Thursday, March 10, 2011

Adventures in Sidecountry Part I: Burke (Ski the East... Bowl)

Birch Glades at Burke

Sidecountry, slackcountry, cross country, backcountry, upcountry and no country for old men.  Whether you like lift accessed glades, hiking a little beyond the chair, or hiking alot to get to that distant slide, we're all looking for the same thing: fresh powder.

After a late week storm that brought close to a foot of snow to the Vermont Northcountry, I decided to go back to the motherland for some lift-assisted backcountry skiing.  I didn't leave disappointed.

Open Glade in the East Bowl
Saturday dawned with clear skies and one plowed lane on I-91 North.  I made the trek up from Rio Blanco and Gered's ski chalet to Burke, stopping to meet up with Brad from Killington and "Big Red" Justin from Whiteface and Utah fame.

If you look to the far left of the Burke Trail Map, you'll see an area with only a few trails which appear to run sideways across the map.  This is the East Bowl.   We spent the majority of our day pushing, prodding and snooping for fresh snow there, and we found the goods.

Despite the fact that most of the piste runs were tracked out by noon, the minimal amount of hiking it took to get to the East Bowl seriously cut down the amount of traffic through there.  In fact, one of our last runs of the day was one of the best, with an untouched stash tucked neatly away in the corner of the Bowl.  After nearly two days of skiing, Burke still had untouched powder hidden in its numerous glades.  Various drops, rocks, and open glades add to the fun.  Plus, with the trail that runs across the bottom of the bowl, it is virtually impossible to get lost.

Although we were using the lift, the day felt very backcountry given the amount of untouched lines that we found.  And after a full day of skiing, we retired to Trout River Brewery in Lyndonville for pizza and brews.

Here's a video of our adventures:


  1. Burke is a great little mountain. Looks like it treated you guys nicely even at the end. here's to soft landings!

  2. Burke is not a little mountain, it has 2000 feet of vertical as much as most in the northeast give or take (except whiteface).

  3. Me thinks you touched a nerve Sara :).. I went online to get an idea of where Burke's vertical compares and it is pretty middle of the pack for the East. It is larger than Pico, Bolton Valley, Snow, and Saddleback, but is smaller than Whiteface, Killington, Jay, Sugarbush and Cannon. I save the "little mountain" moniker for the likes of Wachusett, Crotched, and Pat's Peak. Now, before everybody starts obsessing over vertical profiles, consider that Alta in Utah has only 20' more vertical than Burke. Obviously size isn't everything.

  4. The East Bowl does look delicious. I've never skied in New Hampshire (hope to remedy that soon) but somehow it reminds me of New York - just a little bit under the radar. Nice report Randonee Andy.

  5. I hope you didn't just suggest that Burke is in NH, because if you thought the "little mountain" comment caught some flak....:)

    I'm sure you've got plenty in the ADK to keep you busy... which I've been itching to come check out at some point. Thanks for the comment, and I've been enjoying your blog.

  6. 2000 vertical tippity top to bottomy bottom... most folks ski from the summit to Mid Burke, which is closer to 1600 total vertical. Nonetheless, the woods and side/slack country are pretty excellent if you know where to go!


    Somebody need's to post on our powder day at Bretton Woods so we all know why you should NEVER ski in New Hampshire.

    Sweet merciful crap!

  8. Yes, Gered we all know that you don't like skiing somewhere where you don't sense the sweet embrace of death lurking close-by. I think it is a function of wanting to be released from the constant suffering of your training. BW is a fun place for the family... has some mellow glades, but not so good for teasing the Reaper. Keep in mind that there's this Mt. Washington place in NH, though. Not to mention Whitewall.. which has already got the better of you once.