Midwest Upper Midwest 2020-2021

ejj

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My kids skied at Hyland this weekend--what insanity. I don't think Hyland is limiting lift-tickets--anyone know?
 

Beach Bum

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Was a great holiday break full of skiing. Skied the "Big Snow Country" as it was once known over the past several days and it was great. High pressure, bluebird days, great conditions. Only downside was limited terrain especially at Big Powderhorn and Indianhead. Between the lack of snow, although the 30" they got from around 12/24 - 12/31 sure makes it look like a lot of snow, and the COVID fear or lack of resources, much of the hills remain closed.

Finally went to Blackjack for first time and we loved it. This would be an ideal place to go after a dumping of snow, especially the western side with some of the ridges or areas under the far chairlift. Love the "Beach" setup at the base where we could tailgate and look up at hill.

Indianhead is always fun to return to, this was the one we skied the most up there as kids, just wish the double diamonds were open. We lucked out where they opened a lift by the diamonds during the day and we were able to ski a few runs untracked with about 6"+ of dry powder on the 31st. They were supposed to get 2" with that storm (30th) and got 4" the first day and looked like another 3"+ on the 31st.

Big Powderhorn is such a great ski hill and has always been my favorite of the Michigan ones right there just it was dissapointing they couldn't open up half the terrain. Cannonball and that side was largely closed (including Vertical Drop, Louie's, Katie's, etc). Tons of snowmaking going there, they just couldn't get the snowcats going in time to groom while we were there.

We'll be back. I'll do the extra 2 hour drive any day from Wausau to ski these over Granite Peak. Further south with Cascade and DH just doesn't compare. Some great terrain up in the UP and when the snow is falling it's the best in the Midwest up there.

Hopefully those resorts can stay open. It's a depressing time and COVID certainly doesn't help. Would be sad to see BP or BJ or Porkies, etc close and sit there vacant.
 

focker

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Skied Welch, both days this weekend and it was fantastic. Great weather and the snow skied very well. Most of the trails held the snow very well throughout the morning and the front three (Chicken, Bakke and Twister) were in fine condition. Welch continues to blow snow and is in no rush to open the back area. Lines were manageable in the morning but we left around 12:30 both days as the congestion became burdensome (and was expected) around lunch (an advantage of having a pass.)
It's good to hear these hills are so busy. This will likely be a good money making year for a lot of the local MN hills.

I know the ski shops are making a ton of money this year as well which is great to see.
 

focker

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Was a great holiday break full of skiing. Skied the "Big Snow Country" as it was once known over the past several days and it was great. High pressure, bluebird days, great conditions. Only downside was limited terrain especially at Big Powderhorn and Indianhead. Between the lack of snow, although the 30" they got from around 12/24 - 12/31 sure makes it look like a lot of snow, and the COVID fear or lack of resources, much of the hills remain closed.

Finally went to Blackjack for first time and we loved it. This would be an ideal place to go after a dumping of snow, especially the western side with some of the ridges or areas under the far chairlift. Love the "Beach" setup at the base where we could tailgate and look up at hill.

Indianhead is always fun to return to, this was the one we skied the most up there as kids, just wish the double diamonds were open. We lucked out where they opened a lift by the diamonds during the day and we were able to ski a few runs untracked with about 6"+ of dry powder on the 31st. They were supposed to get 2" with that storm (30th) and got 4" the first day and looked like another 3"+ on the 31st.

Big Powderhorn is such a great ski hill and has always been my favorite of the Michigan ones right there just it was dissapointing they couldn't open up half the terrain. Cannonball and that side was largely closed (including Vertical Drop, Louie's, Katie's, etc). Tons of snowmaking going there, they just couldn't get the snowcats going in time to groom while we were there.

We'll be back. I'll do the extra 2 hour drive any day from Wausau to ski these over Granite Peak. Further south with Cascade and DH just doesn't compare. Some great terrain up in the UP and when the snow is falling it's the best in the Midwest up there.

Hopefully those resorts can stay open. It's a depressing time and COVID certainly doesn't help. Would be sad to see BP or BJ or Porkies, etc close and sit there vacant.
How busy were the hills up there?
 

bubbamsu

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Boyne Mountain Holiday Review:

We skied everyday over the New Year's week and I was quite impressed with what Boyne did with crowds, skiers, Covid, etc......

1- The area is hurting for natural snow in the worst way. They have 10/12 lifts open with Alpine and Disciples 2 not running and I do not foresee these lifts and the back area opening any time soon. The snow conditions (grooming) were not too bad on the rest of the hill given the conditions. It was definitely skiable especially for Gold Pass holders using the First chair privileges.

2- The crowds were the smallest I have ever seen for a Holiday week. It was very noticeable that Boyne limited the daily passes. Lifts lines were minimal all week with the longest waits at the 6 Man Lift, but even then it was not too long at all.

3- They were scanning every person's passes in line at every lift and ACTUALLY enforcing the mask policies!!! I never saw any confrontations/issues/etc.... all week. They did a pretty good job and were consistent with the policies.

4- Eagle's Nest was closed but they had a makeshift outdoor bar area with a fire pit. The half way house on Victor was pad locked as well as the one on Super Bowl Lift. However, all the bathrooms were open.

We have heard from workers that the protocols will be followed all season regardless of out breaks, vaccines, etc.... They don't want to take the chance of getting shut down again for trying to fill the hill with people. They would rather have something smaller then nothing at all. I would say I was happy to see what they are doing compared to what I have heard about other resorts in the country.
 

Beach Bum

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How busy were the hills up there?
It wasn't bad, from opening until around 10:30 there were no crowds anywhere. Typical of a lot of Midwest places. Crowds would show up after that and a few times we had to wait in like a 50-person line but usually like 10-20 most in line. Very few lifts were being operated at any of the resorts so that is part of it. You can see they are trying to minimize expense in a challenging COVID season. Plus if all terrain was open it would spread the crowds.

Worst was at Indianhead around 4pm when only one lift was open for the night ski session. From like 3:30-4:30 that one line got really bad, not just day I was there but other days as I saw on the Midwest FB group page. But by 4:30 that line cleared.

Weather was great, they need more snow though. Hopefully they start getting dumped on next week as rest of this week looks quiet. I hope to get back up there in early March, it's so fun.
 

focker

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It wasn't bad, from opening until around 10:30 there were no crowds anywhere. Typical of a lot of Midwest places. Crowds would show up after that and a few times we had to wait in like a 50-person line but usually like 10-20 most in line. Very few lifts were being operated at any of the resorts so that is part of it. You can see they are trying to minimize expense in a challenging COVID season. Plus if all terrain was open it would spread the crowds.

Worst was at Indianhead around 4pm when only one lift was open for the night ski session. From like 3:30-4:30 that one line got really bad, not just day I was there but other days as I saw on the Midwest FB group page. But by 4:30 that line cleared.

Weather was great, they need more snow though. Hopefully they start getting dumped on next week as rest of this week looks quiet. I hope to get back up there in early March, it's so fun.
We were planning to go up to Big Powderhorn next week, but we're going to bump that out a few weeks until they get more snow/runs open.
 

Beach Bum

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Anyone here have an Epic Day Pass (ie 4 or 5 day, etc)? If so have you used the bonus matching days at Wilmot or Afton or My Brighton?

It's advertised on their site for the Epic Day Pass and I bought them for trip later in year. However I can't figure out how to redeem a ticket at Wilmot. I called they said to call wilmot. I tried that but can't get hold of anyone.

WTF why is it so hard. When I try and use epic pass account to reserve day at Wilmot it says I have no days left since am already reserved with the normal days for out west. It doesn't give any option to use the bonus matching days.

Thanks.
 

Lane Myer

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Skied Afton on Sunday. We were on the hill at 9:30 when they opened. Weather was gorgeous and the conditions were great, all things considered. Although my son was bummed that they groomed away all the little jumps at the top of highlands chair 15 near the trail sign. Crowds were fine until about lunch time when the lines started to get long, particularly on chairs 5 and 6, and mask compliance dipped a bit. Overall I'd say mask use at Afton has been excellent, but I decided to call it a day at 2pm once the vibe in the lines started to shift.
 

Lift Blog

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Anyone here have an Epic Day Pass (ie 4 or 5 day, etc)? If so have you used the bonus matching days at Wilmot or Afton or My Brighton?

It's advertised on their site for the Epic Day Pass and I bought them for trip later in year. However I can't figure out how to redeem a ticket at Wilmot. I called they said to call wilmot. I tried that but can't get hold of anyone.

WTF why is it so hard. When I try and use epic pass account to reserve day at Wilmot it says I have no days left since am already reserved with the normal days for out west. It doesn't give any option to use the bonus matching days.

Thanks.
Are you sure they are doing the bonus days this year? I tried asking in the fall and no one could tell me the answer. So I bought Epic Local to be safe.
 

focker

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Welch is saying they'll have the back bowl open in the next week and they are going to have it open on every Friday as well as the weekends FYI.
 

Beach Bum

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Are you sure they are doing the bonus days this year? I tried asking in the fall and no one could tell me the answer. So I bought Epic Local to be safe.
It was advertised when I bought the passes and it is still under the FAQ of the Epic Day Pass section.
 

wallyk

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Welch opening the "back bowl" is a positive....above all, the move should help relieve some of the congestion at the lifts. While those trails, even by midwest standards, are short I like that they flow with the terrain, are tight and possess some natural qualities that are lost on ski areas that depend on snowmaking.

There are not many ski areas, maybe Troll, that have trails like Welch's "back bowl" in the Minneapolis area.
 
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focker

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Welch opening the "back bowl" is a positive....above all, the move should help relieve some of the congestion at the lifts. While those trails, even by midwest standards, are short I like that they flow with the terrain, are tight and possess some natural qualities that are lost on ski areas that depend on snowmaking.

There are not many ski areas, maybe Troll, that have trails like Welch's "back bowl" in the Minneapolis area.
Agreed. I just wished they'd placed the lift correctly back there. The lift should have run to the top of the actual 'bowl' to the skiers left of where it brings you to now.
 

focker

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I skied Trollhaugen on Tuesday night for GS Beer League.

The league is completely full this year as many skiers from Afton are skiing at Troll since Afton isn't running their league. Apparently Wild is going to have their Wednesday night league now which is nice to see.

The snow at Troll was a great shape and I have never seen it that busy on a random Tuesday night in my life. I wouldn't doubt that tickets were sold out or very near it. It's great for Troll's bottom line but did make for some long lift lines. There were 3-4 different high school teams out there practicing, beer League GS racers, families, park rats, etc.

The crazy thing was seeing how many people were out there on rentals that looked like they haven't skied much in their life thus far. This could be a good thing for the ski industry to have all these new people experience it and maybe love it.
 

afski722

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Skied Mt. Brighton last night for the first time this season. My weekly routine is usually to go skiing on Wed or Thu nights after work during the week.
I didn't show up until 6pm since I wanted to avoid when most of the high school race teams are on the hill.

Overall, snow was good, nice and stuff.

One lift on the backside isn't open yet as they need to make more snow, but they needed to be running the other triple chair on the front since there was a bit of a line on the other chairs.
There wasn't a lot of masking-up though in the lift lines, but then again good luck telling 15 year old snowboarders to mask-up.

I think every kid from the local middle and high school was out there just hanging out. The line-up of cars in front of the lodge at 9pm, looked like after school pick-up.

I will say, the warmer-than-average weather with highs in the mid 30s, and lows only getting into the upper 20s has made it super comfortable for skiing the past few weeks, and easy to deal without needing a lodge to warm-up. Even at night. Its not those brain-freeze evenings where is 15 with a 20 mph wind.

I overheard one of the XLR coaches say their race program is down about a third in numbers this year from last year. They said with about 120 kids it actually is running a bit more smoothly as it was almost getting too big in numbers previously to manage with the number of coaches, courses, and hill time.
 

focker

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Wild Mountain just announced they are capping lift ticket sales and required advanced buying of them, which they had not yet this year.

I'm wondering if someone complained to the health dept about them being too busy/crowed or something. This will undoubtedly cost them some $$. I'd imagine the crowds were getting pretty big there, just judging by what I've seen at Trollhaugen who is already limiting tickets sales and requiring advanced buying.

Wild is an extra 15-20 minute drive from the main part of the twin cities, and usually less busy than Trollhaugen in my experiences.
 

Beach Bum

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Or maybe other resorts have been complaining if they are following stricter restrictions and caps. In Illinois things are so strict but rumor is we're moving up a tier next week and indoor dining can commence.

While this helps Chestnut or other resorts if they can go back to allowing ski patrons to sit indoors, I sort of like it as is haha. If many stay home because they can't use the lodge than shorter lines for us!

However, it's been a very mild winter and that looks to be set to change around next weekend. If temps are in low teens and lower than there is more stress on a resort for safety reasons to allow people inside.
 

MN_Drew

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Another factor is that Wild could be anticipating increased crowds now that they'll be able to reopen some of their lodge and indoor dining spaces? Could be that they've been thinking that a certain percentage of their potential customers have been choosing to go to the other side of the river where restaurants are open, and now that restaurants are about to reopen in MN, they're expecting an increase as that won't be a factor?
 
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