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TR Lutsen Mountains, MN - Feb 28 - Mar 2, 2022

shadoj

Angel Diva
Mountains in the midwest?! Lutsen Mountains, MN comes pretty darn close. With 825' vertical thanks to the geography of the Sawtooth Mountains lining the north shore of Lake Superior, there's some legitimate terrain and spectacular views to be had. Consisting of 4 interconnected hills with ~90-120+" of lake-effect snow in any given year, there's a little bit of something for most skiers of all abilities. The base has a laid-back western resort feel, and there are a few different ski-in/out lodging & dining options, plus a winery just down the hill. Rental equipment is available at the base, but you'll get better stuff/demos if you stop at Lutsen Recreation on the drive up Ski Hill Road.

The season can run as late as early April, so decent spring-break skiing in often still available late March. January can be bitterly cold; my favorite time to visit for a decent chance at good weather + good snow + low crowds is late February, midweek (week or two after President's day weekend). The downside to midweek is that Timberwolf & 10th Mountain chairs are often closed, so not all runs are accessible (or require an uphill skate); Mystery Mountain is only open to the halfway unload point during the afternoon (12-3:30). There's no night skiing, but that's actually a good thing; the darkness and wilderness is beautiful. The scenic Superior Hiking Trail runs just along the resort boundary. Cross-country skiing options exist in the area, too.

Note that some of the hours listed for various amenities across the web don't always correspond on any given day -- might be in for some surprises if you don't call to confirm (Rosie's is *not* open for breakfast at 8am, for instance). Many lodging+lift ticket packages exist; shop around if you're looking to budget, especially if you're willing to drive a couple miles up or down 61, along the shore.

Pictures & daily rundown/conditions by hill to follow!
 

shadoj

Angel Diva
Weather worked in my favor! The drive up on Sunday was clear and warm, and then in began snowing overnight. Monday morning brough 2-3" of fresh fluff. Very overcast, slightly windy at first, but a pleasant temperature nonetheless. Tuesday & Wednesday turned into bluebird days with clear views of the lake; some wind picked up by Weds. afternoon, but still plenty warm. Drive back (~4.5-5hrs to the Twin Cities area) was clear again.

Snow conditions and coverage were overall good. A few low-cover areas in the steeper trees, but groomers were packed-down-soft, zoomie fun!

Some areas are fairly flat and/or have a bit of uphill, so beware if you're a boarder or have kids without poles. A strong skating technique will keep most adults on skis moving along just fine.

A couple cool things about the resort layout include getting to ski over the Poplar river, and both under/over Ski Hill Road. Riding Bridge Lift over Ski Hill Road is scary, though! The newer Gondola and 6-pak chair on Moose Mountain are quite comfy/fast, with spectacular views.
 

shadoj

Angel Diva
Ullr Mountain:
Feeding right down to the gondola/patio at the main base area, this is the smallest of the 4 hills at Lutsen. Catering to beginners & intermediates, the terrain is all green & blue runs. Bonus beautiful views of Lake Superior from the top! Even as an "advanced" skier, this is a great lowkey/chill place to hang out for a few relaxing laps.

There is a fenced-off never-ever/newbie area with a magic carpet for beginner-beginners.

The Ullr Chair is a slow, fixed-grip double with a fairly gentle unload area. Center pole with no safety bar and low siderails, unfortunately. There are RFID gates at the load area. Lift hours are resort open to close.

Green runs include gentle, wide, and slow slopes; blue runs include steeper/wide groomers, small-child-size-turn-radius banked paths through open trees (Molly's Folly), hills with rollers (Tony's Tango), and gentler moguls with easy exit (skier's left on Steppes). Big Bunny is the fully green way down to the gondola base; Ullr to Karen's Corner is the fully green way to the Ullr chair load.

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View of Lake Superior & Eagle Mountain from Steppes (blue) on Ullr Mountain.

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View of Ullr Mountain, taken from Eagle Mountain.
 
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shadoj

Angel Diva
Eagle Mountain:
Served by both the 10th Mountain Chair and Bridge Chair, this is the "big peak" at Lutsen. The other three hills and Lake Superior can all be viewed from the summit. Catering primarily to advanced skiers (mostly black runs), there are still ways to enjoy the view & get back down on a green: Mogen to Lodge Run, then under the Ski Hill Road bridge to Catwalk if staying at Eagle Ridge Resort. The base of this mountain feeds into the main chalet/gondola area, ski patrol, and lodging/dining amenities.

10th Mountain Chair is a Riblet Triple with a safety bar; however, it doesn't seem to run midweek unless there's a holiday or special event/crowds. It serves the highest point on Eagle Mountain, starting from the main chalet/patio area. All black terrain to skier's left of the unload; head right past the Bridge Lift unload for the green & blues. RFID gates at base.

Bridge Lift
is another fixed-grip double (faster than Ullr Chair), again without safety bar, low sides, and center pole. Takes you almost to the top of Eagle Mountain, but not quite: George's (moguls), Cliff Run, and Chris's Couloir must be skated to on the left, uphill, past the 10th Mountain Chair unload. This is the lift that most ski-in/ski-out lodgers use to start out their day. It runs from 9:30am to close (half hour later than main base starts up). Access is exclusively via blue runs, though many are quite gentle, and all groomed. The terrain park (Timberjack) is accessed via this lift, as well. RFID gates at base. Hold your nose between lift towers 12 & 14 because the sewage field vents there!!!

Summit Express Gondola runs from Ullr & Eagle Mountain bases over to Moose Mountain. I believe ride/view/non-skier passes may be available. Runs from open to close. Comfy, great views, seats 4. RFID gates.

Advanced/expert terrain on Eagle Mountain includes moguls (Lower Hari Kari & George's), steeps (Split Rock is always a favorite), weird VW-bug-sized alternating rollers (Lower Hari Kari, again), and other adventures (trees & navigating past the concrete Alpine Slide on Fall Line). There are a couple blue runs through the open, deciduous tree glades (Charlotte's Web & Dipsy Doodle).

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Here's mid/lower mountain, just outside of Eagle Ridge resort, building F. Can ski directly down to Bridge Lift from here. A tiny bit tricky drop-in for absolute beginners, since the end of the green run Catwalk blew out due to erosion last year (see below pic). This drops you onto the blue run River Run, which is a nice morning warmup.

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Catwalk is washed out under the pipe!

More pics to follow. I need bacon :smile:
 

shadoj

Angel Diva
Eagle Mountain, continued!

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View of Lake Superior ice on a bluebird day from Mogen (green), atop Eagle Mountain. Entrance to Dipsy Doodle (blue tree run) is just off the left of the picture. Gentler slope on skiers' left, a bit more pitch on the right. Wide open cruiser that is great for some railroad tracks, as it's often quite empty in the morning on weekdays. Great first longer warmup run. Can still get to both Bridge Chair (low road) and main chalet area / 10th Mountain Chair (high road; watch for signs for a hard right towards Lodge Run) from here.

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At the unload from Bridge Chair. Mogen (green) to skiers' left, Charlotte's Web (blue tree glade) straight ahead, Bridge Run (blue) with access to additional black runs to right. Moose Mountain in distance, plus Lake Superior.

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Looking down from the catwalk-like green run, Lodge Run. I think the lower part of Expert's cutoff may have been groomed, unless it's part of Bridge Run. I forget here.

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Looking back up Lodge Run. Bluebird days are so fun!

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Looking uphill from Lodge Run. No, I am not done with photos yet!
 

shadoj

Angel Diva
Eagle Mountain, part 3!

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Ungroomed exit from Expert's Cutoff (double black). I did not ski this, as there was a sketchy entrance around the exposed concrete Alpine Slide, and 3 low-cover weird turns on a steep, according to my roommate. Next time. The entrance can be easy to miss; stay to skier's right on Bridge Run (blue), and look for a sign if you happen to see a luge-cart track! Looking up from Lodge Run.

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More of Lodge Run (cattrack green) to the main chalet area. Stay high (skier's right) for a traverse at the end so you don't have to skate up to the ski racks if heading to the patio/gondola/Ullr Mountain; look out for merging steep black/moguls traffic entering from the right who may be wanting to cross downhill under the bridge or to patrol on skier's left.

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A collection of some nice, steep black runs: Upper Koo Koo, Manitou, and Caroline's Challenge. View of Ullr Mountain in the background.

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Same entrance as above, looking down over the base to skier's left.DSC05046.JPG
Looking at Mystery Mountain from mid/lower Eagle. Terrain park ahead to the left, Lower Bridge Run to the right. Both go down to Bridge Chair. Mogul's Bar & Grill, along with Caribou Highlands Resort, are also just off to the left, and this is where you'd ski in/out for access.

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Looking back up Bridge Run (blue), which goes across a bridge over Ski Hill Road at the entrance to Lutsen.
 

shadoj

Angel Diva
On to Mystery Mountain!

Accessed via Mystery Mountain Chair (yes, another fixed double with center pole, low sides, and no safety bar), this is the 2nd-smallest of the hills, but the runs are fun to cruise. I'd probably enjoy it even more if I ever got to unload at the top! Everything apparently has enough snow coverage right now, but midweek skiing means midpoint unload and 12-3:30pm runtime. There's a bit of an uphill to the bottom load station. A couple short black glades exist at the top which I've never skied; everything else is blue terrain. This chair is visible from the base of Bridge Chair, and you can skate across a bridge over the Poplar River between the two. Can be accessed from the main base area by skiing under Ski Hill Road next to patrol, via Brule (blue run).

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First-morning view from my Eagle Ridge Resort balcony on the 2nd floor in building F.

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Bluebird-day view from the split between Lower Bridge Run (blue) and the terrain park on Eagle Mountain. Looking at White Birch & Log Chute (boardercross course), both blues, on Mystery Mountain.

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Tap, a blue run from the midway offload station. Go to skier's left. Turns into Sugar Maple, a long, seemingly-flat-but-not, peaceful blue cruiser. Nice for some quiet nature relaxation time.

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The other two entrance runs from the midpoint of Mystery. Log Chute (boardercross course) on left, White Birch on right. Eagle Mountain in distance on right. You'll have to skate uphill on skier's right for a bit to get here from the lift unload.

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Frosting-covered trees on Log Chute.

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Looking uphill on Log Chute. Lots of banked turns and optional rollers/jumps. Wheeee!
 

shadoj

Angel Diva
Last, but not least, Moose Mountain!

Terrain is all blue, black, double black; long groomed cruisers, moguls, trees + moguls, trees + small rock drops, open glades, narrow steeps: can spend a huge part of the day just cruising around having fun. Runs all end either at the Caribou Express or Timberwolf Chair.

Accessed via the Summit Express Gondola from the main chalet base, or via Moose Access (a miserable, long, flat, sometimes uphill blue run that exists for when there's a wind hold or malfunction). OK, it is pretty. Moose Return (blue run going the other direction to the main base) isn't too bad, though. Did not have to ski them this trip. Did not feel I missed anything.

The gondola can be ridden over just for the view and to hang out up top, as far as I know. Need your RFID to get back on to go back to the main base. Don't lose it, or no easy ride back for you. Found someone's pass lost in the snow on the hill, and gave it back to patrol! Can ski back via Moose Return if the gondola is down.

Home to the Summit Chalet near the top, which has some food/beverages available for purchase. At least, when they haven't run out of the good, local beers after a busy weekend! Also, restrooms and free water, which is all I really wanted anyway. I had already picked up some craft brews on the way up from Duluth for apres, and skiing new trees demands full alertness!

To access the chalet from Caribou Express, take Ridgeline (blue catwalk) to skier's right when you unload at the summit. This is also how you access the 3 double-black runs on the backside of Moose.

Caribou Express is a high-speed detachable six with safety bar; very comfortable and fast. It feeds the top of Moose Mountain and acts as a collection point for most of the runs. The last return headwalls to the lift base, even though marked blue, can really be intimidating for some newer-intermediates; they are the steepest pitch on some of the long, open cruisers! Closes at 3:30pm. No RFID gates.

Timberwolf Chair, (fixed double/low-side/center-post/no-bar #4) has never run midweek when I've been there. It's at the far edge of Moose Mountain, next to where Lutsen is in the works to expand its terrain. Perhaps it will run more often when that happens, so I can finally ski the bottom of a few runs that feed it -- or maybe it will be replaced/obsoleted (better)

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Looking at the back side of Moose Mountain, from Mystery Mountain (top of Tap). These are three of the steep, narrow double-black groomers on the backside of Moose. Only Adrenaline was open when we visited; my friend skied it over and over (I went down zero times)! The Plunge looks like it missed a summer brush-clearing or was having erosion issues, and was closed. Freefall looked in better shape, but was also closed. Only downside of the three is the longer, flattish return to the lift. Not a problem for most strong skiers if they're on that terrain, anyway. Leg burners, nonetheless.

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I *think* this is Moose from Ullr. Maybe.

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Exit of Bobcat (yes, repost pic, sorry), a double black tree run. Best way to find the entrance is to ski the open glade - unmarked run but full of paths - between the blue runs Upper Bull Run & Mark's Run near the Summit Chalet. This glade drops onto Lynx (black) after crossing Moose Return (blue catwalk); the entrance will then be visible downhill on skier's right in the clump of trees; the exit kinda points you right at it. There's a bit of a diagnol rock/cliff with decent coverage right at the exit here; stay to skier's left for a more mellow, baby drop. Or jump 5 feet down off the middle...

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End of Bobcat, as seen from on Bobcat! Always ski trees with friends, wear your helmet/goggles, and detach yourself from your poles until the exit is clear :smile:

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A fun unmarked glade up near the Summit Chalet, visible in the background. This is the one to ski down the fall line to Bobcat, via Lynx (to the right). I'm on Moose Return.

Other fun tree runs (black/double black) included: The Stash, Moose Tracks, Buckshot, Red Fox, Cowabunga cutting into Moose Maze (low coverage in a few places). Heard Cedar Ridge opens into a nice mogul meadow (was too tired at that point to ski it). Might be forgetting something else! Great mental runs; really make you strategize your skillset!
Note that tree runs on Moose all close at 3pm.

Grizzly (black), directly below the chalet, generally has moguls and/or rollers on the mid/lower portion.

The blue runs on Moose (especially Caribou), are some of my favorite-ever groomed cruisers to just lay down some dynamic turns. So easy to do laps with the high-speed 6. Miss it already!

There, novella half-complete. Any questions?! :becky:
 

racetiger

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
That was very thorough!
I got to see everything I didnt get to see the one time I went there. It was lousy weather, windy snowy and 9 degrees. The lift to Moose mountain wasnt running. I had the wrong skis on and was still very much a beginner so it wasnt the best experience. I have to get back there someday!
 

Iwannaski

Angel Diva
UMMMMMMMM, more updates. Keep in mind, this is making me giggle, b/c a week ago, it was supposed to be rainy on Tuesday, and I was a little worried about ice.

I don’t think any of us are great powder skiers - so I guess we’ll get practice - and I’m super excited to have so much FRESH snow for our ski trip.

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Iwannaski

Angel Diva
Day 1 - yesterday
Three people on new skis. Son chomping to throw himself down mountain, daughter freaking out on her new skis (fixed this, more later), husband always game for new things. windy, near-whiteout conditions. We skied Ullr for a few hours, took a break for a snack, went back out and realized my low-vis claustrophobia was at a peak. I was the last one off the mountain, as the rest had given up. We had a chill afternoon in the condo as it kept snowing.

Day 2 - today
Way more exploration, still pretty snowy, but 7” of fresh stuff in varying degrees of pushed around! We all did great, stuck mostly to Eagle today. Son and daughter found the trees and had a blast going through them. When wind picked up and I couldn’t see, husband and I stopped, kids gave up shortly after.

Few stories:
fixed daughter‘s issue by having her ditch the poles and not ski with me. Magically, all the whining, fear and wedging stopped!!!

Found a little boy on the mountain today - skis in arms, standing and looking around. Asked him what was up and he said he lost his family. Got him down to the lift, called ski patrol and his mom found us there. I felt pretty good that I was comfortable enough to help him get into his skis properly on the hill and follow him safely down. I think it was the best I’ve skied, because I was out of my own head.

Two pics:
Afternoon 1 upon arrival and yesterday:
 

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