of the Best Groomed Ski Runs in North America, March 23, 2015.
- An Unofficial, Totally Random List of the Best Bump Runs in North America, March 30, 2015.
- The Biggest, Best Ski Lift Views in North America, April 14, 2014.
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