Park 'n' power at Squaw Valley. (Squaw Valley)
Heading to the mountains in an electric car? More and more, ski and snowboard resorts around the U.S. have installed charging stations so that EVs can be ready for the trip home.
Lou Batori, the oldest known skier, takes a run down Crystal Mountain slopes last year at 106 years old. (Crystal Mountain)
Getting older carries with it some pretty special benefits if you’re a skier or snowboarder. There are 15 resorts scattered across the Midwest that allows seniors to ski or ride free at a certain age.
Fat tire bikers at Crystal Mountain have over 11 miles of groomed trails. (Crystal Mountain)
Fat tire biking, popular at western and eastern ski resorts, has been gaining traction in the Midwest. Ski resorts in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula and northern Minnesota are now offering rentals and trails to ride. Check it out.
Snow has been below average for parts of the West but this week features a big change. (Brighton Resort/Facebook)
A much colder and snowier weather pattern returns to the West with feet of snow while the East warms up with more mixed precipitation.
Join Santa for a run down the slopes. (Shanty Creek)
It's been a good start to the Midwest ski season, and a major snowstorm is forecast for Christmas. Several Heartland resorts have plans to celebrate the season. Santa is bringing the snow get out and celebrate.
More pow' in the trees at Tamarack. (Tamarack Resort/Facebook)
Early season snow storms are tracking right over the Cascades and Northern Rockies, and many resorts have already opened – some with improvements made over the summer.
Crystal Mountain in Washington opened Wednesday. (Crystal Mountain/Facebook)
A powerful weather system delivers heavy snow across the West through Friday, then leads to lake effect snow during the weekend for the East.
Seasons show their change at Aspen-Snowmass. (AspenSnowmass.com)
Summer gondola rides are coming to an end, the mountain bike heads into the garage, and thoughts turn to the upcoming ski and snowboard season throughout the West.
Smoke darkens base area at Crystal Mountain (Crystal Mountain Resort)
A rapidly expanding forest fire has forced the evacuation and closure of Crystal Mountain facilities, and fire fighters remained in place Monday (Sept. 11) to protect any structures.
Mountaintop views of the total solar eclipse. (NASA)
On Aug. 21, the first solar eclipse to cross North America in 38 years will hit the Oregon coast about 9 a.m. PDT, then course over the mountains of Idaho and Wyoming before hitting the Midwest and finishing up across the North Carolina high country.
Crystal Mountain's woodland pathways are a delight to bike. (Crystal Mountain)
Several Heartland ski areas allow mountain biking on their summer slopes, but if you’re looking for lift served, five resorts will turn the lifts for downhill fun.
Crystal Mountain returns to local owner. (Crystal Mountain/Facebook)
In an era of consolidation, Crystal Mountain is going against the grain, as its longtime CEO has purchased the largest resort in Washington state from Boyne Resorts.
Great snow makes for happy snowboarders at Shanty Creek. (Shanty Creek/Facebook)
While results for the just finished Midwest snowsports season aren’t finalized yet at least northern Michigan resorts and ski areas are reporting they had a good season.
Families enjoy Giants Ridge and the giant views. (Jim Balfour)
Spring has come early to the Heartland this winter and most of the ski areas across the lower Midwest have closed. The best bets for some late season spring skiing into April are all centered across the northern Great Lakes, and the longer, warmer, sun filled days provide some of the best conditions of the winter.
Lou Batori skis perfectly together. (Mike Terrell)
“He’s the Energizer Bunny of skiing.”
That was my first thought when Crystal Mountain Resort spokesman Brian Lawson contacted me recently to say that Lou Batori, legendary centenarian skier, had taken a few runs during the warm spell in late February.
At 106-years-old he sets records every time he takes a run. Batori is considered the oldest living skier in the world. The Hungarian Skier recently called him “Yoda of the skis” in salute to their native son’s latest accomplishment.
Batori first learned to ski in Hungary at the age of 10 on handmade wooden hickory skis equipped with leather straps for bindings. He continued to ski in New York and New England when his family immigrated to the United States a few years later and in Michigan when he moved here after he retired in 1973.
I had the pleasure of taking a few runs with Lou a couple of years ago on an April morning at Crystal. Skiing with a Centurion was almost a mystical experience. Standing on top of the ski hill recalling ski history he said, “I rode the first chairlift in the east at Stowe Mountain in 1940, the year it was constructed. That was a while ago.” I knew I was in for a treat. That was three years before I was born. Needless to say it was a treat I’ll never forget.
Dressed in a white jumpsuit with a 100+ patch stitched on the arm and a sleek Giro silver helmet you would never have guessed his age. He headed gracefully, skis together, down a corduroy carpet of snow making perfect turns.
“A run, a weekend of skiing justifies my existence,” he said with a grin as we paused for the mid-morning break in the cafeteria. “It’s funny, but when a person asks me why I ski, I immediately know they are not a skier. A skier wouldn’t have to ask that question.”
He credits grooming and the new gear with extending his skiing years.
“Today’s grooming leaves the slopes in immaculate condition. I don’t have to worry about changing slope conditions, and the new equipment is much lighter, more efficient and easier to use. Boots have improved immensely, and to me, they are the most important part or your equipment. If your feet aren’t happy you won’t enjoy skiing,” Batori chuckled.
He was featured in a 2011 CBS Sunday Morning segment when he turned 100 and still skied.
Despite not liking the word “inspiration,” Batori is an inspiration to all of us to get out enjoy life and make as many turns as possible down life’s endless slopes.
Cruisin' at Snoqualmie. (Summit at Snoqualmie/Facebook)
Everyone else seems to be doing it, so why not joint season pass programs for the ski and snowboard resorts in the Pacific Northwest?
With an unrestricted season pass in hand from one of the three Washington state resorts for 2017-2018, skiers and snowboarders can add on three days at each of the two other mountains for $199 – if purchased before May 31 – or $33 a day.
Each resort is within a couple hours’ drive of the Seattle area, so the goal of the program, according to officials at the three mountains, is to “give skiers and snowboarders living in the Puget Sound more reason to stay local.”
Resorts across the Northwest are ramping up discounts on 2017-18 passes. At Stevens Pass, the first layer of discounts has begun. A renewal costs $549, a new pass $599 for a limited amount. When the “first tier” of passes is sold out at Stevens Pass, the price goes up.
Crystal Mountain and Snoqualmie have yet to put next season’s passes on sale. Three resorts in the Northwest link into the Colorado-based M.A.X. Pass, which offers five days of skiing and riding at 44 resorts around the country. Included are Mt. Bachelor, Crystal Mountain and Snoqualmie.
Cruisin' at Snoqualmie (Summit at Snoqualmie/Facebook)
Cascadia Pass works at Stevens Pass. (Stevens Pass/Facebook)
More pow' days at Crystal. (Crystal Mountain/Facebook)
Cold beer at Mangy Moose in Jackson (Mangy Moose/Facebook)
A long day carving the corduroy, tracking freshies in the powder or hucking off the cliffs deserves a reward when the lifts closed down -- at the many apres-ski bars that dot across the ski and snowboard landscape.
A cold beer, a hot toddie or a classic cocktail can put the final buzz on the end of a joyful day on the slopes. So, SnoCountry.com went looking for some of the most iconic and popular bars nears the slopes, and came up with the following:
Mangy Moose, Jackson Hole. Classic Western bar is first stop after day on slopes. Taxidermies abound, as do afternoon bands and raucous customers.
Red Parka, Glen, N.H. Pub located among White Mountain resorts kicks off at 4 p.m. weekdays, 3 p.m. weekends with home-style food and lots of beer.
The Rack, Sugarloaf. A mile down from the slopes, beers are $2 for early arrivals. BBQ specialty, and locals flock for cheap Pabst beer.
St. Regis Bar & Lounge, Deer Valley. Hop the leather-upholstered funicular out of the village area for quick, 90-second ride to mountaintop watering hole. Like all at the Utah resort, drinks are upscale – with locally brewed vodka a specialty – but sunset glass of champagne is free.
Snorting Elk Cellar, Crystal Mountain. Get there early to this popular hangout in the basement of Bavarian-style lodge near the parking lot. Always packed by 4 p.m. with local brews, no wait service and no TVs.
Moody’s Bistro Bar and Beats, Truckee. Located between Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows and Northstar, Moody’s has transformed from a white-linen eatery into a rowdy, loud music, pizza-eatin’ apres-ski bar.
Slush cups are part of spring fun in Michigan. (Shanty Creek)
Despite a record warm February across the Great Lakes that saw some ski areas across southern Michigan, Indiana and Ohio call it a season all ready, slopes in northern Michigan are still well covered. March’s longer, warmer days bring out the fun side of northern Michigan’s ski resorts.
Kid’s Festival Weekend takes place at Boyne Mountain, March 10-12, with all kinds of events planned for kids of every age. At Boyne Highlands the eighth annual Brew-Ski Festival happens March 10-11. Lodging packages are available for both events.
Krazy Daze events include slaloms, jump the pond competition, tailgate parties, face painting, and costume judging. On Saturday there are GS races, a Silly Slalom, and, of course, a pond skimming event.
Carnival Weekend brings out the beads, bands, and costume competitions. Check out the on-hill party at Victor Warming House on Saturday. There’s outside cookouts on the Stein Eriksen Patio and live music. The spectator friendly Slush Cup takes place on Sunday. Carnival weekend packages start from $160 per person, per night.
Nubs Nob hosts Mardi Gras March 18. A family oriented event with fun and games for all; the Soaker Cup, Costume contest, Crazy Couples, races and the Petoskey Steel Drum Band on the deck.
Crystal Mountain is celebrating sun and snow with March on the Mountain. The Spring Carnival, which includes the, cardboard classic and slush cup, takes place March 10-11. The following weekend, March 17-18, is Celts and Kayaks featuring an on slope downhill kayak race, another slush cup and Celtic dancing. Retro Weekend takes place March 24-25 with a mountain run, bike races and a free slopeside concert. Friday, March 10, is 6-for-$60. Grab six friends and head for Crystal. You can’t beat an all-mountain $10 lift ticket.
The resort is offering 25-percent off peak season lodging rates throughout the month of March in limited quantities.
Shanty Creek is hosting their Cardboard Classic March 11 and Blarney Stone Rail Jam March 18. Lift and lodging packages start from $97 per person, per night, and include breakfast. Children eight and under always sleep and ski free when staying with parents.
It’s that time of year to get out and enjoy the slopes before the season ends, and have some fun along the way.
Boyne Highlands slopes are ready for skiers and riders. (Boyne Highlands)
An up and down weather pattern that has persisted most of the winter across the Heartland and Great Lakes has now caused some ski areas across the lower Midwest to cease operations this week through Thursday. Most are hoping to re-open on Friday.
Crystal Mountain skiers slicing through the trees. (Crystal Mountain)
Glade skiing and the backcountry, popular out West and in the East, doesn’t take a backseat in the Heartland. Ski areas located across the upper tier of the Midwest offer some fine tree runs, even a few cliff jumps.
When you think backcountry skiing, Upper Michigan’s Mt. Bohemia is legendary. All backcountry, it offers the only cat skiing east of the Rockies. In Powder Magazine's annual reader poll of the best backcountry powder in North America, Bohemia routinely comes out on top in the East and finished in the top four overall one year. There’s a 900-foot vertical drop spread out over 600 acres with cliffs, chutes, trees, steep drops, all natural snow and nothing groomed. The cat skiing is off 700-foot Voodoo Mountain where runs tumble down towards Lake Superior. Annual average lake effect snow is 270-inches. It’s the only Heartland area that is truly “backcountry.”
In addition there are six other ski resorts in Lower Michigan, two in Wisconsin, and one each in Minnesota and South Dakota that offer glade skiing. There’s no backcountry but alluring glades off to the side of groomed runs and some nice swaths in between runs.
The Mountain has three advanced glades and the Highlands four scattered across the ridge. Nubs has seven glades that stretch across the front side, south side and Pintail Peak. One of their upper glade slopes can be accessed only by hiking up; just like out West.
Caberfae Peaks has a 25-acre area off the backside of North Peak marked as backcountry terrain. It’s been gladed and is nice and wide offering plenty of lines.
Wisconsin’s Granite Peak offers several acres of glades in between widely spaced runs scattered across the mountain. Minnesota’s Lutsen Mountains has glade runs scattered across three of their mountains, many well away from the groomed runs offering seclusion like you would find out West.
It can be an exhilarating experience. Just be careful, always looking ahead, bring friend and helmets required.