Among the avid or extremely proficient, the more barren a mountain, the better. And it makes sense - powder doesn't get skied off, novices aren't barreling into to your frigid, brittle body and there's never a wait for lifts of bread bowl chowder.
But then word gets out, and those quiet runs get bogged down with every skill level, and the pros take to new snows. Well, I'm an intermediate skier who rents equipment, approaches blue-blacks with serious caution and spends as much time as he can on the trails. These in mind, Loon has been a great experience every visit.
Tips to escape the mad rush:
- Go early. On one of only a few snowy weekends, the mountain was practically covered in corduroy from 8:30 til 11am, Saturday and Sunday.
- Go mid-week. See above, but for all day. It's worth one of your stacked upon sick days.
- Stay near the peak. Biggest crowds assemble at the high-speed gondola quad and most other base lifts. Keep your elevation high, and you can ski blues from Loon (East basin lift) and North (Express Quad) Peaks all day.
- Find Cruiser. Take Exodus from Summit Lodge to the Tote Road Quad. That'll dump you off on the East Peak - a very quiet, black diamond assembly including the park's toughest run (Rip Saw). But, break left and find a long, scenic blue that, in this humble rookie's opinion, is the most peacefully fun run on the mountain.
And to ease financial woes, consider renting offsite. While the equipment is well maintained, you can find cheaper gear in solid condition just down Main. And don't forget the Unconditional Guarantee! After eight solid hours on a Saturday, we found ourselves wiped out by 10:30a Sunday. Brought our lift tickets to the service window, and they gave us vouchers for a full day lift ticket any day this season - no questions asked.
Reading this boss? Starting to feel a little sick next Wednesday...
Black is not for hot doggers. The moguls aren't; the namesake diamonds barely measure up. The mountain is not incredibly tall, and the lodge is barely more than a cafeteria. The bells and whistles simply do not exist.
But for the recreational skier, it belongs on your short list.
Why? Try $53 daily lift tickets to all runs, solid-condition rentals included. That's less than you'd pay for a lift alone at an overcrowded, packed down mountain with more flair and a swollen marketing budget.
As such, there will never be a huge bus of social 20-somethings getting dropped off en masse, ready to gear up, run four times and spend the day quaffing toddies while scoping for a hookup. And minimal greens means fewer little, little kids (who are, arguably, better skiers, even if their parents are over-protective) to clog up the slow lane. Essentially, grooming is rendered unnecessary, as there will be maybe 80 people on the mountain with you!
Economical, scenic and quiet. If it's really about intermediate runs, and you're actually planning on wearing those legs to Jello, consider Black. It's fun, even if the main lift is out to bruise your hips on the drop off.
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