I celebrated President's Day this year at Lutsen Mountains. I was amazed at how dead it was--there couldn't of been more than 150 people. Maybe most people were thinking that the recent warm-up had made winter officially over.
Well, they are wrong. Winter is here. And Lutsen can prove it to you.
While the Twin Cities may look like it's the 15th of October (and smell like spring, yuck!), Lutsen is still a winter wonderland. Snow sits in the trees, covers the branches, and the slopes are still soft. So don't give up on the season just yet.
It's true that the warm up the last few weeks took it's toll: the runs are icy again at Lutsen. But quality grooming equipment and luck-of-the-draw lake effect snow is keeping Lutsen at the top of the pile for conditions. When we skied Lutsen on Monday, we expected the worst...bare spots and ice...but what we got instead was soft and loose snow.
The runs at Lutsen did get melted a bit, but not nearly as bad as Spirit just south of Lutsen, and not even remotely as bad as the Twin Cities resorts. You can still ski and have your edge not hit the icy slopes underneath. Plus, there's no bare spots. The slope conditions aren't yet soft enough for hucking, so jump with caution...there *is* still ice underneath.
You won't hear the typical "sssssscrape" of edges on ice at Lutsen. Instead, you'll be getting soft groomer turns on some sugary snow.
One thing you can rest assured of with this most recent melt-down: Lutsen's base is here to stay. At 50" or so, it's compacted down and will be sticking around for a long time to come.
The lift situation at Lutsen continues to be a problem (they are slow), but I can't complain too much about that since we skied up and got on the chair every time due to the lack of people on the hill. The new lift for ski school is still not functional (although Lutsen claimed it would be by February), but that's not a big deal either as the lift is essentially pointless.
Papa Charlie's remains the one good location for apres ski. The climate inside the bar is great--the view is also incredible--and the prices are becoming reasonable. Beer is down to an even $5 for a plastic glass full (it was $5.15), and the food prices have remained stable ($8 for a small personal sized pizza isn't unreasonable). At times, I just wish there was MORE selection than Papa Charlie's. I've seen signs for the "Moguls" restaurant and bar, but if it's the old "Tracks" restaurant that is in Caribou Highlands, I want nothing to do with that dump. Maybe one day before the end of the season I'll get adventurous and check it out. I'll report back here when I do.
I'll be going back to Lutsen a few more times this year, you can bet on that. The conditions are going to remain great for the rest of the season, and I think spring skiing there will be phenomenal. Now I just really wish I had bought a season pass this year...