4aprice's Backyard Challange

4aprice4aprice advanced
in Trip Reports Posts: 190
Round 1

Maybe just call it friendly competition.

So, nobody is going to call Morris County NJ a skiing Mecca, but its not the worst place either.  We have Newark Airport to get to the Rockies or Alp's or whatever other skiing destination you desire, New England and New York to our north for weekends, and the Catskills for decent day tripping 2 hours away.  We also have the "backyard" in the Pocono/Skylands region of E Pa and NW NJ. The backyard is defined as at or under 1 hour from Stately Price Manor near Lake Hopatcong, NJ.

There are 5 ski areas that probably fit in this category, but the challenge is between the largest 2, Camelback Mountain Resort in Tannerville, Pa and Mountain Creek Resort in Vernon Township NJ.  The plan is to ski both resorts back to back (or as close to back to back as possible, at the least the same week) and compare and contrast.  With my Camelback Season Pass and my Max Pass I hope to do this five times (5 rounds) over the season.

So with Winter Storm Grayson and the bitter cold abating and a relatively light work schedule I decided to start it up this week hitting Camelback on Monday the 8th and Mountain Creek on Tuesday the 9th.

The weather Monday at Camelback was interesting.  Started as rain (at about 23 degrees no less) went to sleet, then to all snow.  Tuesday at Mountain Creek was mostly sunny and about 38  Crowds were not an issue with MC being the busier of the 2 but not by much.  

The Skiing:

Camelback for those that don't know is a pretty broad ridge with trails spilling down form 2 summit areas, east and west.  The runs aren't particularly long but the top of the ridge has some nice steeps and there are very few crossings of trails.  It's very easy to do what I call a sweep and start at one end and ski each route down crossing the mountain to the other end.  There are about 17 different ways down and between the 2 high speed quads its very easy to do.  Monday I started on the east side and worked my way west.  With every thing open it was fun.

Mountain Creek is 3 different peaks or areas  Vernon, the old Great George North and the Original or Great George South.  The runs are longer but it is not as easy to cross between areas and it takes much longer to ski the whole thing.  Tuesday I started at Vernon worked my way over to South and then back to Vernon.


 
image

Camelback on Monday


image

Vernon Base on Tuesday


image

South Base Tueday

I want you to take a look at these next 2 pictures




image

Big Pocono Run at Camelback


image
Zero G at Mountain Creek

Whats missing?  

Conditions at both resorts were basically identical.  

The Verdict:

So in the spirit of contest which was better?  Well for Round 1, I give them both a tie. (no winner).  Once again I ask what's missing?  Both resort deserve kudos for taking advantage of the recent cold weather and making a ton of snow.  Most of the terrain at each area is open and the snow was generally good with little ice.  The problem I had as the Judge and Jury is exactly what the two pictures of the trails show.  Nary a bump or mogul in sight.  If ball room dancing is your thing then it was a perfect 2 days but to me it becomes mundane when all it is, is groomed.  Big point deduction for both areas from this judge.  

I hope to do this a few more times this season and invite anyone i this area who has time to join me.  Maybe you see and score things differently from me.  Look forward to Round 2 later this season.

Alex

Lake Hopatcong, NJ 
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Comments

  • ciscokidciscokid expert
    Posts: 2,245
    That's one good thing about nubs knob on the front face they leave about 30 percent of the steepest runs bumped up for those that like the bumps a true Scears mountain
  • ciscokidciscokid expert
    Posts: 2,245
    Once lived in one of those stately manners but the taxman Reineth and forced us out I don't know maybe it was besrardi he or one of those figurescouple grand a month is just too much for most anyone

    I guess you could just say without owing anything we were still upside down LOL
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  • ciscokidciscokid expert
    Posts: 2,245
    Is soujourn still spinning?
  • ciscokidciscokid expert
    Posts: 2,245
    Looks like some natural on right on zero g
  • ciscokidciscokid expert
    Posts: 2,245
    Straightaway open?
  • ciscokidciscokid expert
    Posts: 2,245
    Was the triple by the tubing open?
  • 4aprice4aprice advanced
    Posts: 190
    To answer your questions Cisco, yes Soujourn is running and Straightaway is open top to bottom.  

    My complaint isn't with what they have done.  Both mountains have blown a good amount of snow and are pretty much 100 % open.  Both Mountains have gotten their terrain parks up and running and I have no problem with that either.  My issue is that both are supposedly feeder resorts and as feeder resorts should be getting ready to feed the larger areas.  Most larger resorts that I have been to have moguls.  No ones asking that the entire mountain be moguls but come on feed us a bone with at least one run.  They have had plenty of time to make plenty of snow so I have a hard time understanding why they can't cater to all and give us a little ungroomed.  

    I can't speak for Mountain Creek.  At some point I would like to speak with my daughters friend who's in management there and state my point of view.  Camelback on the other hand has a new GM and new head of Snowmaking/Mountain Ops.  I knew the old regime and had talked to them endlessly about it during the period when we were basing our selves there with the boy racing and girl working ski school, but will not put out the same effort now that we are not there as much.  I hope its not a harbinger of things to come. As a friend put it to me one time, and I think this key for areas such as these two, "a mogul trail makes the mountain ski just that much bigger".  Its something I agree with and hope these places will offer it in the future. If not they may not be seeing much more of me.

    Alex

    Lake Hopatcong, NJ
  • ciscokidciscokid expert
    Posts: 2,245
    Yea I remember doing the "double black" at Camelback w trackbiker and it was the easiest d black ever i.e. Groomed
  • TreillyTreilly advanced
    Posts: 286
    4aprice said:



    My complaint isn't with what they have done.  Both mountains have blown a good amount of snow and are pretty much 100 % open.  Both Mountains have gotten their terrain parks up and running and I have no problem with that either.  My issue is that both are supposedly feeder resorts and as feeder resorts should be getting ready to feed the larger areas.  Most larger resorts that I have been to have moguls.  No ones asking that the entire mountain be moguls but come on feed us a bone with at least one run.  They have had plenty of time to make plenty of snow so I have a hard time understanding why they can't cater to all and give us a little ungroomed.  


    Mt Holly which is an hour from Detroit has a small mogul run. It is not very big but it did help when I went back east and skied at Gore which had a few runs that were bumped up.image
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  • rickbolgerrickbolger expert
    Posts: 1,320
    thanks for the report!  interesting view of our banana belt areas. 

     I'm surprised Camelback didn't have a bump run, 10 years ago when I was a quasi-regular there, they would have one or two from the top without fail.  Marje's comes to mind

      Mountain Creek, same deal, 10 years ago you could count on one or two of something to have bumps -- usually Jumpin' Jack, Pipeline, and Zero G or Straightaway.  Usually Straightaway.    Unfortunately Jumpin Jack is a terrain park, Pipeline is gone, and Zero G seems to be groomed a lot.  With all the closed terrain, it ain't what it used to be.

    When I was in high school I started down Zero G once and the bumps were so icy big and nasty I hiked back up to Turnpike!

    Cisco the reason you see that natural on the right side of Zero G is they are too frugal to make snow side to side. 





  • 4aprice4aprice advanced
    Posts: 190
    Treilly said:

    4aprice said:



    My complaint isn't with what they have done.  Both mountains have blown a good amount of snow and are pretty much 100 % open.  Both Mountains have gotten their terrain parks up and running and I have no problem with that either.  My issue is that both are supposedly feeder resorts and as feeder resorts should be getting ready to feed the larger areas.  Most larger resorts that I have been to have moguls.  No ones asking that the entire mountain be moguls but come on feed us a bone with at least one run.  They have had plenty of time to make plenty of snow so I have a hard time understanding why they can't cater to all and give us a little ungroomed.  


    Mt Holly which is an hour from Detroit has a small mogul run. It is not very big but it did help when I went back east and skied at Gore which had a few runs that were bumped up.image
    Ding Ding Ding, we have a winner.  That is exactly right and kudo's to them for doing so.  What are these mountains if they are not practice facilities?  I think they should treat it much the same as they treat the terrain parks.  Designate a trail.  If it was up to me I would probably have 1 low angle bump run and something on the steep side as well.

    With Camelback I can speak from some experience.  Some how I think the old management would have had at least the bumps on Lower Cleopatra up by now.  My fear is the new management may have different ideas.  I want to practice for the bigger resorts.

    Alex

    Lake Hopatcong, NJ
  • ciscokidciscokid expert
    edited January 10 Posts: 2,245
    Have no fear, the dark side at Boyne Highlands is a short bump Run and we they usually have a half pipe there also to screw around in.
    Nubs used to have a huge pipe but make up for it in their quantity of glades w natural bumps.
    B mtn has a legit steep (60 degreeish) Devils dive and i expect ibrake to launch some jumps in their parks. ( or at least youthfull Conrad.)
    Twilight zone next to chute under the yellow chair is bumps at Nubs

    https://www.nubsnob.com/trail-guide/
  • TreillyTreilly advanced
    Posts: 286
    4aprice said:

    Treilly said:

    4aprice said:



    My complaint isn't with what they have done.  Both mountains have blown a good amount of snow and are pretty much 100 % open.  Both Mountains have gotten their terrain parks up and running and I have no problem with that either.  My issue is that both are supposedly feeder resorts and as feeder resorts should be getting ready to feed the larger areas.  Most larger resorts that I have been to have moguls.  No ones asking that the entire mountain be moguls but come on feed us a bone with at least one run.  They have had plenty of time to make plenty of snow so I have a hard time understanding why they can't cater to all and give us a little ungroomed.  


    Mt Holly which is an hour from Detroit has a small mogul run. It is not very big but it did help when I went back east and skied at Gore which had a few runs that were bumped up.image
    Ding Ding Ding, we have a winner.  That is exactly right and kudo's to them for doing so.  What are these mountains if they are not practice facilities?  I think they should treat it much the same as they treat the terrain parks.  Designate a trail.  If it was up to me I would probably have 1 low angle bump run and something on the steep side as well.

    With Camelback I can speak from some experience.  Some how I think the old management would have had at least the bumps on Lower Cleopatra up by now.  My fear is the new management may have different ideas.  I want to practice for the bigger resorts.

    Alex

    Lake Hopatcong, NJ
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  • rickbolgerrickbolger expert
    Posts: 1,320
    went to Mountain Creek last night for the first time in years.  Skied from Vernon side to Gorge (south) ,they had a lot of people at both bases.  As weeknights go, it was a LOT of people.  People in the lodge, people renting stuff, sitting around outside by the fire pits, people all over the place.  But not many people skiing or boarding!  No lines except maybe a few minutes on the main chair at south

    No bumps to be found.  

    Negative  Changes:  Most of it was pretty darn dark, they need to update the lighting.  Completely dark spots on some trails.  There's definitely an issue with that.  I grew up skiing nights there, it wasn't like this.   

    Positive Changes: the skier vs. snowboarder mindset and segregation has blurred quite a bit over the past ten years.  Much more pleasant environment.  

    Also they reopened the short trail at Vernon that they had killed off for the halfpipe.  that's good, because prior to that, everything funneled under the cabriolet

    Couple things that haven't changed...parking on the Vernon side is still defective, retail center at hotel is still empty.  

    Aside from the dreadful lighting, Vernon parking, and narrow bands of snowmaking in some places, it's a good facility, glad to have it so close to home.  They employ a LOT of people.

  • 4aprice4aprice advanced
    Posts: 190

    went to Mountain Creek last night for the first time in years.  Skied from Vernon side to Gorge (south) ,they had a lot of people at both bases.  As weeknights go, it was a LOT of people.  People in the lodge, people renting stuff, sitting around outside by the fire pits, people all over the place.  But not many people skiing or boarding!  No lines except maybe a few minutes on the main chair at south


    No bumps to be found.  

    Negative  Changes:  Most of it was pretty darn dark, they need to update the lighting.  Completely dark spots on some trails.  There's definitely an issue with that.  I grew up skiing nights there, it wasn't like this.   

    Positive Changes: the skier vs. snowboarder mindset and segregation has blurred quite a bit over the past ten years.  Much more pleasant environment.  

    Also they reopened the short trail at Vernon that they had killed off for the halfpipe.  that's good, because prior to that, everything funneled under the cabriolet

    Couple things that haven't changed...parking on the Vernon side is still defective, retail center at hotel is still empty.  

    Aside from the dreadful lighting, Vernon parking, and narrow bands of snowmaking in some places, it's a good facility, glad to have it so close to home.  They employ a LOT of people.
    Rick, 

    I will also say that they have done a good job with the "Pass Trails" (left off the gondola).  Those were nice.  The Vernon Valley side is still overall my favorite there.  Straightaway is still a really good trail (was better when it went all the way down to the highway under Yellow) so is Zero G.  Get some bumps please, entertain me.  

    Rick, I'll do another round in a couple of weeks if you want to join.

    Alex

    Lake Hopatcong, NJ
  • ciscokidciscokid expert
    Posts: 2,245
    OK to refresh my memory… Go back to the video tape who owns Mountain Creek now is it the original family from 40 years ago or what kind of figure owns this place?

    IntraWest his history correct?
  • newmannewman advanced
    Posts: 418
    Did anyone ski Gran Prix? I see that is is listed as open. They didn't make snow on it last season. Also, did anybody notice if they close Upper Straightaway at night these days?
  • rickbolgerrickbolger expert
    Posts: 1,320
    newman said:

    Did anyone ski Gran Prix? I see that is is listed as open. They didn't make snow on it last season. Also, did anybody notice if they close Upper Straightaway at night these days?

    I did, it was pretty good.    Interesting how Grand Prix has snow side to side, but Zero G does not.  

    Spent most of my time at Gorge did not notice if upper straightaway was open or closed.    They dropped the ropes on the knoll while I was there.  It had been closed for racing but the racing was on kamikazee, so it wasn't torn up at all.   I took a couple flights down that, it was fantastic.

    the jumps and rails and jibs and jabs and stuff on Canyon and Jumpin Jack are really, really annoying

    Cisco:  I don't know who owns it now. Mulvihill bought it back from Intrawest. Mulvihill's heirs/successors sold it sometime within the past couple years.  Whether or not any of them still have a part of it, I couldn't say.  I wouldn't be surprised if all of them still have some minor interest in some part of it somehow.



  • rgrwilcorgrwilco novice
    Posts: 10
    I won't be back to creek until they rethink their terrain park situation. They make it look like they have an entire mountain of park features, but in reality the execution is poor and takes up too many decent cruising trails. I ride quite a bit of park, and used to build terrain parks in southern PA, so this is coming from someone who absolutely requires a halfway decent park when picking someone to go.

    The features found on all of those trails at south peak would be condensed to one trail at any other resort (or at least one route down). There are times on those trails when you ride for quite a long time before ever encountering a park feature. they are just not conducive to a park setup.

    As their trail map gets smaller, I think it is time to revisit why on earth they are doing this, and reconfigure it quite a bit (Im open for consulting, for a fee of course)
  • rickbolgerrickbolger expert
    Posts: 1,320
    rgrwilco said:

    I won't be back to creek until they rethink their terrain park situation. They make it look like they have an entire mountain of park features, but in reality the execution is poor and takes up too many decent cruising trails. I ride quite a bit of park, and used to build terrain parks in southern PA, so this is coming from someone who absolutely requires a halfway decent park when picking someone to go.


    The features found on all of those trails at south peak would be condensed to one trail at any other resort (or at least one route down). There are times on those trails when you ride for quite a long time before ever encountering a park feature. they are just not conducive to a park setup.

    As their trail map gets smaller, I think it is time to revisit why on earth they are doing this, and reconfigure it quite a bit (Im open for consulting, for a fee of course)
    The kids there seem to like the stuff, I don't know anything about how it should be placed or anything.   I did a couple runs on South Peak and the kids I rode the chair with were commenting on new features here and there, pointing to jumps and saying "that's new tonight" etc. so maybe you hit it early season or at a bad time?  Don't know.  Seemed to me that the two trails I was on had one feature right after another, didn't strike me as all that much different from that one run at Carinthia with all the stuff.

    As far as moving it off the Great Gorge trails Canyon & Jumpin Jack that were designed for regular skiing...I would be 100% for that, but don't think it's going to happen any time soon.

    don't know how much you know about the history of that place.  About 10 years ago they had all of that park & pipe stuff on the Vernon side, and "South" was usually empty on weeknights except for racers and a handful of people like me.  Years prior they had the cabriolet built to cater to snowboarders, so it made sense to have the features off the cab.

    Then they built the hotel, and you had families with little kids getting on the cab with potty mouth park rats with their pants hanging off, smoking, shoving each other around, you name it.   So they had to move the park stuff out of there. (FWIW I saw a lot less of that in 2018 than I did in 2008)

    So they made south 100% park, and shipped the racers up to Vernon.  Now instead of mouthy park rats they had racers zipping around and weaving as teenage racers are prone to do, and the problems persisted.

    Finally they got smart and built a new base lodge at Vernon that flat-out caters to groups, beginners, renters, families, moms waiting in the lodge, etc.  It's really nice, and very effective at parting people from their money.  They shipped the racers back to the race hill on South.  They did have features on the race hill at one time but it was a complete joke, they were rarely used.

    So now it's seems they're finally doing the best they can with what they got.  Last night the park kids all seemed happy on their hill, the racers were doing their thing on Kamikazee, and up the road Vernon was quite busy with families and groups.

    In a perfect world the cab lift would be switched with the south chair, but that ain't gonna happen.  Maybe they do need to move things around or whatever on the South park stuff, but unfortunately I don't think they're in any position to free up those wonderful old cruising trails.  Business wise, I think what they're doing now is a good set up.   


      

  • newmannewman advanced
    Posts: 418
    The problem with racing on KK is that they close the two runs to skiers left, so that gives one run of the lift. The other two were bear paw and bear claw. They have other names now. I have always hated the way trail openings went there. From the VV GG to Interest to Movalhill again, I just hate the logic used for trail use and openings and closings.
  • 4aprice4aprice advanced
    Posts: 190
    rgrwilco said:

    I won't be back to creek until they rethink their terrain park situation. They make it look like they have an entire mountain of park features, but in reality the execution is poor and takes up too many decent cruising trails. I ride quite a bit of park, and used to build terrain parks in southern PA, so this is coming from someone who absolutely requires a halfway decent park when picking someone to go.


    The features found on all of those trails at south peak would be condensed to one trail at any other resort (or at least one route down). There are times on those trails when you ride for quite a long time before ever encountering a park feature. they are just not conducive to a park setup.

    As their trail map gets smaller, I think it is time to revisit why on earth they are doing this, and reconfigure it quite a bit (Im open for consulting, for a fee of course)
    Explain,  I'd be interested. I believe the terrain parks are an important part of any resort as well.  Moguls are  terrain feature's too.

    Alex

    Lake Hopatcong, NJ



  • rgrwilcorgrwilco novice
    Posts: 10
    Back in the day when creek had their parks on vernon, they also had some smaller parks in south as well. When they moved all parks south, they advertised it as the most terrain park around based off of the trail count. Other mountains had more features on one or two trails.

    the trails at south are built for cruising in mind, which is the opposite of what you want for a park. A park is best built on a straight trail. this way you can have flow, meaning a trick off of one feature, then right to the next. the parks being at south aren't as accessible for press, which is why a lot of events are no longer held at creek.

    Having ridden creek both when the parks were at vernon vs at south, I thought it flowed better at vernon. I was also just looking on apple maps. shows that they actually cut some of that new trail to take you back to granite that they announced a while back


  • newmannewman advanced
    Posts: 418
    You can see that cut on googlearth. If indeed that is what it is.
  • 4aprice4aprice advanced
    Posts: 190
    rgrwilco said:

    Back in the day when creek had their parks on vernon, they also had some smaller parks in south as well. When they moved all parks south, they advertised it as the most terrain park around based off of the trail count. Other mountains had more features on one or two trails.


    the trails at south are built for cruising in mind, which is the opposite of what you want for a park. A park is best built on a straight trail. this way you can have flow, meaning a trick off of one feature, then right to the next. the parks being at south aren't as accessible for press, which is why a lot of events are no longer held at creek.

    Having ridden creek both when the parks were at vernon vs at south, I thought it flowed better at vernon. I was also just looking on apple maps. shows that they actually cut some of that new trail to take you back to granite that they announced a while back


    Are you talking about the "Pass Trails" on the left as you exit the Cab?  

    I'm only slightly familiar with the park scene.  My son goes in and I have followed him down such places as Copper in Colorado and Brighton in Utah to take pictures.  What areas have parks that you like?  In the spirit of the thread, Have you ridden Camelback's Park?  Its pretty small.  How about Blue's?

    I can understand about the trails on the South.  We all got to fight for a piece of the terrain.

    Alex

    Lake Hopatcong, NJ


  • rickbolgerrickbolger expert
    Posts: 1,320
    newman said:

    You can see that cut on googlearth. If indeed that is what it is.

    yeah that cut starts going uphill 

  • rgrwilcorgrwilco novice
    Posts: 10
    ^^Not the pass trails. Creek announced I think five years ago a new trail from south peak that would cross over southern sojourn back to granite base. Looks like from maps apps you can see they started cutting but gave up.

    I just turned 30, I only ever rode Park because powder is rare, but as I’m getting older it’s barely any park for me.

    I can say jfbb and blue tend to have best park in PA. Camelbacks leaves a lot to be desired. In terms of trsil layout, I like the big feel of mountain creek but camelback always has better conditions.
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  • rickbolgerrickbolger expert
    Posts: 1,320
    rgrwilco said:

    ^^Not the pass trails. Creek announced I think five years ago a new trail from south peak that would cross over southern sojourn back to granite base. Looks like from maps apps you can see they started cutting but gave up. 

    Oh I remember well, we had a thread about it back then. That cut off the south summit goes down and then uphill, and then ends. Hard to imagine somebody thought that would be a ski trail, although it does look like one. Looks like they were targeting the old Fitz' Folly. That would've been a hot mess.

    Newman can verify -- can't go directly from Great Gorge south summit to Great Gorge north (Granite) base without dynamite or an uphill tow of some sort.

  • newmannewman advanced
    Posts: 418
    From what I remember on the SJ thread, the foreman walked the route and said to cut it. IIRC, Creek decided to spend the money on the chair instead. On a different note, where that trail would of been between Sojourn and the base of Granite, original Interest plans showed a lift in that area. With three blue runs. The base was by the par 3 and the top around the connecting trail. Looked to be a 400 very pod. Away from all major points on either side. Just a early pipe dream for the newly reborn area at the time. Just like the Firefly trail on Bear Peak.
  • newmannewman advanced
    Posts: 418
    Instead of the Sojourn trail and chair, Interest could of built a two way transfer chair from South to Vernon Peak. The money would of balanced out by now. Between the new chair, snowmaking, grooming, lights, and equipment on Sojourn they spent money on for the last 20 years. I never knew one person who liked to ski that connecting trail. I can only imagine having two, with a junction in the middle between the two. Everybody tucks to try to make it to the end. I bet it's way worse on a snowboard
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