Go East, young skiers and snowboarders at Mountain High

Skiers and snowboarders tend to get more out of those banner days on the slopes at Mountain High when they visit the less-crowded East resort. (Mountain High photo)

By Art Bentley

You know who you are.

Evidently, 1,600 vertical feet with a consistent pitch doesn’t appeal to you. Perhaps speed on skis or a snowboard isn’t an attraction. Maybe your legs (or your nerve) aren’t up to the challenge.

Or it could be that you simply don’t do well in your own company. You need to be surrounded by masses of humanity, often with a slightly maniacal streak, a perverse taste for short runs, and an insane fondness for lift lines that can border on anarchy.

Or maybe you’re simply not the sharpest ski on the slope.

Whatever your shortcomings, you’re a Mountain High skier or snowboarder with an irrational preference for the crowded West resort, where any minute, especially on a weekend, you can be run down from behind or sideswiped by an out-of-control snowboarder. Meanwhile, you display an unfathomable disdain for the tranquil, unhurried East. Are you masochistic? How else to explain why you avoid it in droves?

Clearly, you need help. Even those who run Mountain High can’t figure you out.

“It’s always a challenge getting people to go over there,” says John McColly, chief marketing office and an unabashed fan of East.

It’s a challenge that defies logic. The east side rises 600 feet higher than the west, with a summit elevation of 8,200 feet vs. 8,000. A fast chairlift scales all 1,600 vertical feet, usually without much or any lift line.

Contrast this placid scene with the typical congestion at the bottom of the high-speed quad at West. Why people don’t bail out of it constantly and run for the free shuttle busses that take them down the road to East, a mere mile away, is a question that’s bound to stump many a psychiatrist.

Those who assert themselves in such a fashion are rewarded with several long, wide runs of consistent pitch that will burn the thighs after a few hours of fast, non-stop yo-yo circuits. And if they like steep, bumpy pitches of 35 degrees, they’ll find Olympic Bowl much to their liking.

Unfortunately, Olympic requires natural snow, a commodity in such short supply this season that the bowl has yet to be skied. In a typical winter, a swath down the middle is groomed occasionally, but by and large, Olympic, which rises about 500 feet vertically from the bottom of the ski area known originally as Holiday Hill, is for fans of moguls and steeps.

Earlier this season, on an off-day during the week, a Mountain High employee reported having seen only two other souls plying the slopes during a journey to the east. Don’t all those who congregate at West realize that Mountain High East has some of the longest runs this side of Mammoth Mountain?

So, what are you missing in your pig-headed stubbornness? Besides Olympic Bowl, you’re forgoing some of the most enjoyable terrain for high-speed cruising in Southern California.

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