by: woofcyn - 26th March 2009

  • 3
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced/Expert
  • 3All-Mtn. Terrain
  • 1Family Friendly
  • 1Aprés Ski
  • 1Terrain Park
  • Overall Value
snow
poor infrastructure, small flat mountain

Full review

A trip to Wolf Creek is binary: either you will have a great time or a poor time. Simply put, it requires excellent snow conditions. This is a small, local mountain. It tends to get a lot of snow. However, if you don't time it correctly and snow conditions are poor, you will have little flexibility to do anything else. Our first two days we were stuck in the condo at Pagosa Springs bored and with nothing to do (no sports, restaurants, bars, town, etc.) because snow conditions were poor. Also, there is one road from Pagosa to Wolf Creek. If there is too much snow or road conditions are too dangerous, there is no way to access the ski area and you will be stuck at the condo. Pagosa Springs is a 30 min drive away. We were about to leave the area when we luckily got one snow storm that left us with powder for the rest of the week (it's not crowded in March, but snow conditions deteriorate then). The skiing was great, however the mountain is very small and flat. The chair lifts are not close to each other so it requires skating. The really good runs require hiking. The best run requires 30-45 min hike on the ridge for a 5 min run. After the run you have to skate for another 20-30 min. Parts of the ridge are very narrow and can get slippery and dangerous. You will get into great shape if you don't mind the hiking and skating consuming most of your time, not the skiing. The terrain is small and flat. This is one of the flattest mountains I've seen. There are a series of flat plateaus or shelfs. It gets steeper between the shelfs, but it is still comparatively flat. Overall, given the low height of the mountain, the runs are very short. Since there is little vertical, it's hard to pick up speed, so I found that I had to lean further back to keep my tips up in the powder. In addition to short, flat verticals, the entire area is very small so you will be repeating your runs. There is little variety. By the end of the week, I had skied on virtually every possible powder stash. I needs to snow constantly in order for the trip to remain interesting. Aside from the 6/7 noncontiguous chair lifts, there is one run-down base area with poor food. There is a small ski shop. There is hostility against the Texans. Grotesque graffitti about them is written all over the run-down bathrooms. Some reported their car tires slashed because they had TX license plates which required hours to get a tow truck (even the towers laughed about it). The place was virtually empty when we were there, so it's not clear whether the hostility also extends to other people of a different background or ethnicity. Regardless, the demographics are not favorable and it is possible something could happen to you if you are not a "local". I'd rate this place neutral to slightly above average. I went there for untracked powder skiing. Only if there is a lot of powder snow and costs can be controlled is it worthwhile to visit. Due to the poor infrastructure, transportation costs can be excessive. There is little choice in restaurants, so we cooked our meals at the condo every day. All things being equal, if there's powder snow somewhere else, I'd be inclined to go there instead.
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