Back from a couple years of lurking (and occasional anonymous post via Wesley) to give an update from your favorite phlat mountain in So. VT…
Was up there this past weekend where I learned the following tidbits I thought you might be interested in.
1. Jackson Gore Inn: Opening mid December-ish (they can't blow snow over there until Dec 1). Some of the rooms will open, the main lodge area which will include a food court, ticket booths, rentals, ski school, skier services, daycare, ski shop, etc. This is a full service base area. A never-ever can show up at this lodge and get his tickets, lessons, rentals, food and everything else he needs. People coming down from the north or west will probably want to park and access the mountain from here.
2. Jackson Gore: 2 new trails (though marketing calls it 7). The big beginner trail from the top (off to skiers left), and a second beginner trail coming off of Moonshadow heading down to Jackson Gore base (Moonshadow is one of the trails below the Solitude area heading down to the bottom of the Morningstar lift). The long trail from the top apparently required a significant amount of blasting (damn!). All those other trails that you could see cut, but not stumped, last year, remain exactly as they were last year - still not stumped and closed.
3. Jackson Gore: New detachable quad from just outside the lodge to a spot above and to the skiers left of the current Jackson Gore Express Quad. In true Okemo fashion, you need to ride a minimum of two lifts from the base before you get to the main ski trails. There is also a 400 foot magic carpet in the area between the railroad tracks and the Jackson Gore Inn to service a large beginner area (that right now looks remarkably like a golf course).
4. Speaking of railroad tracks, the Green Mountain railroad passes right through the middle of this new area. The new lift crosses the tracks, as do two skier bridges. Trains come through twice a day, at 10 and 2 (or something like that). Who's going to be the first to try to jump one of the moving trains????
5. The "free hour" is history. The previous policy of allowing free skiing for the first hour is gone. In its place is some sort of ski conditions guarantee. Essentially, buy a ticket any time, and, return to skier services within 60 minutes to get a refund if you feel the conditions are not as good as you would like. You will get a voucher for a return visit. Guess the Malczyk crew's habit of skiing for an hour and dining on condiments in the summit lodge is going the way of the bear trap bindings and leather boots...
6. Crested Butte is for sale, and, Okemo is in the running. You may recall that Okemo was purchasing Steamboat until the deal fell apart at the very last minute a couple years back.
As usual, this is my personal opinion, and does not represent the opinion of any person or organization I may be affiliated with.