By David Schissler

(March 2015) The marketing executive of a mid-sized ski area recently said to me “People are big mountain biased.”  I let it slide at the time but it’s been on my mind since he said it.

Am I big mountain biased?  Do I like mountains with big vertical?  You bet I do.  Do I like lots of terrain to choose from?  Yep.  Do I like high-speed lifts?  Love them.  Grooming?  That, too.  But I don’t believe any of this makes me big mountain biased.  Big mountains simply have more of what I enjoy.  I think that’s a natural progression for avid skiers and boarders.  As you improve you’re looking for greater challenges. It’s also natural for riders to patronize ski areas closest to home.  For many of us, that’s a small mountain.  I’m based on Cape Cod and it’s no small feat to get to New Hampshire, Maine, or Vermont from here.  Boston traffic is always an obstacle.

There are actually about 165 ski areas in North America with 500 feet of vertical or less.  I have absolutely no problem with a day at Nashoba Valley or Blue Hills, two relatively small hills near Boston (#452 and #410 respectively in vertical of 498 ski areas in North America).  Even though neither breaks much more than 300 vertical feet, has limited terrain, and no high-speed lifts, it doesn’t matter.  They have an intimacy and local charm many larger areas have a difficult time capturing.

I’ve been skiing Blue Hills for about 17 years and I still have fun every time I go there.  Until this season I never saw it 100% open. After all these years I skied down Beer’s Bluff, pictured here.  If you’ve ever been to Blue Hills you know this trail, under the only chair, is a rock garden.  I mean scree piles of rocks (scree is a massive pile of small to medium rocks that have broken off of the mountain and piled up over centuries.  They’re very dangerous and are to be avoided) .  This season’s 12 feet of snow finally provided enough cover to open this run and Sonya, a trail famous for its view of the downtown Boston skyline.  Having these trails open made it feel like being at a new mountain.

I don’t believe we’re big mountain biased.  No matter the size of the mountain, it’s fun to be out on the side of a hill carving turns.  I just know a big mountain experience means more of what I like.

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