by: Mike Barrett - 14th December 2013

  • 4
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Expert
  • 5All-Mtn. Terrain
  • 4Family Friendly
  • 3Nightlife
  • 4Terrain Park
  • Value
Snow! No Lift Lines, Cheap Beer
Fog and Not Much Else

Full review

We have had an amazing start to the 2013/2014 season. The snow has been incredible with the mountain nearly 100% open from the very first day. The lack of crowds will soon be replaced by the regular holiday season hoopla. Even when the mountain is busy it is still nothing like Colorado or California or even Vermont. Whenever we travel someplace else to ski I am reminded of just how lucky we are to live here...yes I am biased but it still holds true that most days (even powder days after the initial morning rush) we can ski right onto the chair. The fog can be troublesome for the uninitiated but once you know where you are going it's almost fun to get the most out of a foggy day, just follow the fog balls (bright orange globes stuck onto poles in the middle of the run) along the main groomers until you get to where you want to drop into the trees and then everything is right with the world, Speaking of groomers, I have skied many locales and our mountain does an amazing job, just amazing. There are some 45 runs that get groomed nightly and we're not talking about the upper, middle and lower of the same run counting as 3. The groomers are wide, long and varied. The tree skiing is almost unparalleled. Find a local and just ask, most will be willing to at least set you in the right direction if not take you directly to some sweet stashes. The mountain has increased it's appeal to beginning skiers as of late, creating a very nice learning area with slower chairlifts and very gently sloping trails. There are a variety of trails for the beginner rather than just the one bunny slope. There will be a new lift next year on the backside accessing some very good powder terrain and some new intermediate trails, the new trails have already been cut and offer some good powder opportunities for those who can find them. For the accomplished intermediate there is a wide array of options for descending the mountain. Most people will find that at the top of the mountain there are only a few choices to start each run necessitating a repeat of the beginning of the same run often but the mountain spreads out as you go down offering a myriad of options. The big groomers down the front side allow you to really open it up and just fly. Toni Matt, Big Ravine, Corkscrew, Inspiration and Moe-mentum are just a few. The steep runs of The East Rim will keep the craziest cliff huckster happy. Other steepies not to be missed are Connie's Coulee, Big Horn, Back Door of Evan's Heaven and Slingshot to the lower apron of Picture Chutes. Apres ski here is a lot of fun. The Bier Stube (or just The Stube) is the place for the younger crowd and "Frabert" on Weds. is not to be missed. Hellroaring Saloon is the ski up bar in the old chalet and is a bit of an older crowd although it is a good mix of everyone really. This has to be one of, if not "the", coolest ski bars anywhere. Here's a tip for you, buy a Hellroaring Saloon baseball cap and get a buy one get one free draft beer once a day for forever (so long as you actually have your hat with you). I bet my hat has gotten me at least 200 beers, pretty good investment! Once apres ski dies down the village pretty much become a ghost town so it's a toss up as a visitor as to stay on the mountain or in town. I can see how for those with families in tow there is no better convenience than slope-side but it will come at a sacrifice of entertainment. There are some restaurants on the mountain and a few stores but this ain't Whistler. There is a free bus that runs from town to the mountain and back daily until something like 10pm. There are far more choices down in town for dining and entertainment so even if you do stay on the mountain you should get to town at least a few times. The one thing that is hard to put into words is the vibe here., you'll just have to come see for yourself.
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