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In Praise Of Podunk Ski Areas

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
It's easy to find out about the big ski areas. I've always been fascinated to hear about the small ski areas scattered around the country.

My small ski area is Alpental, which is part of the Summit at Snoqualmie ski area about 45 miles east of Seattle. The Summit at Snoqualmie used to be four small ski ares which were consolidated into one ownership and then bought out by Booth Creek. Alpental is more challenging than the other three areas, and physically separated from them by about two miles (and a freeway.) It feels very much like it's own place.

The ski area has only four lifts and 302 skiable acres. The main area has a nice high speed quad and two two-seaters. It's shaped like a funnel with ski runs fanning out from the small lodge at the bottom. A slow, old two seater starts from the top of the quad and snakes around a 500 foot cliff band to the "upper mountain." The upper area features a bowl on the front and a very steep run called "Upper International" on the back. "Upper International" approaches 50 degrees, and warps around the cliff face all the way down to the base area 2300 ft. below. From upper international you can access a gate to the large (larger than the ski area, at least) backcountry.

I love Alpental because it combines the charm of a small ski area with challenging, funky terrain. But enough about Alpental. What about the other funky little overlooked ski areas around the country?


http://www.summitatsnoqualmie.com/in...r/alpental.asp
http://www.terraserver-usa.com/image...771&y=6568&w=3
post #2 of 19
sdstarr, just so you don't attribute the lack of replies to lack of appreciation for the podunks, check out this thread. Although the original question was "where did you start skiing?"... this soon led to fond reminiscences (OK, some not so fond...) of smaller ski areas.... since relatively few started skiing at major resorts.

HTML Code:
http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=51639


Quote:
Originally Posted by sdstarr View Post
It's easy to find out about the big ski areas. I've always been fascinated to hear about the small ski areas scattered around the country....... What about the other funky little overlooked ski areas around the country?
post #3 of 19
Hey now just remember that when you do that praising you make it a whole lot more likely that the area will become more crowded and lose that thing that makes it so good so maybe its not such a great idea to go around praising a small area if you like its smallness know what I mean.
post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by ramshackle View Post
maybe its not such a great idea to go around praising a small area if you like its smallness know what I mean.
Most people who ski aren't really there for the skiing, if you know what I mean. I wouldn't worry about it, since the small places are all skiing.
post #5 of 19
Some of my favorite podunk areas include Monarch CO, Sunlight CO, Howellson Hill (sic) CO, Beaver UT, Bridger Bowl MT, Red Lodge MT, Apex BC, Whitewater BC, Snow King WY.

And Ram, no one need fear that these places will ever get spoiled just because of a mention here on Epic. A true podunk place can only lose it's podunk status via development.
post #6 of 19
Isn't Alpental where Deb Armstrong skied before joining the US team?
post #7 of 19
Man, you guys out west call a 2300 ft vertical Podunk???? You make me want to cry in my beer!!! I think there are only 2 hills within driving distance of Montreal that are bigger than that, WHiteface & Sugarloaf.
post #8 of 19

Canaan Valley WV

There are a lot of small ski areas near me that might qualify as podunk, but they put way too much $$ into real estate and development to really be podunk. Last week, I found the most podunk ski area in the mid-atlantic: Canaan Valley WV. It's actually a WV state park, complete with the routed pine signs with yellow lettering and outdoor toilets at the top of the mountain. On an ordinary day, this is a small intermediate ski area and nothing to talk about. Last week, however, a clipper storm raced in from Canada, bringing 12-14" of dry light powder and CV was transformed into the MRG of the mid-atlantic. Here are some pics/comments from that day (from a report I filed on DCski):

http://members.cox.net/craig.hunter/cv030707/

Here's a trail map:



The open meadows and tree trails were the places to be, and I was making first tracks all day long. Backcountry access is right there (Dolly Sods Wilderness) but I had more snow than I could handle within the 850ft vertical of the resort. Amazing day. Probably one of my top 5 powder days ever, and *totally* Podunk (with a capital "P").
post #9 of 19
Always wanted to Ski Mount Trashmore Evanston Illinois.
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by sdstarr View Post
I love Alpental because it combines the charm of a small ski area with challenging, funky terrain.

I was an "Alpentolic" for a while years ago. Went through a Ten Steps program and I'm much better now! Even went down (not so much skied) upper international a couple of times. It was like jumping off the roof of the garage 40 or 50 times in a row.: I came across a book a while back called the WHITE BOOK OF SKI AREAS. Seems to have pretty much every ski in the U.S. including the podunks - even one in Georgia with all of 250 vert. Interesting to browse.
post #11 of 19
Some of my best powder days (and nights) were at Eldora just because the timing was perfect as I worked there during college. I enjoyed the funkiness and laid back atmosphere and people. Haven't been there in a while, I'd be surprised though, if it didn't still have it's 'Podunk' status intact.
post #12 of 19
Hey 4cznskier, I'm surprised you didn't nominate your local hill, Loup, Loup. I've always wanted to ski there, but it's a long haul from my place.
post #13 of 19
Not sure if the ol' Loup still qualifies as a podunk-er as we just this year got indoor flush toilets *harmony of ooh's and aah's in background* ! Great little hill really - just a little low on the snow (sooner or later they're all rock skis at the loup)! My theory is it's that darn Mt. Baker west of us scraping all the snow out of the sky! Let's see.... Baker = 96 FEET, Loup = 32 INCHES. Were just gettin' your scraps! Likewise I've been wanting to try out Baker. Maybe one of these years when the cross-state hwy re-opens before Baker closes for the season. But if by chance you do ever get over this way (only one weekend left this year ) I'll give ya' the grand tour - should take about 4 runs!


skitheloup.com (sorry - not phusisticated enough to insert actual link):
post #14 of 19
I used to enjoy Geneva Basin, at the top of Guanella pass. The dirt road kept all but the hard core away. It had a couple of decent black bump runs. There were also beginner runs up high, but you couldn't see them from the road or the base area. Sort of a treasure hunt finding them from the top, too. Too bad it closed in 1984.

I also like Sunlight a lot.The starstruck folks blow right past it on their way to Aspen; they don't even know it's there, just outside of Glenwood. Way more laid back than the big joints.
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post
Isn't Alpental where Deb Armstrong skied before joining the US team?
Yes. In her honor, the one HSQ chair is called the Armstrong Exress, and the the mainline face run is called Debbie's Gold.
post #16 of 19
The 2nd week of January I was in Hailey visiting my parents. I heard about Soldier Mountain about 65 miles away. 2 chairs, 1200 vertical, and about 1400 acres. My dad was scandalized when I told I had more fun there than at Sun Valley. It had lots of natural terrain more so than Sun Valley. After 3 days of gorgeous groomers at Sun Valley I was bored. All the runs started to look the same. I even tried Dollar Mtn for kicks. They were having the first stop of the Honda Pro Tour with a skiercross course set up on Dollar. That was an impressive show.
post #17 of 19
Morrison Claystone writes:

"I used to enjoy Geneva Basin, at the top of Guanella pass. The dirt road kept all but the hard core away. "

That made me think of a place called Mount Robert Skifield in Nelson Lakes National Park in New Zealand. We saw the place in summer when, after hiking for 4 miles and gaining several thousand vertical feet, we came upon an abandoned ski area. There was no road in sight, which made me wonder how anyone ever got there to ski. Later, I met an old timer who had skied there in it's hayday in the '50's and '60's. I asked how anyone ever got to the ski area, he said "We walked."
Talk about keeping all but the hardcore away.
post #18 of 19
I live in NM , and ski at ski apache..I enjoy it there, and for a lot of the year we had the highest base around..Anyone else ski here?

Lee
post #19 of 19
You should all check out www.skiernet.com. It has listings of every ski area in the US (maybe some are missing, but I haven't found any) with reviews of most. It's pretty amazing.
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