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The Feeling of Size

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Member Since:
Jan 24, 2010

Posts: 178


Posted: Jan 05, 2012 - 3:39 AM GMT

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.

Get the Idea

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Member Since:
Nov 30, 2008

Posts: 155

Boston area

Posted: Jan 05, 2012 - 5:00 AM GMT

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.
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Member Since:
Jul 31, 2002

Posts: 5729

New York City

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.
70s gore kid
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Member Since:
Mar 09, 2010

Posts: 316

Top of Cheat Mountain, WV

Posted: Jan 05, 2012 - 4:20 PM GMT
Edited: Jan 05, 2012 - 4:22 PM GMT

First of all, if you start a post that sounds X Rated, you are going to get a lot of page views.

Back to skiing for a moment, I feel that an area streatched out over multiple peaks feels bigger than one with more trails on one peak.

For instance, from my Adirondack background, I can tell you that Gore feels bigger than Whiteface, simply because it is more spread out. Whiteface has much greater vertical, but is so narrow.

MRG feels bigger than Mt Ellen, or whatever Sugarbush calls it these days, again due to the fact that it is spread out over 2 peaks.

Killington feels so big it can be intimidating and confusing, even though the reality is that very few of its trails and lifts ski over 1,000 vertical feet.

Magic may seem like a very small ski area, due to one peak, one base and just a couple of lifts up. But every route down skis at 1,400 vertical feet, making it a tiny "giant."

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Member Since:
Mar 14, 2005

Posts: 2912

Great Gorge, NJ

Posted: Jan 05, 2012 - 4:58 PM GMT

I can't define it, but I know it when I see it
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Member Since:
Aug 23, 2002

Posts: 120


Posted: Jan 05, 2012 - 7:31 PM GMT

I think the biggest factor for me is number of peaks encompassed by the area. One-peak resorts just don't seem as big, even large ones like Sugarloaf, it seems.

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Member Since:
Feb 17, 2010

Posts: 75

Seacoast NH

Posted: Jan 05, 2012 - 7:41 PM GMT

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.
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Member Since:
Jul 17, 2004

Posts: 622

St. John USVI

Posted: Jan 05, 2012 - 8:20 PM GMT

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.
frozen forever
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Member Since:
Aug 04, 2004

Posts: 147

Schenectady, NY

Posted: Jan 05, 2012 - 9:51 PM GMT

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.

Is it wrong to pray in the direction of Mad River Glen?

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