Welch Village: an outsider's guide

by: fonixmunkee - Feb 19, 2009

  • Overall Rating 2
  • Family Friendly 4
  • All-Mtn. Terrain 3
  • Terrain Park 3
  • Nightlife 1

    Pros: Terrain

    Cons: Lifts, lifts, LIFTS

    Recommended For: Singles, Family Friendly, Empty Nesters

    Date Visited: Feb 1, 2009

Full review

Welch Village, the little Twin Cities ski resort That Can. Every year at this time I make one pilgrimage down to Welch to ski. For many people outside of the Twin Cities metro, it's not a destination ski resort. And I can understand why. But for me, it's a trip that I've been making with two friends from the area (who have since moved out West), so I continue the trek.

Too bad for Welch, they suffer from the same symptoms all Twin Cities ski resorts do: weather and lack of vertical. Welch suffered poorly with the recent melt-down in the last few weeks. The entire area is bare, save for the groomed runs. Even then, some of the groomed runs have some exposed spots on them. There's nothing that Welch can do about this; even the best grooming equipment in the world can't fix the lack-of-snow problem.

Another thing Welch can't control is their lack of vertical. While there's plenty of terrain to ski--which is very impressive feat--there's not much length to it. This is probably the big reason why people who are from the metro break away and head to Spirit Mountain or Lutsen, just to the north.

One thing Welch CAN control is their horrible, simply terrible lift system. Never before have I seen such a ramshackle, piece-meal set of junk in my life. They are uncomfortable, seemingly dangerous, and filthy. I cut my second day skiing short because I couldn't tolerate what a piece of junk they were somehow passing off to the customer as "a lift." You'd be better off hiking up to the top...or just driving your car up some of the bare cat tracks.

The chairs on the Quad are nothing more than pieces of steel with two-by-fours on them for chairs. While comfort isn't *that* big of a deal for me on a two-minute lift ride, it just shows the lack of pride or ownership in your lifts. On top of that, the lifts sway and lock in the leaned-back or leaned-forward position based on how they are jarred by the spotty gears. At times you may be sitting upright in the chair on the Quad, only to be suddenly bucked forward--and locked forward--in the chair. The worst is when the lift stops and your jolted backward a bit and suspended like that...only to be shortly jarred forward some and locked in *that* position. What a piece of crap.

Now this whole backward-forward-stuck thing on the Quad lift isn't because they don't grease their lifts. Quite the opposite: they over-grease their lifts. The permanent stain--about the size of an 8x11.5" piece of standard paper--on the back of my GoreTex jacket begs to differ. The lifts leak grease onto the chairs so bad, it was ruining jackets at a high rate on Wednesday. I saw at least 5 people with grease stains on their jackets walking around, and when I went into Mad Jaxx to use some dish soaps and a bar towel, the bartender said he had at least three people with the same grease stains on their jacket come in to clean them off.

Of course, I've spent the last day trying everything I can to get the giant grease stain out of my jacket, but nothing's working...I'm afraid it's their to stay. I know most lifts drip grease, especially when it warms up and gets wet. But what Welch's chair lifts do isn't "drip grease" as much as it "completely smudge and ruin your jacket." Whatever the one-word explanation is for that.

I'd post a picture of how massive and deep that grease stain is, but I'm still trying some stuff to get the stain out. If I can, I will post the picture later (if it doesn't come out that is, *fingers crossed*) so you can see what you can expect from Welch's chair lifts (besides an uncomfortable, hairy ride). If you go to Welch, make sure you wear either a black jacket (not a white one, like some poor lady did who got schmucked with grease!) or wear an old jacket. Don't ruin your nice GoreTex jacket like I did.

I'll be writing a letter to Welch Village to tell them about the incident with my jacket. I'm sure nothing will come of it, but at least there will be some documentation that someone has complained, so maybe in the future, some one else will be spared a stained jacket. In the mean time, I probably won't be heading back to Welch since there's nothing there for me..just a stained jacket and the cow-poo smell.