Okemo Mountain Ski Getaways

ski getaways

When Tim and Diane Mueller bought Okemo in 1982 they took on a mountain with lots of potential.

Founded in 1955 by a group of Ludlow businessmen looking for an economic boost to the town, Okemo did well enough but seemed to be stuck in time as the 1980s approached. The skiing was strung together mostly by surface lifts, the snowmaking system was merely adequate, and Ludlow remained a sleepy little town.

The Muellers changed all that. High-capacity chair lifts began to replace the platter pulls, new trails were cut in the modern mode, and the snowmaking system was constantly upgraded to keep pace. The changes wrought attracted ever-increasing numbers of visitors, condominium and second home communities, new shops and stores, and brought better economic times to Ludlow. The final piece in the mountain's expansion, the Jackson Gore project, debuted in the 2002-2003 season

Jackson Gore's terrain added some much-needed steepness to Okemo's trail mix, and serves as a backdrop to a genuine mountain village complex, anchored by a large hotel. From there the terrain stretches several miles to the southeast, encompassing mile after mile of Okemo's forte: impeccably groomed intermediate cruising terrain. A few trails, notably Sel's Choice, Upper Chief, The Plunge, and The Ledges, are left to bump up, and the mountain boasts some fine glade skiing (with more to come when the Jackson Gore trail network is complete) but Okemo offers what the vast majority of families want: blue square heaven on earth. Even the black diamond stuff (with the possible exception of Jackson Gore) is perfectly negotiable by strong intermediates.

Absolute novices have their own little area, Galaxy Bowl, right by the base lodge. Beginners have only a few choices once up high on the mountain, but they're good choices. The scenic Mountain Road if taken from the true summit runs over four miles and 2,150 vertical feet back to the base area and several more fun trails feed into it. But newcomers need not worry; all the terrain immediately above the base lodge is just for them. Two fixed-grip quads and a short surface lift serve this area, and the quads provide access to upper mountain lifts for everyone else. Okemo's total of 18 lifts, five of them detachable quads, make getting around easy enough so that you'll only have to traverse by choice.

A lengthy terrain park on Nor'Easter, a huge half pipe with a dedicated lift, and a second half pipe on Bull Run provide plenty of air time for the boarder/twin-tip members of the family.