Best feeder hill out there

by: skigenome57 - Dec 15, 2010

  • Overall Rating 4
  • Family Friendly 5
  • All-Mtn. Terrain 2
  • Terrain Park 4
  • Nightlife 0

    Pros: Close, good vertical for the location, fast lifts, terrain park, reliable conditions, amenities, decent value

    Cons: Crowded, the best trails are congested with beginners, groomed flat

    Recommended For: Singles, Family Friendly, Empty Nesters

    Date Visited: Dec 1, 2010


Full review

Keep in mind that the ratings I give are based on my expectations, NOT as a comparison to other resort's I've reviewed. Wachusett never claimed to be anything it isn't: They know who they are, I know who they are: a feeder hill. Compared to Vermont or Maine, it would be unfair. But expecting feeder hill standards, they certainly exceed my expectations.

The Good:
This place is close, so even on my most hectic days, I can go out and make a few turns. They have 2 high speed quads, which are great for getting a lot of runs in and moving the crowds. 1000 ft. vertical is great for central Massachusetts. The lift tickets may seem pricey, but you really are getting a lot for the money. For example, $61 will buy you 14 hours of skiing, from 8am to 10pm (of course, if I had that much free time, I would go north). They have the infrastructure of a large resort. Looking down at the base area, you might think you are in Vermont, with the big, modern base lodge, waffle cabin, and high speed quad terminals. It is only when you look up a the hill when you realize you're in Massachusetts. The "hardest" run there would be an easy blue up north, but the runs are perfect for working on form and technique, and the vertical is decent (for Mass). The snowmaking is great, and they have what is probably the longest season in southern New England. Early season conditions are excellent usually, and they often open until early April-great for Massachusetts. They groom twice a day as well. The staff is very friendly: the lifties and ticket window vendors are very friendly, and often times, ski school instructors will even apologize for cutting off the trail with their group!

The Bad:
The lodge, however big it may be, still gets crowded, making it hard to find a seat. The food is decent, but if you are making a quick day (or night) trip, I would eat before arriving, ski for about 4 hours, maybe grabbing a quick waffle at the waffle house (those are great!). This place, being so accessible, can attract the rude city teenage boarder type. I'm not trying to be stereotypical, but this place is filled with inconsiderate park rats. I think the park fee ($5 for the season) and safety quiz is great; it limits the number and stupidity of the rats it would otherwise attract. In addition, there are a lot of beginners crowding areas they shouldn't be in. Underlying problem: There are 3 (count them: THREE) beginner areas, yet all of those newbies seem to want to tell everyone they know they did a "black". Therefore, the summit trails, which are great for opening up the throttle, are populated with those beginners in pizza wedges moving sideways across the trail, who will get really ticked off at you if you try to pass them. By the way, I think the whole "Family Trail" idea is ridiculous: basically, they take some of the best high speed cruisers on the mountain, and will rip your pass if you are going "fast". Conifer Connection particularly, is an excellent cruiser, but they have ski patrol waiting at every roller, so I am spending my whole run watching my speed; not cool. In addition, a lot of parents, who are not necessarily bad skiers, will bring their little kids in wedges on the summit trails, so they can tell people their child did a "black". These parents will also yell at you if you pass them and their kids, making a fool out of them, even at a safe distance, and though it is not a slow zone. You would think that parents would be much more responsible than that: there are others trying to enjoy their run! Please excuse my rant, but I had to get that out of my system!
Also, I think they over groom the place. They groom each run twice a day, which is not necessarily a horrible thing: it creates very reliable conditions in a typical New England melt/refreeze cycle, but some more bumps would be nice! Once the season is in full gear, they will seed bumps on the side of 10th mountain trail, but those only last for a very short section of the run.

Suggestions:
If you're close, try to get here for opening bell at 8am (weekends) for good snow and parking at the top of the lot. Trust me, you don't want to have to park in the other lots and take the shuttle! Ski until around noon nonstop, and bring your ticket back to the window before 12:30 to get back ~$6 or so. Use some of that money to buy a waffle, and then be on your way! By 12:30, all of the park rats and newbies show up, so you will have had at minimum 20 runs of 1000 vertical each by the if you ski moderately fast by then. Also, I would highly recommend coming here early season, but be sure to check their website, as they often open and close sporadically early season! Early season is great here because their trails are great for getting your ski legs back, they have great snowmaking and grooming. Most of all, many of the people in the area seem to not start thinking of skiing until the first decent snowfall, which is often not until mid to late December, so until then, the place is relatively uncrowded. After the first snowfall, the masses move in. Likewise, come spring, when snow in peoples' backyards had melted, the snow is still great here, yet people stop going!

In conclusion, I think this is the best place in Massachusetts (Jiminy is overhyped by New Yorkers, and Berkshire East often barely has anything open). Follow my advise and you can have a good time and forget your troubles for a few hours. However, if you are looking for an overnight trip, go north!!

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