access, parks, night skiing city views, off-hill amenities
bland upper mountain, inadequate lodge most the time, slow lifts
I had a Montage Mountain season pass for years, and I still ski Sno Mountain once or twice a year. Great local hill within easy reach of a large amount of people. The lodge is at mid-mountain (watch that access road in poor conditions - it's well maintained but too well maintained so over-confident speed causes various accidents). The lodge is nice enough with a nice bar, but the place is a zoo during busy periods. If carrying all sorts of gear from the car, watch out for the stairs from parking to lodge. There's usually a shuttle. The park is top notch and makes the "Iron Horse" Triple lift more popular. Last I was there, they had a superpipe and halfpipe. It also adds flavor to an upper mountain that is rather bland. The upper mountain beginner trails are nice for newbies, but short for more adventurous beginners... don't sweat it, the blues are all managable by beginner skiers. All the upper terrain is a series of short headwalls to flats and is very exposed (windy and cold). Sno has recently added a new blue route on the far perimeter of the upper area, which was an extension of a jug handle off "Upper Fast Track". They also put a glade on the trail map off this trail. Nice to see the embrace of tree skiing, but sad to see my OB lines put on the trail map. The whole upper mountain is mostly widely spaced and narrow trees ideal for easier tree skiing, but elevated trail-side snowmaking lines makes skiing/riding these trees very hazardous. Recent snowmaking upgrades have been great. I have found real good conditions on my reent visits, even tower-mount dustings on some trails over-night. The grooming is adequate, not anything stellar or particularly bad. Sno boasts 1000' feet of vert which is among the tops in the state. The top to bottom "Runaway" trail is managable by intermediate skiers. The lower mountain has some steep sections to it. "Lower Runaway" was formerly a diamond trail, but is now rated double blue I believe. "Runaway" and "Fast Track" have upper and lower sections and run top to bottom (served by the long and pokey "Long Haul" triple). I find these runs to be wonderful. If the area ever put in a high-speed lift, it is conceivable the "Long Haul" would be replaced serving these runs, but Sno Mountain patrons have become so accustomed to avoiding this lift (other then the 'change-of-pace' lift ride). This makes for longer lines at the lower mountain quad chair and the upper mountain beginner triple chair from the lodge. There is a new diamond trail ("Rattler"?) that cuts from "Lower Runaway" to "Cannonball" that is fun (mellow but narrow). "Cannonball" is a favorite, rolling and winding diamond, that cuts from the lodge between the "Long Haul" triple trails and the "Phoebe Snow" quad trails on the lower mountain (the North Face). "Smoke" has one real steep headwall, and "Boomer" is a great trail when it has moguls. Watch out for "White Lightning". One of the steepest trails in the state, and usually wall-to-wall moguls. It's really challenging, and gets steeper from top to bottom. Just when you think: "is this it? not so bad...", it rolls over to a steep section of scattered, icy bumps from side-scrapers and dead-liners. Some hard G's when it suddenly flattens out. Sno Mountain has an exit off I-81, and the access road has lots of stores and some things to do (great movie theatre, Lackawanna Cty. Stadium, Glenmaura National Golf Club). Out-of-towners could make a neat trip staying in the city and spending a day at Sno Mountain. I personnally think the city lights at night are a cool benefit as most mountains don't have such a view, but many disagree. I hold a place in my heart for Sno Mountain (I still call it Montage), plenty of pros, plenty of cons, but just a great local hill.