Wednesday, January 10, 2007

1st Time Downhill Skiing

So last weekend was my first time downhill skiing out here.  I think only the third time in my life skiing, so I'm definitely a beginner - but does skiing on hill in Southern Wisconsin really count as skiing?

View from my first and only run of the day down the beginner/easy lower bowl run

Mt.Hood has 3 places to choose from for downhill skiing (a fourth if you include a place called Summit, an extreme beginners area) Skibowl, Mt. Hood Meadows, and Timberline.  From what I've learned, Skibowl is the reasonable priced, night skiing skiing location; Timberline is the historical locale, and Meadows is where the good skiers go because it's on the back side of Mt. Hood where the snow is less wet and has better powder.

When in SE Wisco you head to Alpine Valley.  Let's compare the numbers to Skibowl - the 'cheap' ski area on Mt. Hood.

Alpine Valley Skibowl
Base Elevation 1,020 3,500
Summit Elevation 1,260 5,027
Vertical Drop 388 1,500
Avg. Snowfall 80" 300"
Skiable Area 90ac. 960ac.
Total Runs 20 65
Total Lifts 12 8
Shot of Alpine Valley's main run
Shot of lower bowl run at Skibowl - note how the run disappears into the clouds!

Now I'm not trying to be a snob here I'm just trying to get a sense at the immense size of this place.  960 acres and 1500 feet of vertical drop.  The pictures just don't do it any justice.  And I'm not even at the big guys.  Meadows has 2,150 skiable acres and has a vertical drop of 2,777 feet!  That's a long time to be skiing downhill.

Now I know why my legs were burning from being tense when I did my first 'real' run.

It started to get excited driving up to the mountain when I passed under the sign stating "Chains or Traction Tires Required".  The mountain had gotten 12-18 inches of fresh powder in the early hours of the morning and it was just finishing up snowing.  Thankfully I bought those traction tires 1 year ago before moving out here.  The snow is a wet snow and packs down into ice when the vehicles drive on it.  It's weird to see people pulling over to put chains on their tires.  Even the semi's have to do it.

It's really beautiful...
You can't even read the road sign.  Gov't Camp and Skibowl coming up.
Look at this van stuck right in the entrance to Skibowl.  I just came in via the other entrance.

 We got there around 11am, purchased some lessons, got our rental skis and then spent the next 1.5 hours getting taught how to turn, snow plow, and ride the tow rope.

Our ski instructor is showing us something here... The guy in the orange hat and his girlfriend are from Wisconsin... hunting clothes doesn't surprise me.
The View from the top of the bunny hill and ski rope tow...
Heidi learning how to turn.

After the class, the instructor said I was ready to go on a real ski run but that I should go with an instructor.  Heidi said she wasn't ready.  Well I wasn't coming all this way and spending my money to ride on bunny hills.  So I headed up to the 1st lift.

To get to the top of this mountain you take two lifts.  The first takes you to the center of the slope and is where the easy run is.  Then you can take another lift up to the top for the hard stuff.  I didn't do that of course.  I was trying just to do the easy one.  The ski instructor told me it'd take 1 hour to go down the run so I had no idea what to expect.

This is the second lift up to the top of the mountain.
Check out this warming hut and watering hole on top of the run!
The daunting view down to the lodge.  It's steeper than it looks here!

Well it took me only 10 minutes to do the run and I only wiped out once although I did lose a ski on one of my turns but I think that was because of the rental equipment.  My legs were tense the whole time and I had to stop once because they burned so bad.  Don't know if that's normal or I suck.

I can't describe how cool it was.  The view from up here was beautiful.  I can only imagine what Mt. Hood must've looked like if the cloud cover wasn't so thick.

I'll be doing this again.  But for now - I'm heading to Mt. Bachelor for a ski weekend which is another mountain about 3 1/2 - 4 hours SE of Portland.  It's on the east side of the Cascade range which means the snow is more powder like.

Until then - Later.


JJohn said...

Nice dude! Come join the ski forums at and post those cool pics!

selva said...

i like to stay once again in this Alpine Peaks restaurant , i have never feel such a restaurant in my life, i found the meaning of relax there. i like to take family too in my next journey, i think they too will like me