Sunday night’s tantalizing forecast for Lutsen was enough for Midwest Ski Journal to get in the car and go.
Lutsen, just a 4-hour drive from the Twin Cities, is easily the best terrain in the Midwest and has had a strong start to the season.
So, with a 24-inch base after a Christmas week storm and a double digit dump in the forecast, MSJ set off for the North Shore late Sunday night.
The drive was relatively easy until Hwy. 61 on the North Shore, where whiteout conditions were in full effect. Luckily, MnDOT had our back and led the way for a few dozen miles.
Upon arrival near 4 a.m., plows were already working to free the resort’s roads from the heavy, lake effect dump. So, we let them do their thing, found some earplugs and grabbed some shut eye.
Conditions were very good right away in the morning even though the snow was heavy, having fallen above 30 degrees for the most part.
Up and ready to go for first chair, we were greeted by a very light Monday morning crowd. Besides some cranky-looking employees shoveling out the back-breaking dump, the resort was nearly empty.
The 8 reported inches was wind blown, so it was at least a foot in some pockets on the mountain, including softening the landings of some neat features in the trees.
As the day progressed, the snow turned into a drizzle, especially lower on the hill. The snow condensed and got heavier as the day went on, making some of the cat tracks and run-outs really sticky.
Given the lack of crowds, however, much of the untracked snow remained, leading to some great runs skier’s left off the Caribou chair and skier’s right off the Bridge chair.
In the early afternoon, the drizzle coated the whole hill and conditions worsened, but after a 20-run morning, I was ready to dry out.
As I went to buy my obligatory Lutsen sticker, the kind folks in the gift shop laughed as I looked like I took a dip in Lake Superior.
It was a Pacific Northwest-like wet and wild powder day at Lutsen. The moist conditions shortened the day, but my morning runs were some of the best I’ve had in the Midwest.
With the recent rash of dumps at Lutsen, they have a really nice base all over the hill. If temperatures drop and they get a colder dump, I wouldn’t hesitate getting up there. Almost everything’s filled in and ready to go.