First time at Montage. I went today Monday 2016 JAN 25 and I had a very good experience. There were a variety of trails for me to ski down and I thought the snow on the trails was good. It was a spur of the moment trip. I learned that schools would be closed on Monday due to the 20"+ received by the snow storm (Jonas). I found a good price ($30) on liftopia Sunday and left Monday morning.
Weather: Mid-teens (~ -10°C) in morning with cloudy skies. Rose to low 30s (~ 0°C) during the day. The sun broke through the clouds about 11:15am and remained for the rest of my time there. Wind was not significant. No rain or snow at all. Several snow guns were working on various trails during the morning hours.
Open Trails: Most open. There were some trails (mainly trail on far side – relative to main lodge – of ski slopes) closed due to lack of snow on trail (most people that visit EpicSki are aware that 2015/16 winter has been very slow start for eastern ski areas) .
Closed Trails: Easy Street, Glades, Sidewinder, Snake, Spur, Upper Fast Track, Upper Runaway, Lower Fast Track.
Closed Lift: The Long Haul
Crowds: Light for most of the day. I never felt crowded. There were many times that I found myself alone on the slopes.
Lift lines: Less than 1 minute wait at the operating lifts (Iron Horse Lift [IH], Phoebe Snow Lift [PS], Shuttle Lift [SL]). Unfortunately all the lifts at Montage are slow. A trip on the lifts takes about 7-8 minutes. A season pass holder told me that a trip on The Long Haul takes about 15 minutes.
IH primarily servers the blue trails (Whistler, Switch, Spike) & terrain parks (Whistler & Spike) nearest it although one could access the blue trails Snake, Upper Runaway, Sidewinder, Upper Fast Track, Glades, Nordic) and the green trails (Mainline, Highball, Runaround, Easy Street) if needed.
SL serves the green trails (Mainline, Highball, Runaround, Easy Street) although one can go to Spike if desired.
PS serves the ♦, ♦♦ trails (♦Lower Runaway, ♦Rattler, ♦Cannonball, ♦♦Smoke, ♦♦Boomer, ♦♦White Lightning) and the blue Connection trail.
Snow conditions: Good to excellent depending on the trail. In morning there were areas of powder on Spike, though this disappeared later in the day. Corduroy could be found throughout the day due to light crowd volume. I encountered very little if any icy terrain.
I got on the slopes about 9am. I was able to try my new Atomic Nomad Smoke skis (178cm 125/76/106.5) and Smith IO/X Goggles. Both met my expectations.
The parking lot is unpaved, but it was in decent condition without any potholes worth noting. I got my boots on at the car and used Skiskootys on the soles. The Skiskootys worked well, but were a pain to put on or remove. (I will need to check to make sure I am using them properly)
Snow guns were working on several trails.
I started on SL intending to take a green trail to start. The slow lift changed my mind and I decided to go on Spike instead.
I took a few runs down Whistler, Switch, Spike and found the runs to be fun. I especially enjoyed running into some soft powdery snow on Spike. That made turning very easy. These runs had a nice consistent pitch with some steeper (but not too steep) parts.
Partially due to the fact that only 3 blue trails were open and partially due to me feeling adventurous, I decided to try a ♦ trail.
I went down ♦Lower Runaway and was able to complete run without falling and only minor concern. (Thanks to those suggesting leaning more forward while skiing. It helped keep me on my toes while turning to keep from gaining too much speed.)
My run was not the very elegant, but I had fun going down the run. After that run, I became bolder and went down ♦Rattler, ♦Cannonball. These runs were fun for me. I did fall once on ♦Cannonball in a spot of low visibility, but I was able to get up and continue my run before anyone could run into me.
♦Lower Runaway – Starts off with a relatively easy slope, but it has 2 or 3 steep sections and a more sustained medium steep slope.
♦Rattler – A relatively narrow trail that connect from ♦Lower Runaway to ♦Cannonball. The pitch is not too steep (not gentle, but not super steep either), but I needed to make frequent turns to stay out of the trees.
♦Cannonball – Starts off a relatively easy slope, but it has 3 or 4 steep drops with medium slopes in between the drops.
The more runs I took the better I became at taking the steeper parts with some speed.
After several Expert runs, I decided to try ♦♦Smoke since I wanted to push myself more and I liked the name.
The first drop, while steep, it was not much steeper that steep parts from ♦Lower Runaway or ♦Cannonball.
The second drop was what I would consider insane. I stood there looking at the drop, planning my attack.
I decided to try and take it by going across the grain to minimize the speed I would gain if I went down the slope more directly.
I made it to the side of the trail. While I was able to pass the steepest part of the slope, I was on the side of the trail without an easy way to turn myself to the other direction. I slide about 10-15 feet backwards to give me room to make a turn.
I did not feel comfortable on ♦♦Smoke so I did not even attempt the other 2 ♦♦ trails.
I spent most of the rest of my time going down ♦Lower Runaway, ♦Rattler, ♦Cannonball.
At one point I did take the 2 lifts PS and IH to the top and timed myself going to the bottom via Whistler and ♦Lower Runaway.
It took me about 5 minutes to make my way down after taking about 15 minutes (via lifts) to go to the top.
My last run of the day was down ♦♦Smoke. (My second attempt at ♦♦Smoke) I went to one side of the trail and side stepped down part of the way down the "insane" (for me) steep drop. When I felt comfortable enough I proceeded to tackle ♦♦Smoke just like the other single ♦ trails. Except for that one super steep drop, I would consider ♦♦Smoke easier than ♦Cannonball.
Montage is an interesting mountain. Beginners and intermediates on the top half while the experts are on the bottom half.
Although it has a total vertical of ~1000 feet, the trails are on the short side. There is not a single trail that goes from top to bottom. One would need to combine a blue trail from the top half of the mountain with a black trail from the bottom.
Lifts that only serve the top (or bottom) half of the mountain is good for those that wish to focus on trails of a certain difficulty. (It is also good since the lifts are so slow. I would hate to sit on a 15 minute lift ride (ala Long Haul). Only good I see from slow lifts is time to talk and rest up between runs.
Montage would be a nice home mountain, but I do not think it is worth the time it would take to get there (from my home) due to slow lifts and better alternatives (Belleayre, Elk, Blue Mt., Camelback, or JF to name a few) available.
I'll add a few photos when a get a moment.
IIRC, this was the View of Highball from SL about 9:30am
IIRC, this was the View of Switchback from IH about 9:45am
Me at top of Spike.
View from IH with the sun out.
View from IH of someone going down Switchback.
Edited by GreyPilgrim - 1/26/16 at 6:00pm