Maine Ski Season – It’s Here!

Credit%3A+Hannah+Kothari

Credit: Hannah Kothari

Hannah Kothari, Contributing Writer

It’s no secret – Sunday River, Sugarloaf and Lost Valley are officially open for skiing and snowboarding. So, what does this mean, and how can you navigate the slopes right now? 

I’m a first-year here at Bates, and a native Texan (aka if we get any snowfall, our state shuts down for a week) so unlike many of my peers, I did not come to Bates with a full set of ski gear. While I may not own my own pair of skis and boots, I will be able to ski throughout the entirety of the season. Here’s how I did it:  

Season Pass vs Lift Tickets 

As a college student in Maine, you have access to purchase both the College Gold and College Silver New England Passes. The Gold Pass runs at $499 with zero black-out dates, whereas the Silver Pass is $399 with 12 black-out dates, and the only black-out dates left are February 18-20 and 25. 

Both of the passes offer access to three resorts: Sunday River and Sugarloaf in Maine and Loon Mountain in New Hampshire. From Bates, Sunday River is the closest of the three at approximately an hour away from campus. Sugarloaf’s drive time runs about an hour and 45 minutes. Both ski passes can be ordered online and picked up at any of the three resorts.

Full-day, individual lift tickets are also available for purchase – these, however, differ in price depending on when and where you plan to ski. The average ticket price at Sunday River for weekends is running at $150, and the average Sugarloaf ticket is running $125 right now, seeing as we are approaching the peak of the season.

As for passes for Lost Valley, Bates students can ski for free. Simply show your student ID at the ticket counter upon arrival, and you’re good to go!

Ski Gear

If you have your own gear, then you’re good to go–if not, this is where things tend to get tricky. Equipment rentals are great for people who are newer to skiing, and are recommended over buying your own set of skis. If you are looking to rent equipment for a singular day, that can be done directly through the resort. 

At Sunday River this costs $70 for a full-day and $60 for a half-day. At Sugarloaf, both adult ski and board rentals will run you $45. If you’re looking for a more long-term rental, I recommend you visit Allspeed Cyclery and Snow down in Portland, Maine. For a full season, you can rent skis and boots for $270, but you’ll have to purchase your own poles and helmet separately. You have until April 24 to return your equipment if you rent from them, meaning that this rental will last you through the whole season.

What’s Open/Present Conditions 

Sunday River: 

Right now, the lifts are open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekdays, and 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays. As of right now, there are 13 lifts running and 73 trails open on the mountain. 

Sugarloaf: 

On weekdays, lifts are operational from 8:30 a.m. to 3:50 p.m.; on weekends the lifts are open from 8:00 a.m. to 3:50 p.m. There are 87 trails open right now.

Lost Valley: 

Both of the two lifts are operational, with 15 trails open. Lifts are open from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Monday-Thursday, 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

In general, temperatures on the mountains have been ranging mostly from the 20s-30s during the day, making for nice skiing weather. Because of the fluctuations in temperature, the slopes tend to be more icy in the early mornings or late afternoons. Right now, there is a decent amount of snow on all of the mountains, and we should expect more snowfall soon.

Honest Take: 

Alright, here’s the deal: growing up in Texas, I’m used to skiing the West Coast–which is much different from East Coast skiing. BUT: I’ve learned to love Maine skiing. While the ice definitely takes some getting used to, it makes you a better skier (or boarder). After over a dozen days skiing this season, here are my honest opinions on the mountains closest to Bates, in order of favorites: 

Sugarloaf is by far the best mountain on the East Coast. Now before we go any further, I must warn you: the drive is BRUTAL (especially after skiing for a full day) as it’s close to a two hour drive in one direction. If you ever have time to spare, I definitely recommend making a trip out there, it’s well worth it. The views are insane, the snow is some of the best in Maine (given that it is the most northern mountain of the three), and the mountain is super easy to navigate for almost all types of skiers. You don’t have to be an expert to ski down the highest peak of the mountain: there are an assortment of all trail types to take down, which makes Sugarloaf the perfect mountain for skiers of all levels.

Sunday River is a great place to ski and the proximity to Bates makes it a great location to visit on the weekends. The environment is friendly and welcoming, and the snow (according to people who grew up in the North East) is not icy (yet). The downside of this resort is the fact that during the weekends, it’s pretty busy – and the mountain itself isn’t very connected, which can be tricky when skiing with a group of people who are at different levels. Overall, a great mountain with a wide range of terrain. 

In a pinch, Lost Valley does the trick. This little mountain is great for a quick trip after class, and fun to ski at night. Given that it’s only a ten minute drive away, and free, it’s definitely better than I expected.

Overall, I’d say that all three locations are a great place to either ski solo or with friends, and it’s worth it to take advantage of the fact that we go to school near some of the best skiing in the East.Maine Ski Season – It’s Here!