Ascent of Mount Snow on 2019-02-18

Climber: Dan Hildebrand

Date:Monday, February 18, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Snow
    Elevation:3586 ft / 1093 m

Ascent Trip Report

I wasn't really planning on hiking up the Mount Snow resort during the craziest ski weekend of the year, but that's how it shook out... I was originally planning on snowshoeing the Deerfield Ridge Trail (requiring somewhere between 10-12 miles of probable trail breaking) from the south, but between running low on energy from a busy weekend socializing at my alma mater and hiking Statton 12 hours before this hike, my wife and I decided to take a more direct approach and climb up the snowshoe trails at the ski resort to make our lives a little easier.

Technically, Mount Snow advertises a snowshoeing trails and an uphill access pass, but really doesn't post any helpful information about it, which I'm hoping to help fix with this TR. We parked in the Sundance lot and headed to the Grand Summit Resort/Mount Snow Sports to figure out what the deal was. The lift ticket office in the lobby sold us each a $10 uphill access ticket, but sent us to the Mount Snow Sports shop down the hall to get more information. There they gave us a map showing the C, E and I snowshoe trails with very little detail and to their credit, tried to dissuade us from snowshoeing at the resort by directing us to much easier back country roads. Here's a photo of the map, which I'm including because I couldn't find anything like this online: If you know Mount Snow, you'll know that the map is missing the Sunbrook back bowl section. More on that later.

We strapped on our snowshoes next to the Seasons lift and headed south towards the C trail which stays on the south side of the resort and heads all the way to the summit. There was actually a sign acknowledging that we were on a snowshoe trail as we passed the condos along the Tin Lizzy trail. We continued past the Heavy Metal and Nitro Express lifts and started up the Nitro trail. Unfortunately, while we had previously seen signs for the E trail and one sign pointing us towards the C trail, we couldn't find anything to acknowledge that we were in the right place or indicate if we should be on the edge of the ski trail or in the woods, which was difficult to tell from the map. After dodging snowboarders on the edge of the terrain park we made it to the junction of Nitro and Fools Gold where we found an orange blaze leading us into the woods! There was even a lightly tramped trail to follow, although we quickly found that between really sporadic signage and overgrown trails, both us and our predecessor were often off trail and trying to figure out where to go. After seeing the initial orange blaze, we found a few other types of markers the seemed to be leading us up the hill through the woods: white corrugated plastic signs with a C (sometimes with an arrow or the word snowshoe) and some orange diamonds with the Tubbs logo. Technically we spent more time off trail than on, but continued up the hill until an access road (an extension of Tunnel Vision) intersected Fools Gold. Here we found a C sign pointing us down the road.

The road took us south west at a gradual rate until it rejoined the ski area at Milky Way, and we watched as the terrain dropped into the Sunbrook Bowl below us. Having no prior knowledge of Sunbrook and not having it marked at all on the snowshoe trail map, we decided that the best course of action was to stay on the ridge and skirt the side of Long John as it appeared on the map and hope that somewhere we would bump into one of the snowshoe trail signs again. That didn't happen. Instead, we bushwhacked our way between Milky Way and the top of the Bear Trap lift, followed a power line along the ridge and cut through the woods to parallel Long John most of the way towards the summit. We gave up staying in the woods and walked up the side of the trail to the eastern summit while all of the ski tourists proclaimed how awesome we were for walking up the mountain. We were going to cash in on our $20 worth of hiking tickets and spend some time in the lodge eating lunch, but some power kerfluffle had closed the lodge for the day, so we moved on to the true summit to the west and went to test our numerous theories about where the trail actually was.

We didn't find any snowshoe signs in the network of trails on the summit, so we started heading down Big Dipper when we finally found the trail again! At that point I started waypointing all of the trail signs that we found to try to piece together where we should have been hiking. There continued to be fairly frequent C signs along the ski area boundary, which I've captured and included in my gpx file. It looks like the trail is about 80% on the side of the ski trail, so the hike home was pretty boring until we passed the section that we knew had wound through the woods. We spent the better part of an hour tromping up and down looking for lost signs in the woods, and ultimately found a pretty good trail with only a few difficult to follow gaps, although old signage and new growth make it really hard to follow without GPS way points. I would to caution you that the orange blazes seem to belong to a different trail that heads further south, so don't follow those for too long!

All in all, it was good to finally check off another VT 3500 footer, but I'd really prefer to take the Deerfield Ridge Trail or just bushwhack up next time. Honestly, the bushwhacking was much more fun than hiking along the ski trails and much cheaper :P. We spent about 5 hours wandering around the mountain and moved about 7.5 miles with 2200 feet of gain, although a direct hike to the summit along the C trail is probably more like 5.something miles with 1800 feet of gain.
Summary Total Data
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Dan Hildebrand
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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