Trees; Terrain; Natural Conditions; History
No Snowboarding Allowed (only a con if you ride.)
I ski MRG at least once a year and have been doing so for over 10 years. MRG is not a flashy resort with tons of amenities. It does not allow snowboarding. The single-chair lift can have a long line. Trail grooming is minimal. Snowmaking is done by The Almighty. The trails are narrow, steep, and sometimes littered with moguls. These qualities would be a turn-off to most would-be skiers, to MRG devotees, these are the exact reasons this mountain is beloved. In order to appreciate this resort a skier must eschew modernity and embrace skiing as it was before steel framed lodges with drywall interiors, high-speed six-pack lifts, and groomed trails wider than a freeway.
Whether you ride the Single or the fixed-grip double to one of the two top stations, your choices about how to get down are numerous and the difficulty level ranges from a couple of green trails that traverse the resort, to a myriad of straight shots that will have you dodging trees and sketchy sections the whole way. I like to start by warming up on Upper Antelope before cutting over to The Upper Glade, Ferret, or Moody's, and then ski out the Lower Glade. After that, the rest of my day usually is consumed by seeking out trees, chutes, and bumps with occasional journeys into the green terrain when I need a break.
MRG is not all bumps and trees. In fact, the entire skier's left side of the the lower resort is consumed with oodles of twisting greens and blues reminiscent of a Snakes and Ladders board game. Not only are these fun runs that can be used to access some great off-piste terrain, but these trails are perfect for the kids and beginner skiers. A mid-mountain double serves this area on busier days. Another double serves the somewhat separated learning area. I often wonder what it's like to be a kid here and grow up skiing this mountain. I hope the kids appreciate it.
With no big amenities, there isn't always a lot to do for apres-ski. Good local acts do play in General Stark's Pub. They also serve some excellent dishes and have a nice selection of local brew. Snowshoe trails also exist for those who want something other than skiing.
MRG's snowboard ban is perhaps it's most controversial issue. Knowing the history of the resort and the reasoning for it I support the ban to a certain extent, but I know a lot of snowboarders who would love to ride the trails here and are good enough and respectful enough to do so without it being an issue. Instead of snowboarders, MRG attracts a higher-than-usual amount of skiers that use telemark equipment. This anachronistic manner of skiing is just as throwback as the mountain itself, and thus embraced by the resort. It's just another thing that gives MRG a certain flair not found at any other resort, and yet another reason I keep coming back.
MAD RIVER GLEN/SKI IT IF YOU CAN