There was Snow...Sort Of
Trail Layout, Loading and Unloading Issues
Our ski day was on a Monday. I anticipated fewer people, but apparently some schools were out for a snow day. Line wait was seldom longer than 7 minutes. Because of the cold temperatures, 13-25 degrees, the snow blowers ran all day. If you haven't experienced skiing through blown man-made snow, I can testify that it is very similar to standing exposed to a sandstorm in the desert. All exposed skin will sting, and even while wearing sun glasses, visibility is greatly reduced. I am an advanced skier, and had to limit myself to about 25% of my usual ski speed and maneuverability due to narrow runs and poor visibility. At times, a sudden wind gust combined with the prolific snow blower output would reduce visibility to near zero and make collisions with slower and less experienced skiers a hazard. To prevent injury, I had to ski like Grandpa Jones.
Lift loading points were not as well setup as they could be, especially at the beginner lift. That point had a 40 foot downhill slide to the load point, with rope lines so narrow that wedging to stop only caused ski clash with the other skiers in the parallel lines. Many beginner skiers simply could not stop, and the lines ended up looking like human bowling pins. Similarly, the unloading point at the top of this lift was uphill, requiring immediate polling. Beginner skiers often ended up sliding backwards after the chair ceased to push them forwards, only to be told by the lift personnel to 'move out of the way for other skiers'.
I found a majority of the lifts to have this issue. After unloading, you must immediately begin polling to get out of the way. Some locations required that you pole 50 to 100 feet, a good portion of which was uphill, in order to reach the point where gravity and grade begins to pull you downhill. That's usually when the blown snow hits you in the face and adds to the traffic jam of skiers polling, and snow boarders who were sitting in the middle of the trail, lacking poles to move forward with.
Most of the Winterplace staff were polite to a fault. However, one lift operator yelled at my 12 year old son when he failed to keep his ski tips up and was pulled off the lift at the unload point. That operator's immediate response was not to check my son for injury, but rather to come out of his hut to yell, "Keep your tips UP!" He didn't even help my son up. However, when the operator saw the look on my face, her turned and retreated to the relative safety of his hut and closed the door. His actions were most unprofessional.
In spite of these issues we still had fun, but the day could have and should have been better. Next season, the extra time and expense needed for travel to the Rockies for our annual ski fix, will be in consideration. It'll be worth it.