by: Richard - 19th February 2009

  • 3
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Expert
  • 3All-Mtn. Terrain
  • 4Family Friendly
  • 2Aprés Ski
  • 4Terrain Park
  • Overall Value
Snow
Lifts

Full review

This past Sunday kicked off four straight days of heartland skiing for me, starting at my home hill, Spirit Mountain. It was the first time I had skied Spirit since our giant warm-up/rain the past few weeks, so I was less than confident on the conditions of the slopes. Turns out, I was surprised at how good of shape they were in. The past two weeks have erased the awesome season that we've had up until then. With a record-setting December for snowfall, plus great temps to keep the snow soft, we were starting to get spoiled in the Midwest. Then two weeks ago, reality caught up with us, and warmed up the temperatures to 40 degrees and dumped rain on us. Most of our snowfall in the area disappeared, replaced with brown grass, and the slopes at Spirit turned into boiler plate ice. But thanks in part to the great grooming at Spirit, not all was lost. You can't ski the trees or "off piste" really at Spirit any more because anywhere that isn't groomed doesn't have enough coverage. But the base on the slopes is still plenty deep, and the groomers have been taking advantage of that fact. Combined with .5" and 1" off-and-on lake effect snow, they've managed to keep the runs in great shape. However, you are now hearing the "ssssssscrape" of skis and boards on the snow again--something that had been absent most of the winter at Spirit because of the awesome snow. So if you head to Spirit Mountain, you'll only see runs that are in the same shape as they normally are in: icy, just like the rest of the Midwest. What loose snow there is has the consistency of powdered sugar, and isn't deep enough to keep your edges from that familiar "ssssssscrape" noise. The conditions of the slopes are Spirit Mountain's fault, but the lift situation is. Spirit is still having trouble with their main lift that runs the length of their big run, Four Pipe. Although they are still using it, it frequently stops and is stuck for minutes at a time. Be cautious if you ski Spirit, and try to avoid this chair. Spirit Mountain is running the little green chair on Four Pipe as well as the double that runs next to the chalet (at least on weekends). Other than that, Spirit is still the destination ski spot it was shaping up to be...even with the warm-up. Truth be told, with the exception of Lutsen, Spirit is probably in the best shape of all the Minnesota ski resorts (Twin Cities resorts are in a sad state of affairs, reference my Welch Village review from this week).
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