What makes a ski area/mountain feel large? Is it the vertical, acreage, # of trails, # of lifts.
For instance which feels larger,
Killington, Sunday River, or Sugarbush (areas with multiple peaks/mountains)
Mount Snow, Stratton, or Okemo (major southern VT intermediate mountains)
Mount Sunapee, Gunstock, Ragged (major southern NH mountains)
I am not trying to create a list or rank of areas, but rather get an idea of what people think of when they judge the size of a ski area. These three comparisons are just examples I quickly though of, feel free to add other comparisons of similar ski areas.
Someone might think Pico is a large Mountain based on its 2000' vertical drop. Others might think Pico is medium sized based on its acreage. Whereas someone might think Bretton woods is Large based on its acreage, but others think its small based on its vertical drop.
One major contributing factor for me is how spread apart the area is.
Killington feels giant because it has so many different areas with different characters. Ramshead and Bear feel like they are completely different ski areas. Skiing down to Skyeship feels like one is somewhere else completely.
Also how well I know a mountain determines how big it feels to me. I know Loon very well, so even though it is a rather large mountain, it feels smaller because I have skied the trails many times, though the addition of South Peak makes it feel bigger, especially with the long uninterrupted runs. New areas always seem larger to me because I am constantly finding and skiing new terrain.
Posted: Jan 05, 2012 - 1:59 PM GMT
Edited: Jan 05, 2012 - 9:58 PM GMT
Good topic. I like what I call "Big mountain feel", which requires high altitude, dwarf spruce or fir, and rime frost. Cliffs and a great view help. The summit should look white from a distance. Sugarloaf is the epitome, Saddleback has it despite much less vertical, Cannon has it. Whiteface is probably the ultimate, though I still haven't been there. I think Sugarbush South has it, a big wide basin with some cliffs and a wide scattering of trails. Oddly, Sugarbush North looks rather small from the base, because the summit is so far away and partly hidden by the mid-mountain peak. Of course Stowe looks big with the wide bowl covered with many trails and 500-700 vertical feet of unskiable (except by nuts) white cliffs above.
This is more about how it looks than your topic, how it skis. I think Snow, Stratton and Okemo all ski big though none of them look particularly big. If I can ski all day and not quite cover the mountain, that's big.
I look at continuous sustained vertical off lift pods as whether a mountain skis big. You look at a place like Sugarloaf and you can get 1600' vert off the Super Quad before getting back to the bottom. Or the Madonna I lift at Smuggs is a ton of vert off one lift.
It is a feeling though as well whether some mtns "ski bigger" than others.
As far as mtns that "ski small" I'd nominate Okemo as they have a fairly impressive vertical drop at over 2k but thats measured from the top of the Glades Peak chair all the way down to Jackson Gore. To really ski the entire vertical in 1 run, while possible theres lots of cross cutting and flat connector trails to get to it.
Sustained pitch as well I think goes into this discussion. Some mountains flatten out quickly after the first 1/3rd of vertical.
another factor is how far apart the trails are spaced. You could have trails fairly well packed together with nothing but a thin strand of trees separating them. They all seem to ski the same (Stratton), so to me, that makes it feel smaller.
When I look at Sugarbush, I see all this space between the peaks that do not have trails on them, and the trails that exist have thick woods in between. When riding up the lifts there I always make imaginary trails in my mind while looking at all the blank space.
I agree with the Gore/Whiteface comparison. Gore sprawls over so many peaks that it just feels huge, especially with the ski bowl reopened.
What I've always found unqiue about Whiteface is though its narrowness makes it feel 'small,' when compared to a Gore or Killington, people really underestimate the sheer length and vertical of it. The summit is 1800' vertical, Lookout 1600', Little Whiteface 1500'. When you do laps on them it doesn't seem like much but by the end of the day things burn!
And however 'small' it may feel skiing it, from a distance Whietface sure does impress in terms of size. My two cents.
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