or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › EpicSki Community › Trip Reports  › TR: Monarch Mountain
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

TR: Monarch Mountain

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Drought conditions in NM have forced exploration

Went up to Monarch Mountain for the first time. What a nice surprise.

Caveat. this is not for those of you into high speed lifts and luxury. Also the mountain is short, so you have to be OK with lots of laps.

Virtually no liftlines. This would be a cruiser's dream, with nice, wide open runs. Wonderful for families, since it's cheap and no one could get lost.

Great snow with freshies to be had for ages if you're willing to explore a little. Hardly anyone had poached the trees and there was a nice little open face with snow that was like velvet. Ankle deep, but bottomless at the same time. we skied fresh lines on it virtually all day the first day.

Expert terrain. Yes that too. a nice sized cornice on the far side, hidden among the beginner terrain we didn't find until too late. Three or four very decent bump runs and a sweet, narrow run under the lift. Very nice glade and some unmarked treed areas.

Mirkwood Basin: hike-to terrain. About a 15 -20 minute hike, not real steep, but gets your attention for sure. Worth the walk for the view alone. The view at the top of this little mountain is about as stunning as I've seen anywhere. 360 degrees of endless white capped mountains and valleys. simply gorgeous. Mirkwood bowl was blown off Monday and the conditions were stiff, wind-cupped. But had fun anyhow and the run-out through the woods was really beautiful, like a secret, silent adventure. Should have skied the Mirkwood trees instead of the bowl, but didn't have it in us to hike back up. (getting old!) Oh and they offer cat skiing from the resort too. Next time.

Hotel: Monarch Mountain Lodge was adequate and clean but really "three steps above camping." Still, really cheap. Watched the superbowl over several beers each, appetizer and dinner for two people for $35. When was the last time you got away for that at a ski resort?! The bar at the base lodge was very nice too. good food, nice view. Reputedly lots more hotels/motels/B&Bs and real restaurants in nearby Salida. never checked them out, although the Super 8 there is owned by someone who used to manage the Hilton in Santa Fe, so should be decent.

The vibe was really, really nice. Very friendly and home town sort of place. A little dog eared and a little short, but a lot of fun and worthwhile for a weekend outing. Meant to take photos, but was having too much fun. sorry.
post #2 of 5
I've been up to Monarch twice this year and really enjoyed it. You shoukld have done the mirkwood trees - great skiing in there. I really like the lack of hype. It's a very relaxed skiing experience.
post #3 of 5
Always liked Monarch, too. Haven't skied there in a couple of years, but have ended up there on the spur of the moment a few times and always liked the vibe.

Reminds me of skiing *the way it used to be.* More about the nice laps and nice people and the nice (fantastic?) views than about high speed everything, silly ski wear, and overpriced *gourmet* food that tastes like ski lodge food everywhere else. Base lodge even smelled like the lodges growing up-- cooking grease mixed with a little wet ski clothing. Nothing wrong with that on occasion. Nothing at all.

Only problem with telling people Monarch's good is that they'll go! (I like the no liftlines thing :-)

post #4 of 5
I grew up skiing campy Monarch with my family. What memories you have brought back as I sit here on the east coast wishing I was there.
post #5 of 5
I'll hit Monarch for at least one day this weekend. It is a nice counterpoint to Crested Butte. I tried it for the first time right after Christmas with low expectations and loved it. 42% expert runs and no lift lines. Nice layout with lots of aspects that allow you to work the sun and wind. Plus, you can hike to Mirkwood in 15 min. and get some nice chute or tree skiing. I don't need high speed lifts, just good snow and terrain. At $39 it gives you a lot of good skiing for your $$. My wife and I usually never utilize any facilities other than the lifts, so I enjoy not having to pay for massive grooming and ammenities that I don't want anyway. Not the kind of place you'd want to spend an entire week, but definitely a gem for a day or two. It's the way skiing used to be before they made all the unnecessary "improvements."
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Trip Reports
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › EpicSki Community › Trip Reports  › TR: Monarch Mountain