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Calling all Minnesota Epicskiers

post #1 of 285
Thread Starter 
As a relatively new member to the forums here, I'd like to know who the fellow MN Epicskiers are and which of the local molehills they ski.

I'll go first:

Afton is my primary hill this year (due to the Epic Pass benefits), though I prefer the slopes at Welch.

Since I won't get the chance to get to the gatherings out west, maybe some of the other MN locals would be interested in a "gathering" at a local hill, or, for the more adventurous, a Midwest Gathering at Mt Bohemia.
post #2 of 285

I ski all the local areas each winter.  My first choice is Welch but am interested to see the reported infrastructure improvements at Afton.

post #3 of 285

I have mentioned this in another thread but we switched to Welch this year after skiing Afton for the past 3-4 year extensively.

 

So far am I very happy about the change, mostly due to the lower pricing we were able to achieve.

I hate the freaking drive to Welch though.  Hate hate hate it.  It's only about 20-25 minutes longer than the drive to Afton, but that makes a huge difference.  I do most of my skiing on weeknights and trying to get out to Welch by a decent time is nearly impossible.  We're going to end up mostly doing weekends there, as it's just a bit too far to make quick after work trips possible.

 

Overall Welch is just so much nicer, in terms of skiing, than Afton could ever hope to be.   No matter what improvements Afton makes they will still have a weird hill layout, trials that tend to send you into possible collisions and no steeps.   Welch's trials seem be be more offset from each other and have a more unique and individual feel.   One run feels very different from the one next to it.   The area by Mad Jax is especially fun IMO.   I love how much longer the trails in that area feel than anything Afton has.    It sort of reminds me of the highlands at Afton but with more variety and more fun terrain.

 

Afton does have nicer ammenities.   I love the bar in the highlands with the big fireplace and loft upstairs.  The new lift pass system sounds awesome in that you can just boot up at your car and walk straight to the lifts and ski, no going inside for passes.   Very nice addition.    I didn't mind the little drive up windows but on the weekends the lines at those windows became way too long.

 

Question for your Afton skiers:   Whats the one big change you'd like to see there?

 

For me:   A high speed quad (or six pack) in the highlands to replace 1-2 of the current lifts (they should put it right where lift 14 sits now.

 

My dream would be them somehow acuiring some of the land around them from the state of MN and opening up more terrain (like the slopes across the valley from the highlands) but that will never happen.  That's park land...

post #4 of 285

MN skier, living in St. Paul.   Buck is closest, but way too small.  Afton is next closest and is where we go, partly for time, mostly because my daughter has been on their D-team for years and would not want to move.   I'd agree that Welch has somewhat better skiing, though.  We'll get out there at least a couple of times this season.   Also planning on going up to Lutsen, hopefully more than once, and out to Whitefish (hi, Sibhusky!), if I can work around the non-overlapping spring vacations for my kids.

 

As far as meeting up, we're at Afton every Sunday, 12 - 4, until mid-February, except for 12/29.  Possibly other times as well.  I'm out there in a blue coat with black hatching, riding either red Volkl carvers or Atomic Blackeyes.

 

I'd agree with the previous poster who said that the changes at Afton this year are mildly positive, mostly not too noticeable (this is a good thing).  I was worried they were going to sink $$ into glitzing up the chalets, but that didn't happen (again, this is a good thing).

post #5 of 285
Thread Starter 
Have to agree with you about the drive to Welch, I used to make the drive from Eden Prairie on weekday nights, it's just awful. I switched to Afton this year, but I'd like to ski Welch a few times this season. The terrain is far superior to Afton, in my opinion, and I actually prefer the feel of Mad Jaxx to the amenities at Afton. I can't really speak to the changes at Afton since this is my first season there in at least a decade, but the RF passes are convenient.
post #6 of 285

I'm spoiled, I live in Burnsville and Welch is just out my back door so to speak.  Madd Jaxx is a great spot.

post #7 of 285

We're likely going back to Afton next year, simply due to the Epic Pass we want to get for our week long CO trip we'll be taking.  The pass pays for itself if you ski 5 days out west, which is exactly what we want to do.   We'd then have unlimited skiing at Afton as well.

 

One thing that's nice about welch is the ski pass is so cheap ($99 for a night pass) that we're able to ski Lutsen and a few trips to Afton and still spend less that we did for the family pass at Afton last year.  You also get $20 off per ticket at Lutsen with a Welch pass, which is great since we're skiing 2 days there in late Feb this year.   So excited they finally got a high speed lift at Lutsen!

post #8 of 285

i live in rochester.  the drive to Coffeemill vs. Welch is essentially a wash.  if skiing conditions are good at both hills, i prefer Coffeemill for a variety of reasons.

post #9 of 285

How bout Kill Hill or Pork Chop eh?

 

Seriously though a big part of the fun of a gathering is renting a ski house together, sharing meals, kids playing, etc.  Lutsen, Spirit. or Bohemia fit the bill for a real gathering.  On the hill meet ups can and do happen about every week with the active area group threads going all season.

Trollhaugen was a pretty cool place to gather at when I lived in Burnsville.  They had plenty of cabins nearby with very reasonable rates.

post #10 of 285

If anyone wants to meet up at Welch ad ski on a weeknight please let me know.  I do like skiing solo but it gets old after a while.  Heading out there tomorrow wit my boys.  Leaping Liz is a really fun trial there, although not overly steep...

post #11 of 285
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcdave69 View Post
 

i live in rochester.  the drive to Coffeemill vs. Welch is essentially a wash.  if skiing conditions are good at both hills, i prefer Coffeemill for a variety of reasons.


Say more? 

 

I've been thinking about heading down there, just because it looks interesting (including slightly more vertical than anything closer) and I've never been.  So, maybe it's worth the drive?

post #12 of 285

Well, let my preface my comments with the following: i am a shareholder at coffeemill; i am a board member too; and, i'm a volunteer ski instructor and race coach.  I am undoubtedly fond of the place and biased too.

 

At this point in the season, i would  not encourage you to drive down from the metro area.  The place is typically in full swing around new years.  And, when its fully open with decent conditions it is hands down my favorite place to ski locally.  I think "slightly more vertical" is a fair characterization for some of the runs particularly fall line and dicks dive.  So, the speed limit so to speak has more to do with one's own survival reactions than skiier crowding the slopes.

 

Benefits of "the mill" include fantastic views of the mississippi, generally uncrowded slopes, and rarely a liftline among a host of other positive attributes ranging from decent food for decent prices in the cafeteria to interesting tunes wafting through the trees.  Threre are people who have never been there who knock it based on the small number of runs; i guess i don't really consider it much and, when i think of my trips to welch, how many runs to i actually ski there (lookout, bakke, dans, harleys, longway home/coulee) and its less than the number of runs at the mill.

 

Now, for families and the like, there is an americinn about 400 yards from the hill.  they have a pool, reasonable prices, so for those traveling with kids from the cities that is certainly an option.  In fact several of my friends are raiding the place on new years eve.

 

If you're interested in coming down let me know please.  I'm typically there on saturdays and sundays unless the race team is racing away from the hill; and, i can usually be talked into night skiing without to much difficulty too.

 

dave

post #13 of 285

Coffee might be the least known ski area in the state, IMO...   I don't think a lot of MN skiers have ever been there.   I'd like to try it sometime, but as I mentioned in another thread, it's 35 miles more driving from my house and I drive within 2 miles of Welch to get there (welch is 38 miles from home).

 

Based on those number alone, I think it would take some major snow localized in the mills area to get me there.

post #14 of 285
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcdave69 View Post
 

Well, let my preface my comments with the following: i am a shareholder at coffeemill; i am a board member too; and, i'm a volunteer ski instructor and race coach.  I am undoubtedly fond of the place and biased too.

 

At this point in the season, i would  not encourage you to drive down from the metro area.  The place is typically in full swing around new years.  And, when its fully open with decent conditions it is hands down my favorite place to ski locally.  I think "slightly more vertical" is a fair characterization for some of the runs particularly fall line and dicks dive.  So, the speed limit so to speak has more to do with one's own survival reactions than skiier crowding the slopes.

 

Benefits of "the mill" include fantastic views of the mississippi, generally uncrowded slopes, and rarely a liftline among a host of other positive attributes ranging from decent food for decent prices in the cafeteria to interesting tunes wafting through the trees.  Threre are people who have never been there who knock it based on the small number of runs; i guess i don't really consider it much and, when i think of my trips to welch, how many runs to i actually ski there (lookout, bakke, dans, harleys, longway home/coulee) and its less than the number of runs at the mill.

 

Now, for families and the like, there is an americinn about 400 yards from the hill.  they have a pool, reasonable prices, so for those traveling with kids from the cities that is certainly an option.  In fact several of my friends are raiding the place on new years eve.

 

If you're interested in coming down let me know please.  I'm typically there on saturdays and sundays unless the race team is racing away from the hill; and, i can usually be talked into night skiing without to much difficulty too.

 

dave


Thanks! Sounds like really early in the new year might be the time to give it a try.

 

I'll try to remember to drop you a line if we head that way.

post #15 of 285
Quote:
Originally Posted by focker View Post
 

Coffee might be the least known ski area in the state, IMO...   I don't think a lot of MN skiers have ever been there.   I'd like to try it sometime, but as I mentioned in another thread, it's 35 miles more driving from my house and I drive within 2 miles of Welch to get there (welch is 38 miles from home).

 

Based on those number alone, I think it would take some major snow localized in the mills area to get me there.


There are a lot of little tiny hills.   Elm Creek, Mt. Kato, Andes Tower, Powder Ridge, Hyland (ok, that one's in the burbs, so pretty well known) are all ones I'd heard of. Looking at a map adds Buena Vista (by Bemidji) and "Ski Gull" (?).  I'm not sure whether to class Buck Hill with the smaller ones (it's definitely better known), or with the other metro areas (Afton, Wild Mountain, Trollhaugen, Welch).  Huh.  Add in Lutsen, Spirit, and Giant's Ridge, and there's kind of a lot of them, for a mostly-flat midwestern state.   And yes, I know Trollhaugen is actually across the river in WI, but it's still a Twin Cities metro ski area.

 

I'm thinking of heading to Coffee Mill just to see something different, where "different" doesn't include 230 ft vertical, as is advertised for Buena Vista.

post #16 of 285

Anybody interested in visiting Coffeemill, please don't hesitate to pm me with questions about recent conditions.

post #17 of 285
Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowObstacle View Post
 


There are a lot of little tiny hills.   Elm Creek, Mt. Kato, Andes Tower, Powder Ridge, Hyland (ok, that one's in the burbs, so pretty well known) are all ones I'd heard of. Looking at a map adds Buena Vista (by Bemidji) and "Ski Gull" (?).  I'm not sure whether to class Buck Hill with the smaller ones (it's definitely better known), or with the other metro areas (Afton, Wild Mountain, Trollhaugen, Welch).  Huh.  Add in Lutsen, Spirit, and Giant's Ridge, and there's kind of a lot of them, for a mostly-flat midwestern state.   And yes, I know Trollhaugen is actually across the river in WI, but it's still a Twin Cities metro ski area.

 

I'm thinking of heading to Coffee Mill just to see something different, where "different" doesn't include 230 ft vertical, as is advertised for Buena Vista.

 

Good point.   I'd definitely put Buck in with the other 'najor' twin cities ski areas.  I think of the others as less popluar 'smaller' ski areas.   Coffee Mill is also a 'smaller' area but has more very than any other local area.   It's a unique place in that regard.

post #18 of 285
Thread Starter 
@SlowObstacle I'll probably be skiing tomorrow morning/early afternoon. Will you be out at Afton tomorrow?
post #19 of 285
Quote:
Originally Posted by MNSkiing10 View Post

@SlowObstacle I'll probably be skiing tomorrow morning/early afternoon. Will you be out at Afton tomorrow?


Yep.   Showing up at the Alps chalet by around 11:30 so the kid's on time for practice.  Happy to meet up there or somewhere else (somewhere else would be 12 or later, probably) to say hi.   On the slopes, or at the Highlands bar for a beer.  Blue coat w. black hatching, Volkl carvers, mid-50s w. a beard, 6', not skinny.

 

It's going to be an interesting day:  newly shop-tuned skis, and I hot-molded my boot shells (boiling H20 to add the heat).   On the advice of a bootfitter, I hasten to add...

 

--Mark

post #20 of 285

Went to Welch on Saturday and going again tomorrow night with the wife.

 

A little disappointed in the lack of natural jumps or just small places to catch a bit of air at Welch.  They had some really nice snow piles all over that made for great entertainment and they've plowed every single one of them down and smoothed off the edges of the trial to the point where it's nearly impossible to leave the ground unless you hit one of their 'parks'...

 

It does bring about a major lack of snowboarders though.  The difference in number of snowboarders between Afton and Welch is a large one.

post #21 of 285
Quote:
Originally Posted by focker View Post
 

Went to Welch on Saturday and going again tomorrow night with the wife.

 

A little disappointed in the lack of natural jumps or just small places to catch a bit of air at Welch.  They had some really nice snow piles all over that made for great entertainment and they've plowed every single one of them down and smoothed off the edges of the trial to the point where it's nearly impossible to leave the ground unless you hit one of their 'parks'...

 

It does bring about a major lack of snowboarders though.  The difference in number of snowboarders between Afton and Welch is a large one.


At Afton yesterday, they had added some biggish bumps to the Highlands trail (actually, just off the Highlands exit) that used to have the larger terrain park features.   Definitely large enough to catch some air.   And definitely not the park:  the real jumps are on hill 7.   Not sure I'd make a special trip for that, though...

post #22 of 285
Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowObstacle View Post
 


At Afton yesterday, they had added some biggish bumps to the Highlands trail (actually, just off the Highlands exit) that used to have the larger terrain park features.   Definitely large enough to catch some air.   And definitely not the park:  the real jumps are on hill 7.   Not sure I'd make a special trip for that, though...

 

I think that run is called 'Dawn's Highlands'...   It's a good run and I think some bumps on there would be fun.   IMO The park features they put up in the highlands weren't all that great.  My kids do love some of the beginner boxes they would put up in the highlands though.

post #23 of 285

And by the way I think Afton has the worst names for it's runs of any area I've skied at.   The names are all lame, and nearly impossible to remember.

post #24 of 285
Quote:
Originally Posted by focker View Post
 

And by the way I think Afton has the worst names for it's runs of any area I've skied at.   The names are all lame, and nearly impossible to remember.


Yep.   We don't use those names at all, just refer to lift numbers.

post #25 of 285

i ski mostly afton because of proximity and the epic pass. last year i had passes at both welch and afton. took classes at both also and had great experiences at both. as others have posted i think that welch definitely has more varied terrain, but i found it that after that honeymoon period (had been years since i skied welch before last year) that the difference in terrain was a mute point and ended up at afton more because of convenience after i had made my money back on the welch pass. I'm sure that this year i will end up down there time or two w/ the kids just to mix things up.

 

i like buckhill only for proximity and i usually only go in the am on there $13 pass. nice way to get hour or so of skiing/exercise w/o breaking the bank. we also will put the kids in there ski school if time is of the essence. we have had wonderful experience there w/ all there instructors and classes that seem to be really geared for kids.

 

we are set up for classes at afton this year in the adult boy/girl academy in january and the kids in the mountain cruisers. 

 

i tend to go as often as work schedule permits which is usually during the am when I'm working nights and on weekends. I'm always looking for excuses to go at other times though.

 

as far as improvements at afton it really looks like it is mostly behind the scenes w/ a few cosmetic touches. first they staff are now all in Vail blue (instructors), black (lifties), black/yellow (scanners, ?), etc uniforms. the rf scanning is great, but some of the staff still seem to be having issues on how to more efficiently use them. out west they have a arm swinging/rotating/wrist bending system that doesn't hold up the lines, but its all part of the growing process. i have seen people been turned away that were trying to sneak on the lift which I'm sure was (is) an issue w/ the sticker tickets everyone uses. slight improvement/healthier offerings in the walk up food kiosks or rolly-polly hot dog stands as i like to call them. haven't been to paul's or the crest yet so can't comment on improvements if any. felt like the food was always good for pub type food. epic mix is nice not only for amusement, but great to keep track of the kids. updates was real time on lift they were getting on. think once they integrate the epic rewards (which they are still tweaking) one will be able to redeem points for classes, tickets, etc. another nice thing once they figure the kinks out is the epic academy that keeps track of skier level and good across all sites attached to the epic pass account holder, no more paper updates to keep track of. 

 

one nice thing is they all the jumpers/railers etc are mostly now positioned by chair 7/8. really eliminates a lot of the crazy boarders/skiers elsewhere on the hill that sometimes made it unpleasant especially when we skied w/ the kids. fun to read and amusing to say the least how they complain about the set up on afton's FB web page. the jumps off of chair 7 are pretty big too. heard the lifties say how it's going to be a popular spot for them to see the wrecks waiting to happen, plus fun to see kids doing some brave stuff off those jumps while riding the lift.

 

i have heard many say how pleased they are w/ the new snow making capabilities and quality, but not sure if that is combination of equipments/weather or just great snow making weather.

 

coffee mill sounds like a trip to make sometime. thanks @mcdave69 for the "unbiased" review. would have not considered going for a visit otherwise.

 

as others have mentioned if anyone is going out to afton or else msg/pm and if it works out skiing w/ someone is always a good thing, but no today in ~ neg 10-15 degrees though. its a time for santa and gin & tonics. 

 

merry christmas and hopefully we MN skiers will have a chance to meet on one of our hills.


Edited by midwestfabs - 12/24/13 at 1:25pm
post #26 of 285

Welch and Madd Jaxx tomorrow.

post #27 of 285

Great writeup midwestfabs.   I'm excited to get to Afton once or twice this year to check it out.  I hope they still have those family value sundays late in the season under the new ownership.  Great way for a family to day ski there.   I'm super interested in seeing what improvements they make going forward.

 

We're hitting Welch tonight, heading up north tomorrow to ice fish and snowmobile with the family.  One thing that's nice is the drive out there feels shorter each time I drive it, if that makes sense.  You'd think it would be the other way around? 

 

I'm still not over the honeymoon with Welch after 4 trips.   Forgot my wife's helmet (she was pissed!) but they gave us one for free to use, then we realized we forgot her goggles to but a bartender in Madd Jaxx (who is a saint) gave us one of her personal pairs to use.  Now that is service.   Love this place.

post #28 of 285
Thread Starter 
@slowobstacle I didn't make it out to Afton on Sunday, but I plan on getting out this Saturday/Sunday morning. Was in Northern MN for Christmas, 20+ inches of fluffy snow on the ground but no hills to ski.
post #29 of 285
Quote:
Originally Posted by focker View Post

Great writeup midwestfabs.   I'm excited to get to Afton once or twice this year to check it out.  I hope they still have those family value sundays late in the season under the new ownership.  Great way for a family to day ski there.   I'm super interested in seeing what improvements they make going forward.

We're hitting Welch tonight, heading up north tomorrow to ice fish and snowmobile with the family.  One thing that's nice is the drive out there feels shorter each time I drive it, if that makes sense.  You'd think it would be the other way around? 

I'm still not over the honeymoon with Welch after 4 trips.   Forgot my wife's helmet (she was pissed!) but they gave us one for free to use, then we realized we forgot her goggles to but a bartender in Madd Jaxx (who is a saint) gave us one of her personal pairs to use.  Now that is service.   Love this place.

Thanks, but about the drive getting shorter sounds like you (or your) wife is spiking your coffe w/ some good stuff biggrin.gif I do agree that the service all around was wonderful in all areas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MNSkiing10 View Post

@slowobstacle I didn't make it out to Afton on Sunday, but I plan on getting out this Saturday/Sunday morning. Was in Northern MN for Christmas, 20+ inches of fluffy snow on the ground but no hills to ski.

We will probably go tomorrow with the kids and if I don't chicken out or the weather person convinces me otherwise maybe go Sunday by my lonesome. I have been wanting to call in dead from work the past few days with these little spurts of snow. Went snowshoeing yesterday and the snow was great.
post #30 of 285

Great night tonight at Welch. That was my fifth time there and easily the busiest I've seen it yet, including last Saturday during the day.  As usual with a busy night at a local hill sometimes there were 40 people in the lift in, other time there were none and we skied right onto the lift.

 

Teens ski in packs.  It's best to avoid them...

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