Welcome to the Wild East
As mountain towns in the West struggle with the soaring cost of real estate, tiny Stowe, Vermont, remains an affordable bastion of outdoor living. It’s a place where ski bums aren’t an endangered species, good food and beer are plentiful, and everyone puts a premium on playing outside. Welcome home.
Located less than 50 miles from the Canadian border, Stowe is one of the northernmost resorts in the United States, which means cold, light snow and few weekend warriors from the crowded tristate area. The skiers here are locals, folks who fly into the tiny Burlington airport, and Canucks like Dombroski. The 20-year-old Burton brand ambassador taught herself to snowboard at age 16. In October, she comes for the annual Fall Bash, a party Jake Burton Carpenter and his wife, Donna—the founder and CEO of Burton Snowboards, respectively—throw for their 800-plus employees.
Davis grew up in Michigan, but the 29-year-old professional snowboarder has long considered Vermont a second home. As a teenager, he honed his halfpipe skills at Stratton Mountain School, a winter-sports academy at the southern end of the state. Later he started the Frendly Gathering, a three-day music festival 30 miles south of Stowe. Last March, the X Games gold medalist, who now lives in Truckee, California, decided to drop in on Stowe Mountain Resort. He was rewarded with 23 inches of fresh powder. “It was insane,” he says. “That’s some incredibly fun, technical riding.”
On Danny: Evergreen Hooded Synthetic Insulator jacket ($200), Brighton flannel shirt ($60), Monterey long-sleeve T-shirt ($40), and Canyon FLC cap ($35) by Burton; Slim Fit jeans by Tommy Hilfiger ($140$595)
If you’re going to be a ski bum, it’s hard to beat tossing pizzas at local favorite Piecasso. “It’s the spot in Stowe,” says Roland, who works at the restaurant three or four days a week. There are enticing options here for foodies, too, from old-school après nook Matterhorn to Doc Ponds, a modern hangout launched by the culinary geniuses behind Vermont’s Hen of the Wood restaurants. On days when he’s not making pies, Roland is snowboarding at the resort, which despite being owned by Vail and offering 13 lifts and 2,160 feet of vertical drop, retains the friendly vibe of a mom-and-pop hill. Says Roland, “People approach me on the chair and say, ‘Hey, you’re the pizza guy!’ ”
On Jeff: Diamond sweater by Levi’s ($95$80$595)
The town of Stowe (population 4,300) is only ten minutes from the resort but feels worlds away. Here you’ll find a surprisingly vibrant music scene for a cozy hamlet in one of the country’s least populous states. Hang out long enough at the Rusty Nail, a converted barn, and you’ll run into Miller, 24, a professional bassist whose dad and uncle both played with Bob Marley and the Wailers. “I don’t really care about the skiing,” he says. “I’m a music guy. That’s my passion.” Miller, who makes ends meet by picking up shifts at local restaurants, figures he’ll eventually move to Los Angeles to chase his career dreams. Leaving behind the small-town life he’s come to love won’t be easy. “It’s a close-knit community,” he says. “And people are very genuine.”
Jake Burton Carpenter
Carpenter has a simple mantra: Live where you play. “I’ve always said that if your home mountain isn’t your favorite mountain, then you should move,” he says. Since he founded the Burton snowboard empire in 1977, Carpenter has built a home in Stowe and raised three kids with his wife, Donna, in a winter athlete’s dream house that features a hockey rink accessed via underground tunnel (usually on a skateboard). Every winter they rope friends into building a backyard jump at the base of a hill. Though he maintains a hectic travel schedule, Carpenter logs dozens of days riding at the resort, where you’ll likely find him carving turns through “the woods”—northern Vermonters’ term for the region’s famously tight trees.
As the co-owner of ski and bike shop Waterbury Sports, located at the I-89 turnoff for Highway 100, the route that leads to Stowe, Hughson is the go-to guy for outdoor adventure advice. “I’m always telling people where to ski, which trails to ride,” says Hughson. “It’s fun to be a hub in this community.” Although he manages the store six days a week, he’s able to get in close to 100 days of skiing when the snowfall allows. During summer he volunteers with a regional mountain-bike club to build trails for the area’s extensive singletrack system.
On Chuck: AK 3L Freebird jacket by Burton ($630)